Asia Travel Guide: Everything About the World's LARGEST Continent
Contemplating:“It is probably a pity that every citizen of each state cannot visit all the others, to see the differences, to learn what we have in common, and come back with a richer, fuller understanding of America – in all its beauty, in all its dignity, in all its strength, in support of moral principles.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower
From the sights of the vibrant, chaotic streets of India to the peace in the Japanese serene culture to the aesthetically pleasing beaches in Bali— there’s too much to talk about and learn about Asia. According to Wikipedia, Asia is the most populous & the largest continent on the planet. Believe me, I have had a hard time preparing this Asia Travel guide, I couldn’t understand how to figure out a way to help you with that massive information in just about a few words— sleep on it! But, don’t worry, this will help, I have compiled the most important information & recommendations that you might expect any Asia travel guide to cover.
Located primarily in the Northern & the Eastern hemisphere, Asia comprises 48 countries that are also a part of the United Nations (that’s a different topic). You will be surprised to know that China, which is a part of Asia, alone has a population more than that of Western Europe, South America, North America, Australia & New Zealand, when combined. Japan’s Tokyo is the largest city in Asia & Maldives is the smallest city. So, that was a little of geography, let’s talk about top cities to travel to in Asia, the best time to visit, and other important facts that might help you plan Asia vacations.
Unlock your magical journey to this beautiful part of the planet, check out our Asia travel guide exclusively designed for you. And, here we go:
While it might take years to explore this vast stretch of land, our Asia travel guide will help you with the essentials and what's important— after all “A journey of a hundred miles begins with a single step”. I promise you’ll find what you're looking for in this Asia travel guide! We are sure, after reading this, you can’t hold yourself back— with so much to see & do, It’s just something you can’t say ‘No’ to.
Top Destinations in Asia
All inundated with tranquil temples, beautiful beaches, and pleasantly welcoming people, tourists love Thailand and there is a reason they do. Fittingly enough this mention in our Asia travel guide is referred to as “The Land of Smiles”. While you will get to see the perfect nightlife & eat some great cuisines in Bangkok— Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are places for people who love spending time in temples. It’s the perfect place for partying in the beachside towns, visiting idyllic islands, and looking at some picturesque scenery.
When I first started with this Asia travel guide, it was ‘Japan’ that first popped up in front of my eyes. I recently happened to read a book titled, “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long & Happy Life” — the book talks about the highly unusual percentage of seniors on Japan's Okinawa island who live to 100. The book talks about their secret to living longer, the Ikigai, which they define as a unique sense of purpose. Okinawa Island is often referred to as the “island of longevity”! That kind of impressed me. And there’s much more to discover in this unique part of Asia.
I am in my 40s and I have met a lot of Indians, man, they are a super-intelligent, hard-working & loving bunch of people. I did not realize until I saw the Taj Mahal, and read ‘why the great king Shah Jahan built the huge mansion for his wife. Besides, India has the oldest & the biggest civilization in the world. Its diverse culture, religion & people are something that makes it one of the most loved places for travelers across the globe.
Indonesia accommodates a huge stretch of land of about 4,700 kilometers from east to west. The Asian land is made of 18,000 islands— yes, you heard that right! After India, Indonesia is another mention in our Asia Travel guide that is known for its diverse culture, language, people, wildlife & landscape. Located between the Pacific & the Indian Ocean, Indonesia is diverse in almost every aspect. If you happen to visit Bali, you would see a couple of amazing beaches, wonderful wildlife & more. With so much to see and do, Indonesia is fittingly called the ‘Emerald of the Equator.
Vietnam has survived multiple scrapes & bumps of history— and there’s a lot to discover for the history buffs. Vietnam is a place of cultural complexities & natural beauty — it’s both chaotic & serene. From Halong Bay to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to Ho Chi Minh City and Con Dao Islands, there is something at every turn. Vietnam is an opportunity to create massive unforgettable memories. And, Vietnamese food is just above everything else— incredibly subtle in taste & wonderful in diversity.
I believe Malaysia is appositely called the ‘melting pot’ where a wide array of people, cultures, traditions are mixed together— and there’s something for everyone. Be it a rejuvenating time on the beaches or trying some adventure like scuba diving or hiking in Borneo, this part of the continent has everything. We could not have missed its mention in our Asia Travel Guide. And, I’m sure you cannot miss adding this southeast Asian country to your bucket list. It’s the staggering natural diversity, unique culture & everything so amazing that keeps travelers coming to Malaysia.
