Covering an area of about 17 million square miles, Asia is probably the continent with the most sights to offer. It offers a wide range of places to see and adventures to experience, coupled with friendly locals and food that’s bursting with flavor. To truly immerse yourself in the cultural haven that is Asia, here are the top 12 Asian cities you must visit.
12. Mumbai, India
Being home to the famous Bollywood, Mumbai is known as India’s entertainment capital. Nevertheless, the city is also dotted with historic caves and fortifications that reflect its colorful backstory, like the ancient Kanheri Caves in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Mahakali Caves, and the Portuguese-built Madh Fort. Those looking to relax may also opt to walk the sandy beaches of Chowpatty, Juhu, and Versova.
11. Legazpi City, Philippines
Mayon Volcano, the most symmetrical volcano in the world, can be seen from any point in Legazpi City. The city is bound to give its visitors a gastronomic experience, being strategically located in a place where there’s an abundance of natural spices. Its strategic location also allows easy access to the nearby Cagsawa Ruins, Lignon Hill, Sumlang Lake, and the region’s many beaches.
10. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Located on the Northern part of Thailand, Chiang Mai is a city that’s a far cry from the busy streets of Bangkok. This peaceful city provides a peek into Thailand’s rich history and culture, housing over 300 temples, including the famous Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Wat Chiang Man, and Wat Phra Singh. Chiang Mai is also bordered by mountains, which makes it the perfect spot for activities like trekking and hiking.
9. Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu used to be an ancient trade route between India and Tibet, and this is reflected in the city’s unique architecture. Nepal’s capital is home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which are the Dhoka, Phatan, and Bhaktapus Durbar squares, the Pashupatinath and Changunarayan temples, and the Swayambhu and Boudhanath stupas. Kathmandu is also the perfect place to try authentic Nepalese dishes.
8. George Town, Malaysia
Another World Heritage Site on this list is the city of George Town. The city used to be a British settlement, which is why its structures suggest a fusion of Eastern and Western influences. While you’re there, make sure you also catch George Town’s famous Chingay procession, the traditional performances of Bangsawan and Boria, and the opera during the annual Hungry Ghost Festival.
7. Hoi An, Vietnam
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An used to be a famous trading port during the 7th century. Much of its traditional architecture has been preserved, which makes visitors feel like they’ve travelled back in time. Hoi An is also the place for a truly Asian culinary experience, and you can’t leave the place without trying their signature braised spiced pork noodles.
6. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Hong Kong is the haven for people who are looking for a more laid back atmosphere. The city is easily equated with shopping, but this former British colony offers more than the typical city life and picture-perfect skylines. Famous religious sites include the Tian Tan Buddha in Lantau Island, and the Wong Tai Sin Temple in Kowloon. Cap your day with a night-time walk at the Avenue of Stars after catching A Symphony of Lights.
5. Siem Reap, Cambodia
The strategic location of Siem Reap easily makes it the gateway to the famous Angkor Wat temple complex, the Cambodian Cultural Village, and the floating village of Kompong Khleang. After exploring the city, make sure you don’t miss the traditional Apsara dance performance, and have their famous rice wine to end the night with.
4. Beijing, China
Beijing is the perfect example of a diversified Asian city, offering both modern comforts and historical structures like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Ming Tombs, and the Hall of Preserving Harmony. Shopping is also popular in Beijing, especially in the streets of Wangfujing and Qianmen. The city is also famous for being the home of the Peking Roast Duck and the Fuling Jiabing pancakes. The breath-taking Peking opera is also a must-see, especially for those who love acrobatic stunts.
3. Seoul, South Korea
Another metropolitan city on the rise is Seoul, South Korea. Aside from being known as the birthplace of K-pop, the city is also home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, namely: the Hwaseong Fortress, Changdeok Palace, Namhansanseong, Jongmyo Shrine, and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. Food carts and hole in the wall restaurants are especially popular in Seoul, which makes it easy for tourists to find the perfect place to try native Korean dishes.
2. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is one of the most unique Asian countries out there. It’s always noteworthy to stop by the shopping districts of Shinjuku and Akihabara for unique items and electronics. On the other hand, the Japanese pop culture scene thrives in the districts of Harajuku and Shibuya. Popular historic spots include the Imperial Palace, the Meiji Shrine, and the Senso-ji Temple. And to complete the Japanese experience, make sure to visit just in time for the seasonal Sakura Festival.
1. Singapore, Singapore
Topping off the list is Singapore. Aside from marvelling over the city’s unique architectural wonders, its guests are bound to have a truly Asian experience. Singapore’s multiculturalism is reflected in its cuisine, which is largely influenced by Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian tastes. Must-try dishes include the Hainanese chicken rice, chili crab, and the katong laksa. Walking tours around the city is slowly gaining popularity, and is a great way to meet locals and fellow travelers – not to mention, a fun way to appreciate the beauty of Singapore.