The year 2020 had been difficult for most of us because of the pandemic. Strict quarantine protocols were enforced worldwide, and we had to spend months stuck at home. Because of this, most of us began to experience stress and other health concerns. According to the CDC, the pandemic has caused feelings of isolation and loneliness, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, and difficulty in concentrating.
With too much on our plate, it would have been great to file a vacation leave and tick off items on our travel Bucket List. After all, we could reap the many benefits of travelling such as boosting our immune system and improving our mental health. Even then, the interesting Bucket List ideas that we prepared for 2020 were ruined because of the pandemic.
As of this writing, restrictions had been eased in many countries. Safety protocols may have become more lenient but are still being strictly enforced. Also, you still have to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and submit the required documents needed for travelling during this quarantine.
To travellers, however, it had been daunting to fulfill their travel Bucket List during the pandemic. Aside from the requirements, they had to observe safety travel tips amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
In this article, we will help you replace your old travel Bucket List ideas with new (and more exciting) things to do in Asia.
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Heading to the Philippines? Boracay Island in Aklan is a must-see place on any traveller’s Philippine Bucket List. Boracay has earned accolades from travel magazines and authors over the years.
You will see for yourself why when you get to this island paradise. It looks like a destination straight out of your wildest dreams, with its calm beaches, jaw-dropping landscapes, and festive night life.
Aside from its white sand beaches, exciting side trips in Boracay await every traveler. You can explore the eerie Sunken Forest, gaze at the lush mangroves of the Pagatpat Mangrove Park, or take a cultural trip to the New Washington Beach.
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Find out why the Walled City of Intramuros in Manila, Philippines earned the Asia’s Leading Tourist Attraction Award by the World Travel Awards. Explore the rich and colorful history of the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period within the historical city. Intramuros has several museums, churches, plazas, and other buildings that have both Spanish and Chinese influences.
Aside from exploring the historical buildings, include other exciting activities on your Bucket List. Dine in the Filipino-Spanish-inspired restaurants such as Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant and the Ilustrado Restaurant. Complete your walled city tour with a kalesa or a bamboo bike ride—all after marveling at the ancient fortresses and gates of Intramuros.
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Visit the Tanah Lot temple in Bali, one of the most iconic and amazing places in Indonesia. Tanah Lot was said to have been built to worship the sea god, Bhatara Segara, which is why it is located by the sea. Myths also claim that a powerful sea snake which lives at the base of the rocky island protects the temple.
One of the travel trends of 2020 is the local experience. So visiting the Tanah Lot temple during the Odalan festival should be on your Bucket List. The festival is celebrated every 210 days or every six months. During this time, you’ll get a chance to explore rituals, the open stage, art shops, and other well-managed establishments on the whole island.
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Identified as one of the World’s Top Ten Destinations by the National Geographic magazine in 2017, the Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia includes several elements that you shouldn’t miss. Seeing the legendary Komodo dragons is one of these and should definitely go down on your Bucket List.
The Komodo dragons are the heaviest lizards on Earth and are said to have lived in the Indonesian islands for millions of years. Now declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the dragons are especially protected by the Indonesia government; so make sure to follow rules and regulations in dealing with the komodos.
Remember to get your photography skills ready as part of your essential travel skills because you will also be in awe of its natural pink sand beach. The Pink Beach in the park is also home to marvelous marine animals and colorful corals.
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If you want a historical trip, the Naganeupseong Folk Village in Jeollanamdo, South Korea is a must-add to your Bucket List ideas. The village will transport you in time to the Joseon dynasty. Two hundred and thirty-one houses in the small village remained, as it is during the said dynasty.
Most living spaces still have thatched roofs, mortar stone work, and no plumbing. There are also numerous dioramas of historical Korean life around the village such as traditional games and court proceedings.
Even the inhabitants seem to be frozen in time! Most villagers will offer you a number of traditional activities to learn. Lessons on traditional arts and crafts, like weaving and dyeing, are available; and there are even lessons on traditional tea ceremony etiquette.
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One of the best solo travel tips is to not let your problems back at home ruin your travel Bucket List. Release all your troubles, and relax at the Seongsan Sunrise Peak on Jeju Island, South Korea.
Take the stairs and enjoy the cool breeze as you go up to the oreum. An oreum in Korean means cone-shaped mountains. Once you reach the top, marvel at the naturally-shaped rocks and the grassy and amazing crown-shaped basin below. Don’t forget to look at the sunrise, and relax as it signals a new hope for each new day.
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Lotus plants are more than just marvelous plants to look at. The Tambon Chiang Haeo in Udon Thani, Thailand is full of these wonderful beauties. Interestingly, the lotus plants are also home to 80 species of birds, like the purple heron and black kite. So don’t forget to strike your best pose with a loved one or friend, as you row your boat in the majestic lotus lake.
