We love Bangkok. We’re #blessed with great food, gorgeous cultural attractions and vibrant nightlife. But when it’s time to go on holiday, we can’t help wanderlusting over places we’ve never been. In Asia, there are hidden gems everywhere. So read on for a list of unexpected cities that you should visit (you won’t find Tokyo or Hong Kong on our list!).
Luang Prabang, Laos
Sometimes you really want a natural and spiritual getaway, and a trip to Koh Samui just isn’t enough. That, dear readers, is where Luang Prabang comes in.
Close to the sacred Mekong River, this quiet city is a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with colonial French architecture, graceful waterfalls and golden temples. You’d be amazed at how tidy and well-kept Luang Prabang is. The lack of pollution makes for extremely crisp, clear skies, making it a definite must for travellers from Bangkok.
Chinese culture has long been a part of Thailand, especially in Bangkok. But while we may have jeh cuisine, Yaowarat and pathongko (FYI, it’s called yóutiáo in Mandarin), it’s not really the full picture.
Everyone who lives here should go to China at least once. But if you want an immersive experience into what the OG is like, Xi’an should be on your list.
As one of the oldest cities in China, Xi’an’s culture and history stretches back over 3,000 years. It’s the root of Chinese civilization, hence the large amount of museums and relics. The city is most known for the Terracotta Army, a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of China’s first emperor. Oh, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Pretty big deal, guys.
You haven’t fully traveled Asia if you haven’t been to India. Nicknamed the “Queen of the Arabian Sea” and one of India’s best tourist destinations, Kochi is a cosmopolitan city with a bustling commercial port. Fun fact: it’s a cheaper and less polluted alternative to New Delhi!
Kochi is diverse, tolerant and modern, with a high number of various ethnic groups living there. (Sounds like Bangkok, eh?). Because of this, there’s plenty to do and see especially for those who love international food, shopping and vibrant nightlife. Did we mention it’s cheap, too?
Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang is special. It has sandy beaches, limestone mountains and forests — all within the same city.
We often ignore Da Nang because it’s not as fast-paced as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. But, the city is known as one of the friendliest cities for backpackers. The fact that it has everything an adventurer is looking for and isn’t too crowded, makes Da Nang a great escape in Vietnam.
Experience a whole other kind of tropical at the Maldives’ capital city. Malé is full of candy-colored houses, graffiti and the bluest of blue oceans. As a cozy islet enveloped by water, this city has a very particular cuisine (seafood plays the starring role here).
There’s no other place to go if you love water sports (canoeing, diving, snorkelling) and marine life. For us, Malé is worth visiting based on uniqueness alone.
Interested? AirAsia offers regular flights to these amazing cities and prices range from only THB1,490 (US$46.64) to THB3,090 (US$94.7). You can check out their flight promotions here.