The best holiday destinations in Asia
It is not an easy task to choose the best holiday destinations in Asia and set up the right travel itinerary for your Asian trip.
To help you make the right choice we prepared a brief overview of the most popular holiday destinations in Asia and compared them with each other.
We also give some advice on which destinations in Asia can be combined into a single trip and which should be explored separately.
Weather in Asia
When planning a trip keep in mind that the four seasons at some holiday destinations in Asia differ from the four seasons in Europe.
North, Central, West and East regions lie in the northern hemisphere and have same seasons as European countries.
However, South and Southeast regions due to seasonal monsoons have different seasons, where spring lasts from December till February, summer from March till May, autumn from June till August and winter from September till November.
The best holiday destinations in South Asia
South Asia is the most populous region in the world. It is bordered by the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal in the south and the Himalayas in the north. The largest part of the region is located on the Indian Plate. South Asia boasts some of the best holiday destinations in Asia and requires multiple visits to be explored.
South Asia is formed of 8 countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and India.
India is the largest and the most visited country in South Asia. It leaves a long-lasting impression on everyone. However, a positive impression is always a result of the right travel itinerary.
Not to get disappointed with this unique, bright and diverse country learn about best holiday destinations before you start your trip to India.
Delhi is the capital of India, a dynamic metropolis and a culturally rich and contrasting city. It is known for holding some famous international festivals and fairs.
Delhi is a part of India’s Golden Triangle, which also includes Agra and Jaipur. Agra is home to the famous Taj Mahal mosque and Jaipur, often called a Pink City, is home to ancient forts and temples.
Delhi has the best air connectivity with European cities in India. Multiple airlines operate cheap flights from Europe to Delhi every day. Delhi can be a convenient and affordable layover when flying from Europe to other Indian destinations.
India’s financial capital and the most populous and diverse city is Mumbai. It is home of Hindi cinema, also called Bollywood. Young people from all over the country travel to Mumbai to try their luck in the world of cinema.
Mumbai was ranked as the sixth city in the world by the number of billionaires and at the same time the city is home to the second largest slum in Asia.
Mumbai is a coastal city with wide beaches, good infrastructure, great architecture, nice parks and a unique blend of cultures.
Goa is a popular beach destination in India. It is the smallest state of the country, which has a long and beautiful coastline, a varied landscape, a laid-back atmosphere and a vibrant nightlife.
Goa is popular not only among tourists but also among middle-class locals who find this place relatively cheap, relaxed and safe.
The country’s most beautiful beaches are located in Kerala, a small state in the south of India. Besides beaches, Kerala boasts high mountains, great waterfalls, endless tea plantations and famous backwater canals.
Kerala is India’s most tolerant state in terms of religion and has the highest literacy rate in the country. It offers the best Ayurveda treatment and is a great place to start practicing yoga.
Kerala as well as Goa have good and affordable transport systems with regular buses and trains. Keep in mind that transport in India often does not follow a fixed time schedule. It is also safe to rent a scooter in both states and to travel on your own.
For those who are dreaming of India, but are not yet ready for noise and crowds, beautiful and welcoming Sri Lanka can be a perfect alternative.
Sri Lanka is an island country, located in the Indian ocean southeast of India. Even though Sri Lanka has been always historically and culturally close to India, it has its very unique charm and is definitely one of the best holiday destinations in Asia.
Sri Lanka is home to great beaches, tropical jungles, the largest world’s elephants orphanage and famous Ceylon tea plantations.
Besides beautiful and diverse nature, Sri Lanka offers a culturally rich experience. It has some lost ancient cities, amazing temples and many other sacred sites to visit.
Sri Lanka’s climate is effected by two monsoons making the country a year-round travel destination. The south-western monsoon brings rains to the south-west of the country from May till September and the north-eastern monsoon brings rains to the north-east of the country from October till January.