Also, did you know that lotus plants can be eaten? Their seeds and stems are actually edible and can be cooked into lotus treats—definitely worth putting down on your Bucket List.
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Nature truly has a way of making wonderful creations. One example is Kaeng Sam Phan Bok or the 3,000 holes in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand.
The place has thousands of water holes resulting from the rapid, swirling water under the Mekong River during the flood season. The holes are very noticeable during the dry season. Because of its looks, the locals had since called it the Mekong Grand Canyon.
Interestingly, the beautiful place also resembles the shape of a dog’s head. Fables vary about its dog shape, but most stories foretold about a dog protecting the area.
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Who wouldn’t feel relaxed in seeing a vast pastureland? The Orkhon Valley in Mongolia is a must-add in your Bucket List, if you love strolling in gorgeous landscapes. Witness the vast grazing animals and different plants in the quiet yet significant valley. You will also see the lives of Mongolian nomads in the area, who have settled in the peaceful pastureland.
Aside from its Instagram-worthy view, the Orkhan Valley is also a well-known cultural landscape that was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The place has several archaeological sites, with one being known as the Kharkhorum or the 13th and 14th century capital of Genghis Khan’s vast empire.
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The Altai Tavan Bogd National Park in Mongolia is known for its snow-capped mountains, freshwater lakes, and grassy lands. On the other hand, it could land in a history lover’s Bucket List for its thousands of ancient petroglyphs or pecked images covering its rocks.
Most of the petroglyphs give a glimpse of the hunter lifestyle of ancient civilizations. Some images even depict modern animals found in Mongolia, like the red deer and ibexes. Remember to observe from a distance, though; and do not ruin or damage the images by touching or rubbing them.
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If you’re up for a wildlife adventure, then put the Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, India on your Bucket List of things to do in Asia. According to the park’s official website, they have open jeep safari vehicles to best discover the wildlife in all their splendor. The animals that you’ll see at this park are the protected Bengal tigers, barking deer, Asiatic black bears, and Indian gray mongooses, among others.
The park has more than just mammals. In another tour, you can take part in their sport fishing, go birdwatching for exotic species, and check out various species of plants and flowers, as well.
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Are you ready to explore six majestic forts? If you’re up for the challenge, then discover India’s six Hill Forts of Rajasthan constructed with marvelous architecture, namely Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, Sawai Madhopur, Jhalawar, Jaipur, and Jaisalmer.
These forts served as defense walls for the many palaces, trading centres, temples, and other sacred buildings during the reign of the Rajput princes back in the 8th and the 18th centuries of India.
In addition to the interesting architecture of the buildings, you can also enjoy a scenic view of the natural landscapes near the forts. A view of the hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests will be worth all the walking.
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What reminds you of Japan? Cherry blossoms, ramen, sushi, manga? Let Shibuya and its cool trends be two more memorable experiences in Japan. Shop ‘til you drop in the center of Japanese youth culture which is also an inspiration to global fashion trends.
Likewise, add Shibuya 109 to your Bucket List as your go-to for juvenile fashion and Shibuya Hikarie as your choice for older generations. Take time to visit popular Japanese variety stores, as well, like Tokyu Hands and LoFt. And make sure you find your way by meeting up at the famous Hachikō Statue, in memory of a loyal dog that waited nine years for his deceased owner’s return.
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Aside from its cherry blossoms, Japan is also famous for its gorgeous shibazakura or pink moss. At the Chichibu Hitsujiyama Park, you’ll find them bloom in a beautiful carpet of pink, white, and violet. As a bonus, you’ll also get a view of Mt. Buko in the distance.
The park doesn’t just have shibazakura. You can also catch glimpses of plums, tulips, and the famous cherry blossoms. Make sure to add the park to your Bucket List, especially during the shibazakura season. Locals will be selling snacks and cute souvenirs at the festival.
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Wildlife tours are exciting, especially if you are a huge fan of spotting flora and fauna. So if you are a budding wildlife enthusiast, include the Taman Negara on your Bucket List, Malaysia’s oldest and largest national park. You will definitely be astonished by its blooming tropical flora—not to mention that you can watch wildlife from a distance. Interesting animals include tigers, leopards, and flying squirrels.
Taman Negara also boasts of other fun wildlife activities in Asia. The official website also features the rainforest as an ideal venue for cave exploration, fishing, and night jungle walks.
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If you’re wondering what popular places there are to visit in Asia, the Batu Caves in Selangor, Malaysia are among the most famous tourist attractions you will find. These caves are located in limestone outcroppings and have a massive gold-painted statue of Murugan, the Hindu god of war.
As you enter the caves, you will see massive limestone formations and the macques strolling around. But be careful not to feed them; and only watch them at a distance, because they might attack or bite you.
