When people go to Asia, they always go to Thailand! Don’t get me wrong, Thailand’s great, but there are some seriously underrated countries that deserve your attention! After living in Asia, I’ve found some incredible places that are often overlooked. Here are the countries in which you SHOULD be travelling!
I absolutely adore Asia. After growing up in Asia, I’ve realised that there’s absolutely no place like it. There are loads of places that are worth your attention, but we tend to hear of some destinations more than others. Here’s my list of underrated countries in Asia, which are DEFINITELY worth a visit.
Malaysia is absolutely amazing. There’s an incredible variety of terrain here.
Where to Visit:
Penang is one of my favourite places in Asia. I have amazing memories of visiting this place for Christmas every year. It’s the ultimate foodie destination, with so many restaurants with STUNNING food and desserts. The street art is just another reason to visit – it’s extraordinary.
Borneo is one of my favourite destinations in Malaysia. You can climb Mount Kinabalu, one of my favourite hikes in Asia. It’s over 4000 meters and is a stunning, but intense hike. You can also watch baby turtles get released into the ocean, visit orangutans, and go on night safari walks, where you can see slow lorises, flying foxes, and a wide variety of exotic animals, all in their home habitats!
Langkawi has some beaches that rival neighbouring countries!
Kuala Lumpar’s nightlife is amazing. From night markets to sky-high bars and clubs, KL has it all.
The Cameron Highlands are so good for a weekend away. Crisp air, amazing views, and tea plantations with tonnes of treats are just some of the reasons you should visit this destination.
Laos is often skipped when it shouldn’t be! The landscapes and nature in Laos are just stunning, and since it’s so often skipped, WAY less crowded than it’s Southeast Asian neighbours. Laos is the ultimate outdoor adventure destination, and when you’re done roughing it, the capital has some amazing hotels that are an upgrade from those classic Southeast Asian Hostels.
Where to Visit:
Luang Prabang is a great place to eat some Laoation/French fusion food. It’s night market is one of my favourites in Asia. I still have a silk scarf from the market over a decade ago, and it’s held up beautifully.
Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is a city with so many amazing temples and cultural spots to visit.
Vang Vieng, Laos has quite the reputation. Insanely crazy bar hopping by inner tube has put this spot on the map for travellers. It’s calmed down quite a bit since it’s peak, but there’s still so much natural beauty around this town.
Thakhek is where you need to go if you’re keen to rock climb. Southeast Asia has some amazing sport climbing, and Thakhek is a remote spot where there are rock climbing hostels right under the crags.
When I tell people I adore China, they often give me a look of horror. China is portrayed as a dirty, overcrowded, polluted place, but you’ve gotta give this place a chance! Sure, some parts of the country might be a little rough around the edges, but China has SO many gems.
I absolutely love Yunnan and Guangxi. The food is to die for, the people are welcoming, the culture like no other. It’s also GIANT, so there are plenty of places to visit. And in terms of affordability? It’s great. It’s also super easy to get around the country, with an incredible system of trains (an overnight train is something you HAVE to experience).
Where to Visit:
Yangshuo has the most stunning mountains and rivers. It’s portrayed on the currency and is absolutely a place you NEED to visit. The nature is peaceful, and the city is lively. You’ve also gotta eat beer fish!
Tiger Leaping Gorge is a fabulous place to go for a weekend hike. This has some of my favourite views and when you’re done, the nearby Lijiang is a charming town to rest up in.
Dali is the ultimate foodie destination in China if you’re craving some Western food after your thousandth bowl of noodles or rice.
Kunming, or the Eternal Spring City, is incredibly relaxing and the gateway to some of the best destinations in Yunnan.
Shangri La is the gateway to Tibet, and the old town is so charming! Yak Walnut Balls, native to this region, are some of the best snacks I’ve had.
Shanghai is amazing. It’s a big, fun, enchanting city, and the French Quarter is full of hidden gems.
Taiwan is a little harder/more expensive to get to, so people skip it! But NO, don’t make this mistake! Taiwan is such a hidden gem of Asia. A common misconception is that Taiwan and China are essentially the same, but no! The food, culture, and mannerisms of the two countries are completely different. Taiwan is a beautiful place, filled with natural beauty and amazing cities, and it’s a good stepping stone into mainland China if you’re a little worried about entering China head-on.
Taiwan has so much natural beauty and is a great destination for cycling. And in terms of food, you can’t beat it. Din Tai Fung is a must visit (in the Taipei 101!), and the street food is comfort food that I grew up eating. Must eats are beef stew noodle soup (niu rou mian), soup dumplings (xiao long bao), and green onion/scallion pancakes (cong you bing). Salivating just thinking about it.
These are definitely my top four underrated countries in Asia! Agree? Disagree? Leave me a comment!
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