Believe it or not, Asia isn’t all bright lights, busy streets and death-trap traffic. Yes, restless cities like Bangkok and Beijing are renowned for their heady mix of chaos and culture, but there’s also plenty of places to visit when you need to take a well-earned break from the madness. Don’t get me wrong, we backpackers love the madness, but let’s face it, the constant sea of people and endless partying can be pretty exhausting after a while. So, when you need to recharge your batteries and get some down time, here’s where to make your escape and chill out in asia.
5. Hoi An, Vietnam
Just south of Hanoi lies the indescribably charming old town of Hoi An. Think lantern-lined streets, colourful markets, beautiful ancient architecture and a glowing riverside that really comes to life at night. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to lounge bars and restaurants, and there’s even a beach nearby for lazy days. All in all, a great place for anyone to recharge when travelling through Vietnam.
4. Koh Rong, Cambodia
Koh Rong is the ultimate desert island getaway. Only two hours from Sihanoukville by boat, there’s no wifi, no ATMs and only 4 hours of electricity per day, so you’ve got no choice but to kick back, relax and work on your tan. I know, such a hard life. If it couldn’t get any better, you’ll probably be staying in beach hut-style accomodation and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean every single night. Perfect. Unless, of course, you fancy taking a midnight swim, in which case you’ll find yourself skinny-dipping with neon green plankton that you can only see at night. Truly amazing.
3. Ubud, Bali
If yoga, meditation and positive vibes are your thing, then you’ll love Ubud. It’s hard to believe that a place like this exists in such close proximity to the hedonistic town of Kuta, but I for one am glad it does. A few days here was just what I needed after 10 days of fun on the Gili Islands. Located amongst rice paddies, it’s the ideal place to find some balance and re-energize. You can take all kinds of yoga classes, join cycle tours through the countryside, eat delicious healthy food and enjoy countless massages. What could be better?
2. Kyoto, Japan
If you want to experience a more traditional Japan, then Kyoto is the place to go. Compared to other cities like Tokyo and Osaka, there’s less crowds, a slower pace of life and a variety of zen gardens and ancient shrines to explore. For me, this is exactly what my frazzled brain needed after a whirlwind week in Tokyo. Note to self: Having no GPS in Tokyo gets you very, very lost. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case in Kyoto. It was the perfect place to unwind. If you’re ever in town, spend a day at the famous Fushimi-Inari temple and take time to wander the pretty streets of Ninenzaka. Oh, and if you spend the evening in Pontocho you might just spot a Geisha…
1. Khuang Si Fall, Luang Prabang, Laos
Hands down, one of the most beautiful and memorable places I visited during my time in Asia. In fact, I had to force myself to put the camera down and really appreciate my surroundings. Trust me though, it’s hard not to get snap-happy in such a picturesque place. Located in the sleepy city of Luang Prabang in north central Laos, this three tier waterfall is a must-see if you’re in the area. You can book a tour from your hostel and it’s just a short minibus ride away (and well worth the bumpy roads). Oh, and don’t forget to take some swimwear, there’s no way you’ll want to miss taking a dip in the clear, cool water.