Summer is slipping by our fingers like sand, but planning a getaway before college starts might not be a problem. Whether your graduation trip is over and you're looking for new places to explore with your family or perhaps you're searching for new places to add to your bucketlist, here are some places in Asia worth visiting tailored to your personality.
Disclaimer: I am aware that there are countless cities and countries that can make this list. However, it will make this list 10 thousand times longer than it should be. Also, the goal is to broaden people’s views on countries (hopefully) not usually on everyone’s typical bucket list. So, let’s get started.
If you’re a(n)...
1. Bangkok, Thailand
Before you stuff your face full of pad thai and red (or green) curry, be sure to visit the Grand Palace, Wat Traimit and Wat Pho. Bonus points if you check out the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market during your stay. You’ll be sure to interact with locals, whom you’ll find smile-inducing, and experience Thailand’s traditional foods.
Alternatively: Dip your toes in white sand at Phuket or Maya Bay Koh for a change of scenery or visit Khao Sok National Park for dense jungles and the Cheow Lan Lake. Feel like changing countries? Cambodia is your best shot.
2. Kyoto, Japan
If you wish to rent a kimono (or a yukata) and walk around the area that breathes historical Japan, visit Gion, a district located in Kyoto. From Gion, you can simply use the bus to check out Kiyomizu-dera and the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest as well as its surrounding areas. Don’t miss out on the infamous Fushimi Inari-taisha where you can hike your way up through 10,000 gates.
Alternatively: Hokkaido and Hakone are both known for their breathtaking views and natural hotsprings.
3. Mumbai, India
The Taj Mahal may be the only thing on your bucket list, but be sure to add Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Elephanta Island. The buzzing financial powerhouse of India may be overwhelming at first, but its bumbling energy will sweep you off your feet (like in those Bollywood movies, but metaphorically of course — or at least hopefully).
4. Jerusalem, Israel
Archaic ruins? Beautiful seaside? Rich historical context on every turn? I sound like those tacky and overly excited advertisements, but what’s not to promote? If the religious Holy City Walking Tour or riding a camel at Negev Desert do not pique your interest, the notorious Dead Sea and majestic Tel Aviv will welcome you with open arms.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
If you made a stop to Israel, meet its other side of the coin, Turkey. Brimming with the fingerprints of Ottoman Turks, you can also chase shadows of The Greeks, Romans and Venetians who have once called this place their home. Make sure to visit the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque before getting carried away in hot air balloons at Cappadocia, a whimsical and magical place.
6. Bali, Indonesia
You may have heard of this paradise island from your friends or family who sought after a relaxing tropical summer vacation complete with tanning beds. However, Bali will also give you a glimpse into Indonesia’s diverse culture. Notable tourist spots are the Uluwatu Temple and Tanah Lot. While you may be experiencing bits and pieces of Indonesian cuisine, make sure to entertain yourself with Indonesia’s shadow puppet show (or, in its native language, called Wayang).
Alternatively: You can visit Jogjakarta, home to Borobudur (one of the 7 wonders of the world) and Prambanan.
1. Flores, Indonesia
Yes, another shout out to Indonesia as it is my homeland, so let me introduce you to its hidden paradises. Check out the Pink Beach in Flores during the day and then head over to Komodo Island where you can observe the lives of the infamous komodo dragons. If you prefer to relax by the seaside, head over to Labuan Bajo where salty air and clear blue water awaits you.
Alternatively: Raja Ampat in Indonesia is also perfect for you if you want to snorkel, but Indonesia has over 17,000 islands so take your pick.
2. Halong Bay, Vietnam
This is where James Bond and Wai Lin attempt to chase down Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies for you movie buffs out there. In all seriousness, be prepared to marvel at emerald waters and panoramic sceneries of towering limestones. Most people usually take the cruise to explore the area, but if you prefer to trek and experience richer sceneries, feel free to goggle at Cat Ba Island, the extension of Halong Bay. You can also kayak, bike and climb with lesser visitors crowding the place.
