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15 best places to visit in Asia

Recently updated on May 23rd, 2024 at 09:00 am

Whether you’re looking for ancient ruins, gleaming skyscrapers, breathtaking natural wonders, or the world’s best cuisines, Asia has something for everyone. From the serene temples of Japan to the bustling markets of Thailand, each destination has its own story to tell. So where to begin? We’ve rounded up 15 of the very best places to visit in Asia from the tranquil backwaters of Kerala to the dazzling city of Singapore. 

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1. Takayama, Japan 

Takayama Japan

Tucked away in the Japanese Alps, Takayama offers a glimpse into Japan’s rich cultural heritage with its preserved Edo-period streets and traditional architecture. Stroll through the atmospheric streets of the old town, where beautifully preserved wooden buildings transport you back in time. Visit traditional sake breweries and sample some of Japan’s finest rice wine. Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Takayama Festival, held twice a year, with dazzling floats and lively parades. Head into the Alps for breathtaking hiking trails through lush forests and pristine rivers. Takayama is also a great base for many great day trips to dreamy towns like UNESCO-listed Gokayama, renowned for its enchanting thatched-roof villages. 

Visit Takayama on: Splendours of Japan

2. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai Thailand

Set in the misty mountains of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is renowned as one of the best places to visit in Asia. The city is dotted with glittering temples, such as the iconic Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, perched atop a mountain with stunning views. There are bustling night markets dishing up everything from artworks and handcrafted pottery to mouthwatering street food. If you want to get further immersed in the famous cuisine, join a traditional Thai cooking class to learn how to make the classics like Khao Soi. Whether you go trekking through the lush rainforests and waterfalls, or witness the morning alms-giving to monks as they walk to temple, Chiang Mai is a captivating destination. 

Visit Chiang Mai on: Treasures of Thailand

3. Kerala, India

Kerala backwaters India

Known as “God’s Own Country,” Kerala captivates visitors with its peaceful backwaters, lush tea plantations, and pristine beaches. Explore the serene backwaters aboard a traditional houseboat, drifting past lush greenery and charming villages. Head to the palm-fringed beaches for relaxation, water sports and Ayurvedic treatments. Dive into the local culture with traditional Kathakali dance performances and authentic Kerala cuisine, renowned for its flavorful spices and fresh seafood. This spectacular slice of southern India is also home to lush tea plantations and waterfalls in the Western Ghats. You can also go on a wildlife safari in one of the many national parks, where you can spot elephants, tigers and vibrant bird species. 

Visit Kerala on: Captivating Kerala

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4. Singapore

Singapore

Singapore shines as one of the best places to travel in Asia, with its gleaming metropolis and historic streets. Marvel at the skyline from the Gardens by the Bay, with its futuristic Supertree structures and mesmerising gardens. Explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam, each with its unique character, markets, temples, and delicious street food at the world-renowned hawker centers. Sentosa Island also has a bunch of star attractions including Universal Studios Singapore and the S.E.A. Aquarium. Whether you’re shopping on Orchard Road or sipping a Singapore Sling at the iconic Raffles hotel, Singapore never fails to impress. 

Visit Singapore on: Highlights of Singapore and Malaysia

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5. Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu Nepal

Nestled in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal’s capital city is a hub of culture, history, and spirituality. Wander through ancient Durbar Square, where intricately carved temples and palaces showcase centuries of Nepalese architecture and history. Soak up the spiritual atmosphere of Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, set on a hilltop with panoramic views of the city below. Walk through Thamel, where the streets are lined with colorful shops, lively markets, delicious street food and cozy cafes. Stroll through the Garden of Dreams, a beautifully landscaped garden in the heart of the city. For more extraordinary nature, go trekking in the nearby Himalayas, famed for some of the best mountain trails in the world. 

Visit Kathmandu on: Uncover India with Nepal

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6. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi Vietnam

With its bustling Old Quarter, beautiful architecture, and renowned cuisine, Vietnam’s capital is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Asia. Visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where ancient temples and well-preserved architecture tell tales of Vietnam’s past. Watch a traditional water puppet show and take a boat ride over the serene Hoan Kiem Lake. Dive into the Old Quarter, with narrow streets lined with colonial buildings, markets, and street vendors selling everything from traditional handicrafts to mouthwatering street food like pho, banh mi and the famous egg coffee. 

Visit Hanoi on: Highlights of Vietnam

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7. Penang, Malaysia

Penang Malaysia

Penang has long delighted visitors with its diverse culinary scene, well-preserved architecture, and golden beaches. Start in the UNESCO-listed Georgetown, famed for its remarkable street art, colonial architecture, and world-class street food markets and hawker centers dishing up Malay, Indian and Chinese cuisines. Visit the iconic Kek Lok Si Temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia. Soak up the sun on the pristine beaches of Batu Ferringhi. Or explore the spectacular Penang National Park, home to lush rainforests, hiking trails and coastal vistas.

