Asia is a continent unlike any other and is a total dream for travel lovers and those who love to explore and understand worldly cultures. Temples, food markets, dense green forests and white-sand beaches are just some of the ingredients that make this location so extraordinary.
It is no surprise that Asia is a popular location for travellers looking to explore new lands, but there are some significant and beautiful locations that are often forgotten and underrated but hold secret messages and secluded spots that are key to the history of these stunning countries.
In this article, we uncover overlooked locations that you can discover on your next cruise adventure, just remember to take a look at our cruise deals or luxury cruises to find the perfect cruise for you once you are done reading.
Situated on the west coast of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is a capital city that often falls off the radar when it comes to popular tourist destinations. A city full of outstanding sites, a cruise stopover in this magical city will certainly leave its visitors with a lasting memory.
Magical temples and modern architecture of opposing styles are found in abundance in the city. Marking the skyline ever since the capital was founded in 1857, the Petronas Twin Towers are the landmark of the landscape and were the tallest buildings in the world when they were completed at the end of the ‘90s. Cruisers can enjoy an eclectic mix of old and new as they wander through the streets of this Malaysian gem, tucking into traditional street food and soaking up a culture unlike any other. This forgotten gem is really one not to be missed.
The city of colour, Busan is a location on the coast of South Korea that truly has to be explored to be believed. This secluded city is nestled between grassy mountains and shimmering beaches, making it the perfect location for those who want to experience culture and adventure all in one.
Sitting in the shadow of Seoul to the north, Busan is actually the second-largest city in South Korea but is often disregarded for other, more popular locations like Jeju-Si and Jeju-Do. Travellers can enjoy an abundance of fresh fish markets selling species of all types to passers-by and serving them in local, Korean restaurants.
For cultural lovers, a trip to Busan Tower, a 120-meter high tower with views to die for should be on the cards. Built in 1973, get a sense of how Busan has changed over the years before learning a little more about the culture that serves the people. A coastal or mountainous walk from the edge of the city offers the best views over the colourful rooftops that make this location so iconic.
Yokohama is often called the gateway to Tokyo but offers a whole lot more than just the city by the bay. Just a short train ride from the centre of the Japanese capital, Yokohama has an appealing vibe with quiet and uncrowded streets and a chilled and relaxing atmosphere.
Take a walk along the front of the bay and enjoy the glistening of the city lights in the calm waters or walk the side streets to find independent art galleries and jazz clubs all offering a cultural insight into everyday life in the city.
Laura Blackhall, the founder of Hello! Tokyo Tours told us a little more about why she loves Yokohama: “My favourite underrated place to visit in Asia is Yokohama. A beautiful waterside city steeped in history and packed with fun family-friendly attractions, it will delight the young, the old and everyone in between. As one of the first ports in Japan that was opened to foreign trade, Yokohama is a wonderful mix of East and West.
“On the low hills of Yamate around the port, you will find Spanish villas and Victorian residences; home to the early Western settlers. Downtown you will find Japans largest Chinatown; home to the early Chinese traders and fantastic street food. Along the waterfront, in fully restored and converted heritage red-brick warehouses you can shop in gorgeous boutiques. At the Cup Noodle Museum, you can design and make your own Cup Noodle in a 40-minute workshop! After that hit the rollercoasters at Comoworld and take a ferry ride around the harbour. Only half an hour from Tokyo, Yokohama is easily accessible and makes a fun and fascinating day trip.”
A misunderstood location at the south of Thailand, Phuket is the jewel of Asia offering crystal clear, turquoise waters and ancient architecture and cultures that are still present today.
The beaches of the island are unlike any other around the world, pearly white sands stand in contrast to the rugged and tree-lined rocks that peak through the surface of the warm waters. These tropical islands of the south are also a hub of delicious cuisine and local, homemade dishes that have been a staple part of the regional diet for hundreds of years. Wander into the city and enjoy some indigenous dishes before relishing in the museums and shrines that give travellers an insight into the real history of the island.
If you’re planning to stay in Thailand for a little longer, then a trip to Chiang Rai is a must and is easily accessible on a short flight.
We spoke to Josh Shephard who blogs at The Lost Passport and he told us why those who are visiting Thailand should make a visit to Chiang Rai: “Chiang Rai in the far north of Thailand remains one of the most underrated destinations in Asia. This quiet town is often overshadowed by the larger and more well-known city of Chiang Mai two hours to the south. While Chiang Mai is the second-largest city in Thailand, Chiang Rai is an almost rural town of just 69,000 inhabitants. Surrounded by waterfalls that seem to flow all year round, hiking trails through the lush green jungle, untainted ethnic villages, and mountain ranges with unbelievable lookout points, this is truly a destination that needs to be on your Asia bucket list. Oh, and don’t forget to make a quick trip to the unique Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten) and White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) for a truly unforgettable trip through the cultural north of Thailand.”
Jeju Island isn’t often the first location you think of when you think of Korea, although it is a hot spot for loved-up honeymooners, cruisers and travelling enthusiasts that many often miss off their routes.
We spoke to Samantha Elizabeth who blogs as There She Goes Again, she thinks that all travellers that visit Korea should stop off at the magical island:
“While Jeju is quite popular with local and neighbouring country tourists and has even been named a New7Wonders of Nature, it still manages to fly under the radar for the rest of the world. Most people coming to Korea never even make it off the mainland and prefer to stay in big cities like Seoul. However, Jeju is easily one of the best places to visit in the whole country. All around the island, there's something incredible to see, from the waterfalls around Seogwipo to the pillar rocks at Jusangjeolli, and the stunning sunrises at Seongsan Ilchulbong. Hike Hallasan, South Korea's tallest mountain, try some green tea after walking through the O'sulloc tea fields. And make sure to grab a lunch of Jeju black pork with a hallabong drink. Enjoy the best of Korea with a mix of Jeju's unique island culture while avoiding the bali bali (hurry hurry) nature of the mainland.”
If you’re planning your next cruise holiday, consider Asia as your next port of call and make sure you head to some of these underrated but utterly beautiful locations for a trip you will never forget.