Saturday, September 22, 2018 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

5 Great Asian Travel Destinations You Might Not Have Even Heard Of

Asia is home to 4 billion folks, as well as the world’s highest mountain peak (Mount Everest, of course!). When most people think of Asia they probably think of common countries like China, Malaysia, and India. But did you know this continent is home to nearly 50 countries total? There are so many incredible Asian countries for you to discover. With more people than all other continents combined, Asia is a hub of activity and adventures waiting to be had! Below are five countries that you may not have thought of visiting before; in fact, you may have never even heard of some of these places!
 
Mongolia

Boasting one of the lowest crime rates in all of Asia, Mongolia is a beautiful place to explore! Home to over 3 million people, this country is located in East Asia and offers travelers an abundance of activities. Not only that, if you love sunshine then this is definitely the country for you. You may associate sunny vacations with sandy beaches and blue waters, but folks in the Mongolian countryside enjoy over 250 days of sunshine each year! It’s no surprise that Mongolia has earned the nickname “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky.”

Mongolia is the perfect country for nature lovers. With beautiful natural parks, including the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, as well as stunning cliffs, and valleys, this country is rustic, rugged, and welcoming. If you consider yourself a nomad, there’s no better culture to immerse yourself in. In fact, between 30 and 40 percent of Mongolians consider themselves nomads. These folks make a living by farming livestock, constantly on the move to find the best weather conditions at different times of the year. If you’re looking to avoid the masses of city life, take a trip to magnificent Magnolia!
 
Mongolia
 
Brunei

This lovely little country is a jungle lover’s paradise. Located on the island of Borneo, Brunei is a hop, skip, and a jump from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Home to under half a million people, this island country offers the perfect mix of nature experiences and city life. Ulu Temburong National Park is a must-see if you visit Brunei. This protected forest offers jungle and canopy walks where you’ll find 400 types of butterflies, countless birds, and Bornean gibbons.

Looking to get out of the forest for a bit? Be sure to visit Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB), the capital of Brunei. Home to the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque (decked out with chandeliers, stained glass, and Italian marble), BSB holds some of the world’s most stunning architecture and gold-domed palaces. If you’re up for a bit of fun and play, BSB is also home to an amusement park called Jerudong Park. Whether you’re with family, friends, or are on a solo adventure, Brunei is an exciting country to venture to.
 
Brunei
 
Timor-Leste

Looking for your next great beach getaway? Timor-Leste also referred to as East Timor, is a country in Southeast Asia on the island of Timor. Not far from Australia, Timor-Leste is full of coral reefs, untouched beaches, and over one million folks. If you’re visiting Timor, you won’t find many other foreigners. In fact, if you’re looking for a vacation spot that’s not overrun with tourists, then this is the perfect spot for you. Remote villages are aplenty here; you’ll find empty roads, peppered with dogs, chickens, goats, and piglets!

Mount Ramelau is the country’s highest peak, with a statue of the Virgin Mary adorning the top. If you’re planning a visit, it’s recommended to hire a tour guide. Your guide can help you find the best spots to explore, as well as help you with the language barrier. Ataúro Island is another great spot to check out in East Timor. This island is actually said to have the most biodiverse waters in the world! So, grab your camera, your snorkeling gear, and your hiking shoes, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
 
Timor Leste
 
Bahrain

The third-smallest country in Asia, Bahrain is actually made up of more than 30 islands in the Arabian Gulf. Not far from the opulence of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain is home to a growing food and art scene of its own. With a population nearing 1.5 million, Bahrain is an oft-overlooked tourist destination, meaning you’ll have room to explore without hordes of crowds everywhere. If you’re a history buff who enjoys interesting architecture, Bahrain has plenty to offer. From the Al Fateh Grand Mosque to the Arad Fort, this country is full of cultural artifacts.

Bahrain is also home to the “Tree of Life.” This 400-year-old Prosopis cineraria tree stands alone, on a hill in the Arabian Desert, surrounded by miles upon miles of sand. Quite the phenomenon, even scientists aren’t quite sure how this tree continues to survive. A lack of water paired with temperatures exceeding 110 °F, this tree continues to produce green leaves and shade in an otherwise formidable environment.
 
Bahrain
 
Oman

Oh man, you have to visit Oman! Home to over 4 million folks, Oman is an Asian country that, like Bahrain, is located in the Middle East. Oman offers a chance for travelers to explore an authentic country, rich with history and natural beauty. From the mountains to the deserts to the stunning coastlines, Oman truly has everything for your next adventure. Grab your hiking shoes and head to the Jebel Shams– this is Oman’s highest mountain, also known as the Mountain of the Sun. Don’t forget your camera because the views at the top are unmatched.

You may also be surprised by the valleys in Oman which are referred to as “wadis.” The country is home to tons of accessible wadis, each one more unique and special than the last. Wadi Shab is known for its stunning submerged caves with waterfalls, rocky cliffs, and tantalizing turquoise pools. Other beautiful wadis include Wadi Al Abriyeen, Wadi Damm, and Wadi Ad Dayqah. Dive in and wade into these wadis during your trip to Oman!
 
Oman
 
Discover all that Asia has to offer and let us know where you’ve been in the comments below! Have you been to one of these five countries? Are you planning a trip? We’d love to know!
 

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