I want to begin this introduction with my own short story— so I was on my Cambodia vacation back in 2017, and I don’t know how but I lost my wallet. You can imagine how disturbing it could have been— lost in a foreign land without any cash. But believe me, it brought me so much more— I have never met such friendly people in my life. I met this man named ‘Boupha’, he offered me to come to his home and don’t worry and he literally helped me. Since then Cambodiadesti has become one of my favorite destinations and I could not have missed its mention in my Asia travel guide. Cambodia still is trying to make its way from the horrifying genocide carried out between 1975 and 1979.
After his first visit to Sri Lanka during the fourteenth century, Marco Polo “Sri Lanka is undoubtedly the finest island in the world”-- and that was all true. The tropical paradise is located about 100 miles north of the equator and it’s all inundated with some of the best beaches in the world. After my first trip to Sri Lanka, I could not stop talking about its enthralling culture & the incredible wildlife. The best part is that you can explore all of Sri Lanka without breaking your bank. Every part of this Asian nation is filled with natural beauty, culture, flourishing wildlife & some great historical stories awaiting your exploration.
Myanmar, previously called Burma, accommodates about 2000 miles of coastline, has a rich cultural heritage, a couple of beautiful mountains, and gorgeous landscapes. Be it an adventure vacation or a Luxury travel trip, Myanmar has it all for its travelers. From the breathtaking scenery to the varied topography to the well-spiced Burmese cuisine— I’m sure you would love every bit of your vacation to Myanmar. Besides, its mention in our Asia travel guide, leisure.com has many more recommendations with respect to planning a Myanmar vacation, follow the link to read more.
8. World’s largest cave in Phong Nha National Park
9. My Son, a ruined Cham era temple
10. Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum
1. Petronas Twin Towers
2. Cameron Highlands
3. Melaka Historic City
4. George Town, Penang
5. Menara KL Tower
6. Perhentian Islands
7. Georgetown Historic City
8. The Perhentians, Terengganu
9. Rock Climbing at Batu Caves
10. Gunung Mulu National Park
1. Angkor Archaeological Park
2. Sihanoukville Beaches
3. The Bayon complex
4. Gorge on Seafood in Kep
5. Enjoy The Khmer Performance, Apsara Dance
6. Battambang Bat Caves at sundown
8. Tonlé Sap Lake
9. Choeng Ek Memorial & Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
10. Silver Pagoda & Phnom Penh Royal Palace
8. Sri Lanka
1. Climb Sigiriya
2. Hiking through the Little Adams Peak
3. Kaudulla National Park Elephant Safari
4. Nine Arch Bridge
5. Tea empire in Nuwara Eliya
6. Kandy to Ella Train Ride
7. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy
9. The beaches of Arugam Bay
10. Surf at Hikkaduwa
1. Shwedagon Pagoda
2. Bagan by balloon Experience
3. Pyin U Lwin
4. Hiking through Mount Popa
5. Reclining Buddha visit
6. The Irrawaddy River
8. Ngwe Saung, a beach resort
9. Inle Lake Boating
10. Mingun Pagoda
Top Islands in Asia
1. Palawan, Philippines
Palawan, the eponymous collection of 1,800 islands is located between the Sulu seas & South China. Palawan is voted as the world’s best island for its mountains, the emerald-green waters, the incredibly magnificent national parks, and much more. It’s one of the most popular destinations among hikers & divers for its diverse landscape. And, the beach geeks simply love the place for its vast horizon according to the leisure.com readers. Palawan has some of the best resorts & beaches in the world.
2. Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang is also known as ‘Elephant Island’ is popular among tourists for its jungle-covered steep peaks and sweeping bays. It has a perfectly great combination of the thriving party scene to accessible adventure. Koh Chang has always been a place for many who are giddy with joy chasing their traveling dreams. The island is located about 300 km from Bangkok, on the Gulf of Thailand’s Eastern shore in the proximity of the Cambodian border. Our Asia travel guide defines Elephant Island as a bunch of beaches, authentic cuisine, magical beauty & rubber plantations.
3. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
For a long time, Perhentian has flourished as a beach destination for a variety of tourists across the globe. For those traveling between Malaysia and Bangkok, this has always been a point of break and the purpose is truly defined by its name. The term “Perhentian” refers to the “stopping point” and that‘s how it is for a lot of people. In the earlier times, fishing was the major support to the economy of the island, but fishing is prohibited in the region. Today, tourism brings the most money to the Perhentian Islands— and it isn’t any surprises with wonderful marine life, crystal-clear water, lovely sand beaches & much more.
4. Phuket, Thailand
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and who doesn't know it, we all do! Offering tourists with a huge opportunity for some great adrenaline rushing water sports including diving & snorkeling, the great cuisines, sandy beaches & the amazingly wonderful blue waters. From across the globe, travelers & globetrotters flock to Phuket for a moment of relaxation and peace. The weather here is exceptionally amazing— all warm & sunny through the year. The island is accessible and can be reached within an hour from most tip cities in Thailand.
5. Tioman Island, Malaysia
The Malaysian island is known for its amazing white sand beaches and glistening corals. So, if you are looking for a weekend getaway, Tioman Island would be a great island. It’s close to the private island Batu Batu— it’s small but there’s a lot to see and do. The Island is about 12 km large and 39 km long and it sits like a dragon gazing at the waters of the South China Sea offering shade of life to travelers’ journey. Without any doubt, it is one of the top islands to travel to in Asia.
6. Langkawi, Malaysia
Located beautifully on the western coast of Malaysia, Langkawi, the archipelago consists of around 99 islands. The scenic paddy fields, the turquoise sea that surrounds the archipelago & the amazing jungle-clad hills— are things that would keep you glued to this beauty. Fringed by the swaying coconut trees and the powder-fine sand— this place gets a mention in most of the Asia Travel Guides as one of the most revered destinations by nature-lovers. Also, the place is popularly known for some really exciting opportunities.
7. Côn Dào, Vietnam
If you are looking for a peaceful, tranquil, and vacation in seclusion then Côn Dào is one of the best places to pick in southeast Vietnam. The island is located in the Ba Ria, Vung Tau (Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu) province, it is an archipelago made up of 16 islands and is the most populated & the largest island in Vietnam. It’s hard to believe how an infamous place that has been a place of prison for almost 113 years is now one of the most stunning beaches in Vietnam. Nevertheless, whether you want to walk around the white sand beaches, hike the jungles, or swim around the clear sea— it’s one of the most interesting places.
8. Macleod Island, Myanmar
Macleod, the horseshoe-shaped has around 20 popular dive sites like North Rock where you would get to meet some unique turtles & snakes. From wandering around the white beaches all covered with dense jungles & palm trees— to swimming across the azure water, collecting seashells & spotting corals, everything you do here is so exciting. It’s a kind of unique experience, you can sail for days without meeting anyone except for the odd fisherman in a dugout canoe.
9. Yakushima Island, Japan
Yakushima Island is most popularly known for being an amazing hiking hotspot. Japanese revere the island for its cedar trees and hot springs. Located 37 miles south of Kyushu, Yakushima is the third largest island in Japan. It is the ancient forest & the towering mountains— that makes it one of the most unique locations in Japan. If you want to take some time off from the hustle & bustle of the city, into the serenity—Yakushima Island should always be on your list when in japan. For the natural charm that it holds, Yakushima Island got listed among UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1993.
10. Kaoh Tonsay, Cambodia
The locals also referred to it as Rabbit Island as they believe it resembles a rabbit. The 250m-long main beach is a perfect place if you want to nap, read, get lazy, eat seafood, sip cocktails— and retire into your threadbare bungalow. You can take up a boat ride from the seedy Sihanoukville for an exploration of the spectacular islands. It’s a very different scene here, though, most of the islands are unspoiled and undeveloped — and have only a few resorts or hotels. However, the unspoiled dive sites, the magical beaches & the traditional fishing villages — are worth exploration.
While I have to be quite specific in my Asia Travel Guide about everything, as far my personal journey is concerned, I have traveled in different Asian countries, during different parts of the year and never had a ‘failed trip’-- and that’s not any boasting. With some of the world's best beaches, temples, jungles, and more— no matter what the weather is like, you can’t stop yourself.
However, if you want to be sure about the weather and travel in particular weather before you plan your vacation, check the official tourism website of the country. The temperature mostly between November to April is mild, that’s when tourists flock to Asia. But the temperature might vary in different parts — like the temperature might be mild in Thailand in January & cold in Vietnam. Always double-check the official tourism website of the country.
