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Discover the not so touristy places in Asia
Studying in Asia opens the door to colorful cultures, exotic food, and travel destinations off the beaten tourist path. You discover places locals love while living and learning in one of Asia’s vibrant cities, so you can zip away for weekend exploration. Or, for a longer trip, traveling from your home base to other parts of Asia couldn’t be easier. Here’s a look at some hidden gems to explore while studying in Asia.
Keen divers are among the only tourists regularly visiting Pemutaran, a charming hidden fishing village with an eco-friendly attitude. Located in far northwestern Bali, a smattering of resorts, guesthouses and restaurants rest under the dramatic hills of West Bali National Park.
Pemutaran Bay is well known for a community-driven reef restoration project and it’s the stepping off point for snorkeling and diving at nearby Menjangan Island. The uninhabited slice of paradise offers an underwater world of giant clams, blue starfish, batfish and a reef drop-off where you might just spot green sea turtles in the deep blue.
Back in town, the flat, peaceful terrain is perfect for relaxing scooter rides or cycling to monkey-filled temples. While this isn’t a party place, trendy villas and beachfront bars sway to the tunes of Bob Marley and there are plenty of great-value warungs. On sunset, lanterns light the volcanic sands and tropical drinks flow freely. To get there, it’s easy to hire a driver from Kuta, Seminyak or Sanur and the trip takes about four hours through scenic, jungle-clad roads after a flight to Bali.
While most tourists head to Langkawi from KL for a beach break, Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands offer the turquoise waters, laid-back atmosphere and beach bonfires you might be looking for. Perhentian Kecil is a hidden hub for students and backpackers, with Long Beach a top favorite for chilled-out bars on the sand.
This is a great place to get your dive certificate, in warm, pristine waters teeming with marine life. It’s also the type of spot to do nothing but beach hop, swim and eat, overlooking the sea. For more adventure, you can trek through the jungle to find monitor lizards or go on an intrepid sea-kayaking adventure. To get there, the islands are just a quick flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu airport, a bus to Kuala Besut jetty, then a fun, scenic speedboat trip to paradise in about half an hour.
Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai are at the top of Thailand travel bucket lists, but have you heard of Chanthaburi? In a three or four hour bus ride from Bangkok, you’ll arrive in a coastal province with something for everyone, including waterfalls, historic villages, fabulous regional food, beaches and National Parks.
The Chantaboon Waterfront Community is an ambient mix of restored houses, alleyways, French, Chinese and Vietnamese influences, art galleries and coffee shops. Gems are big business in town, and you’ll find sparkly items Si Chan Road. A short drive out of town, visit Khao Khitchakut National Park to see the 13 tiers of Krathing Falls and cool off in refreshing natural pools. You´ll also find beaches to yourself in Chanthaburi, like Chao Lao and Khung Wiman.
If you love to draw, paint or just take amazing selfies, Hongcun Village is an ancient Chinese townscape simply made for art. The hidden village dates back to the Ming and Qing dynasties, with 140 old residential buildings awaiting the artistic eye. Arranged in the shape of an ox and developed using the principles of Feng Shui, the village has been featured in an array of movies, including Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Lush hills frame water lily ponds, stone bridges and grey-tiled folk houses. Chengzhi hall is open to visitors, showcasing acclaimed, decorative wood carvings. For water scenes, check out scenic South Lake and Moon Pond. Take a bus from Shanghai to Huangshan in approximately five hours and tourist buses operate from there to Hongcun.
Taiwan’s green Island has transformed from the home of a notorious prison camp to a hidden tropical hideaway for local leisure-seekers. You can ride a scooter around the tiny volcanic island in under an hour and the main road is circled by sparkling shores, with lush, inland jungles.
Dive or snorkel over coral reefs, hike across ancient pathways, pay your respects to the Goddess of Mercy at Guanyin Cave and check out peculiar rock formations, like Sleeping Beauty and Pekingese Dog, from the little great Wall trail. You can visit Green Island Prison, which once housed Taiwan’s most dangerous criminals, to see examples of Prison, which once housed Taiwan’s most dangerous criminals, to see examples of prison conditions and historical records. Don’t miss out on taking a dip in Chaojih Hot Springs, which is one of only three known seawater hot springs in the world.
The more you travel throughout Asia, the more you find to discover, so it would take more than a lifetime to conquer it all! However, when you study abroad, hidden gems are just a flight away, to make the most of cultural enrichment and memorable adventures.
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This text was written by Momondo!