11 Underrated Destinations in Asia-Pacific To Visit Before the Year Ends

Whip out your good ol’ passport and dust off your trusted backpack, it’s time to plan for your next adventure. If you’re feeling like you’re in a rut and in need for new destinations to explore, boy, do we have some suggestions for you! The sky’s the limit when it comes to your travel plans! But let’s start with the following 11:

1. Goa, India

Isolated from the rest of the country for more than 450 years by Portuguese rule, Goa has a distinct identity compared to the rest of India. Today, young visitors from all around the world are still drawn Goa’s creative energy. Many can be found chilling at the laid back beaches like Calangute and Anjuna, just like they did back in the 1960s with floral headbands and groovy tunes.

There are some unique cultures to be discovered as well in Goa, thanks to the Portuguese influence. You can visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus, famous among Catholics around the world as the home to the remains of Saint Francis Xavier who led missionary works around Asia. There’s also the Shree Shanta Durga Temple with its attractive Indo-Portuguese architecture.

But many would argue that the best thing about Goa is actually its wholesome cuisine. No one can say no to vindaloo (meat with vinegar and spices) or fenny/fenim (cashew spirit)!

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Goa from Kuala Lumpur and Bengaluru. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

2. Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Kaohsiung might the second largest city in Taiwan, but the massive port city plays second fiddle to no one. With an abundance of night markets (Ruifeng and Xinjuejiang), temples (Fo Guang Shan and Yuanheng) and endless Instagrammable spots all over the city, Kaohsiung is definitely worth visiting.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Kaohsiung from Kuala Lumpur. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

3. Pontianak, Indonesia

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The name ‘Pontianak’ might raise eyebrows over in Malaysia, as the city is named after a feared spirit in Malay folk story. But the capital of West Kalimantan is a charming city with a diverse background thanks to Dayak, Malay and Chinese influences. It is also the gateway to some of the most amazing natural attractions in the province, including the biodiverse lake systems of Lake Sentarum National Park, the key area of orangutan conservation in Betung Kerihun National Park, and the gigantic granite dome Mount Kelam.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Pontianak from Kuala Lumpur and Kuching. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

4. Pattaya, Thailand

Remember when you had to go through Bangkok every time you wanted to go to Pattaya? Well, not anymore! With direct flights from various cities in Southeast Asia, it is now easier than ever to visit the sun-kissed beaches of Pattaya like Jomtien and Bang Saen. Although known for its intriguing nightlife attractions and cabaret shows, Pattaya is still a destination for everyone with family-friendly attractions such as water parks and fun museums.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Pattaya from various destinations. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

5. Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Originally named Tanjung Puteri, Johor Bahru is the state capital of Johor and second largest city in Malaysia. You will be charmed by its historical buildings, cultural attractions, breathtaking scenery and exciting cafe culture.

Pop by the Grand Palace and Royal Abu Bakar Museum Area if you want to get a feel of what it’s like to be royalty. Venture out to Rawa Island to find an island paradise that is every beach-goer’s dream come true. If you’re more for that chill vibe, you’ll be happy to find that Johor Bahru is teeming with trendy cafes catering to hipsters and caffeine addicts alike.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Johor Bahru from various destinations. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

6. Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Dhaka is the flourishing, colourful and overcrowded capital of Bangladesh. A must-visit is Lalbagh Fort, a centuries-old fort built by the son of a Mughal Emperor, and Ahsan Manzil Museum, a grand museum that focuses on the ‘Nawabs’ or provincial governors or viceroys of old. Shopping can be done at Kawran Bazar, reputedly the largest wholesale market in Dhaka.

Are you familiar with that ‘made in Bangladesh’ tags found at your favourite street luxury brands? Well in Banga Bazar, famous for factory overruns that would otherwise get exported elsewhere, you can find similar items for a fraction of the price you get at your local stores!

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Dhaka from Kuala Lumpur. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

7. Malé, Maldives

A destination that is consistently on everyone’s honeymoon wish list, the Maldives is a tropical nation in the Indian Ocean blessed with beautiful atolls. It’s known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs. But if you think the Maldives and its over-the-water bungalows are only accessible to well-heeled honeymooners, think again. With a bit of planning, budget travellers can definitely enjoy this paradise for less.

Male, the island capital of the Maldives, one of the world’s smallest national capitals. A daytrip is enough to get a taste of local life here. You can watch the locals swim with full clothes on at the Artifical Beach, catch a glimpse of the president’s palace (Mulee-aage, a modest colonial-style built in 1906), and drop by Hukuru Miskiiy (Old Friday Mosque, built in 1658 and is made of coral stones).

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Male, Maldives from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

8. Changsha, China

The capital of Hunan Province, Changsha is big, brimming with people, and one of China’s mostly rapidly modernising cities. It is also famous as the birthplace of Mao Zedong, one of China’s most revered political figures.

Changsha also serves as the gateway to the stunning countryside beyond. Remember that beautiful landscape in Avatar? It was inspired by a real-life location, found at the Wulingyuan, Zhangjiajie. The site is famous for its quartzite sandstone pillars and Changsha is the gateway to this scenic and historic interest area.

Trust us when we say you wouldn’t want to miss out on the food! Hunan food is considered one of the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese cuisine and is well known for its hot and spicy flavour, fresh aroma and deep colour.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Changsha from Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

9. Can Tho, Vietnam

Image: AirAsia/Chew Win Win

You’ve been to the bustling city of Hanoi, you’ve also cruised through the crowded waters of Ha Long Bay. All the excitement makes you think that it’s time to wind down and get back in touch with nature. So where do you go? How about taking it easy in Mekong Delta Region, and ideal place for some peace and quiet in the countryside. Located in Southern Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is a dizzyingly beautiful maze of canals and rivers dotted with small islands, a region famous for its mangrove forests, pagodas, delicious food, Khmer influence, fresh produce and floating markets. Being the largest settlement in the region, Can Tho is well equipped with all the modern trappings, making it the perfect jumping off point for your trip around the Mekong Delta Region.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Can Tho from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

10.  Clark, Philippines

Due to its location near Manila, Clark is a popular weekend getaway for people from the Philippine capital. But more than that, the former home of a sprawling US air base has its own charm as a vibrant modern city. Shopaholics will relish the city’s numerous duty free shops and international dining options, while adventure seekers can take an aerial tour of the majestic Mount Pinatubo. Feeling nostalgic for days gone by? Take a tour of the city’s fascinating historical landmarks, including old theaters, decommissioned military facilities and parade grounds. On top of its countless fixed attractions, Clark plays host to a variety of special events all year round.

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Clark from various destinations. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

11.  Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

Image: AirAsia/Chew Win Win

If you’re always dreaming of going to Honolulu, the American island state of Hawai`i, it’s now easier than ever to make your dreams come true. The bustling city of Honolulu is Hawai`i’s capital city located in Oahu, the most developed part of the entire archipelago. It’s a great jumping stone to the neighbouring Maui, Kaua’i, Moloka’i, Ni’i’hau, Lana’i, and Kaho’olawe. With an abundance of beaches, scenic hiking trails and awesome food scene in Hawai`i, there’s so much to see and discover!

GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Honolulu, Hawaii, from Kuala Lumpur and Osaka. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com

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