Let’s face it, every girl has a Pinterest board of all the places she wants to visit. And Asia has always been on the top of my list. The diverse cultures, beautiful scenery and exotic experiences available are beyond alluring! But choosing where to go, setting an itinerary, and finding the right guides in Asian countries can be difficult to navigate, especially for more novice travelers. So I called on Jennifer Raines, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator from Asia Transpacific Journeys for expert travel tips and tricks for an Asian vacation this autumn.
What can people gain from the tours that they wouldn’t be able to have by going at it on their own?
Expertise, access and peace of mind.
Asia is a complex destination—designing a trip there requires in-depth knowledge. Asia Transpacific Journeys has been curating the very best experiences in the region for nearly 30 years. We’ve investigated all the accommodation, touring and transportation options, so you don’t have to.
Why is Asia a unique destination for anyone from around the world?
Asia offers a fascinating contrast of tradition and modernity, ancient temples and animist rituals, booming cities and peaceful countryside. But what keeps us coming back year after year is the unmatched warmth of the local people. Whether it’s from cosmopolitan businesspeople or rice farmers, the sense of genuine welcome as a traveler in Asia is infectious.
The Asian culture is very rich and ancient, but also quite varied by country and region. How can visitors prepare for that?
We advise our travelers to focus their journey on a single country or region (ie. Indochina, or South India and Sri Lanka), based on their individual interests, timeframe and travel style. This approach allows for a deeper, more meaningful travel experience as you can truly immerse yourself in the history, cuisine and culture of that area. All of our travelers are accompanied by expert, local guides to facilitate this process and provide a true insider’s perspective. Just remind yourself—you can always come back!
Give us your top three favorite places the tours can take visitors!
That’s like trying to choose a favorite child! All of our destinations are so rich and fascinating in different ways. A few of the most popular at the moment are:
- Myanmar (Burma): This mysterious country still offers the chance to step outside the ordinary and visit a world far from your own. In areas that were completely off the map only a decade ago, you will find archaeological treasures, great natural beauty, colorful bazaars, joyous religious festivals and some of the friendliest, most welcoming people.
- Indonesia: Occupying 17,000 islands scattered across the Pacific, Indonesia covers an area comparable to that from California to Bermuda. Home to over 300 distinct cultures, the archipelago arguably the most culturally diverse nation on earth.
- Indochina (Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam): The countries of old French Indochina are culturally linked, yet remarkably distinct.
Tell us about authentic Asian cuisine?
We’ve found that the nuances of cuisine are so intertwined with Asian tradition and history that culinary experiences are a natural part of our itineraries. […]
Depending on ones interests, we can arrange everything from hikes through Kerala’s fragrant spice plantations, to chef-led street-food tours of Asia’s gourmet metropolises, to experiential cooking classes in some of Asia’s top restaurants to personal lessons and meals in local family homes all over the continent.
We are all shoppers here! What are some goods that you can only get from Asia?
Each country has its own specialties. In Vietnam, custom-tailored clothing makes a wonderful souvenir. In India, whole spices or tea, bought from the farmer who grew them, make wonderful gifts. Indonesia is the place to score authentic Ikat textiles. And Japanese and Chinese ceramics and lacquerware are always favorites as well.
What are some must-packs when planning an Asian vacation?
The specifics depend on your destinations and the season but, in general, our biggest packing tip is to pack light! Clothes will get sweaty quickly and luggage restrictions on inter-Asia flights can be restrictive—laundry service is readily available at hotels, so it makes sense to pack fewer outfits and wash them more often.
Choose lightweight clothing in breathable natural fabrics. Long pants/skirts and longer sleeves in light colors can actually keep you cooler by shading you from the sun and provide appropriate modesty in temples or traditional, rural environments.
If you’re a shopper, pack no more than half of your luggage restrictions on your way to Asia and include a lightweight, collapsible duffle bag. Then when you accumulate treasures on your travels, you can rest assured you’ll have plenty of room to bring everything back with you!