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Ten of the Best Countries to Visit in Asia

Asia offers a gentle reintroduction to the joys of jumping on an overseas flight. Here are ten Asian countries that should be on your travel radar.
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Hoi An, Vietnam

As Aussie travellers prepare to wing their way back overseas, an Asian holiday is one that will tick a lot of boxes.

There are close to 50 countries in the region and they all offer a rich cultural heritage to explore, fabulous food, and endless natural attractions. Add to that the relatively short travel times from Oz, an abundance of flight capacity, and generally great value for money, and you have all the makings of an amazing trip.

Here are ten of the best countries to visit in Asia.


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Asia Tours, Activities & Attractions


1. Thailand

Welcoming visitors has been elevated to an art form in Thailand. Colloquially known as the ‘Land of Smiles’ (for reasons which will become apparent the moment you touch down), this is probably the most popular travel destination in South-East Asia. Thailand is best known for its ornate Buddhist temples, southern beaches, incredible cuisine, and of course, super friendly people. The country is a melting pot of cultural influences from India, China, and other close neighbours, but it wraps everything up into one bundle that’s distinctly Thai.

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Wat Pho, Bangkok

Make your first stop the country’s chameleon-like capital Bangkok — a sprawling intermingling of modernity and tradition. Here, serene temples sit side by side with glittering office towers and mega shopping malls. Laid-back Chiang Mai in the country’s north is also popular with Aussie travellers and melds cosmopolitan cafe culture with easy access to the stunning Thai highlands. Head in the opposite direction to Phuket, Krabi, or Koh Samui and park yourself on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

Want to visit a range of destinations during your visit? Book a Thailand tour package and let experts on the ground handle the logistics.

2. Bali (Indonesia)

Our decades-long love affair with beautiful Bali went long distance during the pandemic, but since the Indonesian island’s reopening we’ve flocked back in droves to feel the embrace of this piece of paradise. It’s tropical, exotic, affordable, and the tucker is tops. What’s not to love? And if you’ve yet to visit Bali (and if so, where have you been for the past 40 years?), a fabulous holiday awaits.

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Ubud, Bali

One of the most popular spots with travellers is Ubud in the island’s heart. Its bucolic setting and spiritual atmosphere offer soothing respite from the outside world. Pack your yoga pants. For a somewhat livelier experience, the southern beaches of Kuta, Legian, and super cool Seminyak beckon. They’re home to the island’s best restaurants, bars, nightlife, and shopping. Bali also offers plenty of opportunities for adventure, and surfing, hiking, and mountain biking are huge here. All in all, the holiday options can be bewildering. Booking a Bali tour package makes it oh-so-easy, and can include accommodation, transportation, and activities.

3. Japan

Up in East Asia, Japan is making a comeback as the travel destination of choice for those in search of a mix of big city life, epic natural beauty, and a generous side of quirk. Capital city Tokyo pumps up the jam around the clock and assaults the senses on every level. Marvel at the fads and fashions that define this neon-fueled metropolis. In contrast, Kyoto — the former imperial capital — is famous for its tranquil feel, ancient temples, quintessential Japanese gardens, and glorious cherry blossoms (which generally appear at the end of March and last until mid April).

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

For those wanting to explore further afield, the options are endless. Japan is a strand of more than 7,000 islands, stretching 2,400 kilometres from tip to toe. Take your pick of one of the inhabited ones (around 450) and dive in. Speaking of which, the tropical prefecture of Okinawa in the country’s far south offers access to great beaches, world-class resorts, and incredible reef diving.

4. Vietnam

Australia and Vietnam have a history. Having sided with the US in the Vietnam War, we would go on to accept more than 80,000 refugees from the war-torn country over the decade that followed. Today, many Australians travel to this incredible destination to explore that shared history and absorb Vietnam’s fascinating culture — and we can’t recommend it highly enough. Start your visit in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and learn about the horrors of the conflict at the War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, and Cu Chi Tunnels. Walk the centuries-old streets of the port town of Hoi An in central Vietnam, soak up the gravitas of the ruins of Hue’s imperial citadel, hit the busy beaches of resort hub Nha Trang, explore the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and lose yourself in its Old Quarter, cruise the ethereal waters of Halong Bay, and observe the immemorial way of life still practised by the hill tribes of Sapa.

