Asia is a very popular travel destination and I can personally tell you that there’s amazing beauty in the countries of this part of the world. If you are from the west, you will find that the culture, history, and the daily life, even the people are so much different from our fast and work-focused life.
The islands, animals, exotic food, culture-rich cities, religion and other beliefs are just a few things to see here. Also, there is a big chance that you traveling to Asia will make you spend less money than your everyday city life.
Because of that, we worked with some of your favorite bloggers and travelers to write about their personal hidden gems in Asia to spark the adventurer inside of you.
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Read what your favorite bloggers have to say about Hidden Gems
Havelock Island of the Andaman Islands (India) by Drifter Planet
Thousands of kilometers away from the mainland, India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands are perhaps the most remote spots on the planet. Out of the 600ish islands in the group if Andaman and Nicobar Islands, only 9 are open for international travelers after they obtain a permit. Havelock Island is one of those nine.
I have visited many islands but nothing compares to the beauty of Havelock’s snow white sand beaches, clear blue water and colorful marine life. A large part of this island is covered in forest and it’s common to see many unusual birds here.
The most famous beach on this island is beach #7 but my personal favourite is beach #5. It’s special for me because it’s the most beautiful beach that I have ever seen.
Street food in Penang by Salt&Pepper Travel
We travel to Penang to experience food, art and culture that we don’t have at home in our own little piece of paradise. We discover something new each time, always want to go back and see and do more and we are never disappointed.
Buying food cooked fresh, right before you, being able to browse the whole streets variety of offerings before making a decision on what to eat or buy, streets full of people, activity and business, an unpretentious and honest atmosphere with a connected community. These are a few of the reasons why we will continue to visit Penang to seek out the hidden gems.
Samosir, Lake Toba, Sumatra, INDONESIA by Jeremy Marie from Tour du Monde
Samosir is a peninsula located in the Lake Toba, itself located on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. This lake was created millions of years ago by the massive explosion of a super volcano, so the result offers you a breathtaking view of a deep blue lake surrounded by its steep green mountains.
Home of the Batak people of Indonesia, you can still see here and there their traditional homes, with their roof that makes them look like an upside-down boat.
Tioman Island, Malaysia by Phenomenal Globe
One of the hidden gems of my 5 month trip around New Zealand and Southeast Asia was the tiny island Tioman, located about 32 km off the Southeastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The beaches on Tioman were amazing, the water was so clear I could see coral from the pier! There were giant lizards lurking in the river and monkeys crossing the street. With street I mean the 1 meter wide path running through the village, barely wide enough for the only tuktuk in town.
I spent 5 blissful days on this wonderful sleepy island. Half my time was spent in Salang, there were some small shops, a handful of accommodations and restaurants and a couple of dive stores. That’s all! It was bliss… I went diving for 2 days, did some hiking and hung out on the beach watching stunning sunsets. I never wanted to leave, to me Tioman is paradise!
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Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) in Cambodia by Wanderlust Storytellers
Koh Tonsay is a tiny little island just a 30 min boat ride off the coast of Kep Province in Cambodia. A place that is still fairly hidden away from the eyes of most tourists. A place that provides nothing but total bliss and relaxation! An island where you can still appreciate all of its natural beauty; beauty that is there from authenticity; beauty that comes from the bare necessities of life! Here on this island you will find no roads. You will find no luxurious resorts and no fancy beach furniture!
Access to WiFi is non-existent and electricity a luxury that only last for necessary hours of the day. Sometimes all you need in life is a place to unplug and escape the ‘normalities’ of life and that is what we found as we swung on a hammock in the breeze on Koh Tonsay Island. I know this island’s ‘secret’ won’t last for much longer! So best to go and enjoy it whilst it is still raw! Natural beauty, local vibes and a truly peaceful quiet oasis!
El Nido on the island of Palawan, the Philippines by Travelling Tom
The location is El Nido on the island of Palawan. Getting to El Nido is a task in itself, with a 5 hour drive on some dodgy roads from Puerto Princesa necessary, unless you fly direct from Manila. However, it is definitely worth the trip! El Nido is known as the last frontier, and reportedly was the location that inspired Alex Garland to write his famous novel The Beach.
Such is the remoteness of El Nido, there are no ATMs here, so be sure to bring enough cash with you! What you find when you arrive is a place largely untouched by tourism and some spectacular views! Doing one of the many boat trips that are available is an absolute must, as you will visit some incredible and places such as Hidden and Secret Beach!
