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16 Feb, 2012

Agoda Unveils 10 Fresh Asian Destinations 2012

Singapore (PRWEB) February 15, 2012 — The global hotel booking site Agoda.com, a  part of NASDAQ-listed Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), today announced its Fresh Destinations 2012. Launched in 2011, agoda.com’s Fresh Destinations list aggregates traveler booking data and customer reviews and ratings to identify Asian cities that have showed a marked increase in popularity over a span of 12 months.

This year, the list showcases deserted coastline, picturesque mountain provinces and unsung urban centers, each with its own distinct appeal. Offering unique glimpses at history, geology, tradition and culture, this year’s

1. Naha, Japan: Naha is the capital city of the Okinawa Prefecture, an island chain comprising southernmost Japan. Just 2.5 hours from Tokyo by plane, Okinawa is the Hawaii of Japan, offering a warm tropical climate, white-sand beaches and plenty of diving, snorkeling and water sports. Okinawa’s heritage is that of the Ryukyu Kingdom, overtaken by Japan in the 1600s and its culture, its customs and its dialects are distinct from those of mainland Japan. Museums and peace parks observing WWII’s Battle of Okinawa add further depth.

2. Palawan, Philippines: Palawan is a tropical island with national parkland, pristine beaches, limestone cliffs, rainforest and coral reefs, only an hour by plane from Manila. Several areas of Palawan and its waters are protected, and a burgeoning eco-tourism trade supports responsible travel to these regions. Reefs in the El Nido Marine Reserve are a particular attraction, showcasing rich biodiversity, while sunken wrecks around Coron add interest for divers. The forests of Palawan are similarly striking.

3. Pangkor Island/Pangkor Laut, Malaysia:  Pangkor is a small island on the north-west coast of Malaysia with beautiful beaches, Dutch colonial ruins, temples and fishing villages. It’s a relaxed alternative to Langkawi, and boasts stellar beaches and a healthy selection of accommodation. The island also has tracts of untouched rainforest, so visitors can glimpse local wildlife about their usual business – macaques and hornbills in particular. Fresh seafood – laska steamed fish, crayfish softshell crab etc – is also a good reason to visit Pangkor.

4. Busan, South Korea: Busan, on the south eastern coastline of South Korea, is a favorite domestic getaway spot for two things: seafood and sea. As the country’s largest sea port, it’s got all the cosmopolitan advantages of a sizeable coastal metropolis plus lengthy – and very popular – beaches. Haeundae, SongJong and Gwangalli are its most popular beaches, offering kilometers-long stretches of sand that in summer time become completely inundated with people. Hiking up and around Geumjeongsan is also a popular activity.

5. Khanom, Thailand: Khanom is a small fishing village on the western edge of the Thai Gulf coast in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat. It’s got long, deserted stretches of beach, forests and mangrove systems and sheer limestone mountains. Khanom is a very peaceful, relaxing destination. It remains largely overlooked by travelers headed to nearby Samui and Phangan islands, which makes it perfect for those yearning real downtime. Visitors can kayak to nearby islands, explore caves, dive coral reefs, join fishing or dolphin-spotting tours and enjoy fresh seafood.

6. Mui Ne, Vietnam: Mui Ne is a quiet fishing village a five-hour bus trip from Ho Chi Minh City, just north of the coastal town of Phan Thiet. Within its borders are several geological points of interest, including red dunes, white dunes and rock formations. The beach here fosters a healthy kite-surfing and windsurfing scene thanks to low rainfall and consistent winds. Mui Ne’s fishermen are unique for their round basket-shaped boats.

7. Tagaytay, Philippines: A stunning high-altitude summer retreat, Tagaytay is a popular getaway for lowland dwellers escaping the tropical heat. It’s located on the highlands of Cavite province, just over an hour’s drive north of Manila. Complementing its fresh air and undulating terrain, Tagaytay offers up the otherworldly Taal Lake, a crater lake within the nearby Taal Caldera. For the intrepid, the lake and island can be explored by tricycle, boat and horseback. Tagaytay’s also got a smattering of historic buildings, flower farms, golf courses and waterfalls.

8. Hualien, Taiwan: Hualien is a small city bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and Hehuanshan – literally ‘Joy Mountain’ – on the other. The climate is temperate, the air fresh and Hehuanshan’s cloud-veiled peaks beyond beautiful. With the tandem attractions of the ocean and the mountains, Hualien promises a full swag of travel experiences. In the winter, Hehuanshan becomes blanketed in snow, and year-round, the marble cliffs and steep canyons of Taroko Gorge make for compelling – and challenging – hiking. In summer, whale- and dolphin-watching tours draw tourists seaward.

9. Phetchabun, Thailand: Phetchabun province is a region of forests, mountains, waterfalls, river valleys and unhurried villages, just a few hours’ drive north of Bangkok. Protected national parks are home to animals and birdlife, while Petchabun city offers traditional Thai attractions like temples, markets and street dining. The vast Nam Nao National Park offers trekking up various peaks and plateaus, with nature trails through pine forests and glades for the less energetic. Foodies can sample locally-grown tamarind and authentic khanom chin (a gravy noodle dish) or head to Si Thep historic park for a glimpse of the area’s ancient Khmer heritage.

10. Malang, Indonesia:  Malang is a large East Javan city with ancient Mataram and Dutch colonial heritage. Its cool climate, bougainvillea-dotted avenues and colorful landscapes have earned it comparisons to Europe, an image in dramatic contrast to the nearby volcanic mountain range of Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. Picturesque and rich in history, Malang has colonial buildings, villages, golf, ancient temple ruins and Javanese relics. Malang is also a scenic stopover point for travelers on their way to ascend either Mount Semeru or Mount Bromo, conveniently positioned as it is between the two.