This post was contributed by Jared Alster of Intrepid Travel. The company recently released its Top 10 Once in a Lifetime Asian Family Travel Experiences, which celebrates the iconic, the spiritual and the downright bizarre that Asia has to offer.
For the family looking for a unique experience:
- Tuck into Tarantulas in Cambodia – Test your taste buds with this popular, protein-filled Cambodian snack. Eating tarantulas first became common during the Khmer Rouge’s regime when food shortages were widespread. Now they are a bona-fide bite! They can be found at roadside stores throughout Cambodia for those who dare.
- Get hyper-coloured at India’s Holi Festival – Possibly the most colourful festival in the world, the Holi Festival sees a swirling mass of revellers showering each other with vibrant, coloured powder in celebration of the arrival of the harvest season. Participation is not optional. You will leave looking like walking, talking rainbow!
- Celebrate two humps at the Pushkar Camel Fair in India – Camels, snake charmers, acrobats, magicians, musicians, mystics and travellers descend upon Pushkar for this annual five-day event where camels are dress up, traded and raced. It is usually held in November but exact timing depends on lunar cycles.
- Get Spiritual in Varanasi – The River Ganges is synonymous with India’s deep sense of spirituality that permeates into daily life for most locals. Witnessing an evening Aarti ceremony on banks of the Ganges is both enlightening and life affirming. Watch the brilliant flicker of candles as incense smoke rises above the river and devotional songs and chants fill the air.
- Experience the Eighth Wonder of the World in the Philippines – Commonly referred to by Filipinos as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the verdant Banaue Rice Terraces were carved into the mountains by hand more than 2000 years ago by the indigenous people of Ifugao. Witnessing these remarkable ancient feats of engineering is a truly unforgettable experience.
- ‘Float’ in a Sea of Volcanoes in Indonesia – Indonesia is one of the most volcanic places on earth, so there are many spots to take a dip in the ancient, mineral-rich waters of underground volcanoes. While many tourists head to the popular Bali beach spots, Indonesia’s volcanic lakes and seabeds are a rewarding (and relaxing) find.
- Meet the ‘Man of the Forest’ in Borneo – Watching an orangutan swing from the trees in pure, unbridled joy is one of life’s simple pleasures. Borneo is home to many of these cheeky creatures that always manage to steal the show with their active antics.
- Trek to the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ in Bhutan – Bhutan is one of the world’s last travel frontiers. Since opening up its borders to tourists in the 1974, visitors have started to unravel the mystical secrets of this curious Kingdom. Trekking to the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery is a transcendental experience – perched on a cliff face, this monastery appears to be located at the very end of the world.
- Get ‘stuck’ during Thaipusam in Malaysia – This annual Hindu festival in honour of Lord Murugan sees brave worshippers and devotees take elaborate sacrificial measures, including impaling themselves with hooks and metal skewers. Some would say the climb of 272 steep stairs up to Batu Caves is torturous enough, but there’s comfort in the form of the colossal, golden statue of Murugan who looks on with pride.
- Go Nomadic in Mongolia – Skip the hotels and get in touch with Mongolia’s proud nomadic traditions by staying overnight in a traditional ger. These economical and environmentally friendly abodes have provided shelter for centuries – experience how Mongolian’s have lived for eons. Kudos if you can keep down a cup of sour yak butter tea!