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In recent years, the Philippines have become a popular destination for travelers of all kinds, be it backpackers or families. The over 7000 tropical islands are a paradise for beach lovers, island hoppers, divers and snorkelers. But not only the islands offer a sheer endless range of outdoor and leisure activities. With its trekking and mountain biking routes and the title of 'ziplining capital of the world' the Philippines are the ideal destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Although the megacities of the Philippines will remind you of other metropolises in Southeast Asia, a contrast to the rest of the continent is clearly noticeable due to Spanish and American influences. The only thing that could hinder the success of your trip to the Philippines is the annual monsoon, so keep an eye on the weather forecast when planning.
One of the world’s top players when it comes to technological innovation, South Korea is constantly evolving, at the cutting edge of fashion, pop culture and entertainment. The capital, Seoul, is a 24-hour megacity abuzz with eclectic shopping, fiery street food, the latest in high-tech gadgets and the pulsating sounds of K-pop, and is the very embodiment of the nation’s unrestrainable nature. But Korea is more than just Seoul, boasting astounding natural beauty and diversity, centuries of fascinating history and a warm and always welcoming population.
The hectic but surprisingly sophisticated city life of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh with its cosmopolitan dining scene and bustling nightlife coexists with the tropical wilderness of the countryside. With ancient and modern colliding in Cambodia, the resulting blend feels like an authentic adventure. The Mekong River, home to some of the region’s last freshwater dolphins and rich wildlife, attract an increasing amount of ecotourism. Cambodia draws in visitors from all over the world. Learn more about the remnants of the mighty Khmer empire that can still be traced through the breathtaking temples of Angkor.
There are two sides to the kaleidoscope of cultures that is Malaysia: the uncharted jungle of Malaysian Borneo is home to amusing monkeys and wild orangutans, along with some of the world’s finest diving spots, whereas mainland Malaysia is marked by lively cities – not least the surprisingly futuristic capital of Kuala Lumpur – along with colonial architecture, lush forests and tea plantations, and calm islands not far off the coast.
Set so firmly in tradition in so many aspects of life, yet always reaching towards the future, Japan manages at once to conform to your expectations, subvert them, and surpass them, surprising you at every corner. The most diverse activities can be considered typically Japanese, from soaking in a countryside onsen to testing your skills at multi-story video arcades, tasting delicacies at Michelin-starred restaurants or cheap street eats, Noh theater, pachinko parlors and karaoke. With endlessly fascinating cities, spectacular natural beauty and a unique cultural landscape, Japan makes for unforgettable travel.
Taiwan is blessed with surprisingly diverse landscapes and climate for such a small landmass. The island nation is a combination of fascinating cities with non-stop entertainment and highly respected cuisine, and natural landscapes of staggering beauty, with lush forests and picturesque mountains and beaches. The western side of the island is an almost uninterrupted chain of cities and urban settlements (one of the most densely populated stretches of land in the world), while the east is largely uninhabited mountains boasting picture-perfect cliffs, gorges and dense tropical forest, each side offering plenty of wonders to discover. It’s not hard to see why the Portuguese dubbed it ‘Ilha Formosa’ (‘Beautiful Island’).
Prized cuisine, sandy beaches, gleaming Buddhist temples and paradisiacal islands all make up Thailand, the quintessential Southeast Asian destination for travelers of the most contrasting passions. Those seeking seclusion and relaxation will relish the spas and resorts, nature-lovers – gawk at steep, lush cliffs of Andaman sea islands, sports enthusiasts will try out surfing and kite-boarding, and absolutely anyone will take pleasure in visiting Chiang Mai, the country’s spiritual capital.
India has a lot to offer in terms of nature, culture and cuisine. In between exploring the snowy peaks of Himalaya, discovering untouched tropical beaches and observing jungle cats on wildlife safaris, have a taste of Indian cuisine with its aromatic spices and flavors that subvert everything you thought you knew about the region's culinary offerings. The long religious history of the country is reflected in a variety of colorful festivals and the intricate architecture of its sacred sites and temples. Despite the recent economic upturn, poverty, sadly, persists, maintaining a tangible class gap and presenting today's India with major challenges, which by no means takes away from the indisputable pull of this fascinating country of contradictions, a land unlike anything you've experienced before.
Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, is hard to compete with in terms of diversity in landscape, people and culture. It offers an inexhaustible variety of experiences and spots to explore, with every island being vastly different to the next. It is home to the ancient beliefs of the Asmat people of Papua as well as the spiritual Balinese. You will find yourself immersed in the rich culture of Indonesia everywhere you go, be it on the white sandy beaches or whilst exploring one of the nearly 100 volcanoes. Mysterious Indonesia offers a potential for adventure like no other place on Earth.
China is a vast land, with a climate ranging from tropical to subarctic. It is a demographic behemoth, with the world’s largest population and a staggering diversity of cultures and languages. It is the world’s oldest continuous civilization, with a rich history spanning millennia and endless potential for the future. It is one of the most fascinating countries in the world, and a traveler’s dream with some of humanity’s most recognisable and beloved landmarks (the Great Wall of China, of course, topping the list). With short-term visa-free stays available in a growing number of cities (for up to 144 hours in some cases), there has never been a better time to visit and try to tame the indomitable Red Dragon.