Explore the diverse countries and islands of Asia with intrepid travelers, curious backpackers, soul searchers and naive volunteers.
Included in this post are fiction and non-fiction books written by Travel By Book members Jennifer S. Alderson, Tomasz Chrusciel, Jill Dobbe, Lesley Downer, Heather Hackett, Anne Hamilton, Dianne Noble, Aldo A. Quintana, Juliette Power and Michelle P. Tonnesen.
Trek through Nepal and Pakistan with young children, work for three months in Shanghai, backpack through Cambodia and Vietnam, volunteer in Bangladesh or Nepal, explore Singapore, learn more about Japanese Samurai, visit sacred sites in India, and foil Thai diamond smugglers in Kathmandu.
The complete list of books set in Asia can be found here on Facebook.
Travel By Book is a Facebook group dedicated to travel fiction and non-fiction. If you love to read or write books strong in setting, consider joining us!
Travel Fiction Set in Asia
Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery by Jennifer S. Alderson
Overworked computer programmer Zelda Richardson is teetering on the edge of burnout. Inspired by a girlfriend’s trip around the world, she sublets her apartment in Seattle, Washington, buys a backpack and flies to Kathmandu as a volunteer English teacher – determined to make a difference and find herself whilst doing it.
She can’t wait to immerse herself in Nepalese life – wear a Sari, eat with her right hand and wipe with her left – but becomes overwhelmed by its foreignness. Despite the power outages, lack of running water and difficulty in learning the language, she sticks it out, wanting to prove to her friends and family – but mainly to herself – that she can survive without the luxuries of home.
One distraction is the charming Ian, the sexy Australian backpacker whom she gets to know on arriving in Nepal. When her students laugh her out of the classroom and the headmaster publicly humiliates her, Zelda flees to the tourist district of Thamel to drown her sorrows with Ian.
What follows is every traveler’s nightmare as they find themselves entangled with an international gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes Ian and Zelda have stolen their diamonds.
Can Zelda find a way to get the smugglers off their backs and her Nepalese students to respect her, before her time in Kathmandu is over?
Fast Track to Glory by Tomasz Chrusciel
Professor Nina Monte, an expert in ancient religious texts, is called into a secret meeting. A mystical object has been discovered in a 15th-century galley, buried at the bottom of Lake Garda in Italy. At the recovery site, Monte makes a shocking revelation—the relic in her hands holds the power to change humanity’s perception of existence.
But Monte soon finds herself trapped in an insidious intrigue, and is forced to abandon everything she knows and trusts. Joined by local hotelier, Alessandro Pini, she is determined to unravel the truth surrounding the discovery.
A heart-stopping race to decode the four-thousand-year-old mystery leads Monte and Pini from Italy through the mighty Austrian Alps, right to the banks of the most sacred river in India. But the professor and her friend are not the only ones seeking answers, and it will take courage and cunning to outwit those who believe the truth is worth dying—or killing—for.
The Shogun’s Queen by Lesley Downer
When black ships carrying barbarians arrive on the shores of Japan, the Satsuma clan’s way of life is threatened. But it’s not just the samurai who must come together to fight: the beautiful, headstrong Okatsu is also given a new destiny by her feudal lord – to save the realm.
Armed only with a new name, Princess Atsu, as she is now known, journeys to the women’s palace of Edo Castle, a place so secret it cannot be marked on any map. Behind the palace’s immaculate façade, amid rumours of murder and whispers of ghosts, Atsu must uncover the secret of the man whose fate, it seems, is irrevocably linked to hers – the shogun himself – if she is to rescue her people . . .
Outcast by Dianne Noble
In the daily struggle for survival, she is often brought to her knees, but finds strength to overcome the poverty and disease, grows to love the Dalit community she helps.
But then there are deaths, and she fears for her own safety.
Her café at home is at risk of being torched, and finally, she has to make the terrible choice between her daughter and the Indian children.
The Cosmopolitan Islander by Michelle P. Tonnesen
What if life as you know it was turned upside down? Would you still be the same person?
When Chloe is forced to leave behind her cosmopolitan life in London to move to a small island in the Irish Sea, she is faced with a myriad of challenges.
How will she and her family adapt to island life? Will she find new friends? What about her career? Most importantly, will the love of Chloe and her husband survive their amorous adventures?
Join Chloe on her journey through her past and her present to make sense of her life, herself, her hopes, and dreams amid her personal upheaval.
The Cosmopolitan Islander is a thrilling novel about female roles and identity in the 21st century – and about how the journey of life can change your destination in the most unexpected way. It takes the reader from the Isle of Man and around the world, traversing the timeless themes of love, desire, family, friendship, power, and ambition.
The Cosmopolitan Islander is a must read for the modern woman – and man; for expats and others in cultural encounters; for islanders and globetrotters; and for anyone in-between.
Non-Fiction set in Asia
Here We Are & There We Go – Teaching and Traveling with Kids in Tow by Jill Dobbe
Dan and I find out we can do just that as we set off with our two very young kids, first to live and work on an island far out in the Pacific, then on to the continent of Africa with a few stops in between.
Armed with strollers, diapers, and too much luggage, we travel to over twenty-five countries throughout a ten year span, while working together as international overseas educators.
After surviving typhoon Yuri, almost being mauled by lions, and, being nearly shot by a presidential guard, we happily endure all of the good times and bad, while living life to the fullest.