This was probably my favourite place in the Philippines and I was gutted when I had to leave here, as the beauty of the place is incredible. You can’t leave the Philippines without visiting El Nido!
Elephant Mountain by Go Drift Away
Elephant Mountain or Xiangshan is where I had the luxury of getting the best view of all of Taipei, Taiwan. Go as the afternoon comes to an end to catch the sun setting as the city lights and the stars above begin to sparkle. It’s my personal definition of paradise. It’s a special place for me because I climbed to the top with some of the most amazing travellers and friends I’ve had the chance to encounter throughout my travels.
Hongdae, Seoul by La Carmina
This neighborhood is the indie heart of Seoul, and a favorite hangout for college students. You’ll find cute murals, Zombie coffee shops, and the latest in Kpop music and fashion. I love to explore the small streets, stop in cafes for snacks, and take in the art and energy of this exciting young neighborhood.
Mekong River (between the border of Thailand and Luang Prabang Laos) by Feathery Travels
Disregarding the ominous weather reports, we crossed the enormous Mekong river, no-man’s land between Thailand and Laos, in a tiny long-tail boat and paid our dues. Newly stamped, we began continued downstream in a more substantial slow boat. The journey took two long days, it was sweaty and a little cramped, but this unassuming way of travelling allows you a glimpse into life on the riverbank.
From the water, the forest looks uninhabitable, dense trees and steep mountains, but we spotted children playing in the shallows and men fishing every now and again. Over time we came across small villages placed sporadically along the banks, but there’s no big settlements on this stretch of the Mekong and plenty of time to think.
Haad Salad is on the northern part of the Island of Koh Phangan in Thailand by Make Time To See The World
I have had quite a love affair with SE Asia, but there is one place that really sticks in my mind as an absolute hidden gem. Haad Salad is on the northern part of the Island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. It is a beautiful sheltered cove, with only a handful of accommodation options meaning that you can practically have the beach to yourself and you will be blessed with some of the most beautiful over-water sunsets you’re ever likely to see.
In addition to that can snorkel on the reef that is only 50m from the shore and the hotels on the beach front have the best seafood BBQ’s I have ever seen or eaten from! It’s an absolute paradise and definitely one of South East Asia’s best kept secrets.
Jomblang Cave in Yogyakarta, Indonesia by Discover Your Indonesia
Jomblang (and Grubug) Cave in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta is one of the most amazing caving experience that I have ever experienced. Caving at Jomblang begins with abseiling 60 meters into a natural sinkhole. On the floor of the sinkhole is a hidden forest.
From there you will enter a network of caves and tunnels. You need to walk through a huge 250-meter tunnel to reach Grubug Cave. Grubug Cave is the highlight of the tour. There is a hole in the roof of the cave. A beam of sunlight filters through the lush foliage. In the morning it creates a spotlight that illuminates the cave. It is a beautiful scene that stops you in awe. The light illuminates a stone made from minerals deposited by drops of water falling from the roof of the cave.
At the base of the cave is a fast flowing river. It’s an amazing place to visit, but because Yogyakarta also has Prambanan and Borobudur Temples very few people visit the caves. A true hidden gem!
Mount Wudang Shan in China by JohnB Around The World
Mount Wudang Shan in China is one of the Five Sacred Mountains of China. It’s located in the Wudang mountain range of Hubei province. This is the place you should come to if you want to experience picture postcard China. The mountain mists slowly marauding through the hills as rays of sunlight break through the clouds.
You can spend hours taking in the view from the temples dotted across the various peaks.It’s a hard 30 or 4 hour climb to the top, but on a clear day the views from the top are the ultimate reward. I climbed it on my birthday a few years and although the entrance fee is almost as pricey as the mountain is steep it was worth it just to see some of the martial arts experts practicing amongst the UNESCO heritage listed buildings.
Mount Wudang really captured everything I hoped I feel and see in China so I always recommend people try to visit the mountain or one of the other famous mountains of China.
Krabi, Southern Thailand by Miss Happy Feet
From Bangkok Southern Bus terminal, take a bus to Krabi town where you will be introduced to Southern Thailand hospitality. Most visitors to Krabi will definitely go Island hoping. Private long tail boats can be hired in Krabi Town, Ao Nang Beach or Railay . With almost 200 islands and islets situated proximal to the Krabi coastline, most famous islands include Koh Phi Phi, Kho Ponda, Koh Lanta and Koh Kai.
