- 1. About Asia travel: What to know before hitting the road
- 2. Which country should be included in your Asia travel route?
- 2.1. Vietnam – Among the best Asia travel destinations
- 2.2. Singapore – The Lion City of Southeast Asia
- 2.3. Indonesia – The land of thousand majestic islands
- 2.4. The Philippines – Where to find stunning white-sand beaches
- 2.5. Southeast Asia travel: Thailand
- 2.6. Cambodia – The land of smiles and kindness
- 2.7. Bhutan – The happiest country in all of Asia
- 2.8. India – One of the cheap Asia travel destinations
- 2.9. The Maldives – A paradise for any vacation
- 2.10. China – A must-visit place in your East Asia travel
- 2.11. Japan – One of the best places to travel in Asia
- 2.12. South Korea – A not-to-be-missed destination for East Asia travel
Asia travel is a popular choice of many tourists when they are planning their vacations. As the world’s largest continent, Asia awes visitors with its various landscapes, cultures, religions, cuisines, and paces of life. In order to get the most out of your Asia trip, make sure to check out our picks of the best Asia travel destinations below.
1. About Asia travel: What to know before hitting the road
1.1. Introduction to Asia – the world’s largest continent
Asia comprises 6 regions, namely North Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, West Asia, and Southeast Asia:
- North Asia: This region covers a large part of Russia and Siberia.
- Central Asia: This region used to be the epicenter of the historic Silk Road. Nowadays, you can still find the long-lasting imprints of nomadic cultures there. It has 5 countries, namely Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.
- East Asia: This region is home to China, Japan, Tibet, Mongolia, South Korea, and North Korea.
- West Asia: This region has 20 countries in total, 13 of which are Arabian countries famous for their luxurious lifestyles.
- South Asia: Widely known as the Indian subcontinent, this region has 6 countries, namely India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and The Maldives.
- Southeast Asia: This region is blessed with numerous breathtaking natural wonders and is quite popular with budget travelers. Your options include Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
1.2. Asia travel essentials
Before planning your itinerary to Asia, these are some information you should bear in mind:
- The best time of the year to travel Asia: As Asia is the largest continent on the planet, it features various climate zones. In some Asian countries, weather conditions may vary from region to region. Therefore, it is hard to point out the exact ideal time to travel to Asia. Instead, you can look for the information based on the specific destination in your itinerary.
- How to travel Asia: Planes are the most effective means of transport to travel from one country to another. If you travel within a country or if the distance is not too long, you can choose budget-friendly means of transport such as bus, train, taxi, or motorbike depending on the distance, your budgets and preferences.
- The budget for traveling Asia: The budget for traveling Asia mainly covers the expenses for transportation, accommodation, meals, and activities. The minimum cost for traveling in budget-friendly countries (like those in Southeast Asia) is 35-40 USD per day for solo travelers and 50-60 USD per day for two people. Remember that expenses are likely to increase during the peak tourist season.
2. Which country should be included in your Asia travel route?
2.1. Vietnam – Among the best Asia travel destinations
Vietnam has so many contrasts within itself, from the serene Hoi An Ancient Town to the bustling Ho Chi Minh City, from the magnificent Ha Long Bay blessed by Mother Nature to the man-made amusement park of records VinWonders Nha Trang. Without a doubt, this country is worth a stopover in your Southeast Asia tour.
There are 3 destinations you must visit when traveling to Vietnam:
- Phu Quoc Island: Known as the pearl island of Vietnam, Phu Quoc island boasts stunning beaches with soft white sand, crystal clear water, and marine biodiversity like Long Beach, Khem Beach, Starfish Beach, etc. Besides, the complex of Phu Quoc United Center which includes Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc, Grand World Phu Quoc and Vietnam’s largest theme park VinWonders Phu Quoc offers dozens of exhilarating activities and spectacular performances, making it the ideal spot for adventurous travelers or those with family.
