Destinations still relatively untouched by the hand of tourism. This collection of experiences takes you all over the continent from Mario-Kart races in Japan to extreme safaris in Borneo.
Explore the Taman Negara Rainforest, Malaysia
I went to Malaysia in November 2018. I didn’t know what to do in a country that many people told me offers not one interesting destination. Some people even asked me to cancel my trip and continue my stay in Bali. I didn’t listen.
I landed in Kuala Lumpur and enjoyed the delicious Chinese and Tamil-Malaysian food of the city. Then I made way to Tamar Negara. A forest 500 million years old which makes it one of the oldest tropical forest in the world. The month of November is monsoon season for Malaysia, and rain was pouring down frequently throughout my stay. But the refreshing downpour didn’t do me any harm.
I booked a tent in a camping place about 15 minutes away by Jeep from Tamar Negara. The entire camp had around 100 tents, but I was the only one staying there for monsoon. I would wake up in the morning, take the jeep to the river crossing for Tamar Negara, cross it by boat, and venture into the forest, alone. I trekked in the forest for 2-3 days. Sometimes on my own and at times with travel friends, who saw me hiking by myself and wanted to accompany.
The dense forest of Tamar Negara where I could only hear the crickets and cicadas buzz felt even more surreal as there were not many people to break the silence of nature.
El Nido is the quintessential experience when visiting the Philippines. Palawan island itself is nothing short of a magical paradise. Black jagged rocks jutting up from the deep blue sea. Fringed with palm trees and greenery as small boats chug along their coastline. It’s pretty much as close to paradise as you can get if you ask me. And island hopping around El Nido will take you straight there. Grab a tour. Slap your snorkel on, and swim with the fish, spot starfish, climb to viewpoints, eat the freshest seafood lunch you’ve ever devoured. If you have enough time, wake up and do it again the next day on a different island tour.
One of my favorite Asia experiences is touring the coffee farms outside Dalat in Central Vietnam. Vietnam is the world’s third-largest exporter of coffee beans. Not bad for a traditionally tea-drinking nation. Most crops grown are grown in the fertile Lam Dong Province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Hire a scooter or jump on an easy rider tour to visit the family-run coffee plantations outside the city. There you can learn all about the bean-to-cup process before sampling a few of the different varietals.
Take a Wildlife Safari in the Deramakot Forest Reserve, Malaysian Borneo
One of Borneo’s best-kept secrets. Deramakot Forest Reserve in the Malaysian state of Sabah is one of the best places to see the island’s wildlife. Orangutans, Pygmy Elephants, and Rhinoceros hornbills are just the beginning! Spend a few days, and most importantly nights, in the forest and you could spot the elusive Clouded leopard, Marbled cat, Binturong or even a Sun bear.
To explore Deramakot you will need to join an organized tour that would include a guide, a driver and a cook. There are no shops or petrol stations within easy reach. But despite the park’s remoteness, you don’t have to rough it in Deramakot. The accommodation comes equipped with hot water showers and air-conditioning.
Make sure to pack a rain jacket and a dry bag for your electronics. Borneo is one of the wettest places on earth. It can rain anytime, and when it rains, it really pours.
Pattaya – a city on the eastern Gulf of Thailand that is known for its beaches. This was my first taste of Thailand and I wasn’t very impressed by the beaches. But, thankfully, there are tons of other awesome things to do in Pattaya. From getting a taste of the raucous “walking street” to taking a trip up the Big Buddha Hill, and exploring the island of Koh Larn, you’re spoiled for choice of things to do here.
One of my favorite experiences was wine tasting at Silverlake Vineyard. I do love my wine. But even if you are not a fan of the drink, the tour is so worth it. The vineyard has been designed in such a way that you will be driven by lakes, a European styled Windmill, and gardens that feature beautiful flower displays. Silverlake Vineyard was the perfect escape from the city to the countryside. Surrounded by mountain views, it’s a picturesque setting and a beautiful place to enjoy some lunch and a couple of glasses of wine.
Driving the streets of Tokyo in a Go-Kart dressed as a super-hero is one of the must-do experiences in Asia. Japan, in particular, offers this amazing experience that became viral over the last couple of years. The company MariCar has multiple locations in Tokyo. And different routes that allow you to tour Tokyo in the most unique way. You can see the most symbolic things in Tokyo through this real-life Mario Kart tour. (The Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, Shibuya Crossing, etc.) If you want something unique in Japan then definitely don’t miss the real-life Mario Kart!