7 Underrated Asian Destinations That Will Inspire You To Clear Your Annual Leave Right Now

Cliffside hotels and pop-up art exhibitions are just the beginning.

Cover image via Instagram @intrepidtravel

1. Enjoy the best of nature in Colombo, Sri Lanka

If Mother Nature's wonders are at the top of your travel priority list, pack your bags for this 'garden city of the 'East', with its lush boulevards and scenic beaches.

Mount Lavinia, 20 minutes away from the city, is a popular beach famed for its friendly people and laid-back nightlife. For a truly unforgettable stay, try the historic Mount Lavinia hotel, perfectly perched on a short cliff overlooking the ocean. Where else can you wake up to a view that spectacular?
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Spend an afternoon in the company of an incredibly large array of wildlife at the National Zoological Gardens, with over 79 species of mammals, 31 species of reptiles and 89 species of birds. Stay on until evening for the famed daily elephant show!

Be prepared for epic Instagram shots! While the day away at Galle Face Green Promenade, a picturesque park overlooking the majestic Indian Ocean.

2. Recount Asia's rich history in Dhaka, Bangladesh

The old part of the city, known as Old Dhaka, is home to a wide range of heritage dating back from the Mughal Empire and British Colonial era. Being the centre of the independence movements of Bangladesh, Dhaka is also home to significant national monuments and structures.

The half-finished, majestic Lalbagh Fort presents a slightly melancholic step back into the misty Mughal past of emperors and princesses. Diwan, an elegant two-storey structure, contains an excellent museum of Mughal miniature paintings, coins, carpets and calligraphy, along with swords and firearms.
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The Liberation War Museum, one of Bangladesh's most interesting museums, houses over 11,000 items in its collection, including rare archival photographs and items used by the freedom fighters during the 1971 Liberation War.
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For a unique look at Old Dhaka, hop aboard a rickshaw and go through the maze of narrow laneways. Get to know the locals and their daily activities, from jute cultivation to pottery making.

3. Get your culture fix in Yangon, Myanmar

The city's rich mix of British, Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences makes it a unique stop for culture buffs!
Image via Synergy Myanmar

Hop aboard the Circular Train for a glimpse of daily life in Yangon. Watch as the scenery transforms from the bustling city to village life, accompanied by an interesting mix of passengers (from vegetable vendors to monks to commuters).

Despite being Myanmar's iconic religious site, Shwedagon Paya has a considerably secular feel about it. The Pagoda, flanked by breathtaking sculptures of mythical Burmese statues, is home to a heart-warming mix of devout prayers, children's laughter and everyday chatters.

To catch up on literary readings, cultural activities and performances, and workshops, head on over to TS1 Yangon, the first pop-up project in the country. The space, of which the content is focused on Myanmar (with a twist!), houses a gallery, a retail space and the Port Autonomy restaurant.

4. Get the party started in Pattaya, Thailand

Located off the Gulf of Thailand, this small fishing village has grown into a popular beach resort offering a plethora of excitement, from pulsing beach parties to glitzy evening shows to exciting amusement parks.
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Whether you're looking for a bit of fun with pool parties or dancing the night away, the Pattaya Beach stretch has all you need! The beach is full of life with hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, bars, live music, karaoke and even Muay Thai arenas!
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Spend an evening in the sparkles of Tiffany's Cabaret Show. In a breathless hour-long riot of sound, colour and light, experience the best of song, dance and skit, from Bollywood musicals to Korean fan dances to the best of burlesque.
Image via AsiaOne Travel

If partying with Finn and Jake, and the rest of the Cartoon Network gang is on your to-do list, the Cartoon Network Amazone is just a 20-minute drive away from Pattaya.

5. Take a step back and relax in Vientiane, Laos

This charming capital of Laos, studded with crumbling French mansions, bougainvillea­-blooming streets and steaming noodle stalls, is nowhere near as hectic as the other Southeast Asian capital cities. Vientiane's laid-back atmosphere makes it the perfect destination for some relaxation and rejuvenation.
Image via Spot On Laos

Take your time at Wat Si Saket, one of the oldest and most atmospheric temples in Vientiane. With its contemplative ambience, the beautiful temple turned national museum is the perfect place to get to know the city.

Up the R&R feel a notch with a spot of yoga. Join Vientiane's yoga scene by dropping in to one of the city's numerous yoga studios, with Lemongrass Yoga being one of the most popular due to it being the home of the best yoga instructor in Vientiane.

Take the afternoon off and schedule for downtime filled with soothing massages, revitalising scrubs, and refreshing baths. Hotels like Green Park Boutique Hotel house a full-service spa.

6. Whet your appetite in Padang, Indonesia

Sandwiched between the mountains and the sea, Padang is the modern face of Minangkabau culture and the colourful, robust cuisine the region gave to the world.
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Start off your Padang trip with a wholesome meal of... what else? Nasi Padang! Take your place at the table and watch as endless dishes get piled up, ready to be gobbled up! As long as the must-haves like ayam pop (lightly-fried spiced chicken), rendang and heaps of sambal are included, you're good to go.

Share your culinary journey with your family and friends by picking up some unique snacks as souvenirs! Don't leave Padang without loading up on Kripik Sukun (breadfruit slices deep-fried to a crisp), Kripik Sanjay (cassava chips fried in coconut oil) and Kacang Tumbuk.

To cool down after a heavy, spicy meal, take a dip in the cooling, clear waters of Lubuk Minturun. While away the day in this secluded wonderland, with the calming sound of the waterfall as the main soundtrack.

7. Snap picture-perfect shots in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Cities built on oil money tend to be flashy places, but this capital city of Brunei remains a charmingly understated place.

The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is a sight to behold, with its main dome made of pure gold. No expenses were spared in the making of the majestic mosque, from imported Italian marble pillars and flooring, to crystal chandeliers from England, to ornate carpets from Saudi Arabia.
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The labyrinth of Kampong Ayer, with its colourful houses built on stilts and endless connecting bridges, is bound to result in amazing snapshots. The self-sufficient water village, complete with its own mosques, police stations, schools and petrol stations, is a photography gem just waiting be discovered.

For photography buffs, doing the Ulu Temburong National Park's canopy walk at sunrise is a recommended activity to nab spectacular shots! While you're there, have yourself a complete rainforest adventure, from waterfall trekking to night jungle walks.

Imagining the epic Instagram captions on your travel snaps already? Time to start planning the trip!

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Whether it's the historical charms of Dhaka or Padang's colourful cuisine that's got you dreaming for a vacation, tick them off your travel list now with AirAsiaGo! Get access to crazy flight-and-hotel package deals here.

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