How To Travel Around the Asian Continent
We surveyed a couple of leisure.com travelers for our Asia travel guide to find out what is the best way they would recommend when it comes to getting around the streets of Asian cities— and most of them said, ‘buses’ are the best way to travel around. They said it’s very easy to move around the city by bus. And, they are under your budget, costing just about a few dollars to a few pennies. On the other hand, Tuk Tuks & Taxis will cost you almost double that of buses. You can use buses in almost every part of Asia while trains and taxis will make your vacation happen in a hassle-free way only through some parts of the continents.
Tips on Saving Money while Traveling in Asia
Asia Travel Guide for Saving Money while Traveling: Here are some simple & easy tips on saving money while traveling to Asia.
Asia Travel Guide for Eco-friendly Travelers: Eco-friendly traveling isn’t just good for the place you are traveling to, but it does make a difference to your own life— be Greedy, save your life. A lot of countries in Asia have already started devising policies for eco-friendly traveling. I have created a precise list of things for leisure.com readers, which can help them travel responsibly in different parts of Asia.
When Traveling in Asia, think like an Asian
Be respectful to the local cultures & etiquettes
Use only eco-friendly products (soaps, bags, towels & more)
Learn about the eco-friendly policies of the hotel before booking
Don’t shop for souvenirs that are made from ivory, bird feathers, or any other animal products.
Don’t mistreat elephants and other animals for FUN
Avoid throwing any kind of wastage hiking the trails or diving in the sea
The amazing festivals celebrated across different parts of Asia are like— once you witness how & what people do, you’ll realize, it’s not just about a celebration— they come deep from their culture, religion, habits, lifestyle, and everything they do. And, besides fun, these festivals are the best way to get insight into the past, present & future of Asia. For this Asia travel guide, I have created a list of a few festivals you must witness on your next trip through Asia. Here we go:
1. Holi (March)
2. Diwali (October/ November)
3. Durga Puja (October)
1. Songkran (April)
2. Loy Krathong (November)
3. Yi Ping (November)
1. Gion Matsuri (July)
2. Yuki Matsuri (February)
3. Nebuta Matsuri
Sri Lanka Festivals
1.Kandy Esala Poya Perahera (July)
2. Christmas (December)
3. Ramadan and Eid (April/ May)
1. Lim Festival (April)
2. Hùng Kings Temple (May)
3. Mid-autumn Festival (April)
1. Kachin Manaw Festival (January)
2. Thingyan Water Festival (April)
3. Taungbyone Nat Festival (August)
1. Chinese New Year (February)
2. Hari Raya Haji (July)
3. Hari Raya Aidilfitri (May)
1. Magha Puja Day (February)
2. Meak Bochea Day (February)
3. King Norodom Sihamoni’s Birthday (May)
1. Lake Toba Festival, North Sumatra (September)
2. Dieng Culture Festival (August)
3. Java Jazz, Jakarta (March)
Your Asia Travel Guide to Etiquettes & Manners
Read through any Asia travel guide, and you’ll know, the continent has got a vibrantly intriguing palette of traditions and some really bizarre cultures, people follow. It’s an opportunity to explore new things, know about these cultures & be a part of some of them, you have never been. But, you may have to get through unexpectedly ugly implications, if you are not aware of the etiquettes and what can make people furious.
Asia Travel Guide to Asia Etiquettes & Manners
1. Touching the head of a person is considered very RUDE. Be careful.
2. Get Adept at Using Chopstick. Don’t stick your chopsticks upright in rice. It’s considered a sign of bad luck in Japan & China.
3. If you are traveling to Malaysia, Nepal, Indonesia, or India— be comfortable eating with your hand.
4. Never blow your nose at the dining table— especially in Japan, China & Korea.
5. Don’t cross your fingers. That’s considered a sign of bad luck in Vietnam.
6. In Japan, it’s considered insulting to tip. Avoid Tipping.
7. Avoid Chewing gum when talking to someone. That’s not considered respectful. In fact, in Singapore, chewing gum has been banned since 1992.
8. Use your right hand to eat your food when you are not using a fork or spoon.
9. Make sure you are not touching your shoes in public places.
10. In Korea, it’s considered absolutely impolite to say NO to a shot of soju. Hold it a little longer.
We also worked out the South America Travel Guide for leisure.com travelers, read here before you book your South America vacation packages:
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