Asia, which consists of more than 40 nations, is difficult to sum up. It's impossible for any traveler to find something they don't like in the classics; from the jaw-dropping architecture of Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal to the vibrant cities of Tokyo and Hong Kong and the beaches of Bali and Phuket.

However, there are less crowded, equally satisfying treasures to be unearthed for the fortunate travelers who have time to look a little further. Read on...

Ipoh, Malaysia

Most people think of Penang when they think about renowned Malaysian food cities. However, that is just because they haven't visited Ipoh.

Ipoh, the state capital of Perak, is well situated for a pit stop on any road trip in Malaysia because it is halfway between Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur. Additionally, it serves as the entrance to Cameron Highlands, a region renowned for its tea plantations and temperate climate. There are many of good reasons to visit Ipoh, like its cuisine and the city's well-known white coffee, but there are also stunning limestone hills and caves that are home to unusual temples. Be amazed by the beautiful stone carvings and bronze statues of Chinese gods surrounded by stalactites when you visit the Chinese temples of Perak Tong, Sam Poh Tong, and Kek Lok Tong.

Isaan, Thailand

Despite how well-liked Thailand is among foreign visitors, the Isaan region of the country is frequently disregarded. But Isaan checks all the appropriate boxes – and then some – for travelers looking for a lesser-known location with beautiful scenery, historical architecture, and delectable cuisine.

Due to its outstanding infrastructure, which includes numerous domestic airports with daily flights to Bangkok and a variety of upscale hotels, it is one of the friendliest places in all of Asia and is quite accessible.

The decision of which highlights to see is the only difficult part. Isaan, which consists of 20 provinces, is bordered by Laos and Cambodia, and their impacts can be seen in the cuisine, language, historic monuments, and festivals of the area.

The 75 million-year-old "Three Whale Rock" in Bueng Kam, the ancient Khmer ruins at Phenom Rung in Buriram, hilly national parks in Loei, and Bronze Age relics at the UNESCO-listed Ban Chiang Archeological Site in Udon Thani are just a few of the attractions. The food is another factor. Isaan food, which is now widely available on menus in Thai restaurants around the world, consists of tangy Sai Grok Isaan (eastern sausage), refreshing som tom (payaya salad), and larb, a tasty minced-meat salad.

Leshan, China

The Giant Buddha is the main reason that visitors come to Leshan city. Although the largest and tallest ancient Buddha statue in the world is magnificent, this Sichuan city deserves much more than just a quick detour from Chengdu.

As the cradle of Buddhism in China, the Mount Emei picturesque area, home to the Giant Buddha, is also of immense spiritual and cultural significance. On the cliffs of the natural deep forest, there are numerous old temples that were cleverly constructed.

Leshan is a hidden gourmet heaven in addition to being a popular tourist destination, with the local Sichuanese saying "eating in Sichuan, tasting in Leshan." Residents of Chengdu travel to this city to eat traditional Sichuan food.

Skardu, Pakistan

The Gilit Baltistan region of Pakistan has the Skardu district, which is a place of stark enormous beauty with a concentration of many of the world's tallest mountains, including the infamous K2.

The second-highest plateau in the world is where Deosai National Park is located. It is a riot of colour and teeming with butterflies and birds. The stars are extremely bright when there are no ambient city lights, and the Milky Way appears to be almost touching the horizon.

In contrast, there’s the Sarfaranga Desert. It is the coldest and tallest desert in the world, with ebony mountains and diamond-white dunes.

Skardu has been inhabited for centuries and is studded with ancient Buddhist stupas and carvings, beautifully preserved mosques from the Middle Ages and shrines of Sufi saints. The Serena hotel chain has transformed the stunning Shigar Fort and Khaplu Palace into two of the country’s best kept hotels. Both are filled with gardens and climate friendly wooden architecture while serving regional food like Mamtu dumplings and grilled trout.

Nikko, Japan

Nikko is just 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of Tokyo, but it feels like another world. With the beautiful, gold-dripping Toshogu Shrine as its focal point, this little city is one of the most significant locations in Japan for Shinto culture.

Nikko is the best spot to discover tranquilly if that's what you're looking for. Nikko National Park is a 443 square mile area spread across three prefectures. It is home to stunning waterfalls, groves of fir and cedar trees, intricately carved gates, and rocky outcroppings. The park is also home to a number of Japan's well-known natural hot springs, which makes Nikko a fantastic visit during the fall or winter.

Nikko has long been a favourite among Tokyo city dwellers seeking a bucolic weekend getaway, but more foreign tourists are starting to take notice of the region. There's a new Ritz Carlton there that opened there just before the pandemic.

Dalat, Vietnam

Dalat, a city in Vietnam's Central Highlands that is well-liked by local Vietnamese but less well-known to foreign tourists, is famed for its clean mountain air and pine woods. The city's milder climate, at 1,500 metres above sea level, is a pleasant change from the tropical humidity prevalent elsewhere in the Southeast Asian nation. Dalat, which is centred on the picturesque Xuan Huong Lake, is home to a variety of buildings, including French colonial structures that date back to its days as a hill station and the architect's fanciful "Crazy House," complete with winding staircases and whimsical sculptures. There are numerous attractions in the city for honeymooners and environment lovers thanks to the abundance of waterfalls and a thriving flower business.

Davao, Philippines

Davao City is a true tapestry of Filipino cultures unlike found anywhere else in the country and is more than just the provincial capital of the southernmost region of the Philippines.

The Roxas Night Market has something for everyone, including grilled and barbecued fish, as well as simple but exquisite dishes like substantial law-uy vegetable soup and fresh seaweed salad called lato. Pungent durians, which are widely grown in the area together with pineapples, bananas, and sugarcane and are served in a variety of dishes from shakes to pies, are what best characterise Davao.

The Kadwayan Festival, held in August to highlight regional textiles, woodwork, song, and dance from 11 tribes that rule from the highlands, is a celebration of the city's proud indigenous heritage.

You can reach opulent Samal Island, well renowned for its immaculate beaches and pearl farms, by taking a ferry from the city. Travel by car down the palm tree-lined roads that lead to Mati, a popular surfing location, or take a side excursion to Mount Apo, the Philippines' tallest mountain and active volcano.