Despite being the biggest and most populated continent, a trip to Asia still holds an air of mystery and intrigue for those unacquainted with her vast and ever-changing beauty. With 48 countries ranging from sub-arctic to tropical climates and thousands of indigenous languages spread across rich and ancient cultures, Asia is a place that enthralls travellers year after year.
It can often seem difficult to know where to start when considering holidays to Asia. Don’t let the gigantic size of Asia intimidate you. With enough research and some careful planning, you can see the best that Asia has to offer. Take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, conquer the Great Wall of China, bask in the glory of the Taj Mahal or wander through the bright lights during a night out in Bangkok.
- Skip the souvenir shops and peruse some of the largest markets in the world. From street food to artisanal goods, Asia’s markets have it all like the Chatuchak market in Bangkok, which is one of the world’s largest weekend markets or the Sukawati art market in Bali. Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo offers some of the freshest sushi you’ll ever taste.
- Explore your spirituality by practising yoga and meditation in Varanasi along the Ganges river or visit a Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
- Stroll through the rice terraces of blissful Bali.
- Explore Northern Thailand, Central Laos or Northern Vietnam on two wheelers with the wind in your hair.
- Get glitzy in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s bustling bars, sophisticated shopping malls and mesmerising museums.
- Experience an interesting mix of Catholic and indigenous tradition during the Philippines biggest mardis gras: Ati-Atihan festival in Kalibo which takes place on Shrove Tuesday of the Christian calendar.
- Embark on one of the longest train journeys in the world: the Trans-Asian Railway through China, Korea, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan.
- Whatever your mode of transport - whether it’s a tuk tuk or a taxi - always ask a local how much it should be beforehand and agree on a price before you take the ride.
- Manners matter. In Thailand, food is often served with a fork and a spoon. The fork is only used to place food on the spoon and it is often seen as rude to put the fork in your mouth.
- Always keep toilet paper or tissues with you, and hand sanitizer.
- Perfect planning is never possible, and having some gaps in your schedule means you can take locals up on their superior suggestions for a day sightseeing.
- While most countries in Asia use different currencies, having some spare USD will always be helpful. Some accommodations will charge in USD, for example.
- A bout of stomach flu is normal for first time travellers in Asia. Stick to busy restaurants or food stalls where the locals go and you’ll be fine.
- Watch what you wear. Most cultures are very accepting of visitors and their unusual get-up. But being respectful of the local culture will go a long way. In India, for example, covering arms and legs will be appreciated, and removing shoes before entering someone’s home will make you a few extra friends.