10 Amazing Places to Visit in Asia for Your Bucket List

Pura Bratan temple in Bali- one of the best places to visit in Asia

As the largest continent in the world and home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations, there is no shortage of exciting and beautiful places to visit in Asia.

Whether you want to relax on tropical islands and white, sandy beaches, visit temples and rice terraces, learn about spirituality and yoga in India, trek through mountains and jungles or see exotic animals in their natural habitat, visiting Asia is sure to be an amazing and life changing adventure.

From the Taj Mahal to Mount Everest to Halong Bay, whatever draws you to Asia, one thing is certain. Your trip will feature many once-in-a-lifetime experiences and allow you to tick many things off your Asia bucket list.

As one of the safest and cheapest places to travel in the world, many destinations in Asia are also popular with backpackers but still offer a great value holiday for anyone with a taste for adventure. Volunteering in Asia is also an enriching way to connect with the friendly locals and give something back.

With so many great options, deciding where to visit in Asia can be a challenge. So to help you out, I’m sharing the best places to visit in Asia based on popularity, traveler ratings, and my personal experience.

The 10 Best Countries To Visit In Asia

Here are ten of the best and most visited places in Asia to add to your bucket list.

Carry on reading to find out what makes each one special and the best destinations to visit.

Let’s start with – Thailand!

Thailand

Thailand - one of the best places to visit in Asia

From its turquoise waters and warm climate to lush jungle and historic temples, Thailand is, by far, one of the most popular countries to visit in Southeast Asia for everyone from backpackers and digital nomads to honeymooners and families.

There’s so many beautiful places to visit in Thailand. Start in Bangkok, the vibrant capital city, and marvel at the glittering golden temples and palaces. Experience the unique floating markets and the buzzing nightlife and savor the cheap street food and incredible Thai cuisine.

For beaches and islands head to Phuket and Krabi, popular tourist destinations in the Andaman Sea with beautiful beach resorts, plenty of tourist attractions and island hopping trips to famous places like Koh Phi Phi and Maya Bay.

If you’re looking to party head to Koh Phangan for the famous monthly full moon party. Afterwards recover and rejuvenate at some of Thailand’s best yoga retreats, take it easy on Koh Samui, or learn to scuba dive at Koh Tao.

Also don’t miss northern Thailand where you can explore charming Chiang Mai with it’s old city home to ancient Buddhist temples. Nearby you’ll also find elephant sanctuaries, mountains, jungles, waterfalls and unique temples to explore.

Thailand is perfect for your first trip to Asia, you can see the best of north and south with 2 weeks in Thailand, or if you’ve got more time check out this ultimate Thailand backpacking route.

Check out my comprehensive Thailand Travel Guide for more blogs, tips and inspiration.

Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia - one of the best countries to visit in Asia

The archipelago of Indonesia is best known for the popular tourist destination of Bali – also known as ‘the Island of the Gods.’

Bali is famous for it’s beautiful temples, lush rice terraces, waterfalls and blissful yoga retreats, but with over 17,000 islands, there is so much more to explore in Indonesia!

An easy trip from Bali is island hopping around the Gili islands while next door is Lombok, which is much less touristy and still has many untouched beautiful beaches.

If you want to adventure further into Indonesia’s archipelago head to the Komodo Islands, home to the famous Komodo dragons and unique pink sand beaches, or remote Raja Ampat for incredible diving and untouched paradise islands.

Another spot not to miss in Indonesia is the island of Java, home to the capital city Jakarta and the mighty Mount Bromo. The highlight is the cultured historic city of Yogyakarta, the Buddhist temple of Borobudur, the largest of its kind, and the Hindu temples at Prambanan, both UNESCO world heritage sites.

There’s unlimited adventure to be had in Indonesia beyond Bali – but it’s a good place to start! 😉

The Maldives

Veligandu island, Maldives. One of the best places to visit in Asia

The Maldives is another stunning archipelago famous for its paradise islands and atolls boasting picture-perfect white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters.

The Maldives is the best part of Asia to go if you want to spend a few days relaxing, swimming, sunbathing and seeing some of the best beaches in the world.

If you’ve been dreaming of that iconic honeymoon experience of staying on a private island in a luxury overwater villa then put the Maldives on your bucket list!

And, while these beautiful islands have a reputation for being home to some of the best private island luxury resorts in the world it’s also possible to visit the Maldives on a budget if you stay in guesthouses on the local islands.

India

Taj Mahal, Agra, India - Asia bucket list destination

India is not just the birthplace of yoga and THE country to find your inner self – it also has some of the world’s most famous historic monuments, like the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple.

India is a massive and incredibly diverse country with something for everyone. One of the most popular India travel routes is the Golden Triangle which includes the capital Delhi, visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra, and Jaipur, also known as the Pink City with its iconic pastel-colored buildings, forts and palaces.

Spiritual seekers and yogi’s flock to Rishikesh to do their yoga teacher training, wildlife lovers look for tigers in Ranthambore National Park, while beach bums enjoy on the beaches of Goa and cruise the Kerala backwaters soaking up South India’s more relaxed, tropical, side.