Gardens by the Bay in Singapore by A Wanderphile
Gardens by the Bay in Singapore is absolutely amazing! It is a large public garden sprawling across 101 hectares that sit adjacent to the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel. These beautiful and unique grounds take your standard botanic gardens to a new level. It’s like an enchanted forest or something out of Avatar where you kind of suspect a fairy is going to fly past and tap you on the shoulder.
They are the perfect oasis away from the shopping malls of Singapore to take a short stroll or just curl up with a book. The outside gardens are completely free too!! Whenever I go to Singapore I go to the gardens literally every day as they are very special.
Canigao Island Paradise in Leyte, Philippines by Crizzy Kiss
My hidden spot is Canigao island paradise in Leyte, Philippines. It is an islet where you can walk around it for about 20-30 minutes. Only a few know about it, not all locals has ever even been there. Going to places like this in the Philippines is no luxury. Since Canigao is an islet, it is uninhabited. Therefore, don’t expect any hotel or resorts on the island. For me, this is what makes it a special place.
However, you definitely have the luxury of crystal clear blue waters, powdery white sands, beautiful sunset and sunrise and eating fresh sea foods. If you’re looking for a real paradise island experience that is secluded and doesn’t mind the a pretty basic accommodation, then Canigao island paradise is for you.
Cabo de Rama beach – South Goa, India by We Are From Latvia
Thinking about some peaceful week by the ocean? Cabo de Rama beach in South Goa might be the right choice for you. With just a few simple beach shacks, built right on the cliff, and one restaurant here it’s easy to get a feeling of being all alone in the world. Cabo de Rama beach is surrounded by cliffs, which make it even more like your private beach.
This deserted beach, 3 kilometres away from the main road, is easily accessible by motorbike. If you are coming by car, you will need to walk last few hundred metres. It’s hard to get here by public transport. Local bus is going by only like twice a day.
Though, beach isn’t too far from the nearest road, you can’t see it from the road. If you will get bored at some time, remember – Agonda beach is less than 10 kilometres away.
Alleppey in Kerala, India by Salt and Sandals
From coconut –palm fringed lined trees to wide spread paddy fields off the coast into the backwaters, to locals taking care of daily chores by the canals it is a mesmerizing site to behold. Kerala houseboat in the glistening back waters of Alleppey in Kerala, India makes for a picturesque sight.
Cruise in the backwaters of Alleppey, take a walk into the paddy fields or just laze around on the deck and catch the everyday moments and insight into the lives of people who stay in the background. Gliding down the calm and serene backwaters of Alleppey embraced by greens, see a rural Kerala preserved through the ages. It is not surprising that this is called the God’s Own Country.
Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls in Chiang Mai, Thailand by The Next Somewhere
Surprisingly not featured in any popular guidebook series, the Bua Thong Sticky Waterfalls continues to be a hidden gem for travelers traipsing around Thailand. I first learned of the waterfalls from a friend who was living there with a local family.
The waterfalls are located about an hour-and-a-half drive north of Chiang Mai in the Sri Lanna National Forest. To make the trip worth your while, the entrance is free! The waterfall gets its nickname from the limestone mineral that makes it the surface of the rockface incredibly easy to grip, hence the moniker “sticky”.
With the right pair of trekking sandals and a fearless attitude, you can climb up the waterfalls almost effortlessly or even down the waterfalls if you are feeling brave enough! There are three different levels of cascading water. You begin at Level 3 to climb the mountain side from bottom to top. On the third level, tucked away to your right, is a waterfall with a higher drop than all the other waterfalls. It’s perfect for a quick shower since the pools are too shallow to swim in.
Also, there are breaks in the canopy where you can see jungle butterflies fluttering around in the rays of light. It’s a scene from a dream. I loved how minimal the effects of tourism have been on this area. This is a local hang-out for sure and a great escape from the crowds of tourists found in Chiang Mai.
Roof Top Views of the Blue City, India by Adventure J
One of my favorite secret spots I came across while traveling in India was the Hotel Haveli located in central Jodhpur. It’s a beautiful old heritage property that is a wonderful example of traditional architecture and is very interesting to wander through.
While I never stayed here, I did dine at their roof top restaurant which offered incredible views of the “Blue City” as well as prime views of the imposing Mehrangarh Fort. Due to the height of the hotel (it’s one of the tallest buildings in the city) you can get above the city and have little to nothing obstructing your view (perfect for watching the sunset!).
This place was special to me because it was owned and run by my tour guides family and I just love getting above the city so I can get a full picture of just were I am (especially when the whole city is painted the same same color!). The hotel is surrounded by many restaurants and market places so there is a lot of choice on where to stay and dine, but I recommend stopping by here!
Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh in India by Unusual Traveler
Tawang Monastery, in the north east state of Arunachal Pradesh in India, is the largest monastery in India and second largest Buddhist Monastery in the world after the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The Monastery was built back in 1700th century and is today home to about 450 residential monks.
Since the Monastery it’s located so far of the tourist trail in India, and you even need a special permit to visit the state.
So do only a handful of foreign tourists visit the Monastery a year. And btw. Lonely Planet describes the road to Tawang as, “Probably the worst road in the world” by.
Flores in island of Kanawa, Indonesia by Mary Clare Travel Life
A very unique place in Asia , for me , a paradise to see is Flores and in particular the island of Kanawa , in the Indonesian archipelago . Gorgeous! Crystal clear water , white sand , starfish , fish .. where to find peace with yourself and the world.
Siquijor in Cebu, the Philippines by The Hungry Partier
My favorite hidden gem in Asia is an island called Siquijor in the Philippines. I have been twice and I am already planning a trip back beacuse it is that incredible. Siquijor is located off the Southeastern cost of Cebu Island, with a population of 90,000 people.
What I love most about this island is how relaxing the environment is, along with friendly locals and picture perfect beaches — you just can’t go wrong! Roaming around this island is like going in a time machine back 100 years. There are no materialistic goods, no hot showers and barely any access to the internet. It is a nice escape from reality, and you will not run into any foreigners. I highly recommend checking it out if you get a chance!
Flower Island, the Philippines by Nomadic Boys
The Philippines is a must for every traveller in Asia. It has so many undiscovered islands that you are bound to encounter you little Robinson Crusoe like vision of that tropical island paradise. Ours was on Flower Island near Palawan.
This is a small island with only ever a handful of people on it at any one time, with huts on the beach, surrounded by a magical underwater world and sits in the heart of a pearl farm. Oh – and did we mention those incredible sunsets…every evening??!
Alappuzha, Kerala –India by Anita Hendrieka
This place can only be described as a peaceful Indian paradise. It’s landscape and serenity is a beautiful change from the chaos of India. The perfect way to enjoy this region is to hire a houseboat and cruise down the backwaters with a drink in hand taking in the breath taking scenery.
Mataking Island in Borneo, Malaysia by Camels&Chocolate
My husband and I longed for somewhere off the beaten path, tropical and insanely beautiful for our honeymoon—only, we didn’t want to pay Polynesian prices for such a trip so Fiji and Bora Bora were out of the questions.
Our requirements were that neither of us had been before (ruling out Cook Islands, one of my favorite South Pacific nations), that the destination have stunning beaches and amazing diving, but that we wouldn’t go broke in the process of traveling there. We contemplated the Philippines, we toyed with the idea of Indonesia, then somehow in all our research, we settled on the Malaysian side of Borneo.
And off the beaten path it definitely was! We spent three weeks traipsing about the island dodging leeches, mingling with orangutans and encountering black spitting cobras, but the best part was the five days we spent on Mataking Island, a little slice of heaven in the middle of the Celebes Sea. From there, we were able to do some world-class diving, including at the famed Sipadan site nearby, where we saw torpedoes of barracuda, sharks by the dozens and turtles galore. The only thing I’d tell other travelers to Borneo is watch out for the triggerfish—they really do bite!
Karachi in Pakistan by One Step 4Ward
I was struggling to get a visa for Pakistan, but one of my facebook page followers, Faisal, offered to effectively sponsor me, pick me up from the airport and let me stay with his family in Karachi, Pakistan. I had the most amazing few days with Faisal and his family, and it’s so nice to see a beautiful, warm side to a country that the Western Media are so quick to denounce.
I went for dinner on the waterfront one evening, at a restaurant called Kolachi, people don’t expect restaurants like this in Pakistan, but it was beautiful as the sunset.
Pagudpud, Northern Philippines by Gamin Traveler
Philippines is one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, what with the many islands and beaches the country has, plus the friendly people, it was easy to travel here. We tried for the first time to hitchhike from Rachel’s city, until Pagudpud, one of the beaches in the northernmost part of Philippines, and it was beautiful.
Mostly, because the journey going to the beach, all the truck drivers and hitchikes we got going to the north, made the trip very special. We visited Pagudpud in a lean season, quiet, rainy, but it was evident that the beach was beautiful and special.
There you go. — amazing hidden gems from — of your favorite travel bloggers. We hope that you loved all these amazing stories and magnificent secret and not-so-secret destinations.
This blog post will inspire you especially if you are planning backpacking Southeast Asia.
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