The Top 10 Asian Coast Drives
|Nha Trang beach drive, Vietnam (David Buffington/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images)|
Ilju Road, Jeju, South Korea
The volcanic island of Jeju is one of South Korea's finest vacation destinations. Drive along the coastal Ilju Road, with the echoing waves on one side and volcanic cones and curious laval structures on the other. If time allows, head inland on one of the many connecting highways.
PLANNING: There are many observation platforms along the highway. Best in spring. www.knto.or.kr/enu/index.kto
Rueigang Road, Taiwan
This 14-mile (22.5 km) highway on Taiwan's east coast snakes along the Siouguluan River and through spectacular green hills. The starting point, Rueisuei, is a popular base for white-water rafting. Just south of Dagangkou, at the road's terminus, a sundial-shaped monolith indicates the Tropic of Cancer.
PLANNING: The summer solstice (June 20 or 21) is the best time to view the Tropic of Cancer marker. www.eastcoast-nsa.gov.tw
Patapat Viaduct, Luzon, Philippines
The scenic mountain road winding from the surfers' resort of Pagudpud northeast toward Cagayan is flanked by lush vegetation. A highlight is the elevated Patapat Viaduct, which affords splendid vistas of the Pasaleng Bay on one side and waterfalls on the other.
PLANNING: Driving conditions often unnerve novices, and many prefer hiring a driver. www.visitmyphilippines.com
Nha Trang-Quy Nhon, Vietnam
Fringed on three sides by mountains, and on the fourth by a most captivating sandy bay with its own island, Nha Trang is deservedly an up-and-coming star of Vietnam's tourism industry, luring surfers, yachtsmen, and cruise passengers alike. Slicing between the beach-backed ocean and the mountains, this lightly trafficked 134-mile (215 km) drive is truly a coastal drive of a lifetime.
PLANNING: The seven-day Nha Trang Sea Festival falls in June in odd-numbered years. www.vietnamtourism.com
Bintulu-Miri Coastal Highway, Malaysia
Of as much environmental as scenic interest, this drive passes dense rain forest sheltering clusters of longhouses on stilts, but also cleared land given over to undulating oil-palm plantations. Ownership and exploitation rights of this prime logging territory are vexed topics in Malaysia and beyond. In Miri, be sure to visit the Tamu Muhibbah market, where indigenous people bring their produce to sell alongside the island's fresh fruit and vegetables, such as durian and limes.
PLANNING: You can choose between the 143-mile (230 km) old road, which has light traffic but is in worse condition, and the less scenic but faster 113-mile (182 km) new road, which opened in 2006. www.sarawaktourism.com
Reproduced with permission from Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Spectacular Trips, 2010, National Geographic. All rights
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication