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Last Updated on December 2, 2021

5 Wonderful Natural Gems To Explore in Southeast Asia

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5 Wonderful Natural Gems To Explore in Southeast Asia

So you want to go out in the world and travel? If you are a fan of simply going out and seeing some natural wonders instead of the sometimes over-hyped cities in the western world, then maybe you should consider traveling to Asia and seeing what this amazing continent has to offer. The reality is, we all got caught up so much in traveling to Europe or the States that we forget about Asia.

Even as just a small part of the whole continent, the Southeast has a lot of exciting natural wonders you can visit and spend weeks exploring. Not only is the Southeast quite rich in various attractions, but the whole continent, in general, is quite cheap. All of the expenses you would have for a typical holiday in the western part of the world are halved in Asia and your biggest expense is the plane ticket needed to get there.

On top of that, the regulations for visiting Southeast Asia are quite lax and most countries don’t require visas to visit them. This means no waiting period, just hop on a plane and go to whatever place seems attractive to you in Southeast Asia. While we are at it, let’s see what amazing choices there are for visiting nature’s works of art in this part of the world.

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Since the airport in Bangkok has the most flights from everywhere around the world, Thailand is a good place to start your trip. Although Chiang Mai is a city located in the north of Thailand, its cultural heritage and epic sights around it simply need to be mentioned.

The city of Chiang Mai has a lot of culture, amazing food markets, relaxed atmosphere, polite locals, old temples and pretty landscapes. It was able to become “the spot” for backpack travelers and digital nomads in the past couple of years.

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Chiang Mai offers some of the best street food in whole Thailand and it is very cheap with the cost-per-dish being around one dollar. You can find hotel accommodation for just 3 dollars per night and get a place to stay with the locals for an even cheaper price while learning more about their culture and enjoying their hospitality.

Once you’ve settled in, go jungle trekking as Chiang Mai is the start for many routes. Go to the Elephant Nature Park, go zip lining through its surrounding mountains or tour the amazing temples you can find all around Chiang Mai. Set aside some extra time when visiting Chiang Mai as you will love it and want to spend more time here.

2. Sapa, Vietnam

You can get to Sapa through two separate means of transport, by bus and a train ride. You can grab a train from Hanoi to the station called Lao Cai. When you arrive there, take a taxi or a shuttle bus to Sapa. The road from Lao Cai to Sapa costs around 3 dollars and it can get a bit shaky.

The Sapa valley is full of beautiful sights and this city is the main base for all trekking that goes around here. Apart from having amazing nature around the whole valley, there are also many traditional small villages and various hill tribes you can visit while trekking.

Sapa is also well-known for its marketplaces where you can buy a lot of souvenirs including the handcrafted items people from the tribes around the city come to sell at Sapa marketplaces.

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3. Taman Negara

Taman Negara is a large rainforest and one of the oldest of its kind. Thousands of tourists visit this national park every year to see all of the beauties that it has to offer. The best way to get to Taman Negara is to go through the Tembeling river with a boat.

Through the river, you can reach the small village called Kuala Tahan, which is the base for all of the adventures you can have in this national park. If you do this through tour companies, make sure that they explain all the details to you and make sure that they don’t simply drop you off in Kuala Tahan, and leave you there to manage the rest of the tour on your own.

One of the most famous canopy walkways is located in Taman Negara as it is the longest in the world. The whole track is well signposted and just after 45m, it offers tourists amazing views of the whole rainforest. Experiencing it costs less than a dollar. What’s even better is the fact that you can find all the information you want on the wildlife and birds you see from these treetops.

4. Mount Kinabalu

One of the tallest mountains of Southeast Asia is called Mount Kinabalu and its 4095 meters tall. This mountain stretches across north Borneo and it’s the highest peak between the island of New Guinea and the Himalayas. A person with good physical conditioning can climb this mountain easily, as there are no difficult slopes and there are many routes and roads that lead to the top of the mountain.

There is also no need for any climbing equipment, but just in case, there are a lot of guides who will go with you and help you avoid any problems. The climbing experience is amazing and even those people who’ve done this a lot say that it’s fun to climb Mount Kinabalu. The easiest way to get here is to catch a minibus from the capital of Borneo Kota Kinabalu.

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The whole area around the mountain is also a national park and there are many tourist guides who can show you around and help you experience the complete beauty of this place.

5. Komodo National Park

The Komodo National Park is located in Indonesia, a country further to the south. This island is located between two islands called Flores and Lombok. To get to the Komodo National Park, you will first have to go to Bali and from there, catch a plane or a boat.

You can catch a flight from the airport in Bali to Labuan Bajo which is one the Flores Island. This is the leading base for exploring the national park. From this place, you can take some great diving tours and enjoy the marina located there.

At Labuan Bajo, you can also get a charter boat and go on a cruise around all of the Komodo islands and go snorkeling or discover some interesting things about the archipelago. You can also go sightseeing from Bali. Here, you can get on board on a liveaboard and go on an amazing diving cruise around Komodo marine and Lombok Island.

When in Labuan Bajo, go discovering the whole island with a bus or hire a driver guide that can take you around all the gems this island has to offer. Everyone who visits this national park is, of course, there to see the Komodo dragons. These are the largest lizards on the planet, and they can only be found here so, if you are nearby, take this amazing opportunity.

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The best locations for seeing them are on the Komodo and Rinca islands. They are dangerous and they have attacked people in the past, but they are usually quite slow and don’t move a lot. But still, always have a guide present and listen to their instructions.

No matter which of these places you visit, make sure that you get to know the locals living there and talk to them. You can learn amazing things and they can show you what these places have to offer to the tiniest detail. If you can visit Southeast Asia, I guarantee you that you will have a memorable holiday with a lot of great experiences.

Featured photo credit: Bharath Mohan via unsplash.com

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Vladimir Zivanovic

CMO at MyCity-Web

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Last Updated on January 27, 2022

5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

Food is a universal necessity.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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