Small area with big surprise in your favorite Asian city

WRITTEN in your bubble thought are the places you want to visit this year. Make things happen and start mapping out your travel plans. The flight of your feathered ankles should never be denied.

Last year's recommended places to see elicited comments like "only the rich can go."

I can't argue. Not everyone is as passionate as others to get to a dream destination like Easter Island or Machu Picchu. But one thing is for sure everyone would love the chance to travel. If ever they do it would be like opening a can of Pringles-once you start, you can't stop.

This time, let's tackle the destinations closer to home. With low-priced tickets and hotels teeming, there is no excuse not to get to your favorite Asian destinations.

If you're that urban tourist who frequent your favorite Asian cities, how about spicing up your trip and turning it into an adventure by straying from your usual paths?

Yes, you've been there, but have you done this? Check out what these travelers chanced upon and fell in love with in their favorite Asian city.

Denise Taojo-Kaur, a Dabawenya based in Singapore loves Keong Saik Road. Along the one-way road are old shophouses where dodgy nightclubs and karaoke bars used to be. It's been rehabilitated respecting the original structures. Today, it's a hip strip with interesting dining spots serving Jamaican to modern Spanish, and watering holes.

If you want to go to a place for serious drinks, the locals in the know will point you to a Speak Easy place called The Library. Through a sliding mirror panel, entry to the tiny room of bookshelves and a mirror is granted to those with the password, which can be obtained from their twitter page @shh_49 or from servers at The Study, the restaurant next door.

Not many tourists know the place but it's actually within the famous Chinatown area (within the Outram Planning Area), Singapore.

How about immersing into Kyoto's history-as a geisha. Debbi Hao "toured" the place in an unconventional way via a Maiko/ Geisha make-over and dress up.

After applying a heap of powder and lip stain, donning layers and layers of clothing finished with a vibrantly colored kimono, and accessorizing with a wig and slipping into the footwear, they were all set for a photo shoot plus a short stroll along Kyoto's old street.

"Whether we passed off as genuine Maiko, seeing ourselves, even momentarily, in a totally different light. It is worth every cent and time spent. Truly a fascinating insight into the world of a Maiko," she said.

Spare half a day to live your short life as a geisha. Book before your trip to Japan at

Who hasn't been to Hong Kong? The entire population must have seen the city and made it a regular destination.

While many would go to their usual haunts for food, shopping and entertainment, Stacey Seng recommends to head to the sleepy suburb of Kennedy Town.

Tucked in a small street called Catchik is Sunday's Grocery. It's more than its name advertises. It's also a bodega, a liquor store, snack shop and more importantly, a regular hipster's haven.

Sunday's Grocery is veering away from the commercial allure of Cantonese cuisine and the clamor that comes with it. "The cozy hole in the wall exudes a New York City vibe and a place for sandwiches perfectly paired with an ice cold bottle of sake," says Stacey.

Sunday's Grocery is at 66-68 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong.

Ho Chi Minh City is the most populated and busiest city in Vietnam and the vehicle filled streets proves that point. While it showcases a mix of beautiful historic French architecture and melancholic display of the war torn past in its museums, it's the food and shopping that excites most of the Pinoy tourists.

Nikka Go suggests, "Stray from busy metropolis and head to a more peaceful place like Vung Tau, a couple of hours drive from Ho Chi Minh."

Aside from a great coastline Vung Tau has the 1993 completed Christ the King monument, which may remind you of the Brazilian attraction, if you've been to Rio de Jainero.

It's 847 steps up Mount Nho to reach the platform. Catch your breath and be rewarded with a magnificent view of the Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean from high vantage point.

Vung Tau is a 1 1/2 -2 hours drive from H? Chí Minh City.

It's very easy to lose oneself in a food and retail paradise like Bangkok. Much of the Pinoys would take a half-day tour around the cultural sites of the city and do what they went to the city for- eat and shop. But before digging in on that Pad Thai and pile of clothes on sale, Ayie Hernandez-Miscov suggests to take a sip of MOCA's flavorful Thai contemporary art.

MOCA is to Bangkok as MoMA is to NYC. MOCA was built to honor the Professor Silpa Bhirasri, the "Father of Thai Contemporary Arts," and within its impressive building, a long history of Thai art has been assembled.

"It's a world-class modern museum that won't disappoint you. This is a hidden gem in the City of Angels. It has the perfect ambiance for relaxation while adoring the establishment's collection of Thai contemporary art," shares Ayie.

MOCA is at 499 Kamphaengphet 6 Rd., Ladyao, Chatuchak, Bangkok. Open Tuesday - Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Entrance 250 THB

Mention South Korea's main city, what pops to mind? Bibimbap? Gangnam (style)? The Myeongdong shopping district?

First time visitors to Seoul will easily miss Hongdae, a district named after Hongik University famous for its prestigious art college.

Heavily influenced by the artists and musicians that started living there in the 90's, Hongdae has become a prime spot for indie music and urban street art. Adding to the attraction are the trendy cafes and nightlife scene.

Nikki Honasan say's, "Hongdae Free Market every Saturday is a personal favorite. It gathers young artists, mostly art students from the nearby college, who sell a wide range of handcrafted wares personally. On the side, groups of young men battle it out in a friendly dance off, a scene that's apparently not out of the ordinary in Hongdae."

After enjoying the market scene, walk down the hill and sample the offerings of the pop up food stalls, or sit in one of the charming cafes and soak all the artistic vibe in.

Hongdae Free Market is open every Saturday from March to November. Get off at Hongik University Stn. on Line 2 and take Exit 9, walk straight to the four-way intersection, make a left, continue until the end of the street, make a right, follow the uphill road on the right.


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