All in Destination Guides
Bhutan is in many ways an ideal destination for senior travellers. This little Himalayan kingdom has an unusual approach to tourism that is geared towards wealthier visitors. Backpacking is forbidden and budget travellers are discouraged. Those who choose to visit are rewarded with breathtaking scenery and a society that continues to embrace a traditional, unhurried way of life.
Since opening its doors to tourism in the mid-20th century, Nepal has become one of Asia’s top destinations. In recent years it has bounced back from civil war and a devastating earthquake to attract growing numbers of visitors. Among them are many senior travellers, who can delve into its culture and history while they enjoy its Himalayan scenery and exciting wildlife reserves.
Hong Kong has always been a popular stopover destination, and much can be seen and done within a couple of days, but this hardly enables visitors to scratch the surface of this many-layered, world-class city. Hong Kong is a destination that can be exceptionally rewarding for senior travellers who have the time to explore it further.
At first glance, the tiny nation of Brunei on Borneo island appears to have little to offer visitors. It’s prosperous but quiet, without the usual Asian urban bustle or the rollicking nightlife that many tourists crave. But this is precisely why some senior travellers will like it – combined with the fact that it has some fine tropical rainforests.
Malaysia has much to offer the senior traveller. From relaxing beach breaks to rainforest adventures, it provides a relatively safe environment for the holiday of one’s choice. English is widely spoken. The country often ranks high on lists of best places to retire to, an indication of its generally welcoming approach to older foreign visitors.
These days Vietnam is high on the list of recommendations for first or second-time visitors to Asia because it is a country with many natural attractions, UNESCO heritage sites, colonial shopping precincts, and value-for-money beach resorts.
For first-time senior travellers to Asia, there is no better place to start than the island state of Singapore. It’s quieter and more orderly than Hong Kong, and provides an introduction to Asian culture whilst still being very ‘western’ in terms of the number of people who speak English, the amount of English signage around the island, and the availability of familiar western food.
For first-time senior travellers to Asia, Japan is undoubtedly the number two choice as a safe and easy country to visit. In fact for seniors who may have difficulty coping with Singapore’s heat and humidity, Japan may be a better first choice because in spring and autumn, the climate in most parts of Japan is close to perfect.
The Philippines is not a country that attracts a large number of senior citizen visitors, aside from those of Filipino descent. Media reports of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects, kidnappings and beheadings of foreign tourists by Islamic extremists, and Manila’s infamous air pollution and traffic jams are enough to frighten away even the most adventurous tourist.
This island nation — once known as Ceylon — off the southern tip of India is not often thought of as a suitable travel destination for seniors given its history of civil war, but for history buffs, and those interested in nature, wildlife and cultural festivals, Sri Lanka has a lot to offer.