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Asia Internship Program Destination Bucket List 2019

  • By Dennis Scharpf
  • on 10 Jan 2018
  • Categories : Culture, Destinations, Travel

2018 is here and I'm sure many of you are now planning your future whether it comes to your studies, work or vacation.

It may only be January but we've made an Asia travel bucket list for each of our internship destinations.

What are your goals for the year? Here are our dream plans for traveling in Asia for 2018!

1. Climb a Mountain in Malaysia

kota kinabalu

Standing at a little over 4 kilometers above sea level, Mount Kinabalu is one of the highest peaks in South East Asia.

You don't need any special mountain climbing skills to climb Kinabalu, it's a very accessible for beginners and a wide range of ages.

It's certainly no Everest, but hiking to Kinabalu's peak is certainly an accomplishment.

You will feel it in your legs the day after! The climb itself is approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles) going uphill and then back down afterward.

It's recommended that the climb is done over two days, 1 day to ascend with an overnight stay at the base camp.

The following day you can enjoy the view of the sunrise from the mountain's peak before descending back down.

Mount Kinabalu is situated in Kinabalu National Park, so you can enjoy an overnight stay at the park to get acclimatized to the height.

There are other sights to see as well like the botanical garden and the guided nature trails.

Book your trip well in advance to avoid disappointment due to limited accommodation available at the base camp.

More information and reservations can be found at the official website for Mount Kinabalu.

2. Ride a Junk Boat in Hong Kong

victoria harbour

Junk boats were developed in Ancient China during the Han Dynasty around 220 BC to 200 AD.

Junks were prevalent in the fleets of China until 19th century where they played a key part in the trade and military.

These ships also provided inspiration for Western shipbuilders and their designs. Two companies offer junk boat rides in Victoria Harbour.

You can enjoy the views day or night, where you can get a 360 view of the harbor and any waterfront light shows.

The first is Duk Ling, an original Junk Boat built in 1955 that underwent restoration from a fishing boat to a leisurely cruise boat.

The name translates to "Spiritual Duck." The original owner came up with the name when he compared the boat with how a duck swims in the water.

The second is Aqua Luna, offering a wide variety of cruises on their beautiful hand-crafted boats.

Their fleet may not be composed of original traditional fishing junk boats, but the difference is unnoticeable.

Regardless of which company you choose for your boat ride, the view of Hong Kong from a boat is certainly breathtaking.

3. Relax at an Island Getaway in Thailand

phuket

A tropical island paradise is a perfect holiday destination, as well as a secret hideout for a Bond villain.

Khao Phing Kan is an amazingly beautiful island surrounded by the Andaman Sea in South Thailand.

A perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. As featured in Roger Moore James Bond movie, The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), this location has been nicknamed James Bond island after the iconic scene in the movie.

It's not far from Phuket, the largest Thai island that even has its own airport, so it's not too difficult to reach.

The name of the island Khao Phing Kan translates to "hills leaning against each other" due to how interconnected the islands are.

As the islands are located on the west coast of Thailand in Phang Nga Bay, the Andaman Sea, the best time to visit is November to February.

Khao Tapu is the most iconic landmark of the island, as pictured above. The local legend says that it was formed when a fisherman became frustrated with his poor luck one day.

His net would only catch a nail, which he kept throwing back into the sea, only for it to return to his net. Enraged, he cut the nail with his sword, which flung half the nail back into the sea where it pierced the seabed.

Thus the island was formed and named so, as tapu means nail or spike in Thai. It is forbidden for boats to closely approach this small island for environmental reasons, but the sight is unforgettable nonetheless.

4. See the Sand Dunes and Surf in Vietnam

mui ne

Off the coast of Vietnam lies a small fishing town of Mui Ne. Only a 4-hour train ride away from Ho Chi Minh City, it is a hidden gem of beautiful scenery and serenity.

The most striking feature of the small town is the large red and white sand dunes that surround it.

The White Sand Dunes are about 20 kilometers away from the main village and take you to a surreal tropical desert surrounded by greenery and a lake.

You can rent a quad bike to cruise up and down the sand dunes. Closer to the village is the Red Sand Dunes, only a few kilometers away and well within walking distance.

The slopes are less steep and you can see where the sands meet the surf.

You can watch or partake in the kitesurfing that the village is also known for, thanks to the amazing winds it gets seasonally (October and April).

Being out in the dunes can be hot, so it's recommended to visit early morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday sun.

As a bonus, the sunrise and sunsets at the dunes are spectacular as well! While at Mui Ne you can also enjoy all the local seafood, caught fresh off the boat.

Take the road less traveled with a stop at this quaint village. More information about this hidden gem is available from Lonely Planet.

5. See the Sights of Sentosa in Singapore

sentosa

Sentosa is the 4th largest island of Singapore and a wonderful vacation getaway, even for the locals!

Renamed Sentosa in 1972, the island was developed into a fun resort filled with various activities.

Though there are many, many things to see and do in Sentosa, Resorts World Sentosa is a great place to start due to the variety of attractions it hosts.

