Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – February 15, 2016 – After decades of exploring their own backyard, Malaysians are increasingly in favor of previously underrated destinations. According to search data released by the leading online accommodation booking website, Hotels.com, interest in dining, diving and off-the beaten track destinations is driving up Malaysia travelers’ interest in locations in Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.

The biggest winner is the Japanese city of Sapporo, which has seen search activity among Malaysia travelers explode by a phenomenal 607% in the last year. The jury is still out on whether the increase has been fuelled by Sapporo’s fame as birthplace of miso-based soup ramen noodles which is especially popular in Malaysia, or the fact that it is Japan’s fourth-largest city. However, there is no doubt that Sapporo offers visitors a full 360-degree view of Japanese culture and cuisine, as well as the ease in accessing amazing ski resorts across Hokkaido.

Two islands in Thailand and Indonesia, Koh Lipe and Lombok, occupy second and third place in the table of Top 10 most underrated destinations respectively.

Situated in the Adang-Rawi Archipelago of the Andaman Sea and close to the Malaysian border, the small island of Koh Lipe is much less commercialized than big names like Phuket and Koh Samui. Its pristine waters are perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling, also explaining its impressive 620% leap in search volumes over the last year.

Travelers looking for an even more off-the-beaten-track experience may be finding it on Lombok, which is even less developed than Koh Lipe. Searches for the idyllic island, where it is still possible to sit on the beach without being pestered by peddlars every five minutes, have mushroomed by 448% year-on-year.

“Other fast-growing international destinations include Pattaya and Hat Yai, in 4th and 5th place with search volume increases of 309% and 299% respectively. Other than hot destinations like Bangkok or Phuket, Malaysia travelers are interested in exploring new or up-and-coming destinations for an unspoiled moment for their travel,” said Nelson Allen, Senior Director of Marketing, Asia Pacific, Hotels.com.

 Top 10 destinations by growth in searches*

Ranking Destination Growth in searches YoY
1 Sapporo 677%
2 Koh Lipe 620%
3 Lombok 448%
4 Pattaya 309%
5 Hat Yai 299%
6 Macau 232%
7 Phuket 209%
8 Bali 182%
9 Busan 148%
10 Jakarta 129%

Although Thailand has always been an attractive choice for Malaysians, it is interesting to see more remote locations generating so much interest. Even established destinations like Phuket have seen search volumes more than double (209%) year-on-year.

“Surprisingly, the Indonesian capital of Jakarta fell to 10th place in the search volume growth stakes (129%), trailing behind Busan in Korea, which was up by 148% year-on-year,” said Allen.

  *The data was based on Malaysia travelers’ searches in hotel stays for the year of 2016 (searches executed between Jan 2015 to Jan 2016) vs the searches in hotel stays for the year of 2015 (searches executed between Jan 2014 to Jan 2015) on Hotels.com Malaysia website.

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