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9 best places to visit in Asia (according to our readers) | Insight Guides Blog

9 best places to visit in Asia (according to our readers)

We enlisted our readers to round up the top 9 travel destinations in Asia!
Novice Buddhist monks walking around the sacred Shwezigon Paya in Bagan, Myanmar. Photo: Shutterstock
Novice Buddhist monks walking around the sacred Shwezigon Paya in Bagan, Myanmar. Photo: Shutterstock

Novice Buddhist monks walking around the sacred Shwezigon Paya in Bagan, Myanmar. Photo: Shutterstock

 

We asked, you answered! We tapped our readers to find out your favourite places to visit in Asia. The results are in...


1. Nepal

Tucked away in between China and India, Nepal is paradise for the rugged traveller.

"I have travelled the entire length of Nepal, starting from Kathmandu and finishing in New Delhi in India," says Paul Johnson, editor of A Luxury Travel Blog. "I can honestly say that, despite obvious hardships, the people are so warm and welcoming, and the smiles so heartfelt and genuine. And if that wasn't enough, the scenery is, of course, another huge draw."

Its proximity to the Everest region is another detail that sets Nepal apart from the pack. If you've got a love for hiking, do be sure to put this one on your list. Ready to take off on an adventure in Nepal? Insight Guides' Exclusive Everest trip ticks all the boxes.

2. Malaysia

Endlessly alluring and full of natural beauty, Malaysia offers a bit of adventure at every turn. For history buff Laine Strutton, based in New York, Malacca is the real standout here.

"I took a bus from Singapore on a whim last year and was amazed to find a city that is a product of indigenous, Dutch, and Portuguese influences (and a UNESCO World Heritage site)," she says. "The colourful buildings have survived colonial rule and several wars, showing some of the most iconic architecture I have seen in Asia.

"Malacca is arguably the culinary hub of Malaysia, and is the birthplace of the country's best street food (jalan), like stuffed pancake, coconut rice steamed in banana leaves, and corn-bean ice cream. You can try all of these on Jonker Street during the nightly markets where vendors throw up their stalls to hawk clothing, knick-knacks, food, drinks, music, and everything else imaginable."

Malaysia awaits. Let our local experts take you there.

3. India

Exotic, vibrant, and about as diverse as it gets, India is a treat for the senses.

"The food, the colours and the people were just so warm and friendly," says travel writer Janice S. Lintz, who has travelled to over 122 countries. "The hotels were outstanding. Where else would an elephant come out to greet me as I arrived? Flower petals were strewn across my head as I passed under the door’s threshold."

Factor in the flavourful dishes and incredible sights, and it's easy to see why India is one of the top places to visit in Asia. Let's start planning your next luxury vacation to India! Our Unmissable India trip is perfect...

4. Japan

Japan boasts more than a few lovely travel destinations, all of which are included in Insight Guides' Japan. For Abigail, founder of Where Abigail Went,  it's definitely worth venturing off the beaten track a bit.

"The usual destinations like Tokyo and Kyoto are as great as everyone says, but I have a particular soft spot for Gunma Prefecture, a landlocked and mountainous region northwest of Tokyo," she says. "Taking a train there is an adventure in itself, but the payoff is absolutely worth it. Gunma Prefecture is well-known for its hot springs, and towns like Kusatsu, Minakami and Ikaho are exquisitely charming towns with a plethora of hot spring resorts. The cuisines here are stunning, and if you have the chance to stay at a Ryokan while you're there, go for ones with a reputation for good food."

 If you're looking for a serene escape in Tokyo, reader Marian Goldberg recommends Yanaka. "It's so nice and quiet! It's not like the rest of the city. There's still a plethora of low, traditional wooden machiya merchant house buildings, where a peek inside reveals artisans working on time-honored crafts; seimbe (rice cracker) and tofu makers, bookshops and delis," says the marketing professional behind Goldberg On Travel. "And you feel relaxed and removed from the hustle-bustle of Shibuya or Shinjuku."


