Top 8 Places to Visit in Asia 2017
Travelers tend to forget how big Asia really is. From scorching deserts to stunning beaches and some of the tallest mountains in the world, traveling to Asia will surely check off all the requirements of your travel bucket-list. Deciding where you are going in Asia can be a daunting experience. However, due to the size of this behemoth continent knowing which countries in Asia suit your needs is essential before you get on that plane. To help you narrow it down, here is BEFORE Travel‘s top 8 countries to visit this year from first hand real traveling experience!
1. India – Soul Searching
India has always been the “go to” destination for the eccentric traveler. These days India is taking the trophy for those looking for an authentic backpacking experience. From the moment you step off the plane you will be in shock. The colours of vibrantly dressed locals will stun you, the excessive noise of traffic will deafen you, and the smells of exotic spices will intrigue you. India is the cultural awakening travellers crave! After traveling here you will never be the same.
India fits into the “Soul Searching” category as it is a deeply spiritual place. Home to the Hindu faith, you will be dazzled by its temples covered in colorful statues of gods and goddesses. Many rivers, mountains, and lakes are also considered sacred here drawing pilgrims from around the world. India is also home to followers of the Sikh faith, their stunning Golden Temple in Punjab is well worth a visit.
In the north of India you will find Buddhist temples and the head of the Tibetan Buddhist religion, the Dalai Lama. The deserts of Rajasthan are home to towering Islamic mosques and palaces, which are remnants of the Mughal Empire.
India is where people come to find themselves and learn about life. The combination of India’s rich history, incredible sights, and deep spirituality make this country one that travellers dream of.
2. Indonesia – Island Escapes
Welcome to one of the most underrated destinations in Asia. Indonesia truly does feels like multiple countries in one! Containing so many islands that have distinctly different cultures, languages and religions; it’s hard to believe that more people don’t come here. While the majority of Asia bound travelers are up north in Thailand, you can find yourself almost alone in some areas of Indonesia, providing a more exclusive look at the country.
Indonesia’s more commonly visited islands are Java and Bali, and it’s easy to see why. Java is covered in active volcanoes and ancient Buddhist temples, while the small Hindu island of Bali is famed for its surfing and its unique Hindu culture.
There is so much more to this country than Java and Bali. However, Sulawesi is home to the mountain tribes of the Toraja, who are known for their elaborate funeral processions.
Kalimantan, which is the Indonesian side of Borneo, has countless jungles filled with wild orangutans and some of the world’s finest diving!
If you’re looking for a true island getaway adventure be sure to hit up Indonesia this year, but be quick as tourism is certain to expand swiftly!
3. Burma/Myanmar – Adventure
Rapidly becoming one of Asia’s most popular travel destinations, Myanmar, also known as Burma has been closed for decades. Now with the change in government, Myanmar has opened its borders and is accepting tourism, even to its most remote corners. The best part with Myanmar is even with its fast growing popularity, outside its main sites there are few to no travellers!
The plains of Bagan are Myanmar’s most well-known sight. With thousands of ancient Buddhist temples sprawled out over the farmlands, Bagan is an incredible place to explore. Inle Lake is equally beloved with its floating temples and villages hidden in different corners of the mountain fringed basin. The capital city Yangon has the largest golden stupa in the world, which many of the Buddhist pilgrims flock to.
Outside these main sights there are plenty of opportunity for exploration. Myanmar’s far North hides 7000m peaks, while the Eastern regions has tribes that for the most part have remained with almost no contact outside of their state. If you’re seeking adventure, head to the long lost corners of Myanmar!
4. West Papua – Tribes
Technically part of Indonesia, West Papua deserves its own category. Where else in Asia are there still tribes that are known for cannibalism, tribal war, and living with almost zero contact to the outside world? West Papua is where travellers earn their explorer rank.
West Papua has remained far away from the tourist path due to its extreme remoteness, civil unrest, and lack of basic information. Slowly all of this is changing. It’s now possible for the average traveller to venture deep into the island jungles and mountains to meet real tribes first hand. The tribes of West Papua have never been happier to welcome travellers into their unique way of life, making this one of the most interesting destinations left of the planet.
If you want a true lost world experience and have a genuine interest in meeting tribes than look no further than West Papua!
5. Pakistan – Trekking
There’s no way around it, Pakistan has a bad name these days. Media, current events, and politics have kept Pakistan from the travel radar for years. Ask any traveller who has been to this amazing country and they will tell you Pakistan is one of the world’s greatest travel destinations.
Home to K2 the world’s second tallest peak, tribes whose ancestry dates back to Alexander the great, stunning Islamic architecture, and trekking that’s easily fighting Nepal for first place, Pakistan is filled with incredibly intriguing sites. And yet often the biggest take-away from travelers is Pakistan’s charming hospitality.
Due to its empty jaw dropping trails, trekking through Pakistan will ensure a unique and authentic Himalayan experience. Whether you hike through the valley of Hunza, or to K2 basecamp, or the towering peaks of the Hindu Kush, Pakistan will blow you away!
6. Mongolia – Nomadic Experience
Home of Genghis Khan, Mongolia is the destination for those looking for something different. No beaches, resorts, or western food here, only the picturesque Mongolian steppe. Mongolia is a cultural experience as well, many of Mongolia’s people do live a truly nomadic life just as they have been for thousands of years! Mongolia’s nomadic culture is why most come here, and boy is it a good reason!
Those who brave Mongolia’s roughness will be rewarded with horseback riding to ancient petroglyphs, hunting with Kazakh eagle hunters, milking reindeer with the Tsaatan, and summiting massive dunes atop of your two-hump camel. A stay with Mongolian nomads will bring you back in time to our roots.
If you’re looking for an experience to take home and brag to your friends, or just to remember for the rest of your life, than Mongolia will win your heart.
7. Japan – Cities
It’s no secret, Japan has some of the most vibrant, hectic, and animated cities on the planet. Whether it’s Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto or Hiroshima; Japan’s cities are addictive. The food, the fluorescent lights, the people, and the history will keep you coming back to this country. Trust me it’s easy to get hooked.
Japan’s cities are extremely modern, but at the same time there are tons of historic temples, and districts hidden beneath all this modernization. On one street in Tokyo you will have artistic modern glass buildings decked out in massive screens blaring anime, while one block over is a Buddhist temple with Zen monks chanting.
Japan’s cities are also home to some of Asia’s most delicious cuisines. Eat sushi for breakfast, curry udon noodles for lunch, and finish off with a rare Kobe beef steak. Japan’s endless traditional foods will not underwhelm you.
If you came to eat noodles, party your face off, or seek hidden temples, Japan’s cities will keep even the most jaded city dweller content.
8. North Korea – Unique Experience
Yes you read it right, travel to North Korea! Known as the DPRK, traveling here is definitely possible regardless of what you have heard. So why not travel to one of the most restricted and misunderstood countries on earth? With organized trips through licensed North Korea tour operators, coming here couldn’t be simpler.
Try visiting the DMZ on the North Korean side, or surfing on remote beaches in the North. This is a destination that is like no other. Your journey here will be one that most will be amazed to hear you accomplished!
Traveling here you become an ambassador for your country, showing the people of North Korea that the world is interested in their culture and unique way of life. Try something completely different and break barriers by traveling to North Korea!
Author: Stephen Gollan