Within only several hours drive you can travel from tropical sandy beaches to the central part of the island, which is home to endless tea plantations and is located 2,000 meters above sea level. The region is much cooler than the rest of the country during the whole year.
Nepal is a country located between India and China. It is home to Everest, the highest world’s mountain and one of the best holiday destinations in Asia.
Nepal boasts some of the world’s best hiking treks of different levels of difficulty, length and prices. Each trek is an unforgettable adventure with great panoramic views, beautiful landscape and accommodation in remote local villages.
Nepal’s culture and traditions are strongly influenced by religion. Hinduism is the main religion and Buddhism is the second religion in the country. An interesting fact is that temples are often shared by both Hindus and Buddhists.
Nepal is home to multiple sacred sites, like ancient temples, monasteries, palaces, stupas and pagodas.
Due to a mountainous location Nepal is one of the best holiday destinations in Asia for wildlife lovers. A snow leopard, a red panda, a Bengal tiger, an Asiatic elephant, a Tibetan wolf and many other species of mammals call Nepal their home.
Apart from mammals Nepal also boasts several unique reptile species and around 1,000 bird species. The government protects the country’s fauna by national parks and reserves.
The best holiday destinations in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is a tropical region, bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east, China on the north and South Asia on the west.
The region includes 11 countries: Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, East Timor and Thailand.
Southeast Asia is packed with cultural and architectural attractions as well as with endless natural wonders. It is home to some of the best holiday destinations in Asia, some of which can be combined into a single trip due to a well-organized and affordable transport system in most of the countries in the region.
Due to a great tourism infrastructure Thailand is the cheapest and one of the best holiday destinations in Asia. It is home to some of the world’s best beaches in the south and green lush mountains in the north. Both areas are worth visiting.
Thailand has a rich and well-protected nature, friendly and tolerant people, famous Thai massage at low prices and a well-balanced, delicious and simply amazing Thai cuisine.
Buddhist monks, endless street food stalls, colorful night markets, tuk-tuks and long-tail boats are the most iconic images of Thailand.
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, manages to combine ancient temples and unique traditions with modern skyscrapers, restaurant and shopping malls.
Due to a complex history one of the most special and unique holiday destinations in Asia is Myanmar.
The country has opened its doors to tourism only after 2011, when military junta has been replaced by civilian parliamentary government. Since 2011 Myanmar has attracted millions of tourists and foreign investors.
Today Myanmar is changing at a rapid pace. Tourism infrastructure is improving and tourism industry is growing fast.
Mobile phones became affordable, Internet connection is spreading to remote areas, more and more ATMs can be found across the country, credit cards started to be accepted in many places.
Despite all of the above, people in Myanmar still hold tight to their traditions and beliefs. Both men and women wear longyi, long traditional skirts, use left hand only for personal hygiene, not for eating or giving cash, make two or three short kissing sounds to get a waiter’s attention, chew leaves filled with betel to relax and paint their faces with a yellow paste to protect themselves from the sun and get a nice smell.
Myanmar is home to ancient temples and golden pagodas which are famous landmarks and important pilgrimage sites. The country can still boast a number of unspoiled and undiscovered beaches in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.
Today’s Myanmar is probably the cheapest country in terms of food and accommodation in Asia. Of course it only applies to local food and middle-range hotels. A dinner in European or American restaurants and a stay at famous chain hotels will cost similar to what it may cost in Thailand or even Malaysia.
A home to probably the world’s most postcard-worthy beaches are The Philippines. The country is formed of more than 7,000 islands and is the owner of the world’s 5th longest coastline.
Due to frequent and affordable domestic flights several islands like Palawan, Cebu or Boracay can be included into a single trip.
Apart from amazing beaches, the country is also blessed with high mountains, great waterfalls, calm lakes and dozens of unique animals and plants. A Palawan bearcat, a tarsier, a mouse-deer and many other rare species of mammals cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
A diverse marine life and unspoiled corals make the Philippines one of the best holiday destinations in Asia for divers and snorkelers. Swimming with whale sharks or diving into a sardine run is a memorable experience for marine life lovers.
