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Get lost in the magic and witchcraft of Siquijor Island, Philippines, or the powdery snow of Niseko, Japan.
Move aside Tokyo and Bangkok, you’re old news now!
Agoda has released the result of its latest Travel Smart study for the top 10 destinations in Asia and, in an unprecedented turn of events, it sees a growing preference for lesser-known travel destinations that nonetheless offer unique experiences native to the location.
The fastest riser is Niseko, Hokkaido, home to pristine snow slopes that people are calling a mythical powder paradise. The other 9 on the list are made up of a majority of Southeast Asian destinations, including islands like Thailand’s Koh Kood, Cambodia’s Koh Rong and Philippines’ Siquijor Island.
Here’s the complete list and what’s interesting about each.
#10. Khao Lak, Thailand
Just a short 50km away from Phuket, Khao Lak was one of the worst hit areas by the 2004 tsunami that flattened the entire seaside town with final death toll of over 4,000. It has since bounced back in terms of facilities and economy and boasts an immense secluded serenity. Where to stay: The Sands Khao Lak by Katathani (swipe left for more)
#9. Siquijor Island, Philippines
Being the third smallest province in the country means Siquijor Island is quiet and secluded, perfect for R&R away from crowds and commercialisation. A big attraction is its long-time reputation as a place of magic and sorcery, celebrated with festivals where locals would share a story or two about folk legends pointing to the existence of witchcraft on the island. Where to stay: Infinity Heights Resort
#8. Tangalle, Sri Lanka
A regional fishing port, Tangalle today is worth a visit for the Dutch history still apparent in its architecture and ancient temples housed within century-old caves. Its turtle sanctuary is also one of the few rarer ones where 5 species of turtles have been observed to return year after year. Where to stay: Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort
#7. Harbin, China
Known for its bitter cold winters, Harbin has turned it into an attraction so much so that it is now known as China's Ice City where the Ice Sculpture Festival is a huge attraction every year.Being closely tied to the historical Russian legacy, the city today serves as an important gateway in Sino-Russian trade and is home to a sizable population of Russian diaspora. Where to stay: Sofitel Harbin
#6. Koh Lanta, Thailand
Koh Lanta is made up of 4 islands so it's the perfect destination for those looking to scuba-dive, fish, snorkel, kayak. Its forests with excellent flora and fauna also makes it suitable for hiking. Elephant rides are usually arranged to take visitors to the top of the hill in Ko Lanta National Park. Where to stay: Pimalai Resort & Spa
#5. Koh Rong, Cambodia
This second largest island in Cambodia is home to no less than 23 beaches, one of them even boasting unique rose-coloured sands. along most of the coastline. Bays, protruding capes and impressive sandstone rock formations contribute to the island’s scenic panorama. Where to stay: Song Saa Private Island
#4. Koh Lipe, Thailand
Original home of sea gypsies, Koh Lipe is steadily gaining recognition for its calm, clear waters ideal for snorkelling. It has 25% of the world's tropical fish species found in its waters so there's always something to see on each sea excursion. Where to stay: Mali Resorts Koh Lipe
#3. Koh Kood, Thailand
With a population of about 2000, it is the district with the lowest population of all Thailand and is accessible via a 60 minutes speedboat ride. SLeepy seaside villages and coconut plantations will ensure you your peace and quiet in the most serene of atmospheres. Where to stay: Soneva Kiri
#2. Banaue, Philippines
Best known for its Ifugao rice terraces, this small municipal in the Philippines is paart of the UNESCO World Heritage inscription. Some of its locals even call it the 8th Wonder of the World, given how the terraces form unique clusters of microwatersheds and are part of the whole mountain ecology. They serve as a rainwater filtration system and are saturated with irrigation water all year round. Where to stay: Native Village Inn
#1. Niseko, Japan
One of the snowiest parts of Japan, Niseko is a firm favourite for skiing and other winter sports. Its snow is fed from the weather fronts of Siberia instead of East Japan so it comes with the prized consistency of light powder. Long ski seasons that run from late November until early May also add to its popularity. Where to stay: Loft Niseko