Top Destinations in Asia
If you've had your fill of Europe and you're looking further afield for a holiday with a difference this year, Asia offers you a whole world of unexplored opportunities. Spanning 47 countries, this is a continent of huge diversity in terms of culture, language, cuisine and geography so not surprisingly, it pulls in all kinds of tourism, from beach holidays in Bali and culture in Cambodia to the rich extravagances of Dubai and the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong.
If you're venturing beyond the limits of where you would normally travel, you'll need to think about the new situations you're likely to face and get good travel insurance cover for extra peace of mind. Will my normal travel insurance cover me for treks across Nepal? Will I be covered for diving in the Maldives? Does my travel insurance cover the chances of unrest in countries such as South Korea? All of these are very relevant points raised by people travelling in Asia and checking the small print of your travel insurance cover will answer these and many other important questions.
If you're looking for the best Asian destinations, check out the lowdown and discover the best cultural and natural attractions of this vast and amazing continent in three very special hotspots.
The Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors and The Forbidden Palace are just some of the historical highlights waiting to be discovered in China, a vast country with a turbulent history spanning 5000 years. For unmissable views of rural China, indulge in a cruise along the Yangtze river, the cradle of Chinese civilisation. This vast waterway, which divides China into North and South both geographically and culturally, flows through 8 provinces and a cruise offers the chance to stop at local towns en route for shopping and sightseeing. The spectacular scenery along the Yangtze will offer you views of the Three Gorges and the chance to glimpse rural life and indigenous wildlife. Alternatively, follow the ancient trail of the Silk Road, enjoying highlights along the route including monasteries, temples and breathtaking natural attractions. The incredible beauty of China includes the majestic mountains of the North Tibetan plateau, the vast rice terraces of the South-West and the limestone mountains of Langshuo in the South. The Huangshan in the East is an area of outstanding natural beauty that epitomises China itself, with twisted pines, mists and sharp mountain peaks.
Immortalised in memories of old colonialism, India appeals to anyone looking for a cultural Mecca, a land of diverse landscapes and cuisine to make the taste buds sizzle. Indians love to celebrate and the colour of its many festivals reflect the captivating blend of optimism and tradition that pervades Indian culture. Whether you want to explore the country's bustling cities, relax on its golden beaches or take a fascinating look at a rural way of life that has not changed for centuries, you're guaranteed a kaleidoscope of experiences to stimulate the senses. You may opt to take a gentle houseboat cruise along the backwaters of Kerala, which once played a central role in the trade of coconut, rubber and spices. Tranquil and romantic, they now offer the perfect opportunity to glide through landscapes of unparalleled beauty with the chance to see rice fields and rare migratory birds along the way. Top of the must-see list of course is the iconic Taj Mahal at Agra, but make sure you visit at dusk to appreciate the opalescent pink hues of the marble as the sun sets. From the Portuguese flavours of Goa to the snows of the Himalayas, the wildlife of Tamil Nadu to the mosques and temples of Pondicherry, wherever your interest takes you, India will offer a land of surprises and contrasts that will add up to the holiday of a lifetime.
Jungle river cruises, rainforest treks and rare wildlife encounters sum up the unique flavour of a holiday in Borneo. This is one of the most precious hotbeds of biodiversity left in the world, making it a haven for nature lovers, eco-warriors and intrepid explorers. Across this island continent from Mount Kota Kinabalu in the north to the fertile river deltas of the mighty river Mahakam, Borneo's rainforests and mangroves are home to the rarest species of flora and fauna, including wild orang-utans, rare pygmy elephants, Proboscis monkeys and a staggering 2500 different species of orchid. Thankfully tales of headhunting and cannibalism have become a thing of the past here, but rainforest tours provide a fascinating glimpse into the culture of many ancient tribes who still live in stilted longhouses along the island's waterways and exist in harmony with nature. There is of course a gentler and more civilised side to the island, with modern resorts and hotels providing their own brand of paradise alongside some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With so many unmissable experiences on offer, there's no excuse not to make 2010 your year of adventure and head to one of the last vestiges of primitive earth.