Choosing a gift for a loved one is never easy, and all too often we fall back on the obvious choices. If it really is time for you to buy something special for your partner, why not take them somewhere different, somewhere perhaps a little mystical and mysterious? Why not look for exciting, interesting and original things to do in Asia?
This most diverse and wonderful of continents is easy – and affordable – to get to these days, so here are some ideas we came up with that will make for an unforgettable and very special trip, and that are little out of the ordinary!
1. Experience Modern Beijing
The first on our list is an invitation to experience one of the most curious, busy and different cities in the world. China’s capital, Beijing, was once a dull, depressed place with little to entrance the visitor in way of places to eat and drink, but this now-thriving and fascinating city is something very different indeed. Find a street café and experience proper, Chinese tea – you’ll never look back.
2. Remember Bruce Lee
Think of the Orient, and we Westerner’s think of the Kung-Fu master himself, the great Bruce Lee. His final residence in Hong Kong is now a memorial to the great man, one who single-handedly popularised the martial arts film for general viewers, and while not on a large scale, it’s worth a visit if you enjoy his movies.
3. Relax on Burma’s Inle Lake
For something very different, head to beautiful, unspoilt Burma, and take a boat out onto Inle Lake. There is nowhere else as peaceful as this marvellous location, where the local fishermen ply their trade in their unique boats with conical nets, and you can sail yourself and enjoy tranquillity in a country that is rarely frequented by those from the west when it really should be.
4. Go Diving in Clear Seas
The seas and oceans around many Asian countries are an unrivalled clear blue, with plenty to see and some quite stunning underwater landscapes. The wildlife is unique, and a trip to the Similan Islands in Thailand, India’s Andaman Islands or amazing Komodo Island off Indonesia – to name just a few – might just be one of the best gifts you can buy for a diver, and there are many more of the world’s finest diving sites to explore in Asian waters.
5. The Other Great Wall
Head to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and see the magnificent city from the heights of its ancient wall. Steeped in myth and legend, this is one of the great unsung sights of the whole of Asia, dating from the 6th century and the subject of many fine folk tales, yet free of the crowds of visitors you have to deal with on the Great Wall of China.
6. Drive the Karakoram Highway
Acknowledged as one of the most remarkable and spectacular roads in the world, the Karakoram Highway links the cities of Islamabad, in Pakistan, with Kashgar in China. This road through the Himalaya, Hindu Kush and Afghan Pamir mountain ranges is quite simply astonishing, with peaks more than 20,000ft high towering over you, and sheer drops of terrifying depths lining the roads just beside you. It’s a journey of a lifetime, if you dare!
7. Experience the Canidrome
Macau is famed for its high-stakes casinos, but we recommend you’ll enjoy a better night out at the Canidrome, the last dog racing track in Asia. It’s thrills a-plenty as the greyhounds astound with their speed, and you can bet here in tiny amounts!
8. Peshawar for the World’s Best Fish
Regarded as one of the culinary delights of the world, fresh fish in spices and chickpea flour, deep fried on the banks of the mighty rivers, isn’t to be eaten in fancy restaurants, but outdoors among the many street vendors in Peshawar, Pakistan. Eaten with your fingers, there is simply nothing like this – it’s an absolute must.
9. Manila in December
The wonderful capital of the Philippines, Manila, is the venue for the Grand Marian Procession, a stunning tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary that takes place on the first Sunday in December each year. There is no sight like the massed worshippers and marching bands passing before Manila Cathedral at night, accompanied by illuminated floats, anywhere else in the world.
10. Tiger Leaping Gorge
For the hikers among you, Tiger Leaping Gorge – in China’s Yunnan Province – offers an opportunity to walk through a spectacular pathway once only used by tea merchants. With hostels at the many villages along the way you can take your time, and don’t miss the simple Halfway House Inn for a cold beer, and a visit to the toilet with the world’s most spectacular view!