By Vincent Stokes
While Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul have long been “bucket list” tourist destinations for travelers from around the world, many smaller or less famous cities have been gaining in popularity over the last decade. Whether you’re visiting the continent for the first time or an Asian expert, here are three things to keep in mind as you plan your next visit.
Take Advantage of the Diversity Within a Country
Many tourists visiting Asia from far-flung continents like the United States or Europe try to cram as many destinations and attractions as possible into one trip. It may be tempting to develop an itinerary that touches as many nations as possible; however, you can experience just as much diversity if not more even when staying within the bounds of one country.
Nowhere is this more true than in China, one of the world’s largest and most fascinating countries. Though the population of China is primarily Han, there are dozens of minorities spread throughout the country each with their own particular background and traditions. China recognizes multiple regional languages including Mongolian and Tibetan.
Even if you don’t see or hear the diversity, you’ll certainly taste it! Traveling throughout China will expose you to a wide array of cuisines and flavors, and the differences between Mongolian, Cantonese and Tibetan food are vast. You’ll return from your trip baffled that one country can offer such different tastes in everything from food and wine to music and dancing.
Asia Covers More Ground Than You Think
Japan, China and South Korea are all classic Asian tourist destinations. However, Asia is the largest continent in the world and it is comprised of far more than just these three countries. The Asian continent consists of everything from Turkey to the most Eastern corners of Russia; Georgia, Tajikistan and the Maldives are just a few of the countries that you may not typically associate with Asia.
If you are making your first journey to Asia, consider starting with India. With some of the world’s greatest tourist attractions like the Taj Mahal and the Khajuraho Temples, you’ll have pictures and memories to match those found in books and magazines. India also offers incredible opportunities for wildlife safaris, boasting a roster of animals unmatched anywhere else in Asia.
For something truly off the beaten path, book a flight to Astana and explore the wild mountain ranges of Kazakhstan. Exchange rates are extremely favorable to Western visitors, as you’ll be able to find five-star accommodations for under $200 per night. Almaty is a must-see destination for visitors to Kazakhstan combining a bustling metropolis with unspoiled nature just miles away.
Big Things Found in Small Packages
In contrast to sprawling countries like China, India and Kazakhstan, miniscule countries like Taiwan, Singapore and the Maldives pack their bountiful beauties into a small land mass or series of islands. Don’t discount these tiny countries when planning your next trip to Asia; a Taiwan tour could include everything from national parks and lakes to temples and museums.
Those who most enjoy city breaks will have a hard time finding a more appealing destination than Singapore or Hong Kong. These frenetic Asian metropolises provide everything you could want from a world-class city including fine dining, luxury accommodations, and nightlife that will keep you entertained from dusk until dawn.
For the ultimate in relaxation, book your stay in the Maldives and prepare to be pampered. Comprised of 26 coral atolls, this island paradise of only 300 square kilometers is Asia’s smallest nation. Visitors come to enjoy pristine beaches, clear blue waters and some of the world’s finest spa treatments. Though it may not get your heart racing like Bangkok or Singapore, the Maldives promise to send you into a stasis of calm and pleasure.Author: Vincent Stokes is an outdoor enthusiast and an experienced world traveler. He also writes writes for the National Parks and works to promote pride in homegrown travel destinations. You can also connect with Vincent on G+ or twitter (@TravelingGlobal).
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