A decade’s worth of experiences and lifelong memories remain with us, as we return to the U.S., now with two teenagers in tow, and begin to experience our very own version of reverse culture shock.
Restless: Memoir of an Incurable Traveller by Heather Hackett
Restless is a book of true stories, of connections with people on one level or another, in situations that stretched the limits of the author’s perseverance and often left her frustrated and angry at the world.
It led her down some strange and wonderful alleyways, into situations she would never have found herself in if she had never left the comfort of her home and family. But by making those choices, and walking those paths, she changed her perspective and outlook on the world.
In the true tradition of learning how the rest of the world lives, the author has been groped on an Indian train, fought off wild beasts while trying to use ‘bathroom facilities’ in Goa, trekked the Everest trails while pregnant and with a toddler on her back, unwittingly participated in a people smuggling operation, been mobbed by fans of a lookalike Indian movie star, traded foreign currency on the streets of Burma, stood behind diners in a Beijing restaurant for two hours just to get a meal, and survived a week in Taiwan on one hundred dollars.
Yes, travel guides and travel books are a dime a dozen, but Restless is different. The author’s travel stories will take you along with her on a journey of self-discovery while living the budget travel lifestyle on the back roads of Asia, sharing the highs and the lows of surviving on a shoestring and flying by the seat of your pants.
Restless is the travel memoir of a young woman, traveling light, with just a backpack and without the convenience of modern technology, who set out to find herself in the world, and find answers to the eternal questions – who am I and why am I here?
In Restless, for just a little while, you can travel this lonely planet along with the author on some of those roads, so that you can see for yourself what is possible when you believe in yourself and the power you have in your hands and heart.
The Blonde Bengali Wife by Anne Hamilton
For Anne Hamilton, a three-month winter programme of travel and “cultural exchange” in a country where the English language, fair hair, and a rice allergy are all extremely rare was always going to be interesting, challenging, and frustrating. What they didn’t tell Anne was that it would also be sunny, funny, and the start of a love affair with this unexplored area of Southeast Asia.
A Blonde Bengali Wife shows the lives beyond the poverty, monsoons, and diarrhoea of Bangladesh and charts a vibrant and fascinating place where one minute Anne is levelling a school playing field “fit for the national cricket team,” and then cobbling together a sparkly outfit for a formal wedding the next. Along with Anne are the essential ingredients for survival: a travel-savvy Australian sidekick, a heaven-sent adopted family, and a short, dark, and handsome boy-next-door.
During her adventures zipping among the dusty clamour of the capital Dhaka, the longest sea beach in the world at Cox’s Bazaar, the verdant Sylhet tea gardens, and the voluntary health projects of distant villages, Anne amasses a lot of friends, stories … and even a husband?
A Blonde Bengali Wife is the ‘unexpected travelogue’ that reads like a comedy of manners to tell the other side of the story of Bangladesh.
All money earned from A Blonde Bengali Wife goes direct to the charity, Bhola’s Children, of which the author and agent are active participants. A Blonde Bengali Wife isn’t about Bhola but it is a tribute to Anne’s journeys into Bangladesh and all the friends she has made there. Most of all, it is the story of the country that inspired Bhola’s Children.
180 Days Abroad with the Chinese Locals: What Textbooks and Classrooms Don’t Tell Us About China by Aldo A. Quintana
Aldo’s life drastically changed in July 2013. Five days after his MBA graduation ceremony, he was on an airplane to China. For 180 days, he resided in Langfang (Hebei province) with locals at “Yang Guang Jai He,” a community that doesn’t have a street address and is unknown on Google Maps. Aldo worked for a Chinese corporation; was an English teacher at a five employee Chinese startup, and he traveled to different cities throughout the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which included Langfang, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Beijing, and Shanghai.
Aldo talks about how a “when in doubt, send it out” moment resulted in an unexpected journey of a lifetime. He shares how he was able to adapt to an entirely different lifestyle and culture, and pop the culture-shock bubble in a short amount of time. Aldo discusses the unforeseen surprises, his memorable moments, Chinese business practices, the aftermath of Langfang, and so on. He doesn’t claim to be a subject matter expert on the Chinese way of life. With the help of some Chinese locals, and from the many conversations Aldo had logged in a journal, “180 Days Abroad with the Chinese Locals” reveals topics that textbooks and classrooms don’t tell us about China from a real-world point of view.
Juliette’s Angel: Death Desire Destiny by Juliette Power
A woman grieving her mother’s suicide. A Mount Everest trek leading to a magical moment in time: Juliette’s Angel.
Juliette Power has a secret. She holds it in her hands. After a lifetime spent ‘staying strong’ as a child of suicide, while trekking Everest, Juliette surrenders. One night she asks God a question, and He replies.
As a child, I knew three things for sure:
I had an angel
I loved my family
My mother was about to die.
‘Stay strong,’ my father said on the morning of my mother’s death.
So I did.
What I didn’t know was that my mother’s suicide would spark a chain of events that would shadow my life. Ultimately, blind faith drove me to the ends of the earth searching for proof.
Juliette and her daughter Bonnie leave their men and jobs in Australia and fly to Kathmandu to meet a guide they found on the internet. He leads them on a trek to the top of the world. But Mount Everest is as dangerous as it is magnificent, and Juliette’s world comes crashing down when she discovers she’s not as strong as she thought.
What if staying strong isn’t the answer?
Where do we go when we die?