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6 Unique Asian Island Destinations You Are Missing Out On
While it’s always a challenge attempting to create an all-inclusive “best of” list, we here at knowmadic news simply want to offer some suggestions for lesser known (but equally worthy) island destinations to consider during your travels. Given the sheer amount of coverage already out there on islands in Thailand or Indonesia, we’ve skipped those and focused more on other areas. In no particular order:
Sarushima (Monkey Island) – Japan
Sarushima is noteworthy as the only natural island in Tokyo Bay, still off the radar for most travelers. It is tiny and uninhabited but lies less than 2km off the coast of Yokosuka, making it easily accessible by ferry. In the summer, the island sees visitors who want to enjoy some beach and BBQ time, along with fishing. It also stands as a site of historical interest, used in the 1800s and again during WW2 as a strategically located fort guarding Tokyo Bay. The fortified red brick tunnels and walkways from that era can still be explored here. Even more noteworthy, Rocketnews24 points out that for 70,000 Yen (USD$580), the island can actually be rented out on weekends during the quiet winter months. This has unsurprisingly gotten a lot of interest online but the process requires the approval of both Yokosuka City and Space Market, the company which manages the renting of the island.
Pulau Ubin – Singapore
Pulau Ubin is a tiny island just northeast of Singapore proper, just a 10 minute ferry ride from Changi Point. It is known for its several granite quarries (now abandoned) and an overall undeveloped, relaxed atmosphere. It is one of the very few rural areas left in Singapore and, besides attracting day trippers, it functions as a bird habitat with its jungle and mangrove swamps. The government has been tempted to allow development here, and Singapore Post has even tinkered with sending drones to deliver mail to the island, but the area seems secure in its role as a natural tourist attraction. Many come here to stroll along the 1km long coastal boardwalk or ride mountain bikes on the numerous trails throughout the island.
Tashirojima (aka Cat Island) – Japan
As the name suggests, this island is known for its felines, which now dominate the dwindling population of elderly residents living here. In the past, the main industry on the island was the raising of silk-worms, and the workers there brought in cats to keep the mice population down. Over time many of the cats became feral, yet were (and are) well-fed by locals and tourists. Cats are said to represent good luck and wealth, according to Japanese superstitions, so it’s no surprise that they have been allowed to thrive despite the absence of silk worm farms here nowadays. In fact, plenty of tourists regularly make the trip out to Tashirojima to see this mini kingdom of cats.
Penghu Islands – Taiwan
Also known as the Pescadores, this small group of about 64 islands lie off Taiwan’s west coast. The archipelago is said to have some nice beaches, along with basalt rock formations, coral sea walls and grazing goats. Given their proximity to Taipei and mainland China, this has become an increasingly popular island destination, especially in the summer months. However, given the number of small islands dotted throughout the group, there are still plenty of places to get away from the crowds and take in the scenery. Exploring the beaches and villages by bicycle is highly recommended. There are also opportunities for snorkeling, wind surfing and boat tours.
Ulleung-do – South Korea
Located east of the Korean peninsula, this quiet getaway is accessible only by ferry and offers plenty of opportunities to take in the rugged scenery which dominates this island. Visitors arrive at the tiny port of Dodong and from there can go by mini-bus or on foot to the numerous natural attractions around Ulleung-do. The most popular activities are the round-the-island boat tour, hiking the 980 meter tall Seonginbong Peak and the Haengnam sea-cliff walkway. The island’s relative isolation and sometime rough seas keep most tourists away, making this an ideal alternative to more popular islands in the region. Check out some amazing photos of Ulleung-do here.
Cat Ba – Vietnam
One of the main attractions in the greater Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba is a large island that has undergone a lot of development over the years. Thankfully, much of the island is also protected with official national park status, providing ample opportunities to check out some undisturbed jungle/island scenery. As with much of the islands dotted throughout Ha Long Bay, there are sheer limestone cliffs, caves and beaches all around the island. These are especially worthwhile to take in by kayak or even when rock climbing with one of the local outfits who organize active day trips. Of course, summer months can get busy here, as this is a popular destination for Vietnamese tourists. Given the size of the island, it is a worthy option for more adventurous independent travelers as well. Winter can be pretty dreary though (I was there in March several years ago and it was cold and overcast the entire time).
Got any other islands that you’d like to see added to the list? Leave us a comment below.