12.04.2013

Travel off-the-beaten-path with Asia's low cost carriers

Bangkok Aiways via aero icarus

Unless you are very familiar with the geography of Southeast Asia or you have traveled extensively, you have probably never considered visiting places like Miri, Malaysia or Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.  New air links (provided by two of the region's low-cost-carriers) will make it easy for travelers to go beyond the mainstream tourist scene and discover places like these that are well off the beaten path.

Nay Pyi Taw via Utenriksdepartementet UD

Bangkok Airways has just launched thrice-weekly service to Nay Pyi Taw.  Now the capital of Myanmar, Nay Pyi Taw (often romanized as Naypyidaw) lags far behind Yangon, Mandalay, and the southern beach towns in terms of notoriety, name recognition and popularity.  That's because it is an almost completely planned city that was only-recently built - just before the country's military leadership fell from power.  The population of the city is already approaching one million, but the roads, newly built malls and markets, and even the  golden-domed Uppatasanti Pagoda (a virtual carbon copy of Yangon's famous Shwedagon Pagoda) are almost always completely uncrowded.  

Miri, Sarawak via PhareannaH[berhabuk] 

The city of Miri, in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, is another less-visited place in Southeast Asia that is now connected with a major hub city.  AirAsia Zest recently launched service between Manila and Miri.  Built around an oil boom, Miri boasts beaches, malls and markets, and plenty of great food.  It is also located near some of Sarawak's best national parks.  Admittedly, the beaches pale in comparison to Malaysia's best stretches of coastline, but add diving, trekking, and visits to the caves of Gunung Mulu National Park into the equation, and Miri is as attractive a place as anywhere else in Malaysian Borneo.  And, of course, like everywhere else in Malaysia, it has a great food scene.

As low-cost-carriers continue to make it easier (and cheaper) to get to off-the-beaten-path tourist destinations, people can travel beyond the obvious and really explore Southeast Asia in depth.   

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