One of the interesting caves to visit there is the Ramayana Cave. This cave has a statue of Hanuman, the monkey god, as well as the dioramas that depict scenes in the famous epic poem, Ramayana.
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The Temple of Literature is a picturesque landscape of wisdom in Hanoi, Vietnam. Students flock to the temple’s altars to pray for good grades, while the vast ponds and gardens are Instagram-worthy venues for graduation and other important events.
Historically, the place is known as a university for noble people. Geniuses were well-thought in the temple for Confucius teachings. Also, the place has 116 slabs placed on top of turtle statues. However, only 82 have remained, to date. These slabs honor the names, birth places, and achievements of outstanding scholars.
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War memorial places are famous all throughout Vietnam, with some of them having witnessed the Vietnam War. The Cu Chi tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam are among the famous memorial sites.
According to historical records, at least 45,000 Vietnamese died in these tunnels which were significantly used to protect soldiers, transfer supplies, and even spy and plant traps for war enemies.
So if you’re up for a different historical experience, the Cu Chi tunnels are a worthy addition to your Bucket List. Tourists are allowed to crawl in the safe areas of the tunnels and view the traps and command center remnants there.
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If you like exploring caves, then visit Ban Pak Ou, Laos as part of your growing list of things to do in Asia. There are two famous caves to explore there. The lower cave houses a group of Buddha statues, with the limestone, the Nam Ou River and Mekong River serving as majestic backgrounds.
The upper cave would require you to carry a torch. It will take five minutes to climb, before you can marvel at the rock formations on this level.
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Visiting the beautiful country of Laos should include a stop at the Pha That Luang in Vientiane. As the national symbol of the country, this Buddhist monument is covered in gold. The surrounding towers jut up to a height of 45 meters and were built in the 16th century.
According to some stories, King Setthathirath of Laos wanted to move the capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane during that time. As such, he ordered the construction of the Pha That Luang on the ruins of a Mon-Khmer temple.
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Religious structures such as Roman Catholic churches are usually towering and intricate in their architecture. No wonder, the St. Paul Church—then made of wood—was adorned with brilliant decorations and furnishings. However, a fire destroyed the church in 1835. Today, what remains of its ruins are four tiers with intricate carvings and statues built during the period of Catholicism in Asia—worth including among your Bucket List ideas.
Some of these statues include the Virgin Mary, other saints, the Garden of Eden, Jesus’s crucifixion, and various carvings of angels and devils. Also part of this collection are statues of a Chinese dragon, a Japanese chrysanthemum, and other artifacts that reminisce the olden days of Macau.
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The Macau Fisherman’s Wharf is the first cultural and theme attraction park in Macau. It centers around the theme of Eastern Europe and Victorian styles, with a touch of Macau’s own dining and shopping experience—surely something you’d like to write down on your Bucket List.
Drop by the wharf’s massive Babylon Casino; check in any of the three premier hotels of Monte Carlo; attend gatherings at their deluxe convention centre; and dine in their local and global-inspired restaurants.
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The Marina Bay Waterfront is a famous tourist destination at the heart of Singapore, so are the Gardens by the Bay situated next to it. The Gardens have sprawling and spectacular views of plants and flowers in their conservatories. Be sure to take note of these on your Bucket List for Asia.
In particular, head to the Flower Dome which broke the Guinness World Record as the World’s Largest Glass Greenhouse in 2015. Also, its lush greenery is a sight to behold because the greens--including olive trees, magnolias, and orchids—came from five different continents.
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Are you a night owl? Then Singapore’s Night Safari at 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore is a must-add to your list of things to do in Asia. The Night Safari takes you on tours that allow you to observe nocturnal animals in their natural habitats.
While it may take a while for your eyes to adjust in the dark, consider this a minor inconvenience, especially when you catch a glimpse of over 900 animals in this wildlife park.
Fascinatingly, it’s the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park and protects 41% of threatened species in Singapore, like the Malayan tapir and tiger.
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If you’ve watched The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, then you’ve seen the terracotta warriors. Then you’ll have a chance to see them at the Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site in Shaanxi, China. The site is the largest imperial tomb in China with interesting artifacts.
Aside from the intricately-made terracotta warriors, you will also see wooden chariots, weapons, and horse skeletons. In addition, you can visit the pits of the Civil Officials and Terracotta Acrobatics.
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China’s Forbidden City will complete your Bucket List, Asia edition. Situated in Beijing, the Forbidden City’s structures is the world’s largest, well-preserved ancient wooden structure and has various ancient treasures.
Its palace has specially-designed roofs that prevent birds from landing, has no trees in the Outer Court but many in the Inner Court. This palace was home to 24 Chinese Emperors.
The pandemic may have dampened your travel bug and travel goals, but you could always start dreaming, again. These travel destinations are not going anywhere; and until everything is back to normal, make sure to save up and create a fine travel Bucket List in Asia.