From Cambodia’s magnificent Angkor Wat to India’s iconic Golden Temple and Indonesia’s exotic Gili islands to Japan’s timeless Kyoto, we bring you the best of Asia, in our epic world travel guide series.
It would not be an exaggeration to state that the splendor of Angkor Wat is perhaps only matched by Machu Picchu. The legend of the Khmer Empire has certainly had its charm rub off on Cambodia’s booming tourism. While the temples are undoubtedly the nation’s poster child, Cambodia has more to offer.
The capital of Phnom Penh has led a renaissance thanks to its world class culinary scene. However, Siem Reap is not to be left behind. Trendy bars and cafes in the lively Pub Street keep its patrons entertained for hours, including Angelina Jolie who in return, has a cocktail named after her during the Tomb Raider days.
Next, refusing to be left behind by Thailand, the Silkhaonville region is home to your best island getaway. Untouched beaches and amazing dive sites are the name over here. If that does not float your boat, then head over to the massive Tonle Sap lake. The chance to explore the floating villages on a long boat and gain insight into the daily lives of the warm Khmer people are all part of a truly authentic getaway.
In India, it’s all about the colors. The big, bright and bold colors that leap right towards you. And Punjab is India’s rainbow city.
Here, feast your eyes to the royal blue costumes of the Nihang (Sikh warriors). The fiery red Punjabi suits and dazzling pink turbans worn throughout the city. The bright green paddy fields and vivid yellow mustard flowers as far as the eye can see. Or maybe the deep, dark green platters of melt-in-your mouth saag (a spinach based dish). Topped with rich, yellow spoonfuls of smooth ghee (clarified butter). Finally, the irresistible deep-fried orange jalebi (mini Indian pretzel-like sweets). In Punjab, witness the colors that celebrate life, like there is no tomorrow.
For a dose of the extraordinary, the 123RF World Travel Guide picks Amritsar. The sacred city is home to the heavenly Golden Temple. From afar, the golden dome simmers away under the sunlight. Each second spent in admiration only draws you closer for an eye-opening adventure.
Next, make your way to the massive 24/7 operated community kitchen. Each bite of a meal over here pays tribute to the sheer will of thousands of volunteers who sacrifice everything in the name of feeding a stranger. No matter your skin color, this Sikh home of worship promises a humbling experience. Here, the only currency that matters is one’s humanity.
The World Travel Guide highlights Indonesia as our favorite spread of buffet. This sprawling country offers a treat for every traveler. Volcanic mountains meet lush rainforests. Bustling streets meet idyllic beaches. And amusing orangutans meet fearsome Komodo dragons.
Here, begin your journey in the spectacular Borobudur. This massive temple resembles the Buddhist version of the universe. Borobudur’s mandala-inspired design is believed to enable pilgrims to connect with nirvana. The building’s stupa is at the heart of this prophecy. Likewise, Borobudur is at the center of Indonesia’s history and culture.
Additionally, no trip to Indonesia would be complete without visiting its beautiful beaches. If Bali is too crowded for your liking, opt for the Gili Islands instead. Situated just off the coast of Lombok, three gorgeous islands make up one of the world’s best dive sites. Gili Trawangan is the most urban of its siblings, with plenty of high end resorts. Meanwhile, Gili Meno is the ultimate escapade. Gili Air though does well to combine the best of the partying and peace.
Next, visit the Komodo National Park for a truly unique experience. This UNESCO World Heritage Centre enables you to walk alongside dragons in some of Indonesia’s most breathtaking natural settings.
For the 123RF World Travel Guide, Japan is timeless. Ancient culture and traditions meet the cycle of a modern day life. Kyoto undoubtedly offers the best of both worlds. Japan’s spiritual heart is home to over 2000 temples, beautifully weaved and held together by one the finest religious architectures ever seen.
The Fushimi Inari – Taisha is the best and most important building in Kyoto. Situated at the base of a mountain, the endless chili red torii gates guides travelers into a world of its own, deep into the heart of the woodlands. The city’s grand architecture is also visible in the iconic Kinkaku-ji. This ‘Golden Pavilion’ simmers under the sunlight and is bound to attract travelers from far and wide.
For something a little different, head to Gion. Origin of Kyoto’s popular geisha district dates back to the days of tea houses. Today, a stroll late in the evening is a great way to explore another aspect of this fascinating city.