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- Nha Trang: The coastal city is ranked among the 29 most beautiful bays on the planet by the Travel and Leisure Magazine. It is home to a diverse system of large and small islands with charming landscape and peculiar biodiversity, such as Hon Tre Island, Hon Mun Island and Binh Ba Island. The city also has many famous cultural attractions such as Po Nagar Cham Towers, National Oceanographic Museum, Nha Trang Cathedral, and especially VinWonders Nha Trang – the amusement park of ground-breaking records.
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- Hoi An: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its unique architecture, tasty street food, peaceful villages, and winding waterways. Some of Hoi An’s iconic attractions that you should not miss are Fujian Assembly Hall, Tan Ky Ancient House, Hoi An Night Market, etc. Besides, for a change of atmosphere, venture south for VinWonders Nam Hoi An which lies about 17 kilometers away from the center of Hoi An. This amusement park is divided into 5 subdivisions, namely Adventure Land, River Safari, Water World, Harbor Corner, and Island of Folk Culture.
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In terms of Vietnam travel, alongside these three world-famous destinations, there are many other interesting places to explore, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long Bay, Da Lat, Hanoi, to name a few. Notably, the country is also famous for its diverse cuisine. Some iconic Vietnamese foods you should not miss out on are pho, banh mi, bun thit nuong, bun dau mam tom, etc.
2.2. Singapore – The Lion City of Southeast Asia
Where to travel in Southeast Asia? Singapore, home to about 6 million people, is a global economic hub. The distinct glamor helps keep this cosmopolitan city-state in the list of must-visit Asian destinations. Singapore has received so much praise for its developed public transport system, state-of-the-art architecture, multi-ethnic culture, hygiene, and green environment.
As a melting pot of cultures, the Lion City boasts an eclectic blend of Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, English, Arab, and the indigenous cultures which is reflected via its cuisine and architecture.
Some arresting attractions much loved by tourists are:
- Singapore Botanic Gardens: The 163-year-old tropical botanic wonderland offers the world’s largest showcase of tropical orchids, which is sure to make you and your children go wild.
- Gardens by the Bay: Here, visitors will be jaw-dropped at how surreal and splendid its Supertree Grove and Cloud Forest are.
- Chinatown: The historical temples and medicinal halls in Chinatown will definitely satisfy culture lovers while the Michelin-starred restaurants and hawker stalls will sate the appetite of every foodie.
- Arab Street: This area has many famous attractions such as the colorful Haji Lane, the holy Sultan Mosque, and the buzzy Kampong Glam Cafe.
To explore the quintessence of Singapore cuisine, head to the hawker centers of Chinatown, Hong Lim Market, Chomp Chomp, Tiong Bahru, Geylang Serai, and Old Airport Road to try some super tasty dishes like fish head curry, nasi padang, BBQ sambal stingray, zi char, murtabak, etc.
2.3. Indonesia – The land of thousand majestic islands
As the world’s fourth most populous country, Indonesia has a lot to offer, from the beach paradise in Bali to the chameleon-like lake in Mount Kelimutu, from the megalithic Bada Valley to the natural Tampang Allo cave. If you do not know where to start your Indonesian journey, check out the list below:
- Bali Island: This is certainly the most renowned Indonesian attraction. Here, the serene magnificence of beaches, the lush wilderness of rice terraces, and the mystical beauty of temples altogether make for a holiday paradise.
- Borobudur: This is the world’s largest Buddhist temple that dates back to 780 and 840. Borobudur is contoured by lush green fields and emerald forests, which highlights its tranquility and holiness.
- Mount Kelimutu: Miracle happens when the water in the three crater lakes of the mount shifts from one color to another. This phenomenon is explained by the contact of the lake water with the mineral-rich underwater fumaroles.
- Komodo National Park: Including 29 volcanic islands, this park features different types of landscapes, ranging from jungles, steep hills, grasslands to beaches. Thus, this is the habitat of numerous species of fauna and flora, the best known of which is the Komodo dragon.
