Asia's Most Wanted: What We Found Out from the AirAsia Travel Report
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Asia’s Most Wanted: What We Found Out from the AirAsia Travel Report

Photography: travel 3Sixty° Photoblog

MOST-VISITED DESTINATIONS

Popular is an understatement for these destinations, which attracted the most fliers out AirAsia’s 100-plus destinations.

1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

KLCC © Jeffrey Fortuna Hamid
KLCC © Jeffrey Fortuna Hamid

As AirAsia’s regional hub, Kuala Lumpur is the shoo-in for the top destination for travellers in the region who use it as a base for low-cost flights.

Batu Caves © Alston Lim
Batu Caves © Alston Lim

It also delivers good value for money, with excellent rates for hotels and guesthouses that make it worth staying for colonial-era buildings, the Petronas Twin Towers, not to mention numerous options for dining and both brand-name and low-cost shopping.

2. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket © Hakim Salleh
Phuket © Hakim Salleh

For islands and beaches, it’s hard to match Phuket. The island itself has a string of beaches, each with its own character. Further out, numerous islands are favoured by divers and kayakers.

Phuket Big Buddha © Nic Cheah
Phuket Big Buddha © Nic Cheah/Niumowang Pictures

There are few places where you can change up the pace with the snap of a finger, and Phuket is one of them. When it comes to outdoor activities and nightlife, Phuket is legendary. When all of that gets old, a motorbike ride to the Big Buddha on the hilltop is in order.

3. Bangkok, Thailand

Tuktuks © Beatriz Woodrow
Tuktuks © Beatriz Woodrow

There is nothing quite like Bangkok, a heady mix of East and West. Shopping at its endless malls and markets is incomparable.

Wat Benchamabhopit © Matthew Luis Rahardja
Wat Benchamabhopit © Matthew Luis Rahardja

Head down the Chao Phraya River on a water taxi or go on a dinner cruise for a glimpse of local life. The Grand Palace is truly jaw-dropping.

4. Singapore

Marina Bay © Syamsul Bahri
Marina Bay © Syamsul Bahri

Singapore is a modern miracle, a commercial outpost where efficiency and planning bore abundant fruit. Beyond the landmarks dotting the Marina Bay area, the island is chock-full of attractions.

Singapore Botanic Gardens © Teo Lay Chong
Singapore Botanic Gardens © Teo Lay Chong

Close to the far end of Orchard Road, the Singapore Botanic Gardens presents a rare treat: thousands of species and hybrids of orchids. Don’t miss the galleries and museums that show how this city-state became the cultural powerhouse it is today.

5. Penang

Char kway teow © Irvin Hanni
Char kway teow © Irvin Hanni

The first thing that Malaysians think of when they mention Penang is the food. And it’s understandable—any hawker dish with “Penang” appended to it will magically become the stuff of dreams.

Shophouses in George Town © Cheryl Yong
Shophouses in George Town © Cheryl Yong

Then again, it’s not just about the cuisine. Maybe it’s got something to do with George Town’s shophouses and street art that make every Instagrammer happy to come back for more.

MOST-SEARCHED DESTINATIONS

You looked them up on airasia.com, but will you book? Maybe it’s time to find out what the hype is about.

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Loi Krathong © Latonia Joibi
Loi Krathong © Latonia Joibi

Northern Thailand’s mix of culture and nature appeals to temple hoppers and elephant lovers.

Chiang Dao © Peter Vanosdall
Chiang Dao © Peter Vanosdall

It’s where city dwellers go to escape the city without going crazy and where you can go well off the beaten track with its access to national parks. Bangkok’s laidback sister is also the gateway to hippie haven Pai.

2. Tokyo, Japan

Women in kimonos © Paolo Gimeno
Women in kimonos © Paolo Gimeno

Tokyo is the world’s premiere megapolis, where the future seems to already be here, even as its citizens straddle tradition and modernity.

Cherry blossoms over the Meguro River © Gavin Butler
Cherry blossoms over the Meguro River © Gavin Butler

The urban sprawl may appear endless, but once you’re away from the train tracks, you’ll be close to poetic gardens and temples that are distinctly Japanese.