3. Kashmir, India
If Halong Bay’s cruises are too extravagant, why not experience comfy houseboats at Kashmir? Located in the northernmost part of India, Kashmir in India allows you to capture alpine sceneries from a distance during breezy mornings. They say the winter is especially a favorable time, but it is as lovely in the summer. As a souvenir, bring home a pashmina scarf or shawl to your wardrobe.
I don’t think this needs an explanation as the very country exudes tourism, but this is the place to save up for if you want an authentic experience to swim with sharks, wonder at vibrant coral reefs and learn how to dive.
5. Jiu Zhai Gou, China
You may have heard of Beijing and Shanghai, but this Unesco World Heritage Sight might not have been talked about as often. Nonetheless, here is where you will find your reflection staring back at you as you gaze through crystal clear lakes and hear the creaks and chirps from woodland creatures while gawking at rushing waterfalls nearby.
1. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
If your goal is to visit every Disney park on Earth, then that might be your main motivation to visit Hong Kong. Though it is comparably smaller than all the other parks in the world, you will find that its city has a larger-than-life attitude with its tall skyscrapers and exuberant crowd. Want to visit the Las Vegas of Asia? Take a boat to get across the sea and you’ll find yourself in Macau. Side note: you don’t want to miss out The Venetian if you ever visit Macau.
2. Jakarta, Indonesia
I promise this is the last time I’m badgering you with my country, but I’ll properly introduce you to our capital city, Jakarta. No, our capital is not Bali, sorry. What is the capital most known for? Our overwhelmingly humongous shopping malls. (Fun fact: We have over 170 shopping malls in one city.) If you equate travel with shopping and relaxing in luxury, stop by Jakarta and you are guaranteed to set foot in a mall that offers both middle-class and high-end brands with flamboyant brunch places. If you want to avoid shopping, Jakarta also has its own museums filled with knowledge of the past (stop by Kota Tua) and traditional foods can be found in hawker’s stalls or authentic restaurants.
3. Seoul, South Korea
Maybe you’re a K-pop fan or your favorite food is kimbap. Maybe that doesn’t even apply to you. Either way, Seoul is a must-visit if you choose to travel to Asia. You can stop by Myeong-dong or Insadong to shop for little trinkets at night after spending the day wearing a Hanbok (the traditional clothing of Korea) in Gyeongbokgung Palace as you explore Korea’s history. If you’re up for a round of drinks, you can simply head over to the Gangnam district.
Additionally: You can spend the day at Lotte World if you love theme parks, but you can also head over to Nami Island, where they shot Winter Sonata.
4. Osaka, Japan
If Tokyo’s famous Shibuya crossing overwhelms you or if you prefer a more toned-down version of a hardcore city life, maybe it is time to consider going to Osaka. While Tokyo may be home to the only DisneySea in the world, Osaka has its own Universal Studios. But more than that, Osaka’s most famous street, Shinsaibashisuji Shopping Street, is an alley of shops. If shopping tires you, within walking distance you can find Dotonbori street, an alley for food and arcade games slipped in between food shops. Be sure to try takoyaki, a Japanese traditional food and a specific locality from Osaka.
Alternatively: of course, vibrant city life would be Tokyo, Japan. If you prefer to shop for high-end brands, check out Ginza and Ometesando. You should also stop by Akihabara (especially for anime lovers) and Harajuku (for more local brands).
5. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Namely known for its Burj-Khalifa and the Formula Rossa, Dubai’s energy is infectious and open to diversity. You can seek peace and quiet while walking down the Al Fahidi Historic District or liven up at the IMG Worlds of Adventure.
6. Bei Jing, China
China’s capital city offers you the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and the Temple of Heaven to name a few famous historical sites. While you’re there, experience street food at Bei Jing’s night market, Dong Hua Men. On the other hand, you can choose to go to Shanghai and enjoy the newest Disneyland park if that’s more up your alley.
May your thirst for wandering be quenched someday.
Lead Image Credit: Ishan via Unsplash