The Philippines are very different from the rest of Southeast Asia. Due to its Spanish and American past, today the Philippines is the only Catholic country in Southeast Asia and is the country which has two official languages, Filipino and English. The last fact removes language barrier and makes traveling easier.
Malaysia is one of the most diverse and worth visiting countries in Southeast Asia. The country is divided by South China sea into two similar parts, Peninsula Malaysia and the Malaysian part of Borneo island.
Malaysia is an economically strong country, which boasts modern cities, a well-developed infrastructure, a strong education system, great healthcare services and high English proficiency.
The country is blessed with incredible nature and offers many natural highlights to explore.
Peninsula Malaysia is home to an ultra-modern and multi-cultural capital Kuala Lumpur, a famous Cameron Highlands district, a tropical National Park Tamara Negara and some great tropical islands like Langkawi or Perhentian.
Peninsula Malaysia is located close to Singapore and can be easily combined with this modern and unique city-state into a single trip.
Borneo Malaysia is known for its unique nature and is probably one of the best holiday destinations in Asia for nature lovers. It is home to untouched jungles, local tribes, the country’s highest mountain, unique wildlife species and probably one of the best world’s snorkeling spots, Sipidan island.
Indonesia is the world’s largest island country, which is made of more than 18,000 islands. Ethically, culturally and linguistically the country is very diverse. It has the world’s 4th largest population and counts more than 300 dialects.
Indonesia is dotted with more than 120 active volcanoes and is often hit by tsunamis and earthquakes.
At the same time the country is blessed with one of the most unique and beautiful nature in the world. The world’s largest lizard, the longest snake, the largest flower, the largest volcanic lake and many other world’s natural wonders can be found here.
Indonesia offers its visitors multiple unique adventures and experiences and is definitely one of the best holiday destinations in Asia.
Below we list some of the best country’s islands which attract most visitors:
- Kanawa island offers one of the world’s best snorkeling experiences with colorful corals, bright fishes and a healthy marine life.
- Wakatobi islands are more remote and have some of the best diving spots in the country.
- A welcoming and relaxed Lombok island is home to a great surfing destination Kuta which is extremely popular among backpackers.
- Komodo island is home to the world’s largest Komodo dragoon and an exceptional world-famous Pink Beach, a beach with a pink sand.
- Bali, one of the most-visited country’s destinations, is dotted with cultural and natural attractions. It is home to a diverse landscape, beautiful beaches, amazing Hindu temples and a peaceful Ubud town, which is steeped in culture and surrounded by amazing nature.
Vietnam is one of the five remaining Communist states in the world. Currently the country boasts a fast-growing economy and is a popular travel destination in Asia.
One of Vietnam’s most recognizable images are motorbikes, which are the center of the country’s transportation system. Motorbikes are extremely popular due to narrow streets, a shortage of parking spaces and high car taxes introduced by the government to reduce traffic in the country’s overpopulated cities.
Vietnam is probably one of the cheapest countries in Southeast Asia in terms of accommodation and food (after Myanmar). Vietnamese cuisine is diverse, delicious and well-balanced. Vietnamese coffee is one of the best in the world.
The country can be divided into 3 main areas:
- North Vietnam is home to the capital city Hanoi, a cultural and financial center of the country, a large and crowded metropolis packed with historical and cultural sites along with cheap markets and endless street food stalls. A world-known natural wonder and a popular tourist attraction Ha Long Bay is located within 130 km from Hanoi.
- Central Vietnam is blessed with stunning natural attractions and is home to unique cities and villages. It is one of the best holiday destinations in Asia for bikers. High mountains, pine woods, great waterfalls, amazing beaches and the world’s longest cave system can be found here. Da Lat, Hoi An and Hue are some of the best cities to visit in Central Vietnam.
