When you’re traveling, really traveling, you get to know an area’s culture as opposed to its tourist spots. You learn lessons about the world, and yourself, that you never would have experienced by reading a book or ticking off a to-see list. Asia is a trendy place to travel at the moment, precisely because of this opportunity to experience culture. It also helps that your dollar will go a long way in most of these locations. Here are four unique things to do in Asia that will help you connect to the area you’re traveling to in new ways:
Culture and spirituality are virtually inseparable in this part of Thailand. MCU Buddhist University’s Chiang Mai campus allows for a peek into that world with their nightly Monk Chat. Free from 5-7pm Monday thru Friday, Monk Chat is an opportunity to sit down with a monk and ask anything, allowing you to learn about Thai culture, Buddhism, and the individual monk themselves in an open environment.
Dine in The Dark in Kuala Lampur
Dining In The Dark in Kuala Lampur is a restaurant where you do exactly that; eat your dinner in complete darkness. The idea is to have guests dine with their other senses, losing their reliance on sight to tell them if their food will be good or not. (Though none of the food falls into the “not” category.) The wait staff will be very empathetic to your experience, as they are all visually impaired or blind. You’ll get to live an hour and a half in their shoes, and come out with an experience you’ll never forget.
A short trip from Taipei, the Pingxi sky lantern festival is no secret. But for those averse to crowds, there’s no reason to release your lanterns en masse during the Chinese New Year. Lanterns are released year round in Pingxi, with each one being lit in hopes of blessings from divine forces.
Visit Phuket’s Reclining Buddha
While visiting a Buddhist temple may seem like a touristy thing to do, Wat Srisoonthorn (or Wat Lipon, as most locals still reference it,) is a relatively well-kept secret. It’s often driven by rather than explored, and many who have been to Phuket still have no idea it exists. It is home to a reclining Buddha that soars up just over ninety-five feet in the air. There are several interpretations to what a reclining Buddha means, but the most populous is that it represents the Buddha during an illness, before he entered nirvana, and shows the serenity that is upon those facing death who have achieved enlightenment.
Where to Stay
All of these locations are not only culturally rich, but generally affordable if you’re travelling on the US dollar. For extra savings, check out Expedia’s Member’s Only section. If you book before Father’s Day, you can snag a deal for 50% off your hotel whether you’re eating in the dark or releasing an illuminated wish to the gods.