Unearthed: 6 Asian travel destinations for 2013

AS travel continues to change and develop, there’s an ongoing search for unexplored and pristine destinations. Here are some to consider for 2013.

East Timor
War and conflict is all over in East Timor, making it one of the newest tourism destinations waiting to be discovered. Just one hour by flight from Darwin, East Timor has excellent diving, snorkelling, fishing, trekking and mountain biking. While much of the nation is developing there is already a tourism circuit that includes the capital Dili, the beautiful islands of Jaco and Aotaru, the regional centre of Baucau and the delights of the interior and the highest peak Ramelau.

Sunrise at Aotaru island. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Darwin, Northern Territory
Darwin has come of age in recent years with steps in urban renewal transforming the city landscape. There’s plenty of history for buffs seeking out WWII remnants, there’s also fantastic food and dining to be had at the markets and harbour areas around the city, the waterfront area is particularly splendid with a sunset cinema and even a wave pool, and there’s beach just outside the city limits with the famed sands of Mindil and its equally well known weekly market. Mindil is also home to the annual beer can regatta where boats made of beer cans are raced in the sea.

Darwin's annual beer can regatta. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
In Kota Kinabalu you can dine on succulent seafood, fruits and local delicacies; take a short boat ride out into pristine waters perfect for diving and swimming; organise your trek up the famed Mt Kinabalu a soaring 4000m over the city; and see wildlife as varied as orangutans, Malayan tiger and Proboscis monkey. It’s a feast for sights, sounds and experiences.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Kota Kinabalu. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Kathmandu, Nepal
The Himalayan kingdom is experience a resurgence in tourism numbers as peace returns to the nation. Kathmandu and the surrounding valley has numerous sightseeing opportunities including a number of UNESCO world heritage sites, excellent shopping in Thamel and plenty of colourful festivals year round. For those that like a bit of adventure it’s also a starting point for treks.

View from Poon Hill of the Annapurna range. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Kerala, India
While Goa has long been the beach destination of choice for holidaymakers to India, the joys of Kerala are still undiscovered by many. While beaches such as Kovalam are an alternative to the packed sands of Goa to the north, there is plenty to do away from the ocean front as well. A rich system of backwater canals makes for the perfect house boating holiday, while the cities themselves are full of old churches, synagogues and spices. Kerala is also home to Ayurveda and the oily, but relaxing massage, is the ultimate way to unwind on holiday.

Houseboating in Kerala. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Vientiane, Laos
Fifty heads of state from Europe and Asian nations met in the Laotian capital in November this year, pushing the city into the spotlight. With roads, hotels and other development taking place to accommodate the international guests, it’s also touted as a boom for Laos tourism. It’s not the only event they will host either, with the Asean Tourism Forum taking place here in January 2013. While the capital has a population of 800,000 it remains one of the most laid back in Asia, perhaps thanks in part to its watery location by a meandering bend of the Mekong River. This river not only provides plenty of lovely watery vistas and cool escapes during the hotter months, but is the feature in the annual boat racing festival and a good place to dine.  There are also some wonderful historic sights in Vientiane including temples, Buddhist statues and great markets.

Mekong River, Laos. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

To see the 2012 list click here.