5 Places To Visit In Asia Before Everyone Else Does

Ditch the big-ticket spots and get to the good stuff.

Brought to you by AirAsia

130 places to go, millions of possibilities.

So you’re telling us you’ve got a fever for adventure and action, endless nights and wild days, incredible culture, ancient wonders, and the most tongue-tantalising food on the planet.

The only prescription? A trip to Asia, of course.

It’s exciting, it’s close to Australia, and it’s also pretty enormous – so where should you go? We figure you’re probably the kind of traveller who wants a real experience – a taste of a place that few others ever get to try. So let’s ditch the big-ticket spots and get to the good stuff. Go where the adventures have only just begun: here’s our hotlist of Asia’s most spectacular under-the-radar spots to visit before everyone else does. Get primed, get pumped, and take that wild Asian vacation you’ve always dreamed about.

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

A post shared by @yuvalpais on

Why has Sri Lanka sprung to the top of so many ‘must see’ lists? It’s probably got something to do with its mellow vibes, its lively locals, its fusion of culture, cuisine and natural wonder that stands up to any other destination in the region.

In short, Sri Lanka has got it going on, and of all the amazing spots to drop in on in this place, Arugam Bay just might take the cake. Home to one of the world’s most raved-about surf breaks, the golden sands, glittering waters and epic sunsets make for a truly spectacular tropical affair, and with just a single strip of shops and restaurants nearby, Arugam’s star has only begun to rise. Pack an extra bag – you’ll need it when you decide to move here for good.

Padang, Indonesia

A post shared by Sjoerd Bracké (@sjoerdbracke) on

Indonesia is so blessedly full of incredible spots that you could pretty much throw a dart at the map and end up somewhere idyllic

Yes, Bali, Lombok and the other ‘surf, sand and sun’ hubs might be the eternally popular choices, but why cramp your style? Head instead for something a little different: Padang.

Sitting on the western coast of Sumatra, Padang is full of amazing culture and spectacular natural wonders. As the gateway to the Minang Highlands, this old port town and former Dutch outpost offers an exciting fusion of historic temples, colonial buildings, brilliant beaches and parks.

The food here is the big seller: there’s no better place to sample the goods, like regional specialty Nasi Padang (rice served with an array of delicious largely coconut-based dishes).

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

A post shared by Normalhabits (@normal.habits) on

Sure, other islands in the region might be famed for their beach scenes, full moon parties, and tourist hordes. But Malaysia too often flies under the radar when it comes to Asian getaways, and that’s a great thing for those in the know.

For some of the most idyllic tropical scenes in the region, head for the Perhentians. These islands aren’t exactly a ‘secret’ deal anymore, but compared to other neighbours they still maintain a solid smattering of ‘under the radar’ status. Picture two main islands off the coast of Terengganu’s Besut District: Besar, the larger, and Kecil, the smaller, both glowing with golden white sands, turquoise waters, and excellent hostels, beachside bungalows and high-end luxury apartments.

All the staples of tropical life are here – the sunbaking, the cocktail sipping, the hammock lounging – without the hordes of party-island tourists to wreck your flow. Welcome to the mellow Asian beach paradise you’ve been hanging out for.

Bangalore, India

A post shared by LBB Bangalore (@lbbbangalore) on

They call it one of India’s most cosmopolitan and happening cities: Bangalore AKA Bengaluru, your new favourite sub-continental outpost.

Offering a far milder climate to the rest of the country, as well as an awesome food, drink, nightlife and shopping scene (think craft beer bars, specialty cafes, boutiques and beyond), Bengaluru offers a well-earned respite from the energetic action of some of the country’s more bustling moments.

Check out its ancient relics, wander through its beautiful green spaces, get lost in its vibrant city streets, be wowed by the Victoria era architecture, get your fill of local treats at the city’s delicious hole-in-the-wall food stops, and chill out at night at one of its countless bars and clubs (there’s more bars here than anywhere else in Asia).

Ko Chang, Thailand

A post shared by Mark (@lostnsound1) on

Of course, Thailand’s become a seriously busy hub in the past decade or so, yet despite all that, there’s still a few of epic, postcard-perfect tropical adventures to be had that aren’t totally jammed with tourists.

Not to diss Phuket, Ko Samui and Ko-Pha-gnan or anything, but if you’re after something more chilled out, catch a ferry to Ko Chang. Yes, it might be the largest island in the Gulf of Thailand, but it’s also one of the least populated: picture dense, mountainous jungle and epic waterfalls, and glimpses of an untouched coconut-laden hideaway.

With its photogenic palms, spectacular sunsets, and cheeky fruit-thieving monkeys (prepare to lose your bags of fresh cut pineapple and watermelon to these guys), local favourite Lonely Beach is our hot tip for one of the island’s best golden stretches.

(Lead image: Perhentian Beach/Wikimedia Commons)

Only AirAsia flies to 130 stunning places across Asia. And with so many amazing places to explore, the possibilities for adventure are endless. Start your adventure and book your flights at now!
Flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka starting from $483
Flights to Padang, Indonesia starting from $378
Flights to Kuala Terregganu, Malaysia starting from $359
Flights to Bengaluru, India starting from $549
Flights to Pattaya, Thailand starting from $389
AirAsia. 130 places to go. Millions of possibilities.