Unveiling the essence of Asia

Echoes of Empires: Asia’s Untold Tales of Antiquity

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Tracing Asia’s Forgotten Footsteps

Are you ready to explore our Secret Journeys through the hidden corners of Asia’s rich history? In this edition, we delve into the enigmatic world of historical mysteries and archaeological sites, uncovering lesser-known sites and ancient relics that have shaped the region’s narrative for centuries.

The former imperial capital of Japan until 1869, Kyoto is located in the South of Honshu Island, and a part of the large metropolis of Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto. A rebellion in 1864 burnt over 28,000 houses around the city, forcing the emperor to move the imperial capital to Tokyo. During the 2nd world war, most of Japan’s major cities were heavily bombed, with the exception of Kyoto, which the allies agreed not to bomb. Hence today, Kyoto is considered as the cultural capital of Japan, with over 1,600 Buddhist Temples, 400 Shinto Shrines, and many historic houses still standing and preserved for you to enjoy today on a visit to the Must-See Japanese city. Kyoto has 17 sites listed as World Heritage Historic Monuments by UNESCO.

Angkor Wat, one of the 8 wonders of the world, is the largest religious structure in the world today. The monument spreads across more than 160 hectares. Its construction started in the 9th century CE, as a Hindu then Buddhist monument. Located on the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake, the greatest sweet water reserve in whole Southeast Asia, Siem Reap (which literally means “Siamese defeated”, in reference to the victory of the Khmer Empire over the army of the Thai kingdom in the 17th century) offers a combination of activities ranging from the archeological sites spread over the north, the nature and jungle on the hills to the east, and the waters and fishing villages of the lake to the south.

Baekje was one of the three kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla. Founded by Onjo, the third son of King Dongmyeong who also founded the kingdom of Goguryeo over 1,000years ago. Between wars and alliances, the three kingdoms expanded control over the peninsula and Baekje reached its apogee during the 4th century, when it controlled most of the western Korean peninsula from Pyongyang to Liaoxi in China. Baekje grew to be a great maritime power, but once defeated by the combined forces of the Tang Dynasty and the kingdom of Silla, it became a part of the Unified Silla in 660. During this South Korea travel itinerary, we are proposing you travel back in time to experience Korean history by visiting some of the country’s most ancient and sacred sites, that played an important role in the relationship with the neighbouring powers of China and Japan.

Once upon a time, 12% of the World’s GDP came from Bengal, in north-east India. Merchants came from across the world and settled to trade in the silk, muslin, chintz, indigo, jute, tea and spices that were produced here. During the 18th century, the European nations knew full well that to control the rivers here would be to control the trade of Bengal, and to ultimately control the world. Today Bengal is a place of many festivals, where communities and religions live side by side, a warm and friendly region where intellectual debate lasts over endless cups of chai. Bengal has a long and extraordinary history that our hosts want to share with you during this India travel itinerary.

Just like the mosaics that cover many of this ancient city’s temples, Luang Prabang’s culture and traditions are vibrant and colourful. Founded over 1,200years ago, the city has a long and colourful history and was once the capital city of the kingdom of LanXang. Located at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan, the peninsula is a UNESCO protected World Heritage site of 33 gilded wats (temples), saffron-clad monks, French colonial style villas, encircled by forest, and hazy green hills watered by beautiful waterfalls. Today life goes on in Luang Prabang as if time stood still, the pace of life is slower, the rhythm of life following the Buddhist calendar, a spiritually nourishing destination for visitors, this is one place where it is wonderful to simply ‘be’.

Taxia Village is a picturesque Hakka village located in a valley in Fujian Province. Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1426, Taxia is located 2 hours from Xiamen and has been listed in the top 15 Chinese Landscape Villages. There are more than 40 traditional earthen buildings in Taxia. Built in round or rectangular shapes, or built raised up on wooden pillars, these beautiful traditional buildings are found throughout the village. Fujian Tulou (Fujian earthen buildings) are rural dwellings unique to the Hakka people. These incredible buildings are usually enclosed and fortified with very thick load-bearing rammed earth walls between three and five stories high and housing up to 800 people.

As you journey along the roads steeped in legends in this beautiful and other-worldly region of The Indus and Sham Valleys, you will feel as if you have been transported back in time. The Indus Valley is in the heart of Ladakh. Surrounded by picturesque valleys and Tibetan style architecture, it is home to the Ladakhi Buddhists and their gentle Tibetan culture.

Located in Magelang, both Borobudur Temple (the world’s largest Buddhist Temple) and the island of Java are well worth a visit at least once in your life. A short drive north of Yogyakarta, Central Java, Borobudur is decorated with over 2,600 reliefs and 500 Buddha statues with many seated in perforated stupas. Central Java played an important role during the Dutch Colonial period and is the heart of Javanese culture. The Losari Coffee Plantation is a 22ha coffee plantation, planted by the Dutch, abandoned after the independence and restored twenty years ago by an Italian Lady (Ibu Gaby) who is a passionate supported of Javanese culture, architecture, art and artisans. This Java travel itinerary will share with you the stories of Borobudur and Javanese culture while enjoying some of the best coffee you will ever drink.

As we journey through Asia’s historical destinations, we are reminded of the importance of preserving and protecting these fragile treasures for future generations. Each discovery offers not only a window into the past but also an opportunity to learn from those who came before us. Experience Asia with Secret Retreats through this continent’s fascinating and ancient sites. Contact our concierge team today to start planning and booking your tailor-made Asia travel itinerary.

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