Of all the world’s incredible tourist destinations, travel to Southeast Asia is growing the fastest, with 10% more visitors in 2018. On the one hand, this means that some hotspots are becoming overcrowded with tourists, thereby losing their desirability, much the way Paris or Rome have done in recent years. However, this increase in interest has also led to innovation in the tourism industry, which keeps Asia cool and relevant. With vast and beautiful landscapes, there is an increasing appetite for an unspoilt Asian adventure.
Peaceful Northern Thailand
Most flights to Southeast Asia land in Bangkok, which acts as a hub for limitless wandering. You could stay in the bustling, party city itself, or head south to beach havens like Phuket or Phi Phi Islands. However, the trendiest travelers head north. A milder and more comfortable climate for many, cities like Chiang Mai have a more relaxed atmosphere, making them a magnet for digital nomads, or families and older people looking for a more peaceful setting. Hardened explorers also prefer the mountainous terrain for exhilarating hikes among incredible scenery.
Bhutan, Land Of Happiness
Gaining a reputation as the happiest nation on Earth due to measuring success in Gross National Happiness rather than by wealth, Bhutan is increasingly appealing to the curious traveler. However, it remains unspoilt due to strict limits on tourism. Just two airplanes have access to this tiny Himalayan kingdom. Much like other tiny Southeast Asian countries, a huge influx of tourists could alter the character of Bhutan. For this reason, there is a limit on the number who are allowed in. Your stay will be restricted to certain areas of the country and last no more than 14 days. This keeps Bhutan protected, but also allows visitors to have a better travel experience that they’d get in other destinations.
There is a sad history of deforestation and elephant exploitation that comes from the tourism industry in Asia. However, this is changing rapidly. Young, eco-conscious millennials are seeking more ethical forms of travel. Large elephant sanctuaries, which conserve the animals in a safe and happy environment, are being setup to encourage a cruelty-free experience for everybody involved. It keeps money flowing into economies like Thailand’s, while preserving the beauty of its flora and fauna.
Southeast Asia is still cool despite the tourism boom. However, you may have to work a little harder to find true, unspoilt paradise. If you can manage this, you will have a far more meaningful and impactful experience.