Asia


Overview

Asia travel advice, including top 10 Asia travel experiences, map of Asia, guide to travel in Asia, what to do in Asia and when to go to Asia

Low living costs, fascinating Buddhist cultures and easy-going rural lifestyles make Southeast Asia and India classic destinations for independent travellers, and the recent boom in regional airlines make travelling around these regions increasingly swift. The neighbouring countries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are often visited on one itinerary, frequently combined with traveller-friendly Thailand.

For walkers, the mighty Himalaya mountains arc through Asia, sheltering little-visited mountain kingdoms and providing world-class treks in Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet (China), Pakistan, and northern India.

For wildlife enthusiasts, Asia offers the chance to see three of the world’s most iconic threatened species: the tiger, the panda and the orang utan. Beyond these flagship species, the teeming rainforests of Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the island of Borneo harbour species still unknown to science, as well as opportunities to meet and stay with Asia’s hunter-gatherer tribes.

Culture vultures are spoiled for choice too, with two of the world’s oldest civilisations – China and Japan – showcasing their rich pasts but also, in their buzzing, 24-hour cities, pointing to the future. It is hard to pick from Asia's architectural marvels: the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat are just two.

Looking for downtime? Asia also boasts more than its fair share of tropical beaches – ideal for snorkelling and diving. Pricey but postcard-perfect, the Indian Ocean islands of The Maldives are a classic honeymoon destination, while nearby Sri Lanka offers greater diversity and better value. Further east, take your pick from the thousands of beach-fringed islands of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Many first-time visitors to Asia worry about health issues, but in reality, providing you take reasonable sensible precautions, few travellers suffer more than an upset stomach. And for many, good health is the very reason for a visit: throughout Asia, natural healing techniques and Buddhist philosophies are combined in some of the world’s most relaxing and rejuvenating body and soul experiences.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Asian adventure today…

Further Reading

Top 10 Asia travel experiences

A mesmerising mix of religions, cuisines and cultures, Asia has something to offer every traveller. Try these for starters

 

  1. Ride the Trans Siberian Railway, Russia – this epic, six-day train ride from Moscow to Beijing or Vladivostok is the best way to see Siberia. Pack a good book and prepare to drink a lot of tea and vodka with your carriage-mates: outside your window Europe turns into Asia.
  2. Visit Luang Prabang, Laos – this laidback town on the banks of the Mekong River is travellers' heaven: see orange-robed monks wandering amid the temples, shop for local crafts, take a cookey class and then eat the spoils with a cold Beer Lao.
  3. Stay in a tribal longhouse, Borneo – gain an insight into tribal life by bedding down with a local family in their traditional home; a stay will likely include homecooking, jungle walks and a bit of a sing song.
  4. Take a city break in Istanbul, Turkey – East meets West, Europe meets Asia: the Bosphorus, which runs through Istanbul, divides the continents in this most fascinating of places.
  5. Trek to Everest Base Camp, Nepal – the summit might be for only a few hardy (and wealthy) mountaineers, but anyone with an ounce of fitness can tackle the spectacular trek to the base of the world's highest mountain.
  6. See the Taj Mahal, India – true love sculpted in marble, this impossibly romantic mausoleum is a travel great: get up pre-dawn to see it before the crowds arrive.
  7. Cruise the backwaters, Kerala – take to an old rice barge and float along the languid waterways of southern India. Dine on divine veggie food, watch fishermen cast their nets and generally let life pass you by.
  8. Meet a panda, China – though increasingly rare, you can still spot pandas: for guaranteed sightings, head to the research centre in Chengdu; for more adventure (and the chance of a wild encounter) trek into Sichuan's Qinling Mountains.
  9. Explore Angkor, Cambodia – this temple complex is vast. Do wander the central structures of Angkor Wat and see the big stone heads of the Bayon temple, but allow time to explore the outer (and less-visited) sites to add adventure.
  10. Cruise Halong Bay, Vietnam – board a traditional junk boat and float amid the karst islands and fishing communities of northern Vietnam. Adrenalin junkies can try a range of activities too, including world-class rock climbing.