Bye Bali, this nearby island gem is even better
AUSTRALIAN travellers have long had a love affair with Bali, but now we are being urged to ditch our favourite getaway spot in favour of other less-explored gems.
Intrepid Travel made the plea upon releasing it's latest Asia-focused "Not Hot List" which was created to address concerns with overtourism. The list offers us alternate destinations, so for example, we are nudged to visit Komodo instead of Bali, Bukhara over Angkor Wat and Naoshima in place of Osaka.
Intrepid Travel co-founder Darrell Wade said the list focuses on awesome but underrated spots.
"Recently we've seen a number of Asian countries take a proactive approach to combat overtourism," Wade told news.com.au.
"Australians are increasingly well-travelled and this is about encouraging them to step away from the familiar to approach our neighbours in the most intrepid way possible.
"Tourism can be a potent force for good and we believe the broader the travel experience, the
better. There are now 3.7 million Australians travelling to Asia each year, and the more tourism dispersal, the better," Mr Wade said.
It comes as the idyllic Maya Bay in Thailand, made famous in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach, has been closed to tourists indefinitely due to damage from overtourism. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Boracay was sensationally shut down for six months due to unsustainable tourism practices.
So now, it's time to attempt to stop such issues happening to another holiday favourite.
Here are Intrepid's top five suggestions for their Not Hotel Travel List: Asia Edition, and why they are special:
1. KOMODO INSTEAD OF UBUD, BALI
Once considered the adventurous alternative to Seminyak, Ubud has flourished in popularity thanks to its haven of health and healers. The day trip market means a lessened contribution to Ubud's economy and puts pressure on local infrastructure.
Komodo is a viable alternative for those travellers who are willing to sail from Bali through the Indonesian archipelago.
It's a place where ancient tribes maintain their traditions in deep rainforest valleys. Travellers can snorkel coral reefs, walk across volcanic black sand beaches and watch for the legendary and fierce Komodo dragons.
2. BUKHARA INSTEAD OF ANGKOR WAT
Central Asia is still as remote as you can be when it comes to Asian countries. The 'Stans offer a Silk Road experience rich with stories of migration, religion and trade.
Uzbekistan's fifth largest city Bukhara is a UNESCO world heritage site and the entire old city centre and has more than 5000 years of human history. There are over 140 monuments and historical buildings to explore including Po-i-Kalyan Mosque that, during its 1300 years of history, even survived assault from Genghis Khan.
3. LADAKH INSTEAD OF EVEREST
While Nepal will always be a must-do for active travellers wanting to challenge themselves,
Ladakh is rising in popularity for its hiking and breathtaking scenery in the Indian Himalayas.
You can break up the hiking with river rafting, visiting remote villages, monasteries and religious sites. To really appreciate the quiet natural beauty of the Ladakh region, some travellers stay in bustling Delhi before and after their treks.
4. NAOSHIMA INSTEAD OF OSAKA
Australians have long been lured to the iconic and future-focused cities of Japan like Osaka.
But Intrepid advocates that travellers discover the southern islands or "lost Japan". Naoshima Island has been transformed from a sleepy fishing community to a world-class art destination with a variety of sleek and stylish museums.
Travellers can cycle between galleries, outdoor sculptures and modern architecture. The Southern Islands also house impressive castles and Japan's oldest hot spring baths - Dogo Onsen.
5. SUMATRA INSTEAD OF BORNEO
Sumatra is as exotic a destination as Borneo, offering national parks and endemic species. As
the world's sixth largest island, Sumatra made headlines earlier this year with the Mount Sinabung volcano eruption.
Despite possible danger, these geothermal activities have created surreal landscapes such as Gunung Leuser National Park, home to one of the richest ecosystems in the world. Sumatra is where travellers have the best chance of spotting wild orang-utans in Indonesia.