Additionally, Japan’s fierce spiritual force is also seen in the celestial Okunoin. Built in the memory of Kobo Daishi, the massive Buddhist cemetery is set deep into the heart of the sacred Mount Koya. If there ever is a place to give you goosebumps while leaving you in awe, this is it. Rays of light break through the forests’ canopy and onto the many graves, vines intertwine like an eternal love story and incense perfumes the entire woods. If you’ve ever wondered what heaven looks like, you’ve come to the right place.
The World Travel Guide relates Malaysia to a grandma’s hot wok. When hunger strikes, this Southeast Asian kitchen staple has fed family and friends for decades, with a range of treats. Just take a moment to think about the different variations of fried rice itself!
Likewise, Malaysia has fulfilled a traveler’s hunger for a variety of activities and attractions. For city kids, look no further than Kuala Lumpur. The country’s capital is a perfect blend of obvious delights like its plethora of 24/7 eateries and speakeasy bars that will take your Instagram game as high as the Petronas Twin Towers.
Penang meanwhile, is perfect for you to wander away and discover the legends of the Khoo Kongsi clan house and a quirky collection of street art. Next, Pahang is a gem for nature enthusiasts, with the country’s over 100 million year old sprawling National Park. Additionally, Malacca is a must see for history buffs, especially since you can explore Portuguese and Dutch influence on colorful rickshaws while lending your ears to Bollywood melodies.
As for those looking to get their tan on, the duty-free island of Langkawi is the pick of the bunch. However, for the best bang for your buck, sail across to Sabah and Sarawak. Here, tackle the peak of Mount Kinabalu, go snorkeling in the country’s clearest waters, earn a tribal tattoo by a local chief, and attend a music festival in the heart of the jungle. Finally, follow the perfume of the garlic, chili and shrimp paste to satisfy your hunger with a treat from the legendary wok.
Pakistan is not for the faint-hearted. The streets are very much alive and kicking, kebabs and biryanis burst with bold flavors, mountains soar higher than the clouds and buildings are adorned with some of the best works of art. Unfortunately, Pakistan has been overlooked due to its security concerns. However, it’s time to put aside your fears and banish the misconceptions of this remarkable land.
The bustling city of Lahore remains to be the soul of the country. The city is a cultural melting pot, so be sure to sample Lahore’s fantastic street delicacies. Also, do check out the stunning Sheesh Mahal complex. Located in the historical Lahore Fort, this pavilion is adorned with the finest works of architecture that oozes with a magical affair.
Next, head to the iconic Mohenjo-Daro to step into the times of the Indus Valley civilization. Finally, for the best experience, rent a ride and explore the road of the beautiful Karakoram highway. For the 123RF World Travel Guide, this is a for a road trip like never before.
What this tiny island city lacks in size, it makes up for with a series of world-class attractions. And the all-new billion dollar Jewel lifestyle hub in Changi Airport bears the soul of this city. Accessible from outside the airport, this section homes a collection of gardens, luxury stores, a canopy park, cinema and hotel.
However, for our world travel guide, the pick of the bunch here is the rain vortex, a waterfall that majestically drips from the glass roof to the ground floor of the Jewel. For the best experience, come at nightfall, as this spot transforms into a fascinating display of lights.
Singapore’s glitz and glamour is also rubbed off in the swanky Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay. The former accommodates the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool, while the latter illuminates the night sky and could feature in the next Avatar film.
Despite oozing with extravagance, no trip to this island nation is complete without a pit-stop at the humble Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Chicken Rice & Noodle, the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred dish. Set in a hawker center, a communal-like eatery, this is where you come to experience Singapore, as a local.
Often left in the shadow of Thailand, this Southeast Asian gem has something in store for every traveler. Can’t get enough of sun, sea and sand? Phu Quoc offers exactly that. This beautiful island is perfect for anyone looking to lay in hammocks all day in any one of its idyllic beaches. For the best experience, rent a speedboat, head out to An Thoi islands and spend the day snorkeling and feasting on fresh seafood.
Next, situated in the central coast, Hoi An is famed for its Old Town and canals. Once a bustling port, this part of the city is now dotted with family-owned, old Chinese wooden shop houses, offering anything from tailoring services to cute little restaurants. For the best experience, pop by at night and take a stroll, with the waters from the calming canals being music to your ears.
Looking for more travel inspiration? Stay tuned for our next globetrotting tales. In the meantime, get your hands on our stock photos to help start your travel diary!