Off the beaten track travel is quickly being overtaken by an all new travel trend: offbeat experiences. While continuing to focus on the themes of uniqueness and exclusivity, offbeat experiences can be found in even the busiest of tourist centers. Think cocktail-bar-hopping in Siem Reap or rock-climbing in Halong Bay. But what about offbeat experiences in off the beaten track places? Can it get any more ‘once in a lifetime’ than that? Let’s take a look…
Meditation on the Mekong in Luang Prabang
Laos is one of Asia’s least visited countries and is often pointlessly compared to its more tourist-heavy neighbours. The quiet streets of Laos’s biggest cities and smallest towns are endlessly charming and there are unique experiences to be had across the country.
One such experience is floating along the mighty Mekong River and learning the spiritual art of meditation. Workshops are taught by a former Buddhist monk and a certified meditation instructor and you also visit small temples along the way. The intimate experience brings Buddhism to life and offers a fresh perspective on temple sightseeing.
Pakokku Market in Myanmar
Myanmar is still considered by many a last frontier of sorts in South East Asia and the country is very much still getting to grips with life outside of its bubble. There is still a well trodden tourist trail through the country but increasing development (and the help of locally run touring like Buffalo Tours), means much more exploring.
One hidden gem is the town of Pakokku, outside of the ancient temple city of Bagan. This rural market town is a fascinating insight into the lives of the majority of Burmese and the traditions they hold dear. Special things to look out for are the artisans hand-rolling Cheroot cigars and the women selling Thanaka, the most popular beauty product in Myanmar. This town also makes the most beautiful velvet slippers which make a great souvenir to remember Myanmar.
A Night on a Houseboat in Thailand
Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in all of Asia and has kept this title for decades. Yet, between the mountainous northern jungles and the island gems of the South, there are plenty of remote corners to discover.
One of these places is Khao Laem National Park, close to the Burmese border. Reaching to almost every corner of the park is a giant reservoir where you can find the local population living on houseboats. Travellers have the chance to stay overnight on one of these boats and visit the local highlights like Coconut Island which is one of few inhabited islands in this vast lake.
See our four day tour here.
Marine Ecology Learning Experience in Malaysian Borneo
The classic Borneo experiences include plenty of animal encounters, including adorable orangutans and some of the best diving in the world. Dig a little deeper on your trip to the jungle with a visit to the Tunku Abul Rahman Marine Park and the Marine Ecology Research Centre that can be found there. Learn about the issues faced in this beautiful corner of the ocean and sponsor the ongoing sustainability programs undertaken by the experts who work here. You will be sure to leave with a deeper understanding, and respect, for the ocean and those who call it home.
Read more about Malaysia’s amazing sea life here.
The History of Chili Peppers in China
Sichuan province is thousands of miles from the tourist hubs of Beijing and Shanghai but it boasts the country’s favourite furry bear and, arguably, the country’s most popular style of cuisine. Famously spicy and unique, Sichuan cuisine is a favourite among locals and traveller alike. Head out on an educational tour to learn all about the unique ingredients that give the dishes their mouth-numbing flavour and discover the long and intriguing history from the family who are credited with creating the flavours more than 300 years ago.
Read more about Chinese cuisine here.
Offbeat experiences in Asia are all about digging deeper into the local culture and learning new things. Offbeat experiences in off the beaten track places are also about giving back to local communities who deserve a slice of the tourism pie.