12 Best Places to go to Asia

Asia is the largest continent in both size and population—a diverse, multi-cultural melting pot of some of the oldest civilizations on Earth. There is so much to see and do in Asia, it's hard to narrow it down to one shortlist—it could take you months to explore just one country.

For those on a tight schedule or budget, the secret to discovering the best places to visit in Asia is to see a little bit of everything from the skyscrapers of Hong Kong to the majestic slopes of Mount Fuji and the architectural marvels of places like Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Regardless of what you really want to experience in your travels through Asia, there is certainly a place somewhere to fill that need. To help you plan the trip of a lifetime, check out our list of the best places to visit in Asia.

1. Mount Fuji, Japan

Although Mount Fuji is an active stratovolcano, it has not erupted since 1708. The stunning Snowcapped Mountain is one of the "Three Sacred Mountains" of Japan, which is traditionally believed to possess volcanic power, a special power—Mount Fuji.

If that's not ominous enough, the base of the mountain is also home to Okighara. Also known as the "suicidal forest", this dense forest is home to ice caves growing on hard lava, a combination that absorbs sound and creates an eerie feeling of solitude.

While many visitors come here for this World Heritage List cultural site and well-known symbol of Japan, others come for the climbing opportunities. Until the late 19th century, women were not allowed to make their way to the summit (which is still considered a sacred site), so visitors of all races, genders and ages were now able to make up for lost time. come for.

There are four possible routes to reach the top of the mountain, and all offer several stops along the way in the form of temples, historical monuments, and even teacups.

You may also want to plan your trip to Japan around the spring cherry blossoms, another popular tourist attraction.

2. Dead Sea, Israel

The dark blue waters of the Dead Sea touch the borders of both Jordan and Israel. Basically a lake whose name notwithstanding, the Dead Sea sits at the lowest land elevation on Earth at more than 430 meters above sea level. With a salt concentration of about 31 percent—about 10 times saltier than the ocean—the Dead Sea is so thick, nothing can sink in it, and everything that moves in it naturally floats.

While the beach around the lake has become a thriving spa and resort destination, there is also a large influx of religious tourism to the area. Jericho, the city in which Jesus is said to heal dark beggars, is located northwest of the Dead Sea, and is home to the mythical Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as several other cities, including Zoar and Edah. Area. The region has some of the oldest living cities in the world.

While the lake is too salty to support aquatic life, there are many animals that call the surrounding desert home—and hikers will run into anything from hares to foxes and leopards while exploring the nature reserves around the Dead Sea.

3. Phuket, Thailand

Thailand's largest island is also a magnet for visitors – and for good reason. Phuket boasts some of the best beaches in the country, with clear, soft, rolling sands and turquoise waters as far as the eye can see.

Rent, Topi Karan, and Kamala Beach see many tourists during the high season (November to February) but remain sleepy little villages after the rains. Beautiful coral reefs line the coastline, providing wonderful opportunities for snorkeling and diving but also sea kayaking and island stops.

Between hours lying under the sun, visitors can climb a hill to see the white-and-gold Wat Chalong, the largest and most important Buddhist temple on the island, or climb a hill – a 45-metre-tall covered statue Gaya with Burmese marble.

The island is also home to many unique festivals. The Ghost Festival during the 7th Chinese lunar month is dedicated to ancestor worship, and it involves releasing lanterns into the sea to help guide lost souls—a sight to behold.

Another surprising celebration is the vegetarian festival during the 9th Chinese lunar month – which despite the name is not so much about the food, but about purification and putting the body through extreme trials, such as walking a fire and hanging from a hook. .

4. Beijing, China

One of the most populous cities in the world, Beijing is also one of the oldest. You can get a glimpse into that history by walking Beijing's hutongs, a narrow alleyway lined with traditional houses and courtyards.

China's capital is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Imperial Summer Palace and its gardens, the world's oldest canal, and the Forbidden City—a palace complex that was home to China's emperors for 500 years in the 1420s. serves as . The Forbidden City—composed of nearly 1,000 different buildings—is one of Beijing's most impressive tourist attractions.

The city also offers visitors a number of unique looking pagodas and temples, including the 12th-century, eight-sided Tianying Temple, as well as nearly 150 museums and galleries.

The Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution and the National Art Museum of China houses massive collections and is well worth a visit.

Several sections of the Great Wall can also be found within Beijing, including the wall's most visited site, the 80-kilometre-long Badaling section.

5. Hoi A, Vietnam

Most visitors to the land of Vietnam head to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, or head straight to Helong Bay and the beach—but the best place to visit Vietnam is actually a well-kept secret.

The ancient city of Hoi is one of the oldest trading ports in Asia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A major commercial stop for trade ships as far back as the 15th century, HOI still maintains much of its original architecture in the form of timber-frame buildings, colorful French-colonial shutters, and Chinese tiled roofs. Religious buildings, courtyards, and shophouses sit side by side on narrow alleyways in the historic center of the ancient city, Hoi An.

Every full moon cycle, Hoi An celebrates the Lantern Festival, which honors ancestors through light. On the night before the full moon, all lights in the ancient city are turned off, and colorful lanterns and candles float on windows, houses, houses, and on boats down the river.

At other times of the month visitors can walk to Hoi to discover the Museum of History and Culture (originally a pagoda dedicated to the goddess of compassion, Guan Yin); The Japanese bridge was included in the 17th century; and the old house of Tan Kwai, a preserved 18th-century merchant's house.

6. Hong Kong

More than 7.4 million people from around the world occupy the tiny 1,104 square kilometer island of Hong Kong, making it the third most densely populated place in the world. Despite having one of the world's highest per capita incomes, income inequality has become one of Hong Kong's main issues, and low-income families often live in crowded rental buildings. The buildings themselves have become tourist attractions, as many historic structures were there for over a century.

Hong Kong has the largest number of skyscrapers in the world at 355—an impressive 75 more than the second-ranked city, New York. A good number of these are located around Victoria Harbour, a popular tourist area with one of the most stunning coastal skylines in Asia.

For the best views, visitors can climb to the top of Victoria Peak, HK's highest hill and home to a leisure and shopping complex, a vantage point with an attached viewing terrace looking out over the city below.

Hong Kong is home to a Disneyland park as well as an amusement park with oceanfront parks, rollercoasters, thrills, and water rides.

The cobble-stoned streets that make up the Lan Kwai Phong district are home to a fairly large number of upmarket restaurants and clubs, while Lantau Island attracts tourists looking for a more spiritual side to Hong Kong. Lantau is home to the 34-metre-tall Tian Tan Buddha statue (one of the largest sitting Buddha statues in the world), which awaits at the top of a steep hill.

Including street markets and other popular things to shop for while hiking or walking, either in the city or on Hong Kong's outlying islands.

7. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap is known as the gateway to the Angkor region and the magnificent temples left by the Khmer civilization. The largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat was built in the early 12th century and covers an area of ​​more than 160 hectares.

Siem Reap itself is an exciting mix of Chinese and French colonial architecture—a venue where traditional Upsar dance performance spaces mix with French bakeries, galleries, and rice paddies.

Between visiting great cafes and taking day trips to the temples, take some time to explore the Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Center, which chronicles the ongoing threat to landmines and what can be done to eliminate them completely. Used to be.

If you have a few hours before your trip to Angkor Wat, the Angkor National Museum is a great way to learn more about the archaeological ruins and the amazing civilization behind them.

8. Singapore

Singapore only gained full independence from the UK and became a sovereign state in 1965, but this brand-new country is now a financial powerhouse and one of the most fun countries to visit in Southeast Asia.

Because of its size and location, Singapore doesn't have a lot of beaches—unless you count the three beaches on Sentosa Island Resort, small but with soft white sand and protected lagoons with clear blue waters. Along with—but it makes up for them with themes of charm, lush rain forests, and lively coastal fun.

From its own Universal Studios Park and Beach to Marina Bay sands with a tower, the 50-metre Bungee Jump Resort and its rooftop, which includes an infinity pool and a skybridge, Singapore has established itself as a thrilling destination .

