The undertouristed gems in Asia you should be going to instead

Head to these offbeat destinations — with way less tourists and more hidden gems to discover, great adventures await.

Erawan Waterfall, Thailand
  • Denise Li
  • January 2020

As popular cities buckle under the strain of way too many tourists, it’s little wonder that less-visited destinations have started to push undertourism — the idea that they can offer authentic experiences sans the tiresome crowds.

If you’ve ever found yourself cheek-by-jowl with other selfie-takers, you’re probably familiar with overtourism.

While undertourism is sometimes dismissed as a marketing gimmick, visiting a city that isn’t overrun with tourists gives you the chance to experience it without feeling like you’ve seen it all before on Instagram. Here are four spots to consider checking out.

1. Kampot, Cambodia

Kampot, Cambodia
Escape Phnom Penh’s urban sprawl at tranquil Kampot, which is just under three hours away from the Cambodian capital.

It’s easy to fall in love with Kampot’s laid-back river setting and charming French architecture here. Kampot is also the gateway to Bokor National Park where you can wander the ruins of Bokor Hill Station, an abandoned mountain resort built in the early 20th century.

2. Surabaya, Indonesia

Sanggar Agung Temple, Surabaya
While most people regard Surabaya as nothing more than the gateway to Mt Bromo, the city with its rich cultural heritage is worth exploring.

For a taste of Surabaya’s eclectic cultural heritage, pay a visit to Cheng Ho Mosque, a pagoda-style mosque built to honour the famous Chinese Muslim explorer; and Sanggar Agung Temple, a place of worship for Buddhists and Taoists that blends Chinese, Javanese, Balinese and Thai architectural influences.

READ MORE: 7 things we bet you didn’t know about Surabaya

3. Guiyang, China

Thanks to tech giants like Microsoft and Huawei setting up offices, Guizhou has transformed into a dynamic city.

The capital of Guizhou province has been dubbed China’s “big data valley”, with tech giants like Microsoft and Huawei establishing a presence there. This has transformed Guiyang into a vibrant city dotted with skyscrapers and five-star hotels. But Guiyang is also great for those looking to escape the urban grind. Surrounded by mountains and forests, it’s the perfect base for exploring natural attractions like Qianlingshan Park, which offers scenic views that look like they jumped out of scroll paintings.

4. Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Kanchanaburi Railway
Just three hours away from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi is the perfect day trip to take from the busy city.

Kanchanaburi is famous for World War II attractions like the Kwai River bridge. But its natural wonders like the magnificent seven-tiered Erawan Waterfall offer more reasons to stay a little longer.