For many Americans, European cities are considered premier vacation spots. Their similar cultures and romantic aesthetics make for fun, easy trips, perfect for first-timers. But for those who want to travel far, experience the breadth of the world’s customs or get out of a western-headspace, it might be best to get to another continent. Luckily, there are many welcoming tourist spots in Asia that are perfect for these purposes. Here are the best cities in Asia to visit before you die!
1. Mumbai, India
A beautiful city bordering the Indian ocean, Mumbai is the best place to go to for first-time visitors to India. Don’t be misled by the impressive skyline though. Scattered throughout the city are temples and shrines dedicated to a large variety of Hindu gods making it great for those looking for a spiritual experience as well as a cultural one. Between the architecture and the history, this is one place you don’t want to miss. It is definitely one of the best cities in Asia to visit!
2. Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu is well-known as a pit-stop for those seeking to climb Mount Everest. But don’t fear; while being out-and-about in the Himalayas is popular but you don’t even need to lift a leg to have fun! Literally! That’s because Kathmandu is equally known as a cultural center for Buddhism. That means plenty of yoga studios, plenty of temples and plenty of time for relaxation in between. And if you’re looking for an interesting souvenir; how about a handcrafted, meditational singing bowl? For a fun, unique and spiritual experience like no other, try going to Kathmandu someday.
3. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok tends to have a rather seedy reputation in the eyes of Western tourists. But don’t let that stop you! As long as you’ve done your research, staying safe in Bangkok is no different than staying safe anywhere else. And that means you can focus on the better stuff. Like the rest of Southeast Asia, temples are numerous and the history and designs of them are breathtakingly beautiful. Thai food is also a great joy. If you’re particularly adventurous, you can try Thai durian fruit; be careful of the smell! The beautiful landscapes make Bangkok one of the best cities in Asia to visit!
4. Siem Reap, Cambodia
While the town of Siem Reap itself is not particularly spectacular, it is the closest one can get and stay to one of Cambodia’s biggest attractions: Angkor Wat. Known around the world for its beauty, its history and its grandeur, Angkor Wat remains one of the most famous and most significant archeological sites in the area. But it’s not the only ancient ruin one can find here. Ancient temples are everywhere, many of which seem almost melted into the forestry behind them. Nowhere else in the world is an experience quite like this so don’t miss out!
One of the few remaining city-states, Singapore has, like Bangkok, gained a bit of a nasty reputation for its use of capital punishment and ban on sales of chewing gum. But, as usual, you are more than likely to be fine so long as you don’t litter or do any serious crimes. A little research goes a long way! But once that’s done, the beautiful marinas, gardens and galleries of the state can be enjoyed worry-free. And boy are they enjoyable.
6. Hong Kong, China
Starting off as a British colony, Hong Kong today is a metropolitan city with a good mix of Chinese and Western culture. As such, it’s a great place to start off anyone’s trip to China. Whether you’re going to its monasteries, its museums, its parks or its harbor, one is bound to have a fun time exploring the area. And how can anyone forget Disneyland Hong Kong? Yep! There’s something for everybody in this English-Chinese city.
7. Shanghai, China
One of the most famous cities in Mainland China, Shanghai boasts an astounding skyline, beautiful architecture and pretty views of the Pacific. Let’s not forget to mention equally pretty Huangpu river that flows through it and the nearby Yangtze as well. Explore the various museums, check out the local parks and spend some time walking around the various neighborhoods. Whatever you choose to do, it’ll be a blast!
8. Beijing, China
Beijing is the capital of China and the gateway to some of its most well-know sites. The Forbidden City is located here, as is a section of the Great Wall of China, if you drive about an hour. But inside the city, temples and grand pagodas will astound you to no end. Whatever you think when you hear the phrase “Classical Chinese,” it’s there and it is absolutely fascinating.
9. Seoul, South Korea
Parks, palaces and art; it’s all here in the modern, metropolitan city of Seoul. Bathe in its history; statues and museums are all-around. Ancient history and the Korean War seem to be common topics. Whatever you’re interested in, Seoul has it. It’s a city that’s growing in acknowledgement so don’t miss one of the best cities in Asia to visit!
10. Tokyo, Japan
What more is to say about Tokyo that hasn’t been already? Whether its the Hindu temples, trips to Mt. Fuji, Shinto temples, beautiful boat tours or the bustling metropolis of Shibuya that did it, Tokyo has been adored worldwide as a center of East Asian culture. Soak it all in and don’t be squeamish. Take home some manga, enjoy the sights and take in the area in all its glory.
Do you agree that these are the best cities in Asia to visit? Let us know in the comments below!
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Hi! I'm Tyler and I'm a sophomore student at the University of Vermont. I'm an English major and I'm minoring in French and Linguistics. I'm particularly interested in reading, writing, philosophy and the natural world (although the Internet is somewhere I hang out often too).