Besides stunning natural spectacles, Indonesia is also famed for its flavorful cuisine. Indonesian dishes deliver a strong flavor created by fresh herbs and a myriad of indigenous spices. Some prominent dishes you should try are satay, ayam bakar taliwang, ikan bakar, pecel lele, etc.
>>> Read more: Southeast Asia travel 2023: Explore natural wonders and cultural delights
2.4. The Philippines – Where to find stunning white-sand beaches
With over 7,000 tropical islands, the Philippines boasts many incredibly beautiful beaches that can grace the front cover of travel magazines. Thus, this is an ideal place for taking some instagrammable photos and enjoying water activities like diving, surfing, kayaking, or snorkeling.
However, there is more to the Philippines other than beaches. Mysterious tribal villages, terraced rice paddies, jungle-smothered mountains, wildlife-filled rainforests, and brick-and-mortar churches are all available for your discovery.
The top destination to be included in your itinerary to the Philippines is obviously Manila, the heart of the country. At this bustling and energetic metropolis, you will be amazed by the iconic kitschy Jeepneys packed with locals getting around the city or the exquisite architecture of some attractions like Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, and Casa Manila. Other notable destinations include Palawan and Baguio.
While you are in the Philippines, remember to get a taste of the local dishes, such as Adobo, Lechon, Sisig, Chicken Inasal, etc., before moving on to another country in your Southeast Asia travel route.
2.5. Southeast Asia travel: Thailand
Known for its white sandy beaches, resplendent temples, golden buddha statues and mouth-watering food, Thailand is a country that every traveler will fall in love with.
The first destination to mention in Thailand is its bustling capital Bangkok. This city draws tourists with a multitude of attractions, such as the Grand Palace, the Buddhist temples Wat Pho and Wat Arun, the Chatuchak market, etc.
850 kilometers to the south of Bangkok lies Phuket, one of the world’s best beach destinations with swaying palm trees, turquoise waters, white sand stretches, and lush jungle-clad mountains.
Another unmissable destination when you visit Thailand is Chiang Mai. The city is home to over 300 Buddhist temples, Phu Ping Palace, vibrant night markets, time-honored villages, and postcard-worthy grasslands.
Thai cuisine certainly goes beyond a plate of Pad Thai. If you are a real foodie, don’t forget to try these iconic Thai dishes: Yam Pla Dook Foo, Guay Teow, Tom Kha Gai, Tom Yum Goong, Som Tam, Khao Soi, etc.
2.6. Cambodia – The land of smiles and kindness
As Cambodia used to be the home of the mighty Khmer kingdom, the country has numerous ancient Khmer architectural remains. The most renowned attractions in Cambodia are inarguably the Angkor temples, including Angkor Wat, Bayon, Bateau Srei, Phnom Bakheng, Ta Prohm, to name a few. Their grandeur and architectural ingenuity can truly take your breath away.
Alongside the ancient Angkor temples, Cambodia also satisfies adventure seekers with a sublime blend of remote jungles, pristine beaches, Contemplate the sunrise at Angkor Wat, sunbathe on a beach in Koh Rong Archipelago, and visit the capital city of Phnom Penh are some must-try activities when you come to this beautiful Southeast Asian country.
In addition, to complete your trip to Cambodia, go on a food tour to enjoy a feast of delectable dishes. The fame of Cambodian cuisine has gone beyond the country’s border. Some of the most renowned dishes here are Samlor Korkor, Nom Banh Chok, Kari sach moan, Bok trop pgnon, etc.
2.7. Bhutan – The happiest country in all of Asia
As to Asia travel, the list of best places to visit will not be complete without Bhutan. It is a curious land that has gained a worldwide reputation as the happiest country. Although the country has opened its doors for tourists, the impacts of tourism on its environment and culture is so little that Bhutan remains largely unspoilt.
