Let's be real here for just a minute: Everyone wants to visit Southeast Asia. Spots like Thailand and Bali are gorgeous for sure, but at this stage in the game, they've been visited by everyone.
But that's the beauty of our planet. There are gorgeous hidden spots to discover everywhere, many of which have been untouched by an Instagram filter and unhyped by 3/4 of the world.
East Asia (consists of Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Mongolia and China) is a beautiful region you need to discover ASAP. And while some spots are super popular (looking at you, Tokyo), there are still quite a few cities, towns and islands that are lacking a little love.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to explore East Asia. Take Cathay Pacific, an airline that offers affordable, non-stop flights from Toronto straight to Hong Kong - a beautiful region in itself, and the gateway to all the fun, food and gorgeous sights of the rest of East Asia!
Lamma Island, Hong Kong
Honestly, the first thing that might come to mind when thinking of Hong Kong is some kind of industrial metropolis.
And while that's true about parts of the region, the islands of Hong Kong are an absolute tropical dream and quite the sight to see.
For example, Hong Kong's Lamma Island is not only beautiful enough to give Bali a run for its money (just look at that glorious turquoise water!), but there are also tons of fun things to do there, like surfing, kayaking and hiking. Plus, thanks to Cathay Pacific's awesome flight deals, you can get a direct flight straight to Hong Kong from Toronto for a fair price... which is a (mega) win-win situation.
Yeosu, South Korea
South Korea is seriously one of the most beautiful, fun, and interesting places to visit in the whole world. You might think that the only fun spot to visit in South Korea is Seoul... but you are terribly, terribly wrong.
Sure, Seoul is awesome, but travel to the (slightly) lesser known city of Yeosu and you'll find something a little different than the modern, bustling metropolis of Seoul. Yeosu is a port city, which means lots of beautiful water, mountains, hiking trails, fresh seafood and beautiful spiritual temples to admire.
And the best part? You can fly above Yeosu and take in some gorgeous views thanks to the city's aerial cable cars. So to really get to know South Korea - well, you know where you gotta go.
Alright, take a moment to take in those beautiful island sights. Done? Good. Now, you'll believe me when I tell you that Sado, Japan, located in the Niigata region, is one of the most glorious destinations in the whole world.
Truthfully, there's a reason why Japan is so well-loved for travellers and admirers alike. Not only is this beautiful island booming with mountains and valleys (which are all great for hiking enthusiasts), but it's also known for its jaw-dropping bamboo forests and its unique tub boat rides.
So what exactly is a tub boat ride, or more specifically, a Tarai-Bune? Well, picture yourself sailing on the waters of Sado Island on a wooden tub! You can even get your Tarai-Bune 'pilot' license if you're skilled at maneuvering it.
The sightseeing doesn't stop there. At Sado, there is plenty to see, including temples and historical sites (shout out to the Kobie Shrine, which is just as beautiful as it is fascinating!).
The thing about this Mongolian city is that it seamlessly blends the beauty of nature with the beauty of the big city.
So for those craving an off-the-beaten-path adventure, but also looking to connect with nature in a spot not yet photographed by everyone they know, this might just be the perfect spot.
An example of the breathtaking things awaiting adventurers in Ulaanbaatar? The beautifully peaceful Khongor sand dunes; Gorkhi-Terelj National Park (which comes complete with a ton of horses, beautiful lakes and awe-inspiring mountains); the Gandantegchinlen Monastery; and the super metropolitan Sukhbaatar Square.
Clearly, Ulannbaatar is one spot that's straight-up meant to be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what they're into!
While most of Macau might be known for a more glitzy and glamorous vibe, Coloane (which is one of Macau's two biggest islands) is more low-key. The peace and quiet, of course, makes it a whole lot more fun!
Coloane has a seriously small-town European vibe, thanks to the European influence in Macau. You can expect colourful, heritage houses, adorable alleyways, European-influenced fountains and - of course - food with a gourmet flair. Most notable? Their delicious Portuguese natas, which are just as legit as the ones you might find in Portugal.
But Coloane isn't just inspired by Europe. It has a unique vibe all its own, thanks to its many temples, beaches and awe-inspiring natural scenery, like the Coloane shoreline rocks, some of which you can even trek through!
Sai Wan, Hong Kong
Literally, Sai Wan just might be actual paradise. This area is located on Hong Kong Island, and aside from being quite possibly the most gorgeous spot in the region (diving into that gorgeous emerald water is a dream come true), there just so happens to be tons of things to do and see here, as well!
Public gardens, parks, beaches, restaurants and temples are just a handful of awesome cultural sights waiting to be explored in Sai Wan.
Now, don't go chasing waterfalls... or do. Sai Wan has got some pretty incredible waterfalls like the Sheung Luk Stream near Sai Wan beach. Hidden between Sai Wan and Ham Tin, the Sheung Luk Stream features beautiful natural pools ready for cliff jumping! Brace yourself, though, because getting there is a little bit of a trek. You'll have to make your way through overgrown shrubs and climb some pretty rocky paths but I promise you, once you see the falls you'll be glad you made the trip!
This is definitely one dreamy destination that's worth the trip. Plus, thanks to Cathay Pacific, you can take one stress-free, smooth flight from Toronto all the way there.
Let's be honest here for a minute: a visit to Kaohsiung, Taiwan is essentially a guarantee that your Instagram feed is going to be on point. Why? Well, the obvious answer is the food.
Taiwan is known for being a paradise for foodies, and trust me, this town does not disappoint. Here, you can nosh on mindblowing bingsu, delicious pastries, yummy bubble teas and a whole smorgasbord of delicious delights.
But more than the food, are the sights to behold. Kaohsiung is home to the colourful Rainbow Church and the Dragon Tiger Tower, to name a few archeological beauts. Plus, it's a port city so it has some seriously breathtaking waterfront views, like the modern and beautiful Cijin Island.
TBH, East Asia has it all. There's culture, beauty, fun, history, and good times to be had. It's safe to say you're going to want to get to any (and all!) of these spots before the secret gets out!
The gateway to your East Asia adventure is for sure Hong Kong, which is an awesome spot to check out in and of itself. And the best way to get to Hong Kong is by flying with Cathay Pacific for inexpensive, reliable, and awesome direct flights from Toronto to Hong Kong (and back)!
Sound like a whole lot of fun? Start planning your next vacay to some of these unique and beautiful Asian destinations!