Unveiling the essence of Asia

Pages & Passports: Let Books Be Your Guide to Asian Exploration

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Exploring Asia Through the Pages: A Literary Journey

Asia, with its rich tapestry of cultures and histories, has inspired numerous literary masterpieces that invite readers to embark on enchanting journeys. There are many novels, memoirs, and travelogues that take us on literary journeys through Asia, sharing stories of a vibrant kaleidoscope of cultures, landscapes, and histories. In this newsletter we have listed our pick of these timeless classics that tell their stories within some of Asia’s most enchanting destinations. So, get down to your local bookshop, seek them out and enjoy the world of wonder on every page then live it yourself on your next holiday in Asia with Secret Retreats.


‘Seven Years in Tibet’ by Heinrich Harrer: The Mystical Rooftop of the World

Heinrich Harrer’s epic tale of his escape from a British internment camp in India and his subsequent journey to Tibet is a mesmerizing adventure. The majestic Himalayas and the enigma that was Tibet come alive on every page. To truly immerse yourself in the spirit of Harrer’s journey, consider trekking in the Himalayan region. Places like Lhasa, with its iconic Potala Palace once the home of the Dalai Llama, and the serene landscapes of Dharamshala in India, all provide an authentic experience of the settings in this remarkable memoir.

‘The Lost Horizon’ by James Hilton: Shangri-La Beckons

James Hilton’s ‘Lost Horizon’ introduces readers to the mythical Shangri-La, a mythical, utopian sanctuary hidden deep within the Himalayas. While Shangri-La might be fictional, the inspiration for this paradise can be found in the breathtaking landscapes of Bhutan. Travel to Bhutan to discover its monasteries perched on cliff edges, prayer flags fluttering in the wind, and the serene beauty that inspired Hilton’s vision of an earthly paradise in the only country in the world that measures its country’s success in its people’s GNH (Gross national Happiness).

‘Love and Death in Bali’ by Vicki Baum: Balinese Mystique

Vicki Baum’s novel is a poignant exploration of love and tragedy set against the backdrop of Bali’s lush landscapes and rich cultural tapestry. This evocative book will immerse you in the charm and mystery of Bali, and inspire you to explore its temples, vibrant traditions and cultures, majestic volcanoes, and pristine beaches. Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, offers a glimpse into the island’s artistic soul and the enchanting world as depicted in Baum’s work and makes for a fantastic base for a holiday to explore and enjoy the best of Bali.

‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling: Into the Heart of the Indian Wilderness

Rudyard Kipling’s timeless classic, ‘The Jungle Book’, takes readers deep into the heart of the Indian jungle, where Mowgli and his animal companions navigate a world of danger and wonder. To experience the magic of Kipling’s jungle, embark on a wildlife safari in India’s national parks, such as the Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh that is believed to be the wilderness that inspired Kipling, or the neighbouring Kanha National Park and Tiger Reserve, or the incredible Ranthambore or Kaziranga National Parks. In India you are spoilt for choice for breathtaking areas of natural beauty where you are promised wonder filled encounters the majestic Bengal tiger and a myriad of other exotic creatures that inspired Kipling’s imaginative tales.  

‘The Journey to the West’ – 16th Century: Pilgrimage Along the Silk Road

This Chinese classic, attributed to Wu Cheng’en, follows the epic journey of the monk Xuanzang to India in search of Buddhist scriptures. To trace the footsteps of Xuanzang, you can embark on a journey with Secret Retreats to explore the ancient Silk Road. Visit Xi’an, the starting point of the journey, and follow the path through historic cities like Dunhuang, where cave temples hold ancient Buddhist art, echoing the pilgrimage described in this literary masterpiece.     

‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden – Kyoto’s Elegance and Grace

Arthur Golden’s novel invites readers into the intricate world of geishas in the early 20th century in Kyoto, Japan. Immerse yourself in the Gion district, explore traditional tea houses, and witness the artistry of geisha performances. Kyoto’s historic temples and serene gardens mirror the novel’s descriptions, providing a tranquil escape into the refined world of Japanese tradition.


These literary gems not only offer captivating narratives but also serve as inspirational guides to readers to explore the diverse landscapes and cultures of Asia. Whether trekking in the Himalayas, exploring the hidden valleys of Bhutan, or wandering through the vibrant streets of Kyoto, let these books be your passport to the enchanting worlds waiting to be discovered across the vast continent of Asia and make your dream journeys come true on a holiday planned and booked by Secret Retreats.

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