These are the Best Places to Visit in South Asia This Year
Sometimes when I skim travel magazines and sites for the latest stories and discovered destinations I see the same ones all the time. I think to myself, the world is a big place, there must be another spot to venture that hasn’t been over-explored by the millions before me. Some of my travel writing friends thought the same! For the next installment in Fill My Passport’s Travel Oscar Series of nominated destinations for varied merits, here are the nominees for the best places to visit in South Asia.
Bardia National Park in Nepal
Most people don’t know that Nepal has lush jungles teeming with wildlife and even if you have heard of the Nepali Jungles then you might have heard of Chitwan, Bardia’s cousin closer to Kathmandu. But my nomination for best travel destination in 2018 is Bardia National Park for its remote villages and natural tiger habitats.
Bardia National Park is the best place in the world to see wild tigers and as long as you hire a local guide you can trek through the jungle to see tigers, rhinos, elephants and more! You’ll even find an elephant conservation center near the entrance to the park. Just be warned that this largely unknown, remote destination will be a long 14+ hour bus ride from Kathmandu!
By the time you arrive in Thakudwara you’ll have left the last paved road behind and venture into remote villages near the Karnali river. Here you can hire a guide to take you trekking, on a jeep safari, rafting or on an elephant tour (although I don’t support those and think trekking is much more fun!) In addition to tiger trekking, there are remote homestays you can stay in, swim in the nearby rivers hoping for a chance to see the rare gangetic river dolphins or just relax and enjoy village life. If Bardia National Park isn’t on your travel bucket list yet then be sure to add it before it becomes too popular and loses some of its charm!
Book a Tour: Mount Everest 1-Hour Scenic Flight
I would like to nominate Hyderabad as one of the most lovely and interested places to visit in India. The city is known by many nicknames including “City of Pearls,” “City of Nawabs,” and Biriyani. Hyderabad is located in the southern part of the county which boasts an extreme climate throughout the year. The city has a native language of Telugu and shares its communities with both Hindu and Muslim faiths.
The food, especially the Halal Biriyani attracts all food lovers in the country thanks to its spicy aroma. This dish is normally served with Raita, a milky sauce served hot with onion flavouring. There are various commercial outlets in the city where you can find this favourite dish for quite reasonable prices.
Hyderabad is also known for its many forts and buildings. You can find many in the form of Golconda, Charminar etc. The entire city is visible from the rooftop of Golconda and is known as the Garland of Hyderabad.
The architecture is very famous and beautiful. In fact, this style of architecture is what makes Hyderabad so unique as it can only be seen within its boundaries. There are some important lakes in the area tht supply the city with its water. These include Hussain Sagar, Lumbini gardens, Durgam Cheruvu, and Osman Sagar.
Lastly Hyderabad impresses due to the convenient transportation and the eco-friendly measures established in the region.
Southern Coastal Area of Sri Lanka
Nominated by Paula of The Travelling Expat
Book a Tour: Full-day Sightseeing Tour of Colombo, Sri Lanka
I nominate Kerala, India as one of the best places to visit in South Asia. Kerala is a south Indian state bordering the Indian Ocean. The most popular tourist attractions of the area are houseboat tours along the backwaters. We spent an unforgettable day on a houseboat in Alleppey. The boat we hired had an open sitting area in the front that included a chaise lounge swing that gently swayed in the breeze. Our captain expertly steered the boat through the backwaters as we enjoyed ultimate relaxation.
Our three kids loved the chance to glimpse into the lives of some of the villagers who live on or near the water. There was constant activity on the river banks as the villagers went about their lives. There were also some beautiful birds along the river, including cranes, egrets and kingfisher birds. While every meal we had in Kerala was delicious, the lunch served on the houseboat was absolutely divine.
We also enjoyed exploring Fort Cochin, and especially the Chinese Fishing Nets. My kids absolutely loved our hands-on experience helping local fishermen pull up the net. While visiting Cochin beach in the evening, we were treated to a beautiful sunset as we wandered through the nearby fish market. There was so much to see and do in Kerala, including luxurious resorts where visitors can lounge by the pool.
Book a Tour: Kochi: Full-Day Christian Heritage Tour
Nominated by Becky of Becky the Traveller, Instagram
My nomination for the ‘Best destination’ is the small Himalayan town Manang. Situated on the Annapurna Circuit trek at an altitude of 3,540 m it makes a great place to visit and stay for a couple of nights. It’s the ideal spot to help you to acclimatize before taking on the Thorung La Pass (5,416 m), which is a further two-day hike along the path.
As destinations go this is not somewhere to spend days but it’s a worthy stop for a few days whilst trekking the Annapurna Circuit to relax and take in the gorgeous scenery. From Manang, you have beautiful views of Annapurna II, Annapurna III, Gangapurna and Chulu East, you are really spoilt for choice!
If you’re feeling energized there are also a couple of side trips you can take from Manang. There is a walk to the beautiful Tilicho Lake or nearby you can explore Lake Gangapurna pictured in the photo, which was formed by a glacier.
Manang town is a mix of hiking tourists, friendly locals and numerous mountain goats that live around the area. Here’s a great place to stock up on supplies before continuing your trek but be sure to take time to chat with the local Nepalese who live here too.
The Annapurna trek is a challenging hike and gives you a diverse mix of Nepalese life on the trek as well as the stunning scenery so it’s definitely something to add to your bucket list!
