Asia is a continent jam packed with diversity. No matter where you turn you’ll find yourself faced with a new culture, unique and friendly people, and the opportunity to see and explore some of the greatest historic and cultural monuments on earth.
The sky’s the limit but, unfortunately, most of us are limited on time. Instead, you’ll want to start your Asian exploration by visiting some of these incredible cities first.
10. Bangkok, Thailand
The city of Bangkok has undergone several “rebirths” – for lack of a better word – throughout history. The first major change happened during the Vietnam War when soldiers flocked to the city looking for a quiet place to relax. Later, during the 1980′s, the city became a hot spot economically – a place where those with money to burn wanted to visit. A favorite hotel in the early 90′s was the new Sukhothai Hotel and even though there are dozens of other hot spots, this particular destination remains a favorite amongst regulars. Now the area is one of the hippest, chic cities in all of Asia.
9. Udaipur, India
In the capital of the state of Rajasthan you’ll find an Indian city bustling with pride and culture. Historically, Udaipur was the capital of Mewar, which was once part of the Rajputana Agency. The city, known mostly for its incredible palaces, is also known as the City of Lakes – a place where some of the most incredible lakes in the state come together. The most popular palace, Lake Palace, sits on an island in Pichola Lake while most of the other palaces have transformed into luxurious hotels.
Image Credit: LivinTheDream
8. Chiang Mai, Thailand
The city of Chiang Mai has been in existence for over 700 years. It has the distinction of being one of the rare places in Thailand where you will find age-old historic buildings and temples combined with some of today’s finest modern architecture. Years ago tourists would only visit Chiang Mai for a day, believing that there was really nothing to see. Today they instead plan extra time for Chiang Mai as they now understand there’s always something new to discover – whether in the city or in the surrounding countryside.
7. Luang Prabang, Laos
While Luang Prabang is no longer the capital of Laos, it is still considered to be the religious center of the country. When visiting this province you’ll be surrounded by ornate Theravada Buddhist temples, peaceful homes, and buildings finished in a French Indochinese style.Â The city itself is set where the Mekong and Khan Rivers meet and consistently enchants visitors arriving by boat from around the world.
6. Jaipur, India
Jaipur is perhaps one of the most visited cities in India. Once serving as the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur was the very first officially planned city in the country to be built. The city now serves as a major hub for businesses, resembling the business district in any major metropolitan city. Visit during one of the many festivals, like the Kite or Elephant festivals, for an experience you’ll always remember.
Image Credit: mckaysavage
5. Kyoto, Japan
The city of Kyoto served as the capital of Japan for hundreds of years – from 794 through 1868. No longer the capital, it is instead known for being the seventh largest city in Japan. Kyoto was destroyed throughout history by fires and war, though its enemies did recognize its historic value and later spared it from further attack. Now the city is home to more than 1.4 million people and presents an incredibly modern face to the rest of the known world.
Image Credit: jimg944
4. Hong Kong, China
The city of Hong Kong began as a colony of the United Kingdom and remained so until it was transferred to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. Hong Kong operates under its own laws except for instances involving foreign affairs which are deferred to the government of the People’s Republic. Visitors are often surprised at how different life in Hong Kong is compared to other areas of China – featuring a unique currency, traditions, and lifestyle.
3. Kathmandu, Nepal
Situated in the heart of the Himalayans, Kathmandu is considered to be one of the most stunning cities in existence today. The city serves as the capital of Nepal and rests in the Kathmandu Valley with two other small cities. Today Kathmandu serves as the capital of Nepal and houses several palaces, government buildings, and international embassies. The shopping districts are world renowned and the hotels in Kathmandu are amongst the most luxurious in the world.
2. Siem Reap, Cambodia
The charming town of Siem Reap is a destination in itself, though most people initially think of it as only a base point for further trips to the Angkor ruins and other surrounding attractions. Most of the architecture in the city, which was originally built over a period of 30 years during the mid-1100′s, portrays French colonial styles. Visitors will be astoundedÂ by the beautiful samples off Khmer architecture and artwork that do still exist today.
1. Beijing, China
Most recently known as the home to the 2008 Olympics, Beijing is the second largest city in China and serves as the capital for the People’s Republic of China. The city is so old, in fact, that almost every building has some sort of cultural or historic significance – no matter how small. Throughout the city you’ll find yourself faced with incredible temples, palaces, and works of art that will leave you breathless.
Every city throughout Asia has a story of its own. It’s up to you to explore them all and find out exactly what each one has to offer. Enjoy!