But this island-state also has a lot to offer in the form of greener entertainment, starting with the magical Gardens by the Bay, a 100-hectare nature park with the world's largest glass greenhouse, two cool preserves, and artistically designed There has been tree and flower field.

Singapore's nature-themed jewel Changi Airport has been recognized as one of the best in the world—it not only has the world's tallest indoor waterfall, but also an indoor suspension bridge over 23 in the air, four slides and a butterfly garden. meter is up.

9. Kingdom of Bhutan

Bhutan is a landlocked country surrounded by the Himalayas, Tibet and parts of India. A nation of steep mountains, green valleys and swift rivers, Bhutan is home to the 7,570-metre-tall Gangarar Punsam, the world's highest unmarked mountain.

Some of the country's most beautiful sights are high up, nestled on the rocks—Tiger's Nest Monastery is a good example, set over 3,000 meters in the mountains and accessible only after a serious hike.

In an effort to protect the country's biodiversity and historical heritage, free travel is not permitted throughout the country. This means that all foreign visitors to Bhutan must travel on a pre-paid package tour through an approved operator. While some agencies offer pre-arranged stops, others will work with you to tailor them, to help you see what you're really interested in in places worth a visit. Fort and Buddhist monastery ruins of Drukignal Dzong, Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (home to the rare black-necked crane), and several zzongs or religious forts.

10. Kathmandu, Nepal

The capital and largest city of Nepal is also known as "City of Temples". A melting pot of Hindu and Buddhist religious influences, Kathmandu is full of Nepalese—including Nepal's holiest Buddhist site, Budhanatha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Swayamuhu, home of the sacred monkeys and one of the oldest temples in Nepal. Huh. Both those seeking a religious experience and camera-toting tourists can find much to appreciate in a city where spirituality touches on almost everything.

Sitting at an altitude of over 1,400 meters above sea level, Kathmandu is a popular gateway to the Himalayas and nearby sites such as the ancient city of Patan.

Climbers from all over the world arrive here on their short 15-day trek to Everest Base Camp, but overnight trips around the city are also popular to capture the sight of the Himalayas in all their glory. Even those without a love for adventure can find plenty to see in the capital, from impressive markets to historical monuments to colorful festivals throughout the year.

It is also possible to take a closer look at the majesty of the Himalayas from above, as many tour companies offer short flights over the snowy mountains.

11. Jaipur, India

New Delhi and Mumbai may be India's most famous cities, but Jaipur takes home the "most beautiful" award. Known as the "Pink City" because of the unique color of the stone used to build many structures around it, Jaipur is also home to a community of artisans. Here, artisans craft everything from block printing and blue pottery to shellac work; stone carving; and captive, the unique art of embellishing tie-dye textiles by pairing sections of it with nails.

Many of the most breathtaking attractions in Jaipur are architectural marvels, including the stunning Jal Mahal Palace, which sits at the center of the Man Sagar Lake.

Several other monuments and pink structures are located within 10 kilometers of the city, including the ancient temple complex Galtji, built in narrow hills and surrounded by sacred pools (small water pools). The world's largest stone beautiful and 10th century red sandstone and marble Amer Fort at Jantar Mantar is also outside the city and attracts many visitors.

12. Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang and 33 of the surrounding villages are part of the UNESCO City of Luang Prabang World Heritage Site. Together, these sites are home to an incredible mix of cultural and architectural heritage that has shaped Laos over the centuries.

Wat Xieng Thong or "Temple of the Golden City" is a good example of this—a 16th-century structure showing splendid examples of Laos arts and crafts, but also a historically significant place where all Laos kings were once held. was crowned. In the center of the city, Mount Phou Si is home to Wat Chom Si and provides one of the best views over the city once you reach the top.

Luang Prabang is best explored on foot or by bike, getting lost in the narrow alleyways, where temples, houses, and colonial buildings all blend into a harmonious atmosphere.

Outside the city and reached by driving through slopes, lush hills and rice paddies, there are many natural sites to visit. Pak O Caves, which sit on the Mekong River and are home to hundreds of miniature wooden Buddha statues, and the three-tiered Kuang Si Falls are popular day trips from Luang Prabang.

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