India is like many countries in one and you will find endless delicious local cuisine wherever you go in India, though the flavors vary from region to region. It’s heaven for vegetarians and many people in India also speak English which makes it easy to connect with the locals. It’s also one of the cheapest countries to visit in Asia, and possibly even the whole world (although paying a bit more for more comfort is often a good investment! )

It would take a lifetime to see this bamboozling country but you can see the highlights in one trip if you follow my epic India backpacking route. I’ve also written hundreds of India travel blogs and guides to inspire and help you discover this fascinating country.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka - Asia bucket list destination

If you love natural beauty and incredible wildlife, you will adore the island country of Sri Lanka. Lying in the Indian Ocean, just off the south coast of India, this small island has plenty of tourist attractions and unique places to visit.

You will find pristine beaches, great surf and yoga retreats and a peaceful ambiance here, perfect for those seeking solitude. Don’t miss the chance to experience one of the world’s most scenic train rides through the jungles, mountains and tea plantations.

Sri Lanka also has a rich history dating back to the 3rd century. Thus, you will find many archaeological sites and monuments in the cities and towns including Buddhist stupas and temples. Read these articles for offbeat destinations and more on the best places to visit in Sri Lanka.

Vietnam

Vietnam - one of the best countries to visit in Asia

From the crowded but atmospheric streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, to natural wonders like Ha Long Bay and the ancient town and UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An, there really is so much to see and experience in Vietnam.

Whether you visit for the spectacular scenery, the fascinating history or the vibrant street life don’t miss your chance to try delicious local food like Banh mi, Pho, and Banh Xeo.

You can also enjoy wonderful beaches in places like Da Nang, Nha Trang and the island of Phu Quoc. And don’t forget to  take a boat ride along the mighty Mekong River at some point in your Vietnam adventure.

For something a bit more offbeat head to Tam Coc, known as the “Ha Long Bay on Land” or up to Sapa, a scenic hill station, and take time to meet the locals. One of my favourite all time travel experiences happened when I got lost in Vietnam and was taken in my the kindness of strangers.

Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Cambodia - one of the best places to visit in Asia

The most famous city in Cambodia is, by far, Siem Reap, which is the gateway to the largest religious monument worldwide, Angkor Wat. This vast complex has over 70 ancient temples and takes multiple days to explore fully.

Aside from the ancient ruins in Siem Reap, visit the floating village on Tonle Sap Lake and check out the undeveloped islands like Koh Rong and Koh Ta Tiev, which are peaceful alternatives to Thailand’s touristy islands. Cambodia really stole my heart and is one of my favourite places in Asia.

Malaysia

Batu Caves, Malaysia - one of the best destinations to visit in Asia

Malaysia is known for its multi cultural cities, diverse landscapes and cuisine. Much of Borneo is also part of Malaysia where you can explore untouched rainforests and visit an orangutang sanctuary.

The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is one of the fastest growing cities in Asia, with many exciting attractions like the Petronas Twin Towers, the Petaling Street flea market, and the limestone Batu Caves.

Malaysia also offers tropical islands, tea plantations and charming historic towns like Penang and Malacca. It’s a seriously underrated country with so much to offer but is still a lot less touristy than neighbouring Thailand. Check out my Malaysia itinerary to plan an epic trip.

China

Great Wall of China - one of the most visited places in Asia

China is the largest country in Asia and home to one of the most famous natural wonders and, of course, the Great Wall of China.

While less than 10% of the original wall remains intact, there are a few sections you can still walk today; the nearest one from the capital, Beijing is just 45 miles so you can combine visiting Beijing with The Great Wall.

The vibrant city of Beijing is most known for its famous palace complex, The Forbidden City. Other places to visit include Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven. The megacity of Shanghai is also fascinating to visit and experience modern China as the skyscrapers twinkle futuristically over the Bund.

There’s also many other cultural, historical and natural wonders to explore in China – it’s quite an underrated and misunderstood country.

Japan

Japan - Asia bucket list destination

Most people who visit Japan head straight to Tokyo, a fascinating, futuristic city and the largest city in the world by area! You don’t have to be a science geek to appreciate this unique, high-tech, and lively city, and with so much entertainment and attractions on offer here, you will never get bored.

However, there is more to Japan than contemporary cities like Tokyo. The iconic snow-capped peak Mount Fuji is a must-visit, being the 7th highest island mountain on earth. You shouldn’t miss the former capital city, Kyoto, either.

As one of the most beautiful cities in all the Asian nations, you’ll be mesmerized by the colorful gardens, peaceful Shinto shrines like the Golden Pavilion, and traditional wooden houses. Plus, as one of the safest countries in Asia, Japan is a fantastic place for solo and women travelers to explore, however it’s not the cheapest.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Visit in Asia

So, which of these best places to visit in Asia will you choose? If you have the time (and money), why not explore a few countries in one trip?

For example, many people heading to Southeast Asia will check out Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, as traveling between each country is easy and relatively cheap. If you want to join a like minded group there are some fun Southeast Asia backpacking tours too.

Or, if you have your heart set on India, why not schedule a few days in Sri Lanka and the Maldives too?

Wherever you choose, life is unlikely to be the same again after you have experienced the beauty and excitement of traveling in Asia!

So many places, so little time? For more travel inspiration check out my other blog posts:

 

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