- South Vietnam is home to Ho Chi Minh City, an extremely diverse, bustling and the most populous city in the country. Mekong river delta, the country’s most productive area and a popular tourist attraction, is located at once to the west of Ho Chi Minh City. The area is famous for paddy fields, narrow canals, an interesting rural riverside and a unique local lifestyle. South Vietnam is also home to the country’s best beach destination a tropical island Phu Quoc.
One of the most modern, clean and safe cities in the world is Singapore. Due to efficient government and strict law in just several decades it managed to grow into a powerful dynamic metropolis and became one of the best holiday destinations in Asia.
The city has a lot to offer. It boasts ultramodern futuristic architecture, impressive light shows, great museums and top-notch restaurants.
Singapore’s Zoo, home to over 300 species of animals, is famous for displaying them in their in natural habitat, with hidden barriers mostly made from glass or moats.
Sentosa, a city integrated fun and leisure island, is home to famous Universal Studios entertainment park and city’s best beaches made using sand imported from neighboring countries.
The city is a great shopping destination, offering entire streets of modern shopping malls and outlets.
Due to perfect air connectivity Singapore holds numerous international exhibitions and events. Multiple airlines offer cheap flights from Europe to Singapore, which can be also used as a convenient stop-over on the way to such Asian destinations as Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand.
The best holiday destinations in East Asia
East Asia is located in the eastern part of the Asian continent and includes 8 countries: Mongolia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea, North Korea and Japan.
It is home to some of the best holiday destinations in Asia. East Asia boasts rich culture and ancient traditions as well as some of the world’s largest and top modern cities surrounded by beautiful and well-protected nature.
Comparing to South and Southeast Asia, East Asia is an expensive area to travel.
Japan boasts the world’s third largest economy, one of the world’s lowest unemployment rates and the world’s oldest population.
At the same time the country is home to more than 200 volcanoes and is hit by more than 1,500 earthquakes every year.
Japan is very clean, safe and well-organized. However it is one of the most expensive holiday destinations in Asia.
Tokyo is one of the largest and the most high-tech cities in the world. Rising skyscrapers, sparkling neon lights and multiple high-technology attractions impress tourists.
Being a very modern country, Japan still managed to save old traditions, unique culture and beautiful nature. Japanese city Kyoto has more than 1,600 temples, Japanese people often wear traditional clothes during holidays.
South Korea is often called a bridge connecting China and Japan. Despite strong influence of neighboring countries, South Korea managed to grow into a very unique country.
Today South Korea is modern and economically strong, it stands many years ahead of many other world’s countries. At the same time it can boast interesting customs and traditions which cannot be found anywhere alse.
South Korea is home to K-pop music genre, popular fashion trends and is a well-know plastic surgery spot. It is also one of the best holiday destinations in Asia for party lovers with huge areas literally covered with clubs and bars.
The country has a great mountain scenery and offers multiple hiking trails which lead though beautiful landscape and amazing temples to unforgettable panoramic views.
Temple-stay is a popular and unforgettable experience of living in a Buddhist temple together with other monks. Apart from accommodation and food, a stay includes participating at the dawn and evening prayers, learning about Buddhist culture, getting closer to the nature.
Hong Kong is an administrative region of China, which has separate economic and political systems.
It is a powerful and dynamic metropolis, a city of the world’s highest skyscrapers and the most expensive flats. Hong Kong has two official languages – Chinese and English.
Hong Kong islands and peninsulas lie in the South China sea and are blessed with many great beaches. The city is also bounded to mountains and has multiple well-maintained picturesque hiking trails for all levels.
Hong Kong has a diverse cuisine and offers a wide choice of modern restaurants as well as numerous cheap roadside stalls.
An interesting fact is that Hong Kong is home to the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurants and is one of the best holiday destinations in Asia for foodies.
Hong Kong has a very good air connectivity with Europe and is a convenient layover when flying from Europe to the Philippines or South Korea.
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