3. Cebu, Philippines

Bantayan Island © Joyce Trumata
Bantayan Island © Joyce Trumata

The Philippines’ second largest metropolis is the jump-off point for white-sand islands, waterfalls and mountains.

Sinulog © Moon Ray Lo
Sinulog © Moon Ray Lo

With historic churches, scrumptious food and boisterous festivals, it’s happily a much more liveable city than the capital and a worthy stop when you tour the archipelago.

4. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei skyline © Paul Ratje
Taipei skyline © Paul Ratje

Beyond the iconic Taipei 101, the city is not so much after superlatives but a more healthy and sustainable way of life.

Fisherman’s Wharf © Trang Duy Khai
Fisherman’s Wharf © Trang Duy Khai

The abundance of street food at the night market, lovely scenic towns only a train ride away, and wonderful people should be enough reason to book that ticket right away.

5. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Kampung Tegudon Kota Kinabalu Sharif Putra
Kampung Tegudon © Sharif Putra

KK is where Borneo adventures begin. You don’t even need to be a climber to appreciate the lofty peaks of Mt Kinabalu.

Sutera Harbour © Caitlin Doonan
Sutera Harbour © Caitlin Doonan

Islands cannot be removed from any itinerary. And those magnificent clouds at sunset put on a stunning show every day.

ON THE RISE

These are the ones to watch out for. Will you be the among the first to go?

1. Da Nang, Vietnam

My Khe Beach © David Tann
My Khe Beach © David Tann

Central Vietnam may not get the same recall as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but it’s worth exploring precisely because its character is so different.

Hoi An © Matteo Candino
Hoi An © Matteo Candino

Here, it’s about the relaxing beach, the romance of the riverside, and the slow pace of life in the heritage city of Hoi An.

2. Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang © Mayur Gurg
Luang Prabang © Mayur Gurg

There are numerous reasons why Luang Prabang should be on your radar. Once the capital of an ancient kingdom, it is a place frozen in time, where ethnic groups bring out their wares at the night market.

Kuang Si Waterfalls © Katie Baines
Kuang Si Waterfalls © Katie Baines

Nature is close to untouched and the city is still green, its riversides quiet and undisturbed. Small but elegant, it’s the boutique town of Indochina if there ever was one.

3. Puerto Princesa, Philippines

El Nido © Tanguy Ribiollet
El Nido © Tanguy Ribiollet

Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan, an island that inspires dreams of all shades of blue.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River © John Earl Macabulos
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River © John Earl Macabulos

As the gateway to Honda Bay, El Nido, the subterranean river, and the famed Tubbataha Reef, it is the best remedy for those deficient in Vitamin Sea.

4. Hyderabad, India

Chowmahalla Palace © Sharmilla Abdullah
Chowmahalla Palace © Sharmilla Abdullah

The heart of Hyderabad’s heritage, the Old City is full of wonders in the form of a fort, a palace and numerous monuments that show the power and wealth of the dynasties that ruled it.

Market outside Charminar © Mohd Suhail Bin Mohamed Rahmat
Market outside Charminar © Mohd Suhail Bin Mohamed Rahmat

It is also a city of bazaars, with a dazzling array of crafts, jewellery and textiles available every day of the week, in addition to weekend street markets that will satisfy both bargain hunters and photographers. For Tollywood (Telugu) film buffs, Ramoji Film City should be a part of your itinerary.

5. Chiang Rai, Thailand

White Temple © Si Yean Pin
White Temple © Si Yean Pin

It’s impossible to say Chiang Rai without thinking of the White Temple, a haunting monument to art and spirituality.

ChiangRai-bySzymonZielinski2
Paddy fields © Szymon Zielinski

It may not be as famous as Chiang Mai, but Chiang Rai is where you can come to soak up the simplicity and beauty of the northern tribes and the landscape.

EXPERIENCE ASIA: AirAsia offers the lowest fares to over 130 destinations. Book your seats, accommodation, holiday packages and activities now at airasia.com

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