What are the top 6 common myths about Asian countries?
Thinking about studying abroad in Asia, but don’t know which country you should go for? Maybe some countries, like Thailand or China, immediately bring certain images to your mind. Others, like Taiwan or Korea might be more of a vaguely blank spot on your mental map of the world. Chances are, you have probably heard a couple of stories about them. But how much truth is actually in these stories?
Let’s have a look at some of the most common myths about our study destinations:
1. Bali is not a country
Bali – probably one of the most Instagrammed places of the last years. I’m sure you have seen loads of pretty beach photos, temples, beautifully styled cafes… Bali has become such a well-known place by itself that many people think it is actually a country. So let’s get this one right out of the way: Bali is not a country, it is one of around 17.000 islands in Indonesia. Rookie mistake!
2. Buddhists, Muslims or Hindus?
Back to every traveler’s favorite source of information, Instagram: Bali has made a name for itself as a fantastic destination for anyone interested in yoga, veganism and all kinds of spirituality (think Eat, Pray, Love). This is why it’s often assumed that Buddhism is the main religion in Bali. Not true! Balinese Hinduism is the most practiced religion on the island, while the rest of Indonesia, is predominantly Muslim. In fact, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Interesting, right?
3. Old dudes and full moon parties
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Thailand? Cheap designer fakes? Full Moon Parties? Sleazy old guys? Thailand is another favorite destination for backpackers, free spirits and party crowds – so much, that some people consider it overly “touristy” or even “unauthentic”. Rubbish! Of course those things mentioned exist, but it’s all up to you. There’s still a world of incredible authentic culture to be discovered.
4. Eating dogs
Geographical details, religion, tourist attractions – the stuff we’ve looked at so far might not be entirely true, but it probably wouldn’t stop you from visiting these places, right? Well, things look different for other countries. Take China for example – there are loads of (more or less unappetizing) myths about China out there! Chinese people are rude, Chinese people can’t speak English, Chinese people eat dogs…you’ve heard of it. You probably also know that these things are exaggerated, but sometimes these little things are enough to scare us off. Don’t let them!
5. Speaking of food…
Ok, so the thing about eating dogs is not a total myth. Eating dog meat has a long tradition in China (and in other countries too, by the way). But these days it’s less common and it doesn’t mean that you will have to do it. Also, Chinese cuisine is way more diverse than what you might think! It’s not just rice and take-out-style boxes of fried noodles. And if you’re really worried about what to eat, you can find good Western food literally everywhere today. Actually, being hungry is one thing you NEVER have to worry about when traveling to Asia!
6. Don’t know anything about this place so it’s probably boring
And then there are the places you don’t really have any specific ideas about. What does Taiwan make you think of? Endless skyscrapers? Taiwan actually has gorgeous landscapes and ancient temples. Or what about South Korea or Malaysia? All countries with very high standards of living, great higher education and incredibly rich cultures. So if you don’t know much about a place, don’t let it put you off. It’s likely going to be even better than you could imagine. Remember to keep your mind open – you might just fall in love with a country you never would have expected.
Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
This text was written by our Study Abroad Assistant Alex!