Centuries of rich history are yours for the taking in this part of the world, and the great cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok and Singapore will leave you absolutely awe-struck.
In northern Asia, discover the ancient customs and culture of China — the world’s emerging super-power. Lose yourself in the maze of towering buildings and winding streets in bustling Hong Kong — where old and new sit side by side in perfect harmony. Experience the frenetic energy of Tokyo — Japan’s 24/7 capital city. It’s a complete contrast to the gentle serenity of Kyoto.
Southeast Asia is always popular with Australian travellers. Visit Vietnam’s cultural centres of Hanoi, Hoi An and Hue. Neighbouring Cambodia offers access to the incredible temples of Angkor. Discover Thailand’s hedonistic resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui, and explore exotic Malaysia with its fabulous flora and fauna — including the inquisitive orang-utan. The tranquil Indonesian island of Bali has long been a favoured holiday retreat for Aussies!
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Asia travel tips
➲ Only got a limited amount of time to get to know a new city? Our Big Five City Guides can help. We break each destination down into culture, history, dining, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos. Access our city guides here.
➲ Check the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website for travel advisories regarding your chosen destination, and always register your travel plans with Smart Traveller.
➲ There are huge variations in climate across Asia. Southeast Asia is generally temperate all year round, while North Asia can be extremely hot or cold. Check the average temperatures carefully for your travel dates and pack accordingly. Southeast Asia has high humidity in the wet season, which generally corresponds with summer in the middle of the year. Humidity can make touring and moving about while on holiday uncomfortable, so keep this in mind when planning your trip. The best times to travel to Southeast Asia are generally the beginning and end of the year during the cooler weather.
➲ Avoid travelling to Asia during peak seasons if you can. Airfares are cheaper and resorts are definitely cheaper and less crowded. Generally Asian hotel Stay/Pay deals have blackout dates during peak seasons. The times to avoid are Christmas/New Year, Australian school holidays and the summer months of July/August — generally considered peak season across Asia.
➲ Check with your doctor regarding immunisations required for Asia and pack a comprehensive First Aid kit. Generally the standard of food and food hygiene is good but always exercise caution. If you choose to eat at roadside stalls or markets, check the general standard of cleanliness and that a supply of clean water is present. Always ask for the food to be freshly cooked in front of you and avoid fresh fruits and salads as they may have been washed in contaminated water.
➲ Always be highly respectful of the local customs and culture in Asia. When visiting temples, it is generally required that shoulders to knees are covered. Shoes must generally be removed. For ladies it’s a good idea to carry a sarong that can be used to cover up as necessary. Men should wear t-shirts and long shorts if planning a temple visit.
➲ Shopping in Asia is lots of fun and Asian markets are always worth visiting. It’s a great way to engage directly with the locals. Be warned — the sights, sounds and smells at fresh food markets can be confronting. Morning is the best time to visit the markets and the first sale of the day is generally considered good luck so you may pick up a bargain. Haggling is expected, but keep a sense of humour. It’s only a couple of dollars to you but it might be dinner to someone else. Generally offer a third to half of the original asking price and take it from there.
➲ While travelling in Asia be vigilant but not paranoid. Be open to experiences but be aware of your surroundings and personal safely at all times, particularly in crowds where petty crime can be a problem. If something feels wrong it probably is. Trust your intuition!
Browse all our Asia destination stories and Big Five City Guides here.
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Additional images: Bigstock