Spiti Valley, India
I would like to nominate the Spiti Valley in India as one of the best places to visit in South Asia. Located high in the Himalayas, it is nestled in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. The reasons to nominated this sparsely populated region on Earth is its unparalleled scenic beauty, epic landscapes, mighty Himalayas, ancient monasteries, crystal clear skies, blue lakes, and more. It is an offbeat haven for the soul seekers and the balm for nature lovers.
The locals of Spiti are warm, friendly and innocent, lending the valley its divine soul. You feel blessed when you see Spiti’s amazing resilient people living beautifully in the harsh mountain environment.
Need more convincing that this is one of the best places to visit in South Asia? Spiti Valley India made Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2018”.
This hidden gem in India boasts of the Hindustan – Tibet Road NH-22 which is considered as one of the most dangerous roads in the world! Spiti is for the adventure seekers to travel mainly by car (4WD is ESSENTIAL), bone-shaking buses, or motorbikes. When on the road, check out some of the world’s highest inhabited villages in all the world.
Some of the best things to do in Spiti Valley include hiking the mountainous terrain, watching the change of colour through the 20,000 ft Kinnaur Kailash mountains (Abode to Lord Shiva), visiting the ancient Tibetan monasteries, crossing the Khab (confluence of Spiti and Sutlej rivers), conversing with the locals to learn more about their culture, stopping at the Chitkul and Mudh Villae for the best potato and green pea farms, spending a night in Kaza (one of the coldest places in India), sending a postcard home from the World’s highest post office in Hikkim (altitude reaching 14,400 feet!), visiting Komik (highest village in Asia at an altitude of 18,000 feet), collecting fossils that are millions of years old of many regional marine creatures in Langza, relishing herbal tea with the monks, and much more.
Plus, Spiti Valley has some of the most exotic wildlife on earth that you just may see on your trip. Some species include the gorgeous snow leopard, foxes, ibex, Himalayan brown bear, musk deer, Tibetan antelopes, Himalayan blue sheet, horses, and yaks. And on top of that, this area is supported with ecotourism efforts to preserve the region and ensure no plastic bottles are left. Travellers are required to bring any non-biodegradable garbage back from the valley for disposal.
Nominated by Claudia of My Adventures Across the World, Instagram
If there’s one place that deserves to be included in the list of 90 best destinations to visit in 2018 – in fact, ever! – that’s the Maldives. There are many reasons to include this archipelago in the list, and all of them can be easily summed up in one sentence: the Maldives are simply paradise.
What makes the Maldives a fantastic destination and a must visit is an incredible combination of factors. The islands are beautiful: picture lush vegetation, palm trees lining the whitest of beaches, gently moved by the soft breeze. Some islands are so small that walking around them takes no more than 20 minutes. The sea water is incredibly shallow and clear, meaning that it is perfect for snorkeling. Even at the shortest distance from the shore, there is a great variety of corals and fish. It is diving, however, that reveals the real underwater treasure of the Maldives: the waters are so transparent, the visibility so good, and the range of experiences incredible.
But there’s more. The Maldives have some of the best waves, making it a perfect destination for surfing. A bunch of other water sports are available throughout the archipelago, such as water-flying, parasailing, and stand up paddle surfing.
As if this wasn’t’ perfect enough, the resorts are simply fabulous: beautiful, large, comfortable rooms perfect for relaxing; over-water villas with direct access to the water and where an effort is being made to be more environmentally friendly; al fresco and fine dining opportunities; spa and other treatments; and some of the most amazing sunsets one may see in life. One couldn’t hope for more.
Book a Tour: Home Cooked Maldives: 4-Hour Tour
Leh Ladakh, India
Nominated by Suruchi of All Gud Things
Julley! From Leh Ladakh -that is how the locals wish, greet, welcome, say thank you and take your heart away from the land of high passes.
Leh Ladakh nestled in between the Himalayas and Karakoram Range is a home to the purest and unrivalled form of nature beauty. The valleys and its calmness want you to sit back, forget time and tune into nature here. The contrasting blue, brown land impresses every traveller and tourist with the studded arid – semi arid snow crested mountains, enclosed lakes, green oasis, bright blue skies, and unimaginable terrains.
The valley has a sense of belonging which draws you completely towards itself. Leh Ladakh Palaces, Buddhist Monasteries and Stupas jutting out from the mountain tops are the architectural delights and a cultural extravaganza. The local Tibetan cuisines are simple yet highly palatable. The smacking momos are prepared with a subtle hint of local spices and served with slurping chilly Thupka to counteract the chilly and dry winds.
The Ladakh is a trekker’s paradise. Adventure seekers from all over the world travel here to instill the element of thrill and adventure. Wildlife here is exotic and it is a land of indigenous fairs and festivals. During festivals, Ladakhi sing, dance and showcase their traditional elements beautifully.
So, Leh Ladakh is a beautiful paradox for everyone and a region where you can breathe in some fresh air. It is well known for its mesmerizing landscapes, national parks, tranquil monasteries, Buddhism, rich culture, local food, unexplored trails and calmness.
As you can see there are such gorgeous and cultural spots in many places in the world yet to be discovered. Yet to be enjoyed and absorbed. So before booking your ticket to that popular tourist destination, why not consider a more remote, cultural, and wild adventure taking you beyond your wildest dreams and unexplored horizons? Head to South Asia and see just why these spots were nominated by some of the best travel writers in the industry.
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Fill My Passport collaborated with other travel writers on this post. All opinions are our own and none was influenced by Fill My Passport.