Buddhism thrives in Bhutan, so you can find yellow-roofed temples everywhere. Nearly all of the locals wear traditional clothes. There are no traffic lights. Timeless rural villages and stunning fortress-like monasteries are other highlights of the country.
However, in exchange for your unique travel experience in Bhutan, travel expenses will be much higher than in Southeast Asian countries. Some epic things to do in Bhutan are enjoy the colorful Bhutanese Tshechu festival, visit the ancient fortress of Punakha Dzon, drive through the Dochula Pass, and explore Bhutanese cuisine.
2.8. India – One of the cheap Asia travel destinations
Considering its large size (approximately equivalent to Western Europe) and huge collections of attractions, it is impossible to explore the entire India in just a single trip. The country is rich in traditions and landscapes that are certain to delight culture and adventure lovers.
Some Indian destinations that are worth a visit are:
- New Delhi: Like an ancient city thriving in the middle of modern society, New Delhi will strike tourists with its timeless architectural works, such as the Red Fort, Hamayun’s Tomb, Jama Masjid, etc.
- Agra: The highlight of this city is the Taj Mahal, lauded as “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity” by the poet Rabindranath Tagor. The grandeur and magnificence of the palace will still set your memories ablaze even after you have left India.
- Rajasthan: This state is home to extravagant palaces, medieval forts, colorful festivals, and sacred temples. These are the remnants of a once prosperous era. The most notable highlight of Rajasthan is its exotic tourist cities that are nicknamed after colors: Jaipur the “Pink City”, Jodhpur the “Blue City”, Udaipur the “White City”, and Jaisalmer the “Golden City”. Rajasthan is also known for many excellent wildlife sanctuaries.
Indian cuisine is another irresistible appeal to tourists. Traveling to this renowned Asia travel destination, remember to try these 9 iconic Indian dishes: Chicken Makhani, Tandoori Chicken, Samosas, Chana Aloo Curry, Aloo Gobi, Naan, Matar Paneer, Lassi, and Masala Chai.
2.9. The Maldives – A paradise for any vacation
The Maldives is truly a holiday paradise with its picture-perfect beaches and rich marine life under the glistening surface of clear waters. The country is home to nearly 1,200 islands. Therefore, snorkeling and diving are two most sought-after activities among tourists.
The Maldives has much to offer, such as seeing the sharks in Fuvahmulah, contemplating the bioluminescent beaches on Vaadhoo Island, kayaking on the lagoons of Vashafaru, and diving to watch the coral reefs on Dharavandhoo Island. These activities will surely perfect your dreamlike holiday.
Due to the abundance of marine life, the Maldives is a haven for seafood lovers. Most commonly used ingredients are coconut and tuna. Some famous local dishes that will satisfy your taste buds are Mas Huni, Masroshi, Bis Keemiya, reef fish cutlets, and Kulhi Boakibaa.
2.10. China – A must-visit place in your East Asia travel
Though famed for being among the world’s largest economies with megacities and advanced infrastructure, China still preserves its time-honored traditions that were stilted in five millenia. To feel both the modern and nostalgic vibes of China, set off to these 3 Chinese gems:
- Beijing: The appeal of China’s capital is not limited to the Great Wall, the world-famous historical witness to the ups and downs of China throughout several eras. Its star attractions also include the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven Park, the Hutong Alleyways, Wangfujing Street, and more.
- Sichuan: Like Beijing, Sichuan is a renowned cultural and tourist province in China. Here, you can observe the “national treasure” pandas at Chengdu Panda Base, contemplate the world’s largest sculpture of Buddha, admire Chinese relics at Wenshu Monastery, or visit the poetic Du Fu Thatched Cottage.
- Chongqing: Chongqing shares many similar highlights with Sichuan in terms of cuisine. Both of them are famous for super spicy dishes with pungent flavors like hotpot, chili oil noodles, and wontons. Apart from food, the city also beckons visitors with mesmerizing wonders including Yangtze River, Hongya Cave, Wulong Karst National Geology Park, Dazu Rock Carvings, and Ciqikou Ancient Town.
