Experience new flavors, smells, sounds and vistas in this continent that offers everything from horse riding on the plains of Mongolia to swimming at Thailand’s beaches.
Stretched out between Turkey in the northwest and Singapore in the southeast, even reaching as far as eastern Russia, Asia is huge. As the world’s biggest and most populated continent, this is a place of endless possibilities.
It’s not just the affordable travel that makes Asia such a tourism hotspot. Its ancient history shines through in ruined forts and temples, its religions and rituals are as diverse as it gets and its eclectic cuisine is a feast for the senses.
Of course, what is means to discover Asia is different for everyone. For many, walking over the Great Wall of China, stepping into the Taj Mahal in India, or cycling among the moss-clad ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia features high on their bucket list.
Others are saving up for a photography course in Sri Lanka, a yoga retreat in India or a foodie tour of Japan. Meanwhile, the more adventurous types may dream of an eco-tour of Vietnam, tubing down a river in Laos, climbing a volcano in Sumatra or even climbing Mount Everest in Nepal.
Some will look no further than lazy beach sessions on the stunning islands of Malaysia or Thailand, which also happen to be great for scuba diving. And for those looking to party, there is always the nightlife in Tokyo, Bali, Bangkok and Koh Phangan to delve into.
Long-overlooked regions, such as Taiwan, South Korea, and the Caucasus region are now attracting hordes of curious travelers as well. Even poorer Asian nations such as Cambodia, Myanmar and East Timor are making the list and doing splendidly. It’s here that you can still find the authentic villages and a genuine curiosity towards visitors.
It’s worth noting that most “Westerners” experience a culture shock on their first trip to Asia, especially in vast countries such as India, China and the Asian part of Russia. Just prepare to be happily lost in translation, look for the beauty in the chaos and be sure to try something new every day.