China is an incredible and enchanting country that will captivate you with its stunning scenery and fascinating history. With 3,705,407 square miles of land, naturally there are an endless array of things to do in China, no matter what style of travel you prefer.
When you see the incredible palace that served the Ming and Qing dynasties and the beautiful gardens they created in Beijing, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to a very different time in this Asian nation’s history.
The famous army of clay soldiers in Xi’an will give you deeper insight into the intriguing, often superstitious beliefs at the core of this ancient country’s society. Exploring the history of China will leave you with countless incredible stories to share with the loved ones you return home to.
However, some of the best things to do in China involve exploring the myriad natural wonders that are scattered across the “Land of Dragons.” If you’re a real nature lover and you’re planning to pay China a visit, these sites should rank among the top breathtaking places on your bucket list!
Malaysia is one of my favorite countries– a place I fell in love with the first time I visited. When people ask me why, I normally start talking and never stop. I mean, what’s not to like? There are so many things to do in Malaysia, exploring modern cities, tiny villages, a cuisine that ranks among the best in Asia, and an incredibly diverse culture.
Wandering around Kuala Lumpur or Georgetown, you’ll glimpse the onion domes of mosques, smell incense floating out of Buddhist temples and jasmine from flower garlands outside Hindu temples. In Borneo, you’ll have the chance to discover the life and culture of indigenous tribes that have remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years.
But what makes Malaysia truly special is nature. From rainforests to crystalline seas, Malaysia offers onc-in-a-lifetime ecotourism experiences. You can see wild orangutans, spend the night in a hut in the Taman Negara rainforest, and Scuba dive the incredible sites of Pulau Sipadan.
Here are our picks for the 7 top things to do in Malaysia for nature lovers. I can virtually guarantee that these experiences will make you fall in love with this stunning country, just like I did!
Made up of over 14,000 islands, the world’s largest archipelago extends from the tip of Southeast Asia to just off the coast of Australia. The country crosses three time zones and offers an incredible variety of landscapes, cultures, and traditions along the way. As a result, there are a million different places to go and things to do in Indonesia.
Most people traveling to Indonesia fly into Jakarta, the capital of both the country and the island of Java. Java, the world’s most populous island, offers endless plains filled with smoking volcanoes, temples, charming towns, and bustling markets. Bali, another popular tourist destination, is beloved by sun- and surf -seekers, with a uniquely distinctive indigenous culture and laid-back vibe.
But for this story we want to move beyond the well-trod Bali/Java path and showcase some of the country’s best ecotourism attractions, from Sumatra to West Papua. You’d need several months (or several shorter trips) to explore the country in-depth, but these are a few of our favorite things to do in Indonesia:
On the Philippine Island of Danjugan, nature is fragile. Danjugan, a nature sanctuary, is part of an archipelago of 7107 islands that offers an incredible variety of landscapes and biodiversity.
At the same time, the region is often whipped by cyclones, drowned by floods, and rocked by earthquakes. And that’s not to mention the damage caused by human beings. Stories about polluted waterways and reckless deforestation in Palawan have recently made international headlines.
A journey through the Philippines can be a journey of environmental ups and downs, from pristine beaches to filthy rivers, from animal abuse to successful conservation projects. We managed to visit five very different islands, where we had some of the most memorable nature and wildlife experiences of our traveling lives. We dived with sea turtles near Apo Island, met the tarsiers of Bohol, and saw the thresher sharks of Malapascua circle the abyss at sunrise.
We also noticed the darker side of tourist development. We saw wildlife put on display for tourists in terrible conditions. We saw dive sites overcrowded with inexperienced divers, who damage the reef day after day. Families live in shacks right next to luxurious hotels and resorts.
Luckily, there are some success stories. In the case of Danjugan, it’s an uplifting story about nature-loving individuals that decided to making saving this small Philippine Island their entire life’s mission.
In what The Guardian calls “the worst manmade environmental disaster since the BP gulf oil spill,” vast swaths of vital forests in Borneo and Sumatra are being consumed by fire. These fires were intentionally set by palm oil and paper companies, simply because slash & burn agriculture is the cheapest, fastest way to clear land for plantations.
But these fires in Indonesia– tens of thousands of them– are raging out of control due to record drought throughout the region. In places like Pematang Gadung and Sungai Besar, where the forests are filled with orangutans and other endangered species, some animals have died from smoke inhalation, while others have been poached or abducted into the illegal wildlife trade. But a precious few are being rescued by non-profit organizations such as International Animal Rescue.
But it’s not just animal life that’s endangered: The toxic haze from Indonesia’s fires has created a thick layer of smog over the entire country. The city of Palangkaraya has become one of the most polluted places on the planet, and locals are literally choking on the devastating effects of unchecked corporate greed. Experts believe the impact of carbon released from these burning peat forests on climate change will be catastrophic if something isn’t done soon.
“The problem with fire and smoke is absolutely dire,” says IAR communications manager Lis Key. “Orangutans are badly affected by the smoke. Some suffer upper respiratory tract infections, which can prove fatal. Some of the babies we’ve taken in recently have been suffering from dehydration and malnourishment through lack of food, as well as breathing problems from the polluted air.”
Last week IAR sent out a desperate plea for help drawing international attention to (and financial support for) their fire-fighting and orangutan rescue efforts. To get a boots-on-the-ground insider’s perspective on the struggle, we spoke to Karmele Llano Sanchez, Program Director of IAR’s Indonesian initiatives (Yayasan IAR Indonesia).