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Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, Asia is all about indulging in the extraordinary and treating the senses to a slightly alternative experience. From delightfully unusual delicacies to incredible cultures and scenery, Asia is simply brimming with opportunities to make memories, spark new connections and gain an enlightened perspective of the world outside of your comfort zone.
Finding yourself in unfamiliar territory can be intimidating, but the key to living a life well-travelled is being open to new experiences. Turn every new travel experience in the Orient, into an opportunity for adventure with these travel tips brought to you by Cathay Pacific, designed to help you navigate anything from business meetings to wining and dining out on the town.
1.Respect Asian traditions and values
Showing respect for time-honoured traditions is vital when travelling through regions such as China and Japan, where it is customary to address people by their last name and to bow as many times as you are bowed to. Table manners in China involve a little more finesse than understanding which fork to use – holding a pair of chopsticks vertically at the centre of a bowl of rice, for example, is a serious faux pas.
Did you know? China produces over 45 billion sets of chopsticks each year – which equates to around 130 million a day.
Conducting business in Asia involves a certain etiquette that Westerners may not be accustomed to and it is important to have at least a basic understanding of the region you will be visiting to ensure things run smoothly.
Depending on which part of Asia you are travelling to, it helps to research the prevailing religions, values and systems of hierarchy unique to the area. To make interactions with locals easier, have a set of business cards printed with English on the one side and a translation into your host’s language on the other as a mark of respect.
Did you know? After the Chinese Civil War of 1949, it was decided that China should have just one time zone in order to instil a sense of unity throughout the country.
3.Experience sensational cuisine
Many people would argue that the best part about travelling is having the chance to indulge in exquisite cuisine – and visitors to Asia are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out. Don’t be afraid to try flavours and textures that are unfamiliar or out of your comfort zone.
Leaving a tip for the waiter is considered optional in Singapore and Malaysia, but seen as unnecessary or even prohibited in Brunei. If you are unsure, it’s best to follow the lead of fellow patrons and locals, if you can spot them.
Did you know? Locals in India will only ever eat with their right hand – it is considered offensive to use the left for anything other than when using the toilet.
4.Expect the unexpected
Asia is home to some of the most outlandish trends in the world and, when out and about in public, travellers ought to expect the unexpected. Pyjamas are not just worn in the bedroom but also out on the streets in Shanghai – whether people are walking the dog, going for a leisurely stroll or shopping on Nanjing Road.
Cat cafés are all the rage in Beijing, where patrons can sip on their coffee while dozens of cats nuzzle at their feet and prowl about the room.
Did you know? The cat figurines often seen in Japanese homes, shops and restaurants are called Maneki-Neko or the “Beckoning Cat” and are said to bring good luck into the home and business. The importance of cats within Asian culture stems from ancient Japanese folklore, depicting cats as noble and welcoming animals.
Getting from A to B is often an experience on its own in many parts of Asia – for example, riding through town in a tuktuk is considered the most thrilling experience you can have on three wheels while in Thailand and India. Weaving through the traffic on a scooter is also a popular way to get around in many Asian towns and cities, and all you will need is a valid driver’s licence to hire one for yourself.
Did you know? Asia is the most populous continent in the world, with roughly 60% of the earth’s population living in Asia.
6.Embrace the chaos
Many Asian cities can seem a little overwhelming at first, but embracing the chaos of new places and unfamiliar cultures is part of the adventure. Navigating densely populated streets where throngs of people occupy the roads and livestock roam freely is the norm can sometimes be challenging, especially in Hong Kong and Bangladesh. Broaden the mind and open yourself up to new opportunities by simply going with the flow – you never know where a little spontaneity could lead you!
Did you know? The Asian Highway 1 (AH1) is the longest route of the Asian Highway Network, stretching over 20,000 kilometres from Tokyo to the border that separates Turkey and Bulgaria.
7.Indulge in well-deserved luxury
Be sure to get plenty of rest during your flight and reminisce over the wonderful memories made as you head homewards over international waters. Guests on-board any Cathay Pacific airline can also unwind with an Oriental breeze, an exotic island-style drink that will get you in the holiday spirit. To date, over 6,600 Cathay flyers have ordered the award-winning drink and it continues to be a popular choice on every flight.
Did you know? Your sense of taste and smell is slightly impaired at higher altitudes, making it difficult to appreciate the taste of wine. As a result, Cathay Pacific chose specific wines, containing fruitier nodes with mild tannins and balanced acidity.
With a hand-picked selection of over 80 wines that have been sourced from vineyards in France, South Africa and even New Zealand, relaxing with a glass of wine on Cathay Pacific Airways is the best way to cure the end-of-holiday blues before returning to reality.
Regardless of whether you are travelling for business, pleasure or to simply feed the wanderlust, understanding the cultural diversities and eccentricities inherent in the regions you plan to visit will make your time that much more enjoyable. Prepare yourself for a life well-travelled with Cathay Pacific and these helpful travel tips to make the most out of a trip to anywhere in Asia.