Travelling to Asia is an essential part of many travellers’ bucket lists, and this is for good reason. The continent is a melting pot boiling with diverse beauty; it is home to some of the oldest cultures and charming architecture, enchanting natural landscapes and geographical wonders.
And the majority of Asia can be done on a shoestring budget.
From the buzzing cities and towns, to the humble villages and laid-back islands, here are some favourite spots and the best places to visit in Asia for your 2020 escapes, places where you can immerse yourself in a world of adventure, culture and unparalleled natural sceneries. Whether you are travelling solo, going on honeymoon, backpacking or planning a trip with your entire family, these countries and cities will spark the wanderlust within.
Best Places to Visit in Asia 2020
When it comes to Asia, places like Vietnam are the golden jewels upon its crown. It has everything you are looking for in a holiday, boasting impressive rolling hills, incredible beaches, ancient Buddhist sites, history, friendly locals, dishes leaving you wanting more (and extremely vegan and vegetarian friendly) and a buzzing nightlife.
A group tour of Vietnam will encompass so much more than simple sightseeing, it will also provide a looking glass into the colourful and beautiful culture. Visit the Ho Chi Minh complex, markets and crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels. See the historic One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi, experience the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, the Hoan Kiem Lake, Sung Sot Cave and of course, a highlight that should not be missed: cruise around Ha Long Bay by boat.
With so much to see, do, experience and taste, Vietnam was, is and will always be one of the best places to visit in Asia.
There’s more to Japan than sushi and manga, it is one of Asia’s most advanced countries with iconic cities where ancient culture seamlessly exits and blends in with modern technology, while landscapes and the towering Mount Fuji dazzle you with its natural beauty.
Explore the metropolitan world of Tokyo with its high-tech entertainment, find culture in Kyoto at Fushimi Inari Taisha and catch a glimpse of a geisha in Gion. During spring cherry blossoms will colour your world pink while witnessing the snow monkeys of Mount Takasaki is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Bali, often referred to as the Island of the Gods, is the most popular destinations to visit in Indonesia, and a favourite in Asia among backpackers, honeymooners, families and anyone looking for an adventure filled with culture, natural beauty, tropical islands with stretches of white-sand beaches and a relaxing ambience.
Fill your getaway with a beach stay in Sanur or Seminyak and explore places like Tanah Lot and Uluwatu Temple. Ubud is a cultural mecca in Bali, where you can watch the rice grow and travel along the picturesque rice paddies of Tegallalang, watch a cultural show and visit Tirta Empul. Amed on the east coast is great for diving while Lovina is famous for its laid-back atmosphere and volcanic black sand beaches.
Thailand is an island-style paradise that pops to mind instantly when envisioning the perfect trip to Asia. If you’re looking for a way to wind down and lose yourself in a country that has a thrilling combination of nightlife, adventure and fascinating culture – you’ve found it.
You will be able to fill your itinerary with visits to everything from the Grand Palace in the capital of Bangkok to sacred temples such as the White Temple (Wat Rong Kun) of Chiang Rai and the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya. While Chiang Mai is known among travellers for its quirky shops and cafes, it is also the place of misty mountains, the colourful hill tribes and temples scattered all over town. And of course, a visit to Thailand is not complete without hopping from island to island for some fun in the sun.
Explore the peninsula of Malaysia because this Asian country is worth more than just a quick stopover and a snapshot of the famous Petronas Twin Towers; it is a place brimming with colour and diversity where old and new meet.
Experience the city of Kuala Lumpur, from its modern shopping centres to the Batu Caves and to escape the heat and humidity, make your way to the Cameron Highlands, an area known for its tea plantations, jungle treks where you can see Rafflesias (world’s largest flower) and strawberries. For some history, add Melaka to your itinerary and definitely make a stop at the Jonker Street Night Market, while Penang will charm you with its food (often described as the best street food) and incredible street art.
The island country of Sri Lanka – previously known as Ceylon – is a place of variety with jungles teeming with wildlife, inviting beaches with an island vibe atmosphere, friendly locals and a rich cultural diversity which can be seen in the architecture, food, art, rituals and traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation for the last 2000+ years.
Enjoy the beaches of Negombo, Trincomalee, Tangalle and Mirissa where you can swim, surf, snorkel and do boat-based whale-watching. In the cultural triangle – which consists of Dambulla, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy – you can explore all the ancient sights from the Dambulla Cave Temple to climbing to the top of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, visiting the ruins of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa and the Temple of the Tooth. Take the train to the highlands of Nuwara Eliya or Ella, and enjoy the views of tea plantations along the way, while tea factory tours, hikes to waterfalls and more await at the destination. Don’t forget to visit Galle, another place filled with history and within the walls of the Dutch Fort you will meet a mix of different cultures, religions and traditions.
Dubbed by many as the honeymoon island, the Maldives usually gets a top priority spot on bucket lists of best places to visit in Asia. And it is easy to understand why; the country consists of more than 1000 islands scattered across the Indian Ocean and with its crystal clear water and white sand beaches, you can bet your best selfie that it is extremely photogenic.
Water babies and aspiring mermaids (and mermans) can indulge in all the ocean activities from snorkeling to diving, swimming to getting on a jet ski (or even a jet blade), surfing to parasailing. Go to Male, the capital of the Maldives, for a local experience and you can also go fishing, treat yourself to a spa treatment, admire sunsets and indulge in local cuisine.
Nestled on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula lies the land of the morning calm, South Korea. It is a country wrapped up in the history of different dynasties while an ever-present past – with the hope of reconciliation – lies just on the other side of the border. But there is more to Korea than meets the eye.
Discover the modern capital of Seoul, do the Seoraksan hiking trail, experience the seasons changing, from walking under a canopy of cherry blossoms to skiing to seeing the mountains burst out in colour during fall. Visit Jeju Island, the colourful Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan and go to Gyeongju, a city known as the museum without walls. And don’t forget to satisfy your taste buds with Korean food (and soju, if you dare).
With the Taj Mahal being the most recognised (and probably the most Instagrammed) piece of architecture in the world, it is no doubt that India is one of the best places to visit in Asia. Albeit a challenging country to visit and navigate, India rewards visitors with heaps of new experiences.
Whether you want to follow along the Eat, Pray, Love path and dive into a spiritual awakening, sip cocktails and have a beach holiday in Goa, trek the Indian Himalaya, shop in Mumbai and sample the famous food of Delhi, you will find surprises around every corner. Prepare yourself for a sensory overload.
If you want to travel around Southeast Asia and see some iconic sights without experiencing the hustle and bustle of crowds, then laid-back Laos is the place for you.
The country has so much to offer, from the reserved capital of Vientiane with its historic gold stupa, Pha That Luang, to the charming Luang Prabang where its French influence in the form of architecture and food (yes, here you will find a croissant and a baguette) sits harmoniously next to the local Buddhist traditions. If an island vacation is your idea of a getaway, this landlocked country offers something different: Si Phan Don – or better known as the 4000 islands – which are all situated within the mighty Mekong River.