Asia – whose land mass of more than 17 million square miles is more than four times that of Europe – incorporates so many different nations and cultures that it can be hard to grasp its depth and breadth. Asia is also changing rapidly: industrializing, digitizing, globalizing, and modernizing to sometimes the nth degree while still retaining, in many places, its pastoral charms. Still, it’s good to go sooner than later to see aspects of the old Asia along with the new.
Do you start with fast-developing China, the world’s most populous nation, where million-plus cities seem to spring up overnight? From world icons like the Great Wall and Beijing’s Forbidden City to ultra-hip Shanghai and teeming Hong Kong (a special administrative region), it tops many travelers’ wish lists. Or do you opt for the temples, pulsating cities and culinary delights of Japan and Korea?
Perhaps a Southeast Asia sojourn is at hand. Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are home to architectural treasures ranging from Bangkok’s Royal Palace to the grand ruins of Cambodia’s Temple Angkor Wat and Indonesia’s ninth-century temple Borobudur. Southeast Asia’s beaches, cuisines and surviving rural cultures and landscapes are all traveler favorites, while river cruising on the Mekong and Irrawaddy are hot tickets.
India, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka form another fascinating region. While India can be chaotic (a perfect destination for a guided tour), an early-morning boat ride on the Ganges in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi or a visit to Agra’s Taj Mahal are never-to-be-forgotten experiences. Nepal is the ultimate high for Himalayan trekkers, while Bhutan serves up bliss amid the mountain peaks. Sri Lanka is emerging from years of civil strife to display its lush, peaceful side.
Much of Russia – from the Ural Mountains to eastern Siberia – lies in Asia, as does Mongolia, land of yurts and horsemen. Central Asia is a vast expanse of “stans”: Uzbekistan’s Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent were pillars along the old nomadic Silk Route from China. The ancient Babylonian and Persian empires live on in modern-day Iraq and Iran – an option for adventurous travelers. Parts of the Middle East are also troubled, though the United Arab Emirates – with its star attraction, Dubai -- and some other areas of the exotic Arabian Peninsula still beckon (even Saudi Arabia is starting to open up to non-Islamic tourism).
Israel and Jordan are at peace, offering the opportunity to visit both ancient Jerusalem and nearby Petra, Jordan’s wondrous rock city. Much of Turkey lies in Asia as well – including the unique cave dwellings of Cappadocia and the beaches of the Turkish Riviera.
While a quick overview can barely scratch the surface of Asian travel, Stride can ease the confusion with our easy-to-use comparison tools. After sizing up our plentiful offerings of guided tours, river cruises and active vacation packages, you can then decide which Asian region is the best fit for you. And chances are you’ll want to return again and again to sample more of all the cultural and adventurous discoveries that Asia has in store.
|China, India, Cambodia, Burma, Laos, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, North Korea, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, Philippines, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Krygyzstan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Georgia|
|Great Wall,China; Taj Mahal,India; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; Halong Bay, Vietnam; Mount Everest, Nepal; and Many More|
|Culture Sighseeing, Trekking and Volunteering|