First on our list is Bhutan, a small Eastern Himalayan country ranked in the top 10 of countries for the highest diversity of native species and wildlife. Buddhism plays a central role in Bhutanese culture. Men wear a Gho – knee length robe – and women wear a Kira – sheet like robe dress both can be very colorful and purchased as unique souvenirs. When traveling in Bhutan one of the most scenic destinations is the Paro Valley. It’s said that this valley resembles the Swizz alps, with high mountain snow peaks, low valleys of wheat and barley and a land gleaming silver with irrigation channels. Paro Valley is also where the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery is located. The prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex is located high in the cliff-sides overlooking the valley below. The transition from snow topped mountains to warm valleys is repeated all across Bhutan. Also not worth missing is the local unique cuisine. Bhutanese food can be very spicy and considered only for chilli aficionados but absolutely worth a mouthwatering meal or two.
Second on our list is Vietnam the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula. Don’t be turned away by past happenings as this country is rich in culture, full of friendly people and offers a diverse and delicious cuisine. You will most likely arrive in Ho Chi Minh a city rich in French colonial architecture and wide boulevards filled with motorbikes and shops. You can also explore the more recent history of the country including the War Remnants Museum. Travel on to the Mekong Delta, where life revolves mostly around the Mekong river and many of the villages are only accessible by the rivers and canals. When in the delta enjoy a Cai Luong show, a form of Vietnamese folk opera. Another somewhat still hidden gem of Vietnam is Halong Bay. Touring Halong Bay showcases limestone landforms displaying spectacular pillars with a variety of coastal erosion features such as arches and caves which form a majestic awe inspiring scene. Although you may be familiar with Pho, Vietnam has many unique cuisine options including banh xeo a crispy crepe filled with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts or the easy to-go Bánh mì or Vietnamese baguette sandwich that combines ingredients from its French roots with native Vietnamese ingredients such as cilantro, hot peppers, and sweet pickled carrots.
Next on our list is Manila located on the eastern shore of Manila Bay, one of the best and natural harbors in the world. Manila is a vibrant metropolis with deep Spanish roots. Travel to Manila can offer a wonderful history and cultural experience especially Old Town Manila also known as the Old Walled city of Manila. The Spanish charm is unparallelled within the walls where you can tour stone palaces, colonial churches, eroded monasteries, Spanish fort ruins and fine courtyard houses. Once you’ve taken in the Spanish architecture its time to try the local cuisine. We recommend skipping the fine restaurants and trying some of the smaller eateries around town. Of course no stop in Manila is complete with out a shopping spree. Head over to the SM Mall of Asia or MOA. MOA is the 3rd largest shopping mall in Asia and the 4th largest shopping mall in the world.
If you’re looking for an exotic vacation travel to Sri Lanka is perfect. Known simply in antiquity as “Serendipity,” this tropical island has attracted visitors for centuries with its natural beauty, rich culture and diverse wildlife. The island consists mostly of flat to rolling coastal plains with mountains towards the southern part. Stop at the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela which provides care and protection for many orphaned wild elephants that are found wandering in and near the forests nationwide. It’s also recognized as one of the best wild Elephant conservatories worldwide. Another wonderful site to visit is the impressive archeological fort site of Sigiriya. Rising like a red giant this site presents a unique look into the past of Sri Lanka with additional surrounding site of interest including gardens , pool complexes, moats and the iconic Ruins of the Lion located just at the mid-entrance to the site. Once you’ve explored Sri Lanka it’s time to eat! A must food is know as a Hopper. It’s an egg cocked over and inside a cup of coconut-batter pancake with a helping of onion red-sauce. Delicious. Don’t be afraid to try Sri Lankan food, a mouthwatering blend of curry concoctions and deep fried dishes.
Last but not least is Sarawak one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Once know for its formidable head-hunters traveling to Sarawak still offers the chance for a real-life Indiana Jones type vacation including longboat rides down murky rivers, hikes through lush green jungles filled with tropical sounds and birds, rustic smoky longhouses and fascinating folk dances of strange creatures. The beauty of Sarawak is in its unparalleled blend of tribal traditions and a beautiful natural jungle settings. After exploring the natural wonders of Sarawak and colorful culture its time to taste the local dishes. One tasteful snack is the Popiah, a type of fresh spring roll filled with vegetables, meats and local spices the Popiah is a popular street food in Malaysia. Try the Char kuay teow, a wonderful mix of stir-fried noodles with a choice of meat or seafood and flavored with dark soy sauce topped with an egg. Yum!