Asia—what to expect, where

Looking to visit Asia but not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place.

Comprised of over 40 countries, Asia offers diversity from majestic mountains to dense forests, splendid wildlife to pristine beaches, unique cultures and fascinating history. With a myriad of languages, cultures, religions and traditions, Asia is a tantalising destination for lovers.

Even if you’re a worldly traveller, you can struggle to know which country offers what! So this beginner’s guide to Asia will help you understand what to expect from each of the different regions.

SOUTH ASIA

Stretching from the Hindu Kush to the coral reefs of the Indian Ocean, the ‘Subcontinent’ is epic in size and infinite in variety. Imagine cruising the Keralan backwaters, unwinding on Goa’s world-renowned beaches or jangling your wrists to Bollywood rhythms in Mumbai, India is a sparkling jewel that never ceases to shine. If you’re dying to see the Himalayas, they are best experienced on a trek with experts where you will be taken to breath-taking vistas and shown the top local spots to fuel up with gourmet curry.

Sri Lanka is a nature lover’s paradise, which glistens a bright green thanks to impressive tea plantations, scattered waterfalls, jungle-covered temples and tropical beaches. Another destination that is sure to capture your heart is Bhutan, which is blessed with awe-inspiring landscapes, historic monasteries and exquisite temples. If you’re looking for a romantic break that is truly unique then I recommend trekking up to the sacred Tiger’s Nest monastery that clings to the mountains, where the only sounds you’ll hear are Buddhist prayers fluttering in the wind.

EAST ASIA

The Far East is a truly awe-inspiring collection of countries, where ancient traditions juxtapose uber-modern cities. China and Japan are two nations that boast a fascinating history yet find themselves very much at the heart of an ever-changing and fast-paced 21st Century world.

Immerse yourself in city life in Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong where you can explore resplendent temples, shop to your heart’s content or walk in the shadows of soaring towers. With a history as colourful as the fireworks it invented, China offers an abundance of iconic notable sights from the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Beijing to the Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an.

From neon skylines and speeding bullet trains to imposing castles and breathtaking islands, Japan is a land of incredible contrasts. From the vibrancy of fast-moving Tokyo, to mesmerising Mount Fuji, to the candyfloss colours of cherry blossom, Japan needs to be ticked off your couples bucket list this year.

SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Home to some of the world’s finest beaches, South-East Asia is a sensational part of the globe, offering a variety of delectable cuisines, historic sights, sugar-soft beaches and wild parties.

Whether it is the hushed footsteps of monks ambling through a temple in Yangon, the zoom of mopeds in Ho Chi Minh City or clap of chopsticks as locals feast on aromatic street food in Bangkok, South-East Asia is a must for couples and backpackers alike. Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia (just to mention a few) capture the senses as well as the imagination with their picturesque landscapes, spiritual rituals and unique histories.

WEST ASIA

A landscape simultaneously timeless, yet bursting with modernity, Western Asia or more commonly known – Arabia is a place of contrasts. Everywhere, ancient traditions and evocative customs are revered and sanctified. Arabic hospitality is legendary – the rituals of feasts and taking coffee, the habits of the bartering and haggling. Across this whole region, from Amman in Jordan to Salalah in Oman, the very sands beneath your feet seem to whisper to the echoes of a thousand generations. Here, legacies have been left by crucial figures in history and stories have been scribed on monuments that are as old as time itself.

Visit Jordan, home to some of the oldest and most significant sites in human history: the ruined Roman city of Jeresh – the ‘Pompei of the East’; Mount Nebo from where Moses spotted the promised land and Petra, the ‘Rose Red’ city hiding in an empty desert.

Contrast Jordan with the modernity of the UAE, sparkling Abu Dhabi and ever-ambitious Dubai. All of them competing with each other for supremacy, with beguiling manmade wonders built typically taller and bigger than anywhere else on earth. Oman makes an idyllic honeymoon escape, offering the perfect combination of history and a serene beach life.

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