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Halong Bay, Vietnam

5. Singapore

OK, let’s start with the bad news. Long gone are the days when a visit to city/state/island nation Singapore yielded retail booty at prices you could only dream of back home. That’s not to say that the shopping isn’t great in Singers today (it is!), but you’ll pay standard prices for quality merchandise. The good news is that this tiny financial powerhouse has expanded its repertoire of holiday attractions to the point where flipping out your credit card is no longer the prime reason to drop by. Incredible hotels and resorts, family friendly attractions, engaging museums and galleries, and spectacular parks and gardens mean there’s a world of fun to be had in just 700 square kilometres.

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

6. South Korea

Most Australians (including us) would be hard-pressed to name any destination in South Korea other than capital city Seoul (and perhaps Busan at a stretch). But with 100,000 square kilometres of territory in total, that leaves an awful lot of this East Asian nation to get to know. Excited by that prospect? So are we! We’re told that somewhat like Japan, South Korea is a mix of pulsating city life (and K-Pop bops!), endless coastline, and low-rise mountainous interior. Seoul is far and away the country’s biggest city (and party central by all accounts), while Busan is a great choice of destination for culture vultures (particularly those with an interest in cinema). A mild climate makes the southern island of Jeju popular with sun worshipers, while Jeonju city harks back to yesteryear with its heritage architecture and ancient shrines. When do we leave?

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Seoul, South Korea

7. Laos

However you choose to pronounce it (we’ve heard Lau, Louse, Lay-os, and Lay-oh), you’ll fall in love with Laos in South-East Asia. Landlocked between Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and Myanmar, this small nation of seven million people punches well above its weight as a travel destination and provides a richly layered experience for the intrepid visitor. The country’s tourism infrastructure is far less developed than its bigger neighbours, but that gives it a very authentic feel. From watching the march of the monks at dawn (known as Tak Bat) in lovely Luang Prabang, to temple hopping and feasting on flaky pasties in former French colonial trading post Vientiane, this is a holiday that will stay with you long after it comes to an end.

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Tak Bat, Luang Prabang, Laos

8. Cambodia

Where do we start with the wondrous Kingdom of Cambodia? Probably where most visitors start — in bustling Siem Reap — the gateway to the awe-inspiring Temples of Angkor Wat. Solemn, steadfast, and seemingly as old as time, they’re just the beginning of the story for a country that has seen unbelievable tragedy and hardship — yet looks to the future with determination. It’s difficult to fully grasp the murderous impact of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime on Cambodia in the mid to late 1970s — effectively wiping out its professional class and anyone with a respect for learning. An estimated two million people were viciously murdered, and to this day the country remains one of the poorest and least developed nations on earth. But wherever you travel here, you’ll encounter entities and individuals attempting to put paid to the past. It’s truly inspiring.

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Temple of Ta Prohm, Angkor, Cambodia

9. India

India is a travel experience unlike any other on earth. It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions that will see you soaring to incredible heights at the sight of majestic monuments like the Taj Mahal, before hurtling down into the depths of despair over the extreme poverty afflicting the majority of the country’s 1.4 billion citizens. If you can balance the two, you’ll love this destination — and learn to value your own good fortune all the more.

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Taj Mahal, India

This is an immense place and working out when and where to travel is no mean feat. The northern ‘Golden Triangle’ is relatively manageable for a first-time visitor. Formed by capital Delhi at the pinnacle, Agra to the south-east (home to the fabled Taj), and the flamboyant pink city of Jaipur to the west, you could comfortably cover these three cities and see everything they have to offer over the course of a week to ten days. From there, fly south to cultural capital Mumbai, and continue heading down the west coast to soak up some sun on the famous beaches around Goa.

Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia
Ten of the best countries to visit in Asia: Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

10. Sri Lanka

Neighbouring Sri Lanka was riding a wave of tourism popularity for much of the past decade, until terrorist attacks, the pandemic, financial turmoil, and civil unrest took their toll. Things appear to have stabilised following a massive bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but at the time of writing Smart Traveller advises anyone visiting Sri Lanka to proceed with a high degree of caution. All of that said, this is a country with so much to offer travellers — and where the welcome you receive will be generous and genuine. It’s cost effective, culturally diverse, spectacularly beautiful, and accessible directly from Australia (with flights between Colombo, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth). Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Yala National Park on the country’s southern coast — home to one of the biggest populations of leopards in the world.

This post was published thanks to Thrillophilia.com.

Browse our range of Asia tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best countries to visit in Asia? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

The information contained in this story is general in nature and does not constitute professional advice in any way. We make every effort to ensure this content is accurate, but we do not guarantee it. You should do your own research and seek the advice of professionals before acting or relying on any of the information provided in this story.

Additional images: Envato

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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