Oshino, Japan historic thatch roof farmhouses with Mt. Fuji. Photo: Shutterstock

Oshino, Japan historic thatch roof farmhouses with Mt. Fuji. Photo: Shutterstock


5. Taiwan

For Erin Yang of Myriad Marketing, Taiwan is a top pick when it comes to best places to visit in Asia. She specifically calls out Taitung as a must-visit locale.

"Taitung’s award-winning rice is regarded as the best in Taiwan due to the fertile earth and natural spring watering that fosters its growth," she says. "Many chefs in Taitung only use in-season local vegetables and locally harvested organic rice. In Taitung, visitors will get the opportunity to participate in rice-growing activities with local chefs; visitors will also get the chance to taste homemade rice bagel, rice pudding, and other treats which can only be experienced in Taitung."

Apart from the food, Yang recommends catching the epic views at Taitung's iconic dragon footbridge, which connects San Xian Tai with the main island.

6. Myanmar

Known for its shimmering golden temples and ancient holy sites, Myanmar is a wonderfully remote destination that packs a big cultural punch.

"My husband and I travel full time and just spent six months in Southeast Asia," says Kate Gilbert of The Scenic Route. "This time, we took our first trip to Myanmar. What a spectacular location. We spent time in Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon. All three were wonderful in their own way, but for us the standout was Yangon."

Here, visitors can take in the mesmerising Shwedagon Pagoda. This landmark, which is over 2,500 years old, is a sacred Buddhist site that's positively stunning. Of course, the quintessential travel experience in Myanmar is taking a hot-air balloon ride over Bagan. Experience both for yourself with Insight Guides' magical Myanmar Dreams tour.

7. Hong Kong

Few Asian cities are as stimulating and culturally rich as Hong Kong. It's little wonder this buzzing metropolis made the list.

"Hong Kong is an amazing city; skyscrapers overlay a backdrop of lush mountains in the most memorable of the world’s skylines. City shoppers, cultural enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers and the all-night partier will love all that HK has to offer," says Ashley Christensen, travel blogger for Daily Urbanista and New Girl in the City. "Both markets and high-end shops line the city down nearly every street and alley. From the Ladies' Market in Mong Kok to Dolce and Gabbana, no souvenir shopper will leave empty-handed."

For a bit of adventure, she also recommends hiking up Lion Rock or Dragon's Back. Wrap up your trek with a bite to eat at OZONE Bar at the Ritz Carlton in Kowloon. Itching to go to Hong Kong? Insight Guides can take you there.

8. Thailand

Thailand continues to be one of the most popular places to visit in Asia, and with good reason.

"I lived and taught English in Northern Thailand for a year and I think it's the perfect, authentic vacation for anyone travelling to South Asia," says  A.J. Fountain, co-founder of the Dr. Squatch Soap Co. "Go up to waterfalls, mountains, or orange farms up north of Chiang Mai, and you'll find yourself transported to a world where community and the next meal are the most important things you'll find. Pai and Chiang Rai are good launching points, and then rent a motorbike and work your way through the towns north of there."

Thailand is waiting for you. Are you ready?

9. The Philippines

When it comes to slow-paced travel and cultural experiences like no other, Andrew Kamphey of @KampheyApproved suggests a hidden jewel in the Philippines.

"Lake Sebu, in the South Cotabato area of Mindanao, is a relatively unknown area. Surrounded by Muslim-populated municipalities, it’s a true tourism gem in the rough," he says. "What makes this area special is the highest zip-line in Asia. Located in Seven Falls at a park costing less than 50 cents to enter, the zip line gives you a bird's-eye view of three waterfalls. Falls one and two are within 15-minutes walk of the entrance while the others lie along a three- to four-hour hike. It's an awesome area to spend a few days hiking and sightseeing."


Intrigued?


Read more: 12 Asian destinations to visit this year

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Get a little luxurious: 8 new luxury travel destinations

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