Not only our guides live in Asia permanently, they also spend a lot of time travelling in different Asian countries. As well as exploring famous spots, they hunt for lesser known places, which have all the potential of turning into the next big thing.
Travel guides of I love Asia have shared their favourite little known spots that they recently visited and admired.
Mambukal. Negros, The Philippines
Mambukal is an open air spa salon, a unique place with hot springs and waterfalls in the middle of serene jungle at the foot of Kanlaon volcano. Aside from human visitors, the territory is also enjoyed by flocks of fruit bats - the largest bats in the world, who can be seen flying around after sunset.
Created by Japanese architects, resort boasts sulfur rich hot springs of volcanic origin, as well as massage and spa services. Mambukal is also known in the Philippines for its stunning cascade of waterfalls 2-3 hours hike away in the jungle. The hike is an attraction of its own right, as a jungle path will take you through tiny authentic villages and freshwater lakes perfect for a secluded swim.
Accommodation in Mambukal starts at $5 per night. Master room with attached bathroom is $20 per night. Entrance to hot springs costs $1.5-2.5 per day.
How to reach? From Manila fly to Bacolod (starts at $60 for return ticket) and then take a bus for one hour.
Gunung Mulu national park. Borneo, Malaysia
Borneo is known for being home to one of the oldest primary rainforest in the world. But out of the island’s many national parks, Gunung Mulu offers so much more than jungle. Home to unique species of animals, birds and plants, the park also boasts picturesque karst formations with four giant caves, inhabited by millions of bats. Thousands of them fly out every evening at dusk around 6.30 p.m. which can be seen from a viewing deck near the entrance to the cave.
Two days are enough for exploration of caves and mature. But if you want more do take a trek to the famous Pinnacle formations or to Gunung mountain, which will take you additional 3-4 days. Another fascinating option is following a local guide to underground corridors of small caves. In some you will have to crawl, climb, squeeze through passings, and even walk through underground rivers.
Accommodation in bungalows in the park costs $15-30 per person. Two days stay in the park cost $47 per person, including entrance ticket, excursion to 4 main caves and a suspension bridge walk in the jungle. A 2-3 days trek is $150 per person.
How to reach? The easiest way is to fly to Mulu from Miri or any other Borneo large city. (from $60 for return ticket). Another way is to take a 12 hours and $20 dollars per person boat trip from Moro. If you feel hungry for adventure you can take a guide and walk the famous Headhunter trail from Limbang, which will take you 3 days.
Little Andaman, Andaman islands, India
Imagine ten kilometers of a pristine beach with unbelievable sunsets, surrounded by a primary jungle. And there you are - in a bungalow 50 meters from the ocean, alone, joined by only a dozen of other travellers, at most.
This is not a fantasy, this is the southernmost of Andaman islands - Little Andaman, a heaven for surfers and lovers of virgin nature. Aside from beaches, there are stunning waterfalls, secluded lagoons and tiny villages, where you will be greeted like Bollywood stars by friendly locals.
A bungalow with an attached bathroom costs $3.
How to reach? The main city of Andamans - Port Blair can be reached by flight from Kolkata or Chennai ($220 return) or by a 72 hour ferry. Little Andaman is 5 hours away by ferry from Port Blair.
Si Pha Don. Laos
Laos, the laid back Southeast Asian country, is landlocked but stretches along one of the largest rivers in the world - Mekong. The river gets so wide that not only it forms islands, but boasts a riverine archipelago of 4.000 of them. Nearly all are uninhabited, but a dozen are home to small fishermen villages, which, because of their remoteness, preserve authentic way of life and culture.
Islands are known in Laos for stunning sunsets, refreshing Mekong water, and a 1960s hippie paradise vibe. Local attractions include fishing with locals, exploration of uninhabited islands, visiting a large lake with dolphins and Khone Falls - the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia.
Accommodation is $8-9 for a bungalow with attached bathroom.
How to reach? From Pakse take a 3 hour bus and then take a boat.
Raja Ampat. Papua, Indonesia
An archipelago of 1500 stunning islands on one of the richest coral reefs in the world. These crystal clear water boast 75% of all existing corrals in the world making Raja Ampat a promised land for divers and snorkelers.
There is a lot to do in between underwater explorations. Tiny islands and secluded lagoons can be discovered by a boat or a kayak and the best way to reach villages and meet very friendly locals is to hire a bicycle.
To learn more about local way of life and people stay in one of the island's many home stays. A good one will cost $50 and the price includes three meals a day.
How to reach? From any large city of Indonesia fly to Sorong (from $300 for return ticket) and then take a ferry to Vacai. for $14. If you have booked accommodation in advance, your hosts will pick you up a boat in Vacai. If not, you can hire a boat to reach any of Raja Ampat islands.
Svitlana Tuchynska is an editor and a tour leader working with I love Asia.