Famous for being the world’s biggest continent, Asia is home to dozens of countries worth visiting. Boasting incredible diversity within its terrain, this vast region of the Eastern Hemisphere is ripe for a vacation during any time of year.
Whether you’re looking for mountains, a beach, or a busy city, you can spend weeks exploring and still not see everything Asia has to offer. No matter what type of vacation you’re interested in, the continent offers visitors a plethora of options.
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Nomading by Asian Country
Like any other continent, Asia has a range of countries with varying landscapes, attractions, peoples, and reasons to visit. You also have many different exchange rates and costs of living in those countries.
Backpackers who want to do it cheaply often head to Southeast Asia, whereas ballers might hit up big international cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Map of Asian Countries
Asian Countries and Capitals
|Brunei||Bandar Seri Begawan|
|Sri Lanka||Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte; Colombo|
Welcome to Asia!
Boasting 48 countries and over 17 million square miles of land, Asia is the largest of our seven continents. Mega metropolises and off-the-beaten-path destinations make Asia a playground for bold adventurers.
Home to famous historical sites, ancient architecture, and vast landscapes, Asia is considered a “continent of contrasts” due to the striking difference in cultures and traditions throughout its domain.
History of the Continent of Contrasts
Thousands of years of human history envelop Asia, where the Chinese civilization reigned over 3,000 years ago. Asia’s storied history has shaped our world today. The time-worn trade routes led to the expansion of social and economic connections, which were crucial for the advancement of the human race.
The Great Wall of China is the most famous landmark from the ancient world, which spans over 13,000 miles. Lesser-known ancient wonders include Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Potala Palace in Nepal. These ancient sites have become sacred places that guide travelers toward spirituality.
Asia’s Majestic Landscapes
Travelers will transcend Asia, where there is a myriad of majestic landscapes. From snowcapped peaks to dry deserts and lush jungles, Asia has it all. The expanse of open space between the cities may leave you feeling insignificant, though it’s in these places that travelers can get a peek at the wonder of the natural world.
Asian landscapes enchant the eye and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of exotic wildlife.
Nations of Billions
Not only are China and India the most populous countries in Asia, but they also dominate the world as their billion-plus inhabitants greatly outnumber any other country. The sheer number of people has always put China and India on the map. However, travelers should challenge themselves to look beyond the statistics.
China is the seat of our oldest continuous civilization and thousands of years of development has led to a unique country. A mix of ancient and modern awaits travelers in China. Cosmopolitan giants like Hong Kong and Beijing are charging head-first into the future.
Modernity reigns in cities like these, though traces of antiquity can still be seen throughout the country. Legendary landmarks like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, and the Terra Cotta Warriors are daily reminders of China’s ancient power. Outside of the cities, an entirely different world awaits.
In the rural space, perfectly stacked rice terraces and seemingly endless bamboo forests lie in wait. Travelers can take their pick as they explore China.
Sitting further to the south is India. Another population giant, this country is projected to surpass China’s population by 2027. With a land size that is almost three times smaller than China, India is chaotic as it crams so much into a concentrated space.
Yet, even amongst the chaos, travelers can connect with their inner peace. Dozens of religions call India home, but Hinduism has the greatest number of followers. The vast number of sacred sites in India has turned the country into a popular destination for people seeking to embrace spirituality.
Some of India’s most famous sites include the Taj Mahal, which is the epitome of love. Death can be faced on the Ganges River where daily cremations are held in the burning ghats of Varanasi. Further away from the cities, travelers can slip into nature and explore India’s wild landscapes as they venture into places where tigers still roam free.
Backpacking in Southeast Asia
Asia caters to all travelers and the Southeast region of the continent is a mecca for budget travelers. Southeast Asia is home to smaller countries like Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia. It’s easy and affordable to country hop around here. The only exception to the list would be Singapore, which is quite a wealthy and luxurious place.
However, Southeast Asia excels at taking materialistic luxury and throwing it out the window. While there are world-class resorts plenty in all the countries, nothing beats the marvel and incredible views that nature provides.
Turquoise water and white sand beaches are a given in Southeast Asia and heading inland from the coast don’t dull its shine. In the interior parts of the region, travelers are greeted by dense forests and untamed wildlife.
The forests of Southeast Asia are so dense that they have hidden epic giants like the Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest discovered cave, which is in Vietnam.
Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia tend to be the tourist giants in Southeast Asia. These three countries are consistent holiday hotspots both during and after the monsoon season. Thailand is most famous for its cities like Bangkok and Phuket. The country also frequently tops lists of having the best beaches in the world.
Malaysia is crowned by Kuala Lumpur, which is an urban traveler’s dream come true. However, none of these may be as famous as Bali in Indonesia, which is Southeast Asia’s number one destination. In Bali, scuba divers and surfers will rejoice as they head out into the crystal clear water.
Secluded Destinations in Asia
Very different from the continent’s top destinations are the countries that are more desolate and remote. Mongolia tops the list as being one of the most secluded destinations in the world. The lack of urban space in Mongolia makes it the last great frontier. In this sizeable country, nomadic culture dominates.
Once ruled by the infamous Genghis Khan, this empty landscape is best left to enthusiastic adventurers. Getting around Mongolia is no easy feat, but those who venture to its borders are rewarded with incredible landscapes and an intimate view of old Asian traditions. Eagle hunting is embedded in Mongolian tradition and it’s still practiced today.
Mixed with the nomadic culture, Mongolia is guaranteed to give you an eye-opening experience. While Mongolia is less frequently visited, there are a few countries in Asia that have gained more popularity in recent years. These include five of the Stan countries; Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.
These countries were once crisscrossed by the ancient Silk Road and today, they have seen a small boom in tourism. The travelers who dare venture into any of the five Stan countries are mostly drawn to the land.
Epic mountain landscapes and vast deserts are spread across the area. All are examples of finding nature’s beauty in unexpected places. The most famous, though still less visited Asian country is Nepal.
With insanely high elevations and Mount Everest, this country has long been a niche destination that catered to ambitious mountaineers. Tibet too is lesser traveled, though China has had an illegal occupation of Tibet since 1950 as part of China; and let governed as an autonomous region.
“Tibet today is one of the most repressed and closed societies in the world.” –> freetibet.org
More recently, Nepal has become a destination that appeals to the masses of travelers who are seeking a thrilling outdoor adventure. The steep mountain paths lead to gorgeous temples and position travelers in some of the world’s most beautiful valleys.
World’s Biggest Tech Giants
Asia is home to some of the world’s leading tech giants with countries like Japan and South Korea heading into the future with major advancements in human technology.
Robots and artificial intelligence have been ever-growing in urban landscapes like Seoul and Tokyo. While the futuristic appeal of living in the modern world has drawn tourists to Japan and South Korea, the two countries still honor their Asian roots.
Temples and shrines are important reminders of the past and places where one can escape the chaos of the city. Japanese gardens have become famous for their tranquility. In South Korea, moments of peace can be found in the T’aebaek Mountains, which are dotted with picturesque valleys and plains.
Asia entices, captivates, and entertains. With packed urban cities and sprawling rural areas, Asia will be an unforgettable experience.
Whether you stick to the beaten path or head off into the unknown, travelers will be dazzled by the diversity that this continent has to offer. To top it off, Asia isn’t a one-stop shop. With so much to see and do, visitors will be drawn back for return trips as they venture to new destinations.
Discover the best of Asia’s thermal springs to add to your itinerary, on our sister site, Top Hot Springs.
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