The first attraction is Universal Studios Singapore, which was only officially opened in 2011.

Itâs the 1st Universal Studios theme park to operate in South-East Asia and 2nd in Asia.

There are 7 zones total: Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egypt, New York, The Lost World, Far Far Away, Madagascar and Hollywood.

Immerse yourself in the world of Shrek, Transformers, The Mummy, Jurassic Park, Madagascar and more! From rides, shows, live performances to seeing your favorite characters in person, Universal Studios Singapore has an adventure for all ages.

Thrilling as theme parks are, Sentosa can offer a relaxing experience as well. S.E.A. Aquarium Singapore takes you to an underwater world showcasing over 100,000 creatures and over 1,000 species.

Across the 50 different marine habitats, you can see large sharks, dolphins, rays to the small clownfish, jellyfish and seahorses. Book directly at Resort World Sentosa's official website.

6. Discover the Borobudur Temple Compound in Indonesia

java

Surrounded by lush jungle and volcanoes, only 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Yogyakarta, is the Borobudur Temple Compound.

It is the world's largest Buddhist monument and UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991.

Constructed in the 8th-9th century, this ancient temple was a place of pilgrimage and education for Mahayana Buddhism.

The temple compound was made with over 2 million stones from local rivers to cover a surface area of 2,520 square meters (27125 square feet).

The temple was then abandoned for reasons unknown between the 10th-15th century, before its rediscovery in the 19th century and restoration in the 20th century.

Borobudur is meant to be experienced physically and spiritually, represented in the vertical division of the temple in 3 levels.

The base represents the sphere of desire where you are bound to your desire. The next level is the sphere of the form where you are free from desire, but remain attached to your name and form.

The final level is the sphere of formlessness or enlightenment, where you are no longer bound to desires, name or form. You can explore the temple yourself or hire a guide to explain the significance of the structures and bas-relief scenes.

7. Eat Your Heart Out in Japan

japanese food

From convenience stores to Michelin star restaurants, there's good food to be found everywhere in Japan.

There is such a wide variety of food, so here is a crash course on the many delectable delights the country has to offer.

The first category of food is the noodles. These consist of ramen, udon and soba noodles. Ramen consists of wheat noodles, broth,  and multiple toppings.

It is usually served hot, but there are a few chilled variations. Udon is also made from wheat noodles, but thicker than the ramen variety and tends to have simpler toppings.

It is popular both hot and cold. Soba is made from buckwheat and the noodles are about the same thickness as ramen. Like udon, it is popular both hot and cold.

The next category is fried foods. The most popular here are tempura, tonkatsu,  and tori kara age. Tempura is seafood and vegetables that are covered in batter and deep-fried. It is eaten with salt or a light sauce.

Tonkatsu is pork cutlet that has been breaded and deep-fried, usually served with mustard, a dipping sauce, shredded cabbage, rice, and miso soup.

Torikaraage is Japanese style fried chicken with the boneless chicken thigh is used instead of wings and drumsticks. Last but not least is the raw fish, prepared as sashimi or sushi.

Eating fresh fish while at Tsukiji fish market is not to be missed! Of course, there is a lot more to Japanese cuisine than what's listed above. Some things are best left for you to discover for yourself.

8. Get a Glimpse into the Lives of Korean Royalty in South Korea

In the heart of Seoul lies a rich history of ancient dynasties. Gyeongbokgung Palace is the first and largest royal palace to be built in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty.

It stood as the main palace for the royalty of Joseon, representing their sovereignty. The Japanese invasions have resulted in the destruction of much of the palace, and its subsequent abandonment.

However, thanks to efforts put towards restoration, it stands proud and beautiful today as a testament of Korea's history. Stepping into the palace grounds takes you back in history, with royal guards even there dressed for the part.

You can partake as well, by renting a hanbok or traditional Korean clothing! In addition to the palace itself, the palace grounds also host the National Palace Museum of Korea and National Folk Museum of Korea.

Free guided tours are available at specific times for groups of smaller than 10. You can find information about opening days, times and ticket prices on the official website.

9. Walk on the Great Wall in China

Visible from space, the Great Wall of China is a wonder and marvel. The walls are steeped in history, showing the ancient borders and feuds of the kingdoms in the past.

As an important historical monument, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. Make no mistake, it's called the Great Wall for a reason, thanks to a length of over 21,196 kilometers (13,170 miles).

With so much wall and so little time, where should you start planning your visit? Badaling is one of the most visited of the Great Wall for a reason: it's one of the most preserved sections.

It is also the most convenient, being only 70 kilometers (43 miles) away from Beijing and easily accessible from public transportation.

However, the downside is on big holidays, it is also the most crowded. Balading is a hot spot on large public holidays. Mutianyu is a good alternative to Badaling if you are looking to avoid the crowds.

It is also a well-preserved section of the wall and features many watchtowers. Like Badaling, Mutianyu can be reached from Beijing but, it takes an extra hour or so.

Regardless of what section of the wall you visit, it is truly a humbling experience to see the accomplishments of the past.

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