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14 Best Places to Visit in Asia

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Wat Ta Prohm Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Wat Ta Prohm Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Modern metropolitans, rugged islands, historic towns, and tropical forests await travelers who choose to explore the best places to visit in Asia.

The gleaming neon lights of Tokyo’s skyrises are a brilliant beacon of Japanese innovation, the soft golden sands of Phuket’s beaches are a picturesque runway into the Andaman Sea, and the temples of Siem Reap are a treasure trove of Cambodian history. The best places to travel to in Asia are a gateway to another world.

This guide discusses what makes these places unique, the highlights of each, and how long you should spend exploring them.

  1. 1. Tokyo, Japan
  2. 2. Phuket, Thailand
  3. 3. Hanoi, Vietnam
  4. 4. Siem Reap, Cambodia
  5. 5. Baa Atoll, The Maldives
  6. 6. Ubud, Indonesia
  7. 7. Agra, India
  8. 8. Colombo, Sri Lanka
  9. 9. Kyoto, Japan
  10. 10. Hoi An, Vietnam
  11. 11. Jaipur, India
  12. 12. Luang Prabang, Laos
  13. 13. Bangkok, Thailand
  14. 14. Varanasi, India
  15. Explore the Best Places to Visit in Asia

1. Tokyo, Japan

 Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is one of Japan's best cities to visit as it captures culture and history, while showcasing modernity. Magnificent feats of modern architecture, vibrant city squares flooded with iridescent light shows, and charming neighborhoods blend across the cityscape.

Tokyo is atmospheric, a place where celebrity chefs infuse Japanese culinary traditions with global influences. Unique experiences abound in the towering city, including the famous pet cafés and digital art museums. Travelers can also enjoy Akihabara's colorful neighborhood or wander past Harajuku's street art.

A trip to Tokyo would not be complete without walking across the Shibuya crossing or exploring the history of the ancient Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji.

Highlights: Michelin-starred restaurants • Pet cafés • Akihabara • Harajuku • Shibuya Crossing • Sensō-Ji

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

Learn more: Japan Tours & VacationsJapan Travel Guide

2. Phuket, Thailand

Wat Chalong Buddhist temple in Phuket, Thailand

Wat Chalong Temple in Phuket, Thailand

The Thai island of Phuket is a picture-perfect paradise in the Andaman Sea that combines local flair and flavor with international allure. Boasting beautiful beaches and five-star seaside resorts, a rich culinary culture, and historic landmarks, Phuket presents the best of a tropical vacation in Asia.

Visitors can lounge on the soft sands beneath pergolas, swim at beaches where the water is still and there are no waves, or indulge in cocktails at glamorous restaurants overlooking the Andaman. Watersports are popular, with tubing, jet skiing, kayaking, and snorkeling a few great ways to experience Phuket’s warm waters.

You can also head across the island to landmarks like the Big Buddha statue or receive a blessing at a Thai temple. The spirit of the Land of Smiles flows across the entire island, welcoming travelers on the ultimate tropical retreat in Asia.

Highlights: Phuket Old Town • Big Buddha • Wat Chalong • Night markets • Kata Beach • Karon Beach • Promthep Cape • Snorkeling

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

Learn more: Thailand Tours & VacationsThailand Travel Guide

3. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a high-octane city that mixes antiquated history with modern glamor. There are old quarters where ancient architecture stands the test of time alongside luxurious glass-paned hotels.

The city is laden with cultural finds to discover on walks between museums and temples. The buildings, shrines, and galleries display Hanoi as remaining subject to the influences of foreign settlers. This history also extends to culinary culture, with French influences dominating the flavors of iconic Vietnamese dishes.

You can enjoy a quiet stroll around the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, view the tribal artifacts within the Museum of Ethnology, admire the colorful interiors of Bach Ma Temple, and watch a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show in Hanoi.

Highlights: Culinary tours • Hoan Kiem Lake • Hanoi Old Quarter • Museum of Ethnology • Bach Ma Temple • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum • Water puppet show

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

Learn more: Vietnam Tours & VacationsVietnam Travel Guide

4. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Cambodia’s cultural crown jewel, Siem Reap, is a gateway to the country's spiritual history. Most notably, the massive carved walls of Angkor Wat invite travelers to explore ancient statues and temple grounds that honor centuries of heritage.

Beyond Angkor Wat, Siem Reap’s forest temples and sanctified sites shed light on a blend of influences spreading from Cambodia’s northwestern hill tribes. You can feel the stories unfold as you wander between Ta Prohm’s stone facades, decorated with overgrown shrubbery and crumbling under the force of trees and vines.

As spiritual as tours of Siem Reap can be, all sorts of experiences await the adventurous traveler. Walk to waterfalls where thundering echoes reverberate through Cambodia’s jungles, climb the peaks of Kulen Mountain to overarching viewpoints, or discover authentic Khmer dishes flooding night markets with tantalizing aromas.

