With so many exciting top destinations in Asia, deciding where to go can be difficult; but that’s a good problem to have.
Don’t despair! Use this list of 10 tourist destinations in Asia to get ideas for the perfect trip.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Many travelers prefer Thailand’s pleasant northern capital over the hectic pace of life in Bangkok. Most of the tourist action happens within Chiang Mai’s Old City, where orange-robed monks from the many temples smile as they pass.
From cultural festivals and sprawling night markets to mountain trekking and numerous temples — Chiang Mai attracts over a million visitors annually who can’t wait to come back.
Notoriously expensive and needlessly shunned by backpackers and budget travelers, tiny Singapore is a modern-yet-green city/country well worth a visit for the food, mega-mall shopping, and unique blend of cultures.
Yes, Singapore costs far more than neighboring Malaysia or the rest of Southeast Asia, however, the city has a pleasant vibe, lively Indian and Chinese cultures, speaks good English, and is pleasant enough just to stroll. You could spend months living in Singapore and still discover hidden places and eateries the guidebooks have missed!
Known as the “Pearl of the Orient,” Penang is a place to relax, eat to the brink of misery, and appreciate Malaysia in a new way. Malaysians are quite proud of their large island.
A legacy of immigration and colonization in Penang has produced what is arguably some of the best cuisine in all of Southeast Asia. Penang hawker food combines the best of Malay with influences from Chinese and Indian immigrants to produce mouthwatering creations.
Superb eating is not the only indulgence on the island. You’ll find hip museums and art galleries along with plenty of other things to do in Penang.
Island in Thailand
Although some are too small to merit a dot on a map, the islands in Thailand are among the world’s most beautiful. Imagine white sand and blue water, cheap diving, and your choice of isolated tranquility or savage nightlife — all for far less than the cost of a trip to Hawaii.
The diversity of the Thai islands is amazing. Phuket and Koh Samui are developed, tourist hot spots with vibrant nightlife, while tiny Koh Lipe once barely maintained electricity. Beautiful Koh Lanta is the perfect compromise.
Sabah, one of two states belonging to Malaysian Borneo, is a natural paradise. Plentiful rainforest, endangered orangutans, and indigenous cultures are certainly worth grabbing a cheap flight from Kuala Lumpur.
Sabah is the perfect balance between wild and developed. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is a happening tourist city in the shadow of towering Mount Kinabalu. When you’ve had enough shopping and cheap seafood, trade the concrete for East Sabah, where there are plenty of opportunities to experience Southeast Asia at its wildest.
Crowded, polluted, dreadfully appealing — love it or hate it, Beijing is the pounding heart of China. Amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City make navigating Beijing’s urban sprawl well worth the effort.
Give Beijing a chance; rather than fleeing from the madness, stick around long enough to become a part of it. Wandering the busy streets can actually become quite addictive!
Bali, with its miles of beaches and volcanic landscapes, is nothing short of magic. Once only a destination for honeymooners and surfers, Bali is now one of the top destinations in Asia.
Most of the action culminates in South Bali at hedonistic Kuta Beach. Travelers in search of more than a hangover head for Ubud — the peaceful cultural center of Bali — or even opt to climb a volcano in the Kintamani Region.
Excellent beaches, a welcoming Hindu culture, and beautiful scenery make Bali the busiest island in Indonesia.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap is the gateway for exploring one of Southeast Asia’s most fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Angkor Wat. Over 900 years old, the temples of Angkor are scattered across 600 square miles of jungle. The jungle is slowly reclaiming the ancient temples as vines strangle ruins and break apart bricks.
The picturesque Angkor temples frequently serve as movie sets and bring to life the inner-archaeologist in over one million visitors each year.
Perhaps not the cheapest of places to visit in Asia, bustling Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolitan economy, even exceeding New York City. Urban marvels, talking toilets, and an aloof culture begging to be understood await as soon as you exit the airport.
As much as Hong Kong could fill up your itinerary on its own, it also makes a great base from which to explore the surrounding area. Check out what was once the oldest European settlement in the Orient with a Macau Day Trip from Hong Kong. See the Qin Dynasty Terracotta Warriors and the pandas at Shenzhen Safari Park on a Guangzhou (Canton) day trip from Hong Kong.Take in the beautiful views at Po Lin Monastery on a Lantau Island and Giant Buddha Day Trip from Hong Kong for a look into Hong Kong’s religious culture.