Ask the Experts: Which Asian City?

Once again, our Ask the Expert panellists have rocked up to the STA Travel Blog to field a question from our readers, and what a corker — this one would have completely stumped me.

Remember, if you have a travel question that you would like to pose to the panel, simply drop us an email.

Let’s take a look at one of the best questions from our inbox this week:

I absolutely love Bangkok, so much so I try and go back every couple of years. But I’m prepared to try somewhere new: is there anywhere comparable? Steph in Oxford

This is going to be an interesting rundown! Bangkok is one of Asia’s best-loved cities; a vibrant hub, that greets 10s of 1000s of travellers each year, with a unique instant identity that infuses them as soon as they step off the plane! So, Steph’s laid down her challenge, but can our Experts deliver? Let’s find out…

MARK in Belfast says…

Hey Steph, thanks for this week’s question! Bangkok is up there with Vegas, La Paz and Queenstown in terms of “unique” cities. But if you twisted my arm to name a comparable city in Asia, I’d opt for the natural choice: Kuala Lumpur. A fantastic city, with a wide variety of eating options, great nightlife and some cracking hotels.

The Golden Triangle is where it’s at, and this is where you’ll find the nightlife too. The city’s Zouk Club was a personal favourite, and the music was top notch. Ampang Rd is the area for bars, and if shopping is your thing, then the Suria KLCC is the place for you! You’ll find it right below the Petronas Towers. A cracking city, that isn’t over the top cost-wise… just like Bangers!


Mark recommend Kuala Lumpur as an alternative to Bangkok | Photo by auspices

HEATHER in Nottingham recommends…

I knew you’d say Kuala Lumpur, Mark! There are plenty of great cities across Southeast Asia, Steph. One that stands out for me is Hanoi in northern Vietnam; with a curious mix of Parisian and Asian culture, and a great variety of things to do.

You could spend your time enjoying some of the cheapest and purest beer in the world, Bia Hoi is made with no preservatives so it’s easier on the hangovers. Wander round the Old Quarter and enjoy the legends of Hoan Kiem Lake, and bargain at one of the city’s markets for those all-important souvenirs.

One of Vietnam’s most famous dishes — and a must try — is beef pho noodle soup, a traditionally breakfast dish, which I craved all day long — you’ll find some of the best pho served along the city streets early in the morning.

Vietnam 2007 094

The beef noodle soup is tempting, but is it enough to tempt Steph away from Bangkok? | Photo by Jame and Jess

KIM in Dundee decided on…

Two strong cases, guys, but I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned one of my all-time favourite cities! If you love Southeast Asia, you’ll go ‘mental for oriental’ (rhyme intended!) in Beijing. It’s fast and furious, and culturally, I don’t think it can be beaten.

Like Bangkok, it’s cheap to eat and lay your head, and I definitely recommend heading out of town for a few hours to visit the Great Wall of China. Flights are a similar price to Bangkok, and the best time of year to visit is spring or autumn, to avoid the summer heat. If you decide to visit, remember you will need a visa before entering. I reckon that’s a wrap for this week, guys — see you again next week!

I have to say, hats off to our Experts this week — they came up with three alternatives that will leave Steph reeling with indecision. I’m not sure which city I’d go for — how about you?