Visit Penang on: Highlights of Singapore and Malaysia

8. Beijing, China

Beijing, China

The capital of China, Beijing is a city steeped in history, culture, and imperial grandeur. There are endless architectural treasures to explore, starting with the UNESCO-listed Forbidden City, one of the world’s largest imperial palace complexes, with opulent halls home to centuries of Chinese history. Marvel at the Temple of Heaven, a masterpiece of Ming Dynasty design. Ascend the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China, an architectural wonder winding its way through rugged landscapes and breathtaking views. Back in the city, discover the thriving arts districts and tranquil parks. Be sure to stroll down the historic hutongs, narrow alleyways lined with traditional courtyard homes where you can sample authentic street food and watch the everyday life go by in Beijing. 

Visit Beijing on: Best of China with Yangtze Cruise

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9. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Home to the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is a city filled with ancient history and spirituality. Wander through the sprawling Angkor Archaeological Park to find centuries-old temples, including the iconic Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm and Bayon. You’ll marvel at these ancient stone structures and intricate carvings, standing within lush jungle landscapes. Beyond the temples, you can get to know Khmer culture, and take a boat trip to the floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake to learn about the unique crafts, traditions and lifestyle of the communities living on the water. You can also explore bustling markets, enjoy delicious Cambodian cuisine, discover traditional Aspara dance performances, and walk down the lively Pub Street lined with bars, cafes and night markets.

Visit Siem Reap on: Vietnam and the Temples of Angkor

10. Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto Japan

Serene temples, historic gardens, and traditional tea houses… Kyoto is the quintessential Japanese experience. Visit the iconic Kinkaku-ji, or Golden Pavilion, shimmering beside its reflective pond. Wander through the bamboo groves of Arashiyama and explore the thousands of vermilion torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine. Experience a traditional tea ceremony in one of the many tea houses, or stroll through the charming streets of Gion, Kyoto’s famous geisha district. During spring, the cherry blossoms transform the city into a pink wonderland, making Kyoto one of the best places to visit in Asia.

Visit Kyoto on: Classic Japan

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11. Jaipur, India

Jaipur India

The Pink City of Jaipur is the jewel of Rajasthan, with its regal palaces, vibrant palaces, and famously pink architecture. Marvel at the majestic Amber Fort, perched on a hilltop with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Explore the City Palace, a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, and the intricate façade of Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Winds. Stroll through the bustling markets, where you can find everything from traditional textiles and jewelry to spices and handicrafts. Discover the astronomical instruments at Jantar Mantar, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jaipur’s rich history and colorful culture make it a captivating destination.

Visit Jaipur on: Best of India

12. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok Thailand

Thailand is famed as the most tourist-friendly country in Asia, and it’s also one of the cheapest destinations in Asia, making this a great choice for your next holiday. The capital Bangkok is the ideal starting point, and it’s well worth exploring for a few days before heading to the southern islands or the northern mountains. Visit the opulent Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, home to the revered Emerald Buddha. Explore Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, with its stunning riverside views. Dive into the vibrant street life of Khao San Road, known for its lively atmosphere and night markets. Sample delicious Thai street food from local vendors or dine at world-class restaurants, and take a boat ride along the Chao Phraya River for a different perspective of the city. 

Visit Bangkok on: Treasures of Thailand

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13. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long bay Vietnam

Emerald waters, white sand coves and thousands of towering limestone islands topped with rainforests – Ha Long Bay is definitely one of the best places to visit in Asia. Cruise through the bay on a traditional junk boat, exploring hidden caves and floating fishing villages. Kayak through the tranquil waters to get up close to the dramatic karst formations. Visit the stunning Sung Sot Cave, known for its impressive stalactites and stalagmites. For panoramic views of the bay, hike to the top of Ti Top Island. As one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you can’t miss Ha Long Bay on a trip to Vietnam. 

Visit Ha Long Bay on: Highlights of Vietnam

14. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

With its rich cultural heritage, lush jungles, incredible wildlife, and blissful beaches, Sri Lanka is one of the best Asian countries to visit. Explore the ancient city of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its well-preserved ruins and sacred Bodhi tree. Relax on the pristine beaches of Mirissa or Unawatuna, known for their golden sands and turquoise waters. Visit the tea plantations in the hill country of Nuwara Eliya, where you can tour a tea factory and sample Ceylon tea. You also can’t miss the vibrant city of Kandy, home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. 

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15. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Japan

Tokyo is a buzzing metropolis with endless attractions, ranging from ancient temples to dazzling super malls. Wander through the historic Asakusa district and visit the famous Senso-ji Temple. Experience the bustling energy of Shibuya Crossing, the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. Explore the trendy Harajuku neighborhood, known for its quirky fashion and eclectic shops. Take in panoramic views of the city from the Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower. Or find a slice of tranquility at the Meiji Shrine, nestled in a forested area in the heart of the city. 

Visit Tokyo on: Splendours of Japan

What are your dream places to visit when you travel to Asia? Let us know in the comments below!

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