Santani Journal

Your South Asian Travel Itinerary: Cultural Delights of Asia You Need to Visit

Set off on a voyage through the soul of South Asia, where each step unveils a mosaic of cultures, from bustling markets to tranquil oases, coaxing you to uncover the essence of this captivating region.
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Welcome to the enchanting realm of South Asia, a region brimming with a tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and historical marvels. From the majestic Himalayas to the sun-kissed beaches of the Indian Ocean, South Asia encompasses a diverse array of nations for your travel itinerary, each offering a unique blend of traditions, cuisines, and architectural wonders. Think remote villages brimming with traditions you’ve never even heard of and natural wonders so jaw-droppingly beautiful, you’ll be pinching yourself to make sure it’s real.

Here we will introduce you to the hidden treasures, for your South Asian travel itinerary, that lie beyond the regular tourist spots and Instagram feeds. We’re talking about the kind of experiences that leave you speechless, with memories to last a lifetime.

Sri Lanka: The Island of Serendipity

Sri Lanka is a land of contrasts, where ancient traditions coexist with modern life amidst breathtaking natural beauty. Resting like a teardrop in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka enchants visitors with its rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty. Known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” this island nation boasts pristine beaches fringed by swaying palms, ancient ruins that whisper tales of kingdoms past, and lush tea plantations that carpet the rolling hills.

mirissa sri lanka

Begin your journey in Kandy, a city steeped in history and spirituality.

  • Explore the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic, where a revered tooth relic of the Buddha is enshrined.
  • For a journey of self discovery and adventure, stay at Santani Wellness Kandy for a unique blend of wellness and local authenticity.
  • Witness traditional Kandyan dance performances that showcase the island’s vibrant culture at the Kandy Lake Club Cultural Dance Show.

Next, venture to Mirissa, a coastal town renowned for its pristine beaches and laid-back vibe.

  • Sink your toes into the soft sands of Mirissa Beach and bask in the warmth of the tropical sun.
  • For the adventurous souls, embark on a whale watching excursion and witness majestic blue whales and playful dolphins frolicking in the deep blue waters.
  • Visit the Handunugoda Tea Estate, also known as the Virgin White Tea Factory, to discover the process of producing rare white tea and enjoy a tasting session.

From Mirissa, make your way to Tangalle, a wondrous spot of sunshine on Sri Lanka’s southern coast.

  • Discover secluded coves, tranquil lagoons, and swaying palm trees that epitomise paradise. Spend your days lounging on deserted beaches and indulging in fresh seafood delicacies.
  • Explore the nearby Rekawa Turtle Conservation Project, where you can witness endangered sea turtles nesting under the moonlit sky.
  • Take a boat ride along Tangalle Lagoon to explore mangrove forests, spot migratory birds, and witness local fishing practices.
Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon

Tucked away in the heart of the Himalayas, Bhutan is a captivating kingdom that beckons visitors with its refined landscapes and vibrant cultural heritage. Known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan is celebrated for its commitment to Gross National Happiness, prioritising the well-being and contentment of its people above all else. With its ancient monasteries clinging to rugged mountain sides, colourful festivals honouring age-old traditions, and a steadfast dedication to environmental conservation, Bhutan offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience for travellers seeking both adventure and tranquillity.

Phobjikha Valley

Start at the Phobjikha Valley, a tranquil haven of natural beauty that connects with the rhythms of rural life.

  • Take a leisurely nature walk along the Gangtey Nature Trail, a pathway winding through forests and meadows, and keep your eyes peeled for the elusive black-necked cranes.
  • Visit the Gangtey Monastery, an architectural masterpiece and explore the monastery’s intricate woodwork and colourful murals, and soak in the spiritual atmosphere that pervades this sacred site.
  • Experience traditional Bhutanese hospitality with a homestay in the Phobjikha Valley. Stay with a local family and learn about their way of life, from farming practices to culinary traditions.

Stop at Trongsa, a town that exudes an aura of mystique and grandeur.

  • Explore the imposing Trongsa Dzong, a fortress-monastery that stands as a symbol of Bhutanese sovereignty. Marvel at its towering walls, intricate woodwork, and ornate paintings as you delve into its storied past.
  • Visit the Kuenga Rabten Palace, once the winter residence of Bhutanese royalty, and wander through its labyrinthine halls and courtyards.
  • Embark on a scenic drive along the winding mountain roads that crisscross the Trongsa Valley and soak in surrounding landscapes, dotted with traditional Bhutanese villages and terraced fields.

End up at Paro, a town of timeless beauty and spiritual significance.

