The new Bali? Asia’s hottest destination you’ve never heard of

Tourist bible Lonely Planet has announced its top pick for the best travel destination in Asia for 2017, and chances are you’ve never heard of it.

According to travel experts, the Chinese province of Gansu could soon replace Bali as Australians’ favourite travel spot.

“It could potentially become the new Bali. Gansu is basically unknown to the average traveller but with Lonely Planet’s help it could explode,” University of Technology Sydney tourism expert Dr David Beirman told The New Daily.

“Lonely Planet is very influential when it comes to where travellers tend to go. When people find out about places like this, great tourist spots with little crowds, it absolutely becomes a hot spot.”

Gansu’s mix of untouched terrain, exquisite local cuisine and upgraded transport services should push the province to the top of your bucket list, Lonely Planet said.

The crowd-free city hosts picturesque views with surreal scenery ranging from the arid peaks of Xiahe to the otherworldly rainbow desert of Danxia National Geopark.

Its crown jewel and world-class Buddhist art site, the Mogao Grottoes, which received a huge upgrade in 2015, plus a giant Buddha at Bingling Monastery, make it an “underrated” must-see destination.

The province also carries historical significance as it straddles a once-great trading and military route between China and central Asia as part of the northern Silk Road.

The Qilian Mountains covered in snow. Photo: Lonely Planet.

However, Dr Beirman told The New Daily he is concerned for areas such as Gansu, with little-known destinations regularly being “ruined” by Lonely Planet‘s recommendations.

“There is a tendency for Lonely Planet‘s selections to kill an area with over-tourism,” he said.

“They are very, very influential which can be a negative for these destinations. What it calls a hot-spot often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“If you have too many tourists it can be detrimental and ruin what made the area so great.”

For Australians, flights to Lanzhou – the capital of Gansu – are relatively cheap, averaging around $600-$700 one-way.

Prices for accommodation according to Trip Advisor are also affordable, with four-star hotels available from $65 to $180 a night.

Lonely Planet‘s top 10 Asian destinationsGansu, ChinaSouth of Tokyo, JapanNorthern Kerala, IndiaKeong Saik Road, SingaporeAstana, KazakhstanTakayama JapanXi’an, ChinaSri Lanka’s Hill CountryMelaka City, MalaysiaRaja Ampat, Indonesia