Revisiting Asia’s Favourite Destinations
Thailand’s vibrant capital city of Bangkok, Cambodia’s Siem Reap and its ancient temples of Angkor, Vietnam’s ancient trading port of Hoi An and Japan’s mystical city of Kyoto. These classic destinations have been drawing in visitors from all over the globe for centuries, beckoning travellers with promises of adventure, thrilling cultures and exotic locales. But what is it that makes a destination classic? Is it the rich history, spiritual allure or exotic traditions? A combination of them all?
Whatever the attributes are, classic destinations consistently provide memorable experiences, `wow’ visitors and always live up to their hype. Regardless of time, modernisation, increased popularity or commercialism, these destinations stand true to their roots and never fail to offer visitors unforgettable experiences. So what are some of these favourite `classic’ journeys that never seem to tire?
THAILAND: VISIONS OF ANCIENT SIAM
Thailand paints a truly eclectic picture for travellers looking to experience classic Asia. On one side, days are filled with spiritual retreats, glistening temples, monks walking the streets and wild, exotic landscapes. On the other hand, itineraries can be filled with luxury stays, famous nightlife, world-class cuisine and some of the best entertainment in the region.
For visitors looking for the `classic’ trip to Thailand, our Holiday With a Twist captures the essence of this multifaceted nation. 10 days combine visits to both the capital city area and the far north, with additional stops in the country’s most famous historical corners.
Kicking off in Bangkok, visitors get a proper taste of what the City of Angels has to offer, with street food tours, a visit to the Royal Palace, temple excursions and traditional Thai massage therapy.
The experience carries on to the beautiful town of Kanchanaburi, with stops made to some of Asia’s most unique and memorable markets. Elephant experiences and iconic train rides are followed up by a stint in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya before heading to the northern reaches of the country. Three days in Chiang Mai highlight a different, more laid back face of Thailand, with ancient temple visits, hill tribe wanders, home cooked meals and some time in the surrounding national parks.
After trekking to the main village, enjoy a welcome by the village leader and experience an overnight inside one of the villager’s houses. A trip that combines natural beauty with immersive cultural experiences- definitely classic!
JAPAN: THE ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCE
Japan poses a unique conundrum to travellers. While it is ripe with amazing destinations from the northern tip of Hokkaido to the southern beaches of Okinawa, its classic visits are so captivating they can be hard to leave! Although EXO Japan offers tours all over this incredible country, our Essential Japan trip focuses on the truly classic experiences: Tokyo and Kyoto.
Nine days spread between these two landmark locales, sending guests on a journey of one classic experience after another. In Tokyo, visitors experience the beauty of Meiji Shrine, the eccentric Harajuku area and Geisha District of Asakusa, followed by optional day trips to Kamakura and Nikko. Onsen experiences and visits to Mt. Fuji follow in Hakone before the trip wraps up in Kyoto.
From the Nijo Castle and revered Buddhist temples to Zen rock gardens and the atmospheric Higashiyama District, visitors are treated to a complete Kyoto experience. The visit is topped off with a day trip to the ancient capital of Nara, which is the perfect ending to a classic journey.
CHINA: THE TRADITIONAL TRIFECTA
In an epic country such as China, there are seemingly endless destinations worth exploring. When it comes to the classics however, there are three spots that cannot be missed. Our Classical China with a Twist tour spends 10 days exploring these icons, highlighting the best offerings of each destination.
For many first time visitors to the `Middle Kingdom’, there’s no better place to start than the capital city. During a four-day stint in Beijing, visitors tour some of the city’s classic and contemporary offerings, rotating constantly between old and new. From Beijing’s hutongs and the Forbidden City to the Great Wall and Temple of Heaven, the first four days don’t miss a beat.
The experience continues onwards to Xi’an where the stoic Terracotta Army awaits. After visiting this world-famous archaeological find, the itinerary reveals just how unique Xi’an is as a destination. Cycling excursions and food tours expose the ancient ramparts and vibrant Xi’an Muslim Quarter before continuing the tour in Shanghai.
The last five days of the trip cover China’s contemporary marvels, displaying what makes Shanghai so special. Vintage bike rides and strolls along the Bund are offset by architectural sightseeing tours, inspiring museum visits and strolls through the once-infamous French Concession. For those seeking an itinerary that focuses on the best of China’s classic sites, this 10-day journey does the trick.
VIETNAM: A COMPREHENSIVE CLASSIC JOURNEY
Vietnam is unique in the fact that it’s hard to pinpoint just one `classic’ destination. At first glance, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi seem like the most likely candidates. Upon further review, however, the draws of the Mekong Delta, ancient port town of Hoi An, imperial offerings of Hue and natural marvels of Halong are far too memorable to ignore.
Our Classic with a Twist experience combines all these classic destinations and more within a comprehensive 12-day getaway. Starting in the north, travellers get acquainted with the capital city attractions before discovering the majestic beauty of Halong Bay and natural wonders of Tam Coc. The journey continues south along the coast to Hoi An and Hue for some unique heritage visits, before wrapping up in the deep south. From explorations across Ho Chi Minh City to the floating attractions of Cai Be in the Mekong Delta, the latter part of the journey wraps up some of Vietnam’s most intriguing offerings.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF CLASSIC: INDONESIA’S FLORES
It’s not always history and world-famous culture that make a destination classic. Sometimes Mother Nature plays her hand in the experience as well. In a destination such as Indonesia’s island of Flores, this is just the case. EXO Indonesia has crafted a 9-day journey that covers some of the area’s most mesmerising offerings- many of which visitors have never heard of before! From the kaleidoscopic lakes of Kelimutu and the pristine waters of 17 Islands National Park to the brilliant nature and wildlife of the more well-known Komodo National Park (home of the Komodo dragon), Flores has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
In addition to its natural offerings, Flores also provides visitors some alternative cultural experiences. The journey includes plenty of local village encounters where guests can experience a truly distinct way of living seldom found elsewhere in Asia. Among the many village stops, perhaps the most memorable is Wae Rebo.
CAMBODIA: ANGKOR AND BEYOND
There’s no questioning that classic Cambodia is associated with the monuments of Angkor. These timeless structures are a testament to the Kingdom’s royal roots and formal grandeur and are a must-visit for any traveller to Cambodia. It would be an oversight, however, to think that Cambodia is only associated with these spectacular temples.
Our Cambodia In Depth tour not only covers some of the most famous and lesser-known temples of Angkor, but also sends guests into some of the other classic destinations that Cambodia offers. Extending from Tonle Sap and Battambang to Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, this 11-day journey helps show travellers just how much Cambodia has to offer beyond the marvels of Angkor.
Whether visiting for the first time or coming back to experience it all over again, Asia’s classic destinations are classics just for that reason: whatever the allures may be, there’s always something calling travellers to go back for more.