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8 Epic Experiences Awaiting You In Asia

If you love Asia, you're probably raring for an opportunity to spend quality time there. Destinations like Vietnam, Borneo, Myanmar and India offer immensely rewarding experiences in their chaotic, frenzied glory. Here are some unforgettable experiences in Asia that you must try.

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1. Sailing Halong Bay

Camilla Todd / Via ecophiles.com

Ranked one of the seven new natural wonders of the world, the limestone towers that emerge from the Halong Bay in Vietnam are at once captivating, as they are silencing.

Surrounded by everything from private yachts to traditional Chinese junk boats floating across the glistening emerald waters – you’ll sail past limestone islands, thick with lush forests and speckled with small sandy coves. The stopover of choice for many is Cat Ba Island. If you’re looking for quiet, the lesser-known Bai Tu Long Bay is your destination. Anchors away!

2. Bagan by Bike

Temples in Bagan, Myanmar. Photo by Anne Dirkse-CC via Flickr

Bagan, located in the center of Myanmar and nestled between rolling hills, with over 2000 Buddhist monuments spanning 16 square miles, is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia and an unforgettable sight to behold. The most impressive temple, Ananda Pahto, rises above the mist and dominates the surreal skyline.

A unique way to experience the stunning mysticism of Bagan is on a bike. Tracking your way through a labyrinth of dirt tracks, seeking hidden temples over a stunning backdrop of misty and lush hill tops, armed with the spirit of adventure and a handy map.

3. Kathakali in Fort Kochi

Kathakali dancer Photo: Qnonsense via Wikimedia Commons

In Cochin, a coastal town in India with Dutch, Portuguese and English influences. These influences are reflected in its European architecture particularly seen in quaint, atmospheric Fort Kochi. The city’s cultural mix is fascinating with fishing nets from China, a four centuries-old synagogue, mosque minarets, churches and cathedrals.

Cochin is also a centre for Kathakali, one of the oldest theatre forms in the world that originated in Kerala. Take a classical dance class and discover the stunning costumes, makeup and a 4000 sign language used by a Kathakali performer to tell a story.

4. Jungle Boat Cruise in Borneo

Photo: Col Ford and Natasha de Vere via Flickr

The words ‘orang’ and ‘hutan’ mean ‘person of the forest’ in the Malaysian and Indonesian language. Spot them in the wild swinging from the trees just metres from your boat heading deep into the jungle along Kinabatangan: Borneo’s longest river. Kinabatangan is renowned for its incredible wildlife Orangutan.

Say hello to the cheeky proboscis monkeys whose long noses must make them one of the most bizarre-looking creatures on the planet and a wide array of species including: macaques, crocodiles, gibbons, kingfisher, butterflies and countless others.

5. Floating down Inle Lake

Myanmar-Inle Lake. Photo By Marc Veraart CC via Wikimedia Commons

Bathe in tranquility at the Inle Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Myanmar. At 900 meters above sea level and spanning an impressive 13 miles, this serene highland lake is dotted with enchanting villages, and stilted houses along the water’s edge, inhabited by many different ethnicities.

The Intha people are the Lake dwellers who are renowned for their leg rowing. Leg rowed traditional boats are the main ceremonial attractions of the Inle Lake.

Most boat trips around Inle Lake start at the town of NyaungShwe. Float down the emerald waters and explore the surreal Floating Gardens and Markets.

6. Scooting for street food in Saigon

Street Food Vietnam-Photo by Maxime Guilbot CC via Flickr

Motorbikes are the most popular mode of transportation in Vietnam. Compact, low-maintenance, inexpensive – you can zip around the city and explore its narrow alleyways on this fun ride. These alleyways, known as “hems” in Vietnamese, are lifelines to some of the most fascinating culinary feasting.

After dark, the city comes alive with a number of street food pop-ups. Sidewalks are littered with tiny stools and tables and locals chowing down on delicious food prepped in a mobile kitchen with nothing but a small burner and a tiny skillet. Most street food joints actually have a very limited menu, serving one main dish and maybe four variations of it at most. The quán ốc, is a must try!

7. Slow Houseboating in the Backwaters of Kerala

Kerala backwaters via houseboat. Photo: Kerala Tourism

There’s nothing more soothing for the soul than drifting down the tropical backwaters in Kerala through the labyrinth of canals under the starry skies. You glide past paddy fields, coconut lagoons, small islands and rice barges. Watch kingfishers swoop down to catch fish and flocks of ducks being shepherded to the newly-harvested paddy fields.

Surrounded by palm groves and luxurious shades of green, there is a hypnotic quality about the backwaters. The only thing you can do is do nothing.

8. Sea Walking near Kota Kinabalu

Photo: Eric Madeja / Via Sabah Tourism

Must visit for most visitors to Borneo is Kota Kinabalu – or ‘KK’ as it’s affectionately known. Relax on one of the five stunning islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, just a short boat transfer from from KK. Chill on the beach, go snorkelling or even try ‘sea walking’ along the seabed with a special helmet that allows you to breathe underwater! Those with more energy even might be up for the challenge of climbing to the 13,438 ft high summit of Mount Kinabalu.

Want to know more about Unique Experiences and Eco Adventures? Head on over to Ecophiles for more travel tips and fab destinations!

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