Highlights: Angkor Wat • Ta Prohm Temple • Kulen Mountain hike • Night market tours

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

Learn more: Cambodia Tours

5. Baa Atoll, The Maldives

Kihavah Huravalhi Island in Baa Atoll, The Maldives

Kihavah Huravalhi Island in Baa Atoll, The Maldives

South Asian beaches are some of the best in the world and the Maldives remains a hub of the most impressive for lavish tropical vacations.

Baa Atoll resorts are luxurious, with bungalows built on winding piers that circle small islands or jut out across the crystal-clear seas. Surrounding these is a series of bays, sand strips, and coral collections, where snorkeling and scuba unveil the wonders beneath the water’s surface.

You can savor the pleasures of your private beaches or set sail in catamarans to hidden coves on Baa Atoll trips that speak volumes about the natural beauty of the Maldives.

Highlights: Scuba diving • Snorkeling • Beach visits • Kayaking • Stand-up paddleboarding

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

Learn more: Maldives Vacations & Tour PackagesMaldives Travel Guide

6. Ubud, Indonesia

Tegenungan Waterfall,  Ubud, Indonesia

Tegenungan Waterfall in Ubud, Indonesia

For those visiting Indonesia, Ubud is a brilliant introduction to the cultural uplands of the island. Rice paddies contour the hills, temples dwell within monkey forests, and villages preserve Balinese art and culture.

In Ubud, travelers can cherish the close connection with local communities while relishing the luxuries of world-class accommodations with spectacular jungle views. From walks within forests teeming with colorful birdlife and monkeys leaping through the canopy to beaches on Bali’s coast where time slows down, nature welcomes visitors with its endless beauty.

You can stand at the face of the Tegenungan Waterfall in the middle of the jungle or find the Gunung Kawi memorial shrines in the jungle valley on your Balinese trip to Ubud.

Highlights: Tegenungan Waterfall • Gunung Kawi • Ubud Monkey Forest • Tegallalang Rice Terraces

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

Learn more: Bali Vacations & ToursBali Travel Guide

7. Agra, India

Taj Mahal in Agra, India

Taj Mahal in Agra, India

Trips to India typically include a few nights in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. The marble mausoleum is one of the grandest architectural feats and sunsets over the iconic ivory-white facade reflecting from the surrounding water are a vision of epic proportions.

The Taj Mahal is a must-experience highlight of Agra, but the city and surrounds boast many more impressive things to do. You could watch the light shows at Agra Fort or spend a day wandering the empirical Mughal complex of Fatehpur Sikri and its red sandstone buildings. You could shop the elaborate textiles of Indian bazaars or tuck into traditional Mughlai curry.

Agra spotlights the impressive architectural history of India in temples and palaces that pepper the city, with alleyways hosting street food stalls and colorful markets through which you can experience Indian culture.

Highlights: Taj Mahal • Agra Fort • Fatehpur Sikri • Traditional Indian curry tour • Tomb of Akbar the Great

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

Learn more: India Tours & VacationsIndia Travel Guide

8. Colombo, Sri Lanka

Seema Malaka Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Seema Malaka Temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a sensational place through which to pass or visit to discover a different side of the East, with Colombo the best city to stop by. The coastal town impresses with sunny beaches and centuries of heritage displayed in temples and museums.

Colombo’s cultural groove shares its space with modern style shining from the resorts and vibrant neighborhoods in and around the city. Old forts and Buddhist temples preserve the Sri Lankan spirit, rugged coastal roads present breathtaking seaside panoramas, and upbeat districts with gourmet restaurants serve classics like ambul thiyal.

Your tours of Colombo will bring you closer to the local people and a unique heritage found nowhere else in Asia. A trip to Sri Lanka’s famous city combines the beauty of cultural travel and the pleasures of a laidback beach vacation.

Highlights: Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple • Colombo National Museum • Sri Kailasanathar Temple • Dewatagaha Jumma Mosque

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

Learn more: Sri Lanka Tours

9. Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, Japan

Beloved by all who visit Japan, Kyoto is the first destination beyond Tokyo to feature on trips for historical adventures, cultural tours, romantic getaways, and family vacations.

There are activities to entertain every type of traveler, whether you wish to flip through the pages of manga’s history at the Kyoto International Manga Museum or stroll beneath the famous orange arches of the Fushimi Inari-Taisha shrine. You can spend your days in the center of town trying authentic Japanese sushi prepared with precision by an itamae, sushi chef, or visiting the Geisha district to discover a fascinating and colorful side of Japanese history.

There are temples dressed in gold in the throes of emerald forests, private tea ceremonies where you can escape the crowds, and cherry blossoms blooming on the Philosopher’s Path.

Highlights: Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine • Traditional sushi tour • Kyoto International Manga Museum • The Philosopher’s Path • Nijo Castle • Authentic Japanese tea ceremony

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

Learn more: Japan Tours & VacationsJapan Travel Guide

10. Hoi An, Vietnam

Night market in Hoi An, Vietnam

Night market in Hoi An, Vietnam

Vietnam’s coastal jewel, Hoi An preserves the country’s empirical history, with sun-washed beaches on which to find comfort between tours of cultural landmarks.