  • Embark on a pilgrimage to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, a sacred site perched on a sheer cliffside high above the Paro Valley, where legends of Guru Rinpoche abound.
  • Explore the historic town of Paro, and visit the National Museum of Bhutan to learn about the kingdom’s rich cultural heritage and admire its impressive collection of artefacts and artworks.
  • Take a leisurely stroll along the Paro River, pausing to admire the ornate prayer wheels and colourful prayer flags that line the riverbank, fluttering in the breeze as symbols of spiritual devotion.
Bangladesh: The Riverine Wonderland

Within the intricate embrace of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta, Bangladesh unveils a narrative as diverse as the currents that sculpt its land. Dhaka, the vibrant heartbeat of the nation, pulses with a kaleidoscope of life, while the Sundarbans, a labyrinth of mangrove wonders, whispers tales of mystical allure. From the ancient echoes of lost civilizations to the echoes of independence struggles, Bangladesh embodies resilience etched in every sunset-kissed horizon. Its people, guardians of traditions woven with threads of warmth, beckon travellers to savour the flavours of a cuisine that dances on the palate.

Cox's Bazar Bangladesh

Venture into the heart of the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and home to the iconic Bengal tigers.

  • Stay at the eco-friendly Sunderbans Jungle Camp for an immersive jungle experience, an opportunity to connect with nature while minimising your ecological footprint amidst the mangroves.
  • Explore the labyrinthine waterways of the Sundarbans on a boat safari guided by experienced naturalists, keeping an eye out for elusive tigers, crocodiles, and rare bird species.
  • Visit nearby villages and meet the communities that call the Sundarbans home to discover customs and rituals that have been passed down through generations.

Make your way to Rangamati, a haven for nature lovers and cultural enthusiasts alike.

  • Embark on a leisurely cruise along Kaptai Lake, the largest artificial lake in Bangladesh.
  • Visit tribal villages scattered along the shores of Kaptai Lake and witness traditional dance performances, explore handicraft markets, and interact with local artisans to gain insight into their way of life.
  • Trek through the lush greenery of Rangamati’s hills and valleys, following trails that lead to hidden waterfalls, panoramic viewpoints, and remote tribal villages.

Indulge in sun, sea, and sand at Cox’s Bazar, home to one of the longest natural sea beaches in the world.

  • Spend your days relaxing on the sandy beaches of Cox’s Bazar, soaking up the sun and enjoying the gentle sea breeze.
  • Dive into the captivating waters of the Bay of Bengal for snorkelling among colourful coral reefs and surfing the waves that roll in from the open sea.
  • Sample delicious seafood dishes at the local restaurants that line the beach, where fresh catches of the day are transformed into mouth watering culinary creations.
Nepal: Roof of the World

Home to a rich tapestry of cultures and religions, Nepal’s festivals and rituals add vibrant hues to its already colourful canvas. As the birthplace of Buddha, Lumbini offers pilgrims a place of profound spiritual resonance, while the adrenaline-fueled adventures of trekking and mountaineering beckon thrill-seekers from across the globe. In every corner of this Himalayan jewel, Nepal’s warmth, resilience, and natural beauty create an unforgettable experience for all who tread upon its soil.

Pokhara Valley Nepal

Visit the quaint Bandipur, a charming hilltop town rich in cultural heritage and natural beauty.

  • Join a guided walking tour of Bandipur’s ancient streets and wander through narrow alleys lined with preserved Newari architecture, visiting historic temples, shrines, and traditional Newari houses.
  • Explore the surrounding hills and valleys on a day hike or nature walk, soaking in views of the Himalayas and the lush greenery that blankets the landscape.
  • Experience traditional Newari cuisine at one of Bandipur’s local eateries, where you can sample mouthwatering dishes like bara, yomari, and sel roti.

Stay at Ilam, a tea-growing region known for its stunning mountain vistas and lush tea gardens

  • Take a tea plantation tour at Mai Pokhari Tea Garden and learn about the art of tea cultivation and processing.
  • Explore the picturesque landscapes of Ilam on a leisurely stroll or bike ride, following scenic trails that wind through tea gardens, forests, and traditional villages.
  • Visit the nearby Mai Pokhari Lake, a serene alpine lake surrounded by lush forests and snow-capped peaks and take a boat ride on the tranquil waters or simply relax on the shores.

Venture to Pokhara, the gateway to the Annapurna region and a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

  • Take a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Pokhara for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers breathtaking aerial views of the Himalayas and the city below.
  • Explore the tranquil lakes of Pokhara on a boat ride or paddleboard excursion, gliding across the crystal-clear waters of Phewa Lake and Begnas Lake.
  • Embark on a trekking adventure in the Annapurna region, following scenic trails that lead to remote mountain villages, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic viewpoints.

As travellers, we often find ourselves drawn to the iconic landmarks and bustling cities that adorn travel brochures and Instagram feeds. Yet, amidst the well-trodden paths of popular destinations, lie hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. So, get your travel itinerary ready and pack your bags for a journey through diverse cultural beauty.

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