If you are wondering what traveling in Asia is all about, we’ve got you covered. From Japan to Mongolia, you can decide where you want to go next!
We love traveling in Asia! That’s why we returned to Japan to live for another few years. We’ve been to Japan numerous times, but of course we’ve done the bulk of our Japan travels during the years that we lived there. In total, we’ve lived in Japan for 5 years. We’ve also lived in South Korea. We lived there for three years, and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
While living there, and in Turkey, we took advantage of the distances and traveled to as many Asian countries as we could. We try to spend at least a week, sometimes more in each country we visit. Below you’ll see which ones we’ve made to so far, and a quick overview of our impressions. We hope it will help you plan your next vacation in Asia.
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We’ve covered a lot of Asian countries, so if you are interested in just one or two, you can jump to them here:
Best Asian Countries To Visit in Your Lifetime
Officially Negara Brunei Darussalam or The Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace, is a small country located on island of Borneo. It’s the fourth smallest country in Asia, and therefore we didn’t spend much time in this tiny country. It wasn’t even on our itinerary at first, but since we were traveling around Malaysian Borneo to see the wildlife, we couldn’t pass up the chance to tuck another country under the belt. We thoroughly enjoyed our quick 36 hours we were there.
Is Brunei worth a visit?
Brunei is so small, so it’s easy to do on a quick trip, and it’s different from the other countries surrounding it, so it’s definitely worth visiting. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, add a few days and go someplace new.
How long do we need for Brunei?
We only spent two days there, and we feel it was sufficient. I’m sure you can learn more if you have the chance to stay a bit longer.
What is the general budget for visiting Brunei Darussalam?
It’s definitely more expensive than Malaysia, but it still is pretty cheap compared to Europe. An average cost for a nice hotel is about $65-90, and unless you are eating at the food stalls, a couple can have a great meal for about $40.
Cambodia was an eye-opener. Even though it has such a volatile history, we found the people content and willing to share their stories, their products, and their welcoming smiles. The main reason for visiting for us was to see the world heritage site, Angor Wat, which certainly was breath-taking. It’s definitely one of the most important sites to see in all of Asia, in our opinion.
Is Cambodia worth a visit?
Yes. There is more to do than just Angkor Wat, and we feel we need to go back at some point, because we didn’t see much of Cambodia. Nowadays people go for the great beaches as well as the temples and history. It’s such a desirable place that a lot of digital nomads are making their base. This is due to the gorgeous beaches, great prices, and amazing food.
Our first time in Cambodia, we visited Siem Riep and Tonle Sap, but next time we plan to add Kampot to our itinerary. You know we love food, and we’ve heard that it have become quite a destination for food lovers. And as most foodies know, Kampot Pepper is reputed to be the best in the world.
How long do we need to really see Cambodia?
We didn’t give it enough time in the five days we stayed there. If you really want to explore the country, I would give it at least 10 days, and you’ll be able to work in a few relaxing beach days as well as the big sights.
What is the general budget for visiting Cambodia?
As an average, you can plan on really living it up for as little as $35-40 per day. Good hotels can easily be found for $25 per night, and there is so much cheap food around. However, even if you pick a restaurant a couple can eat a great meal for $25.
We’ve been to China twice and certainly plan on going again. There’s so much to do and see. Checking off walking on the Great Wall is something that we’ll never forget. Beijing is great, but our favorite city is Xian, because we had the most amazing time with some locals there.
We didn’t travel at all with a group or tour, however, China was one of the harder places to get around as far as language is concerned. Saying that, we always found someone who spoke English, and now they are teaching it much more prevalently in the schools, so it’s just going to get easier and easier.
This is a place where I think I wore the hotel desk clerks out, because I bombarded them with questions on where to go, where to eat, how to get there. Luckily they were very gracious, and we did have a great time. What I know a lot of folks do is get there and get a hotel then take day tours for all the sights they want to see, so they don’t have the hassle of the getting there and buying tickets, which I think is a fantastic option.
Is it worth a visiting China?
Yes, yes, and yes! China is a fascinating country. It’s history is so vivid and ancient. The biggest problem I always face is where to go. It’s huge! I just say just go!
How long do we need in China?
Unless you are just passing through, don’t go for less than 2 weeks and try to hit some of the bigger sites. You can easily fly or train between cities, and it’s not that expensive. The first time we went, we did two major cities and flew domestic between them; it was cheap and easy.
What is the general budget for visiting China?
