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Asia

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Things to Avoid in East Asia

We enjoyed sharing our favorite places around East Asia the other week! This region is filled with beautiful, exciting, and interesting places. But, in our opinion, not everything commonly recommended to tourists is worth your time. So here’s the other side of the coin – seven places you could go without seeing in East Asia.

Penang Hill, PENANG, Malaysia

After hours on a bus, we arrived at a lackluster location. The cable car was expensive. The view was average. It’s a waste of a day – and years later, my friends still blame me for dragging them there. Don’t make the same mistake! Head to Monkey Beach instead.

Turtle Temple, Hanoi, VIETNAM

The Turtle Temple in Hanoi is one of its most famous attractions. It’s also hugely disappointing! Despite being described as a “must see,” there really isn’t much to it. It’s in the middle of a lake, so all you can do is look at it from a distance. It’s also very small, so the view (and your photos) won’t be that impressive. True, the story behind it is pretty interesting, and we’d recommend looking that up if you enjoy history and myths. But it’s not worth a visit unless you happen to be walking in that area of the city anyway.

Chiang Rai, THAILAND

This little town is a typical stop on Thailand’s tourist trail, but it’s only because of the White Temple. While this attraction is very unusual, it’s also quite small – you’ll barely spend any time on it, and there isn’t anything else in town to explore or even a good nightlife scene. Instead, rent a scooter and head to the nearby mountains for stunning hikes and waterfalls.

The Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong

This is probably the most disappointing, hyped up show we’ve ever seen. How did it become world famous? We could barely see the lights! There was no rhythm with the music, and the lights came from random buildings in no particular order. It’s worst if it’s raining, but even with clear skies it’s very hard to see the weak powered light beams – are they powered with AA batteries?

The South of Laos

Yes, the whole region. Avoid it at all costs! The people are rude, and there’s nothing to see. Its transportation systems are torture. After crossing the Cambodian border, we made the mistake of trying to head north by bus. The North is actually rather pleasant, but by the time we got there we were already tired of the whole country. We had been warned this would happen, but we ignored the advice. Don’t make the same mistake.

Sukhumvit 11, BANGKOK, THAILAND

Bangkok This used to be a favorite destination for our nights out! But it has changed over the years. Several bars have closed down, they no longer serve cheap drinks from vans on the street, and what’s left has very little personality or edge. You’ll mostly find expensive restaurants and a couple of average pubs full of tourists.

If you’re looking for a night out in Bangkok, we’ve got you covered. 

A Guangzhou Boat Cruise, China

This experience was so dreadful! We paid a lot of money to go up and down a river we’d already walked along several times for free. There was no worthwhile view. The particular cruise we chose sold bowls of small tangerines and warm cans of beer – nothing else. We thought we’d eat dinner on the boat. Instead we were starving for the whole trip, and trapped on boat hoping we’d get back to land before most restaurants in the city closed.

East Asia really is stunning with so much amazing stuff to see and do. We would recommend it to anyone! But if your ever in the above areas, consider our warnings.

We’d love to hear your opinions, too! Do you agree or disagree? What attractions or activities let you down?

 

TRAVELERS OFTEN GET ASKED HOW WE’RE ABLE TO FIND THE MONEY, TIME, OR COURAGE TO GO ABROAD.

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6 Unusual Temples in Southeast Asia

Temples – they are some of the most frequented sights on the tourist trail in Southeast Asia.

After living here for several years, we have to confess that we usually skip temple visits when we’re traveling. After awhile, they start to blend together and we’ve started to think that many just look the same as the last.

Not everyone agrees with us – and that’s fair. There is definitely some stunning architecture to be seen. If you are a spiritual person, they can also be a very peaceful environment (when the crowds aren’t too heavy).

But even if you are in the same boat as us, we don’t necessarily recommend skipping every temple. Here are some that we find truly interesting and unique:

Angkor Wat – Cambodia

This complex is huge, and if you are committed to seeing the whole thing it would take all day (even if you usually breeze through places with impressive speed). Aside from its size, what sets it apart? The age of the buildings (dating back to the 12th century!) is so apparent, it feels like you’ve stepped into a different world. It’s almost like magic. The surrounding temples are also very unique – some resemble castles, some have mysterious faces carved all over the walls, and some look as if they are being swallowed up by the jungles around them.

Bagan Temples – Myanmar

Also ancient, and also massive, Bagan can be toured in so many fun ways. One of the most popular (but also expensive) tours is a hot air balloon ride. It is surrounded by plains and fields, allowing you to completely escape your modern life.

Shwedagon Pagoda – Myanmar

You’ll also find this shiny, gold temple in Myanmar. It’s makes up a prominent part of the capital city’s skyline, especially when it’s brightly lit up against the all the other darker buildings. It’s a beautiful sight while exploring during the day, and when it’s a backdrop to your night out.

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) – Thailand

This temple is partly a spiritual place of worship, and partly an art exhibit. This little twist gives it a completely new aesthetic that you won’t find anywhere else. Everything is white and sparkling. Dramatic sculptures are everywhere, from hands desperately reaching out of the ground, to dragons, to skeletons.

Sri Mariamman – Singapore

If you love lots of color, lots of art, and lots of detail, you will be delighted with this Hindu temple. There is so much to look at, it’s almost hypnotizing. The temple is bursting with life and energy.

Prambanan – Indonesia

Not only is this the oldest Hindu temple in all of Southeast Asia, its towering buildings are quite photographic. It is known for beautiful dance performances held at sunset at the neighboring park, with the temples as the backdrop.

Did we miss your favorite temple? Have you ever seen one that was just bizarre? Share it below and tell us why it was so interesting!

 

TRAVELERS OFTEN GET ASKED HOW WE’RE ABLE TO FIND THE MONEY, TIME, OR COURAGE TO GO ABROAD.

WANT TO KNOW HOW WE DO IT?

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE GUIDE.