Aside from the aforementioned places, Xi An, Shanghai, and Su Zhou are among other compelling destinations in China.
2.11. Japan – One of the best places to travel in Asia
Japan is undoubtedly among the most developed countries in the world with impressive advances in technology. Despite that, the country still threads its successful 21st century with the fabrics of its past. It is common for visitors to find timeless temples and traditional inns lying amidst modern skyscrapers and towers of light.
To get the most out of your trip, here are the best things to see and do in the “Land of the Rising Sun”:
- Travel back in time to Kyoto: Here, you will feel a deep bond between modern Japan and the old one through over 2,000 stunning temples, charming gardens, and ceremonial teahouses.
- Pampering yourself at an onsen: Indulging in a hot onsen is a Japanese tradition that has spanned over 3,000 years. It is believed to help people drop their worries.
- Take a sip of sake: Sake is a world-famous Japanese beverage made from fermented rice. There are many types of sake, the most popular of which are Ginjo-shu, Junmai-shu, Honjozo-shu, Daiginjo-shu, and Namazake.
- Discover the peculiar Tokyo: Your journey to Tokyo will surely be full of fun with many exceptional features, such as the anime land of Akihabara, humanoid robots at hotels, vending machines selling fresh popcorn, public toilets with remote control, etc.
- Watch the sunrise and sunset on Mount Fuji: Mount Fuji is inarguably Japan’s most iconic attraction. It is the highest and most beautiful mountain in Japan with the summit capped by snow for several months of the year.
- Explore Japanese cuisine: Japanese cuisine is famed for its exquisiteness that can be seen from the making of the traditional Japanese confectionery Wagashi to that of the multi-course kaiseki meal. In terms of Japanese snacks, you can go to convenience stores to get a delicious onigiri, sushi, bento, or crispy fried meatballs.
2.12. South Korea – A not-to-be-missed destination for East Asia travel
South Korea is a dream destination to visit with plenty of beautiful landscapes and endless incredible experiences. You can venture into densely forested national parks, enjoy epic mountain hikes along scenic hiking trails, parasail on the splendid Jeju Island, explore opulent royal palaces, etc.
Tourists will enjoy themselves to the fullest in some of the best South Korean tourist cities, namely:
- Seoul: Seoul features the same bustling and lively atmosphere as other major cities in the world but still has a rich vibe of history and culture. You can go on a cultural tour of the city to explore the charming Changdeokgung Palace, the traditional Bukchon Hanok Village, the sacred Jogyesa Temple, then grab some Korean snacks at the city’s oldest and largest traditional Gwangjang Market. If you are fond of trendy nightlife, head to Insa-dong, Hongdae, Myeongdong and Dongdaemun districts which are very popular among young people.
- Busan: As the second biggest city in South Korea, Busan is full of scenic attractions, ranging from craggy mountains to white sandy beaches, not to mention historical landmarks. For a local taste, go to Gwangbok-dong Food Street and Nampo-dong Market, where you will find many famous South Korean dishes like tteokbokki, bibimbap, jajangmyeon, spicy cold noodles, hotteok, etc.
- Jeju Island: It will be a big waste if you travel to South Korea without visiting Jeju Island. The island is so famed for many stunning landmarks, such as Jeongbang Waterfalls, Jeju Folk Village, Oedolgae the lone rock pillar, Jusangjeolli Cliff, or Hyeopjae and Geumneung Beaches.
Asia travel is sure to spark your wanderlust with its enchanting landscapes, soul-satiating delicacies, deep-rooted culture, and friendly locals. Hopefully, our Asia travel guide to 12 best destinations will help you better plan your itinerary and get ready for your dream-like Asian escape. If you are thinking about choosing Vietnam as your next holiday destination, do not forget to add VinWonders Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, and Nam Hoi An to your bucket list.
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