China is probably one of the more expensive Asian countries to visit, but don’t let it deter you. It’s well worth it. Hotels on average in Beijing should cost you about $90-120 per night, but other parts of the country could be less. Eating in China will run the gamut, you can eat very cheaply and of course much more, but at a regular sit down restaurant a couple can eat for about $20-30 easily.
One of the best places to start your Asian travels is Hong Kong because it’s such a great mix of Chinese and British. It’s easy to navigate, but it has that Asian chaotic feel at the same time. It can be a bit overwhelming because the city is so big, and by that I mean high as well as land mass, and there’s so many people. However, if you like cities, you will love it.
As you can imagine, with such a large city, there is tons to do. A couple of our best memories were visiting the Wishing Tree Temple, heading up Victoria Peak, and eating amazing food.
Is Hong Kong worth it?
Yes, Hong Kong is well worth the visit. If you are looking for the Asian feel, especially in a place that almost everyone speaks English, it’s a great first trip in Asia.
How long do you need in Hong Kong?
I think the perfect amount of time for Hong Kong, with a day or overnight trip to Macau, should be right around five or six days. There’s lots to do, and you’ll have no trouble filling up your itinerary. If you don’t have very many days, you can still explore the main parts of the city, but you won’t be able to get out and see some beautiful nature.
What should you budget for Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is a bit more expensive than some other places in Asia. Hotels run from very cheap to very expensive, but I would not pick a super cheap place unless you are really up for an adventure. You can probably find a good hotel around $125 per night. Meals again will widely vary from cheap street food to more expensive sit-down restaurants. For a regular meal for one couple it could run you about $30.
It’s been some time since we visited India, but we loved the colors, the people, and it’s definitely one of the best cuisines in the world. It’s called the “subcontinent,” which tells you that it is huge. Unless you plan on staying for months, you cannot possibly cover much ground. We’ve been twice, and loved both trips. Some of our favorite places were Rajasthan, Varanasi, and taking a backwater cruise through Kerala.
Is India worth visiting?
Visiting India is a bit overwhelming on your senses, but it’s so worth the visit. I’ve never met anyone who went and didn’t come back wanting to go again. It is eye-opening, a true learning experience.
How long should we spend in India?
No matter how much time you spend in this vast country, you will not be able to see it all, so pick a state or two to focus on. We road-tripped through Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, and that was two weeks. We spent another nine days in Kerala as well. I think to get a good feel of the country, I would not recommend less than 10 days minimum. The country moves at a slower pace, so factor that into your planning.
What would be a good budget for a trip to India?
India is pretty cheap to travel around. Everything from hotels to food and souvenirs will not really tax the budget, unless you want to go super luxury. As an example, here are hotels in New Delhi, a more expensive place than most in the country. Meals are also inexpensive. A couple can eat at most restaurants for about $20 for a great meal.
Indonesia is one of those countries that we keep going back to again and again. We’ve been to the islands of Bali, Flores, Komodo, Rinca, and Java so far. While there we visited the most amazing temples, like Borobudur and Prambanan.
It’s an easy country to travel in budget-wise. You can really stretch your dollars, and the sights are amazing. I love that each island has its own personality, specialty foods, and of course things to do.
Is Indonesia worth it?
Indonesi, a country full of diverse islands, is universally beautiful and an easy place to travel. Each island has its gems. Of course there are amazing beaches, wildlife, temples, shopping, and food no matter which island you choose. Depending on the type of vacation you are looking for I would either start out in Bali for the beachy relaxing vacation or in Java for the amazing temples, but check them all out and find the one that suits you best.
How much time no we need when visiting Indonesia?
Since Indonesia is so wide-spread, you will need to fly or take ferries between islands which are somewhat economical. If you are making a plan to visit several islands, it will take that much more time. I would recommend that if you are staying on one island one week would be sufficient.
What kind of budget is required for Indonesia?
Indonesia is somewhat budget-friendly. Good hotels will run you about $55 per night, and you can upgrade to a much more luxurious experience for about double that, which in western terms is pretty cheap. Meals are also cheap, ranging from $5-10 per person for sit-down meal.
Israel, what a country! It’s at once ancient, religious, and such a mixture of culture and diversity. The cities are modern, the historical sights will take your breath away, and the food is amazing.
Is Israel worth visiting?
Israel with its tumultuous history, diverse cultures, and amazing food is definitely worth a trip! The whole country is easy to navigate by car or