A continent so interminably vast and varied, Asia has an aura of exotic that refuses to wear off. Forget the occidental obsession with the mysteries of east; even Asian travellers are besotted with these lands full of incredible discoveries, accidental adventures and intriguing experiences. If Asian countries are exotic by virtue of being relatively undiscovered, there is an equally large number that owe the tag to their deep-rooted cultural traditions and well-preserved heritage. While one country’s exotic may be another country’s commonplace, there are some truly magical places and sublime experiences that make Asia oh-so-exotic in their own different way.
As the posterboy of Asia, it is hard to see why Thailand still makes it to the list of exotic. But while its beaches have won all the acclaim, the majestic ruins of Ayutthya still stake its claim at being tantalizingly undiscovered. An easy day trip from Bangkok, Ayutthya is ideal for Thailand beach-hoppers who’ve been there, done that. Once laden with gold and other treasures, the remains of these palaces and temples are still so splendid that it’s hard to believe that only a fraction of their grandeur has been pain-stakingly restored.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Cambodia may not have the secluded islands and night markets but it does have the ‘8th Wonder of the World’, Angkor Wat. The heritage site may not be a popular first choice when it comes to the typical Asian holiday but it’s slowly and surely becoming one of the ‘must sees’. Watching the sun rise over these magnificent remains of the Khmer Empire is an experience comparable to your first look at the Taj Mahal or the Egyptian Pyramids. The largest and best preserved of the Angkor temples, the series of galleries, chambers, towers and courtyards linked by staircases carved with exquisite motifs are a sight to behold!
Few islands on the planet can claim to have won the accolades that Boracay has collected. Awarded as the world’s best beach destination by several leading travel publications, this is one Asian island that manages to be both popular and exotic in equal parts. Yet to be a household name among Indian travellers, Boracay turns its exotic on with Romantic boat trips at sunset, quiet stretches of powdery white sand and world-class diving opportunities.
Ancient pagodas, tranquil lakes, colourful markets, curious conical hats and pho ga (chicken noodle soup): exotic rolls off the tongue easily in Hanoi. The spacious tree-lined boulevards of the city shelter its colonial and pre-colonial architecture buildings that are in no mood to make way for modern constructions. The actual streets however, are whizzing with motorcycle riders and friendly locals in their conical hats, always on the lookout for good conversation even with strangers.
Think Japan is all about sprawling cities, restaurants with robot servers, futuristic technology and multi-national corporations? Come inside and say kon'nichiwa to the Japan of geisha girls, sake, cherry blossoms and ancient shrines.