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic city, with its old colonial town, reflects the collision of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese cultures. The temples present unique architectural styles from the rest of Vietnam, the Japanese Covered Bridge memorializes Japanese merchant history in the city, and markets are bright with colorful lanterns reminiscent of eastern bazaars.

You can enjoy the beaches of Hoi An during your stay and feel the true tropical Southeast Asia seaside atmosphere from your lounger in the sand with a cocktail in hand.

Highlights: Hoi An Old Town • Japanese Covered Bridge • Cau Temple • An Bang Beach • Night market tours

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

Learn more: Vietnam Tours & VacationsVietnam Travel Guide

11. Jaipur, India

Amber Fort in  Jaipur, India

Amber Fort in Jaipur, India

India’s Pink City, Jaipur, is as beautiful as it is inspiring, with a series of remarkable museums and palaces with blush-rose facades and empirical furnishings.

The city’s Amber Palace is one of its most notable attractions, with murals depicting deities and massive ramparts fortifying its position overlooking Maota Lake. The royal grounds epitomize Rajput architecture, a style you will familiarize yourself with as you explore more of Jaipur’s landmarks.

You can wander the ancient halls of the Nahargarh Fort on the Aravalli Hills, admire the pink City Palace, and cross the Man Sagar Lake’s glistening waters to the Jal Mahal in the middle of the body of water.

Highlights: Amber Palace • Nahargarh Fort • Jaipur City Palace • Jal Mahal

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

Learn more: India Tours & VacationsIndia Travel Guide

12. Luang Prabang, Laos

Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos

Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang, Laos

The small but magnificent city of Luang Prabang sits at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers in the northern reaches of Laos. It is a reservoir of Laotian culture, as much of the modernism sweeping Southeast Asia has yet to cross paths with the residents of Luang Prabang.

Temples like Wat Wisunarat still stand as they were built for travelers to admire the timeless Laotian artwork and designs that preserve the spiritual culture. Each morning, locals walk to the main strip in the city center for alms-giving, a tradition that, should you get the chance to see it, memorializes generations of Laotian history.

The morning and night markets come alive with locals and travelers snacking on fried seaweed, the nearby Pak Ou Caves conceal thousands of Buddhist images in the cliffs, and the mighty Kuang Si Waterfall is a short day trip from the center of town. Here, a towering waterfall crashes into natural pools that cascade the hillside forming turquoise terraces where you can swim freely to cool off.

Highlights: Wat Wisunarat • Almsgiving • Pak Ou Caves • Kuang Si Waterfall

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

Learn more: Laos Tours

13. Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Phra Kaew Temple, Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Phra Kaew Temple in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok’s bounty of spiritual sites, modern skyrises, gourmet restaurants, and vibrant neighborhoods draw travelers from all over eager to experience tours of the Thai capital.

The streets are packed with cars, motorbikes, and tuk-tuks that weave in and amongst each other beneath glowing neon billboards and city lights. Everyone in Bangkok has somewhere to be and travelers can find plenty to relish in this high-octane city. Michelin-starred chefs are ready to present the most delicate Thai fusion dishes on an evening tuk-tuk gastronomy tour, while Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew are open for you to see the most famous Buddhist images in Thailand.

You can board a glamorously restored junk boat on a day trip along the Chao Phraya River or for fine dining with views of the sparkling Bangkok skyline. With a taste for adventure, you can also spend a morning exploring the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya that trace the Kingdom of Siam.

Highlights: Tuk-tuk street food tour • Wat Pho • Wat Phra Kaew • Day trip to Ayutthaya • Chao Phraya River cruise

Recommended length of stay: 3-4 days

Learn more: Thailand Tours & VacationsThailand Travel Guide

14. Varanasi, India

Ganges River in Varanasi, India

Ganges River in Varanasi, India

India’s northern city of Varanasi is a spiritual capital with iconic temples, an ancient culture, and the spectacular waters of the Ganges River.

The pilgrimage destination is a favorite among travelers wishing to immerse themselves in Indian heritage, while embracing the dramatic sunsets over the Ganges. Morning boat rides also show off the natural beauty of the waterway and the city that clings to its banks, while the evening Aarti Ceremony highlights the local traditions.

You can explore temples dotting the cityscape, enjoy sunsets over the Ganges, or take a day trip to Sarnath for an authentic Varanasi experience in India.

Highlights: Ganges River • Morning and evening boat cruises • Aarti Ceremony • Day trip to Sarnath

Recommended length of stay: 2-3 days

Learn more: India Tours & VacationsIndia Travel Guide

Explore the Best Places to Visit in Asia

Daigo-Ji Temple , Kyoto, Japan

Daigo-Ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

With so many places to visit, each with its own cultural highlights and experiences for travelers, the options are endless on Asia Tour Packages & Vacations. You can use our collection of sample itineraries or refine your search further with our ideas for Southeast Asia Tours.

You can also explore our Asian Travel Guide or Southeast Asia Travel Guide for more on how to enjoy the pleasures of Asia, whether walking the Great Wall of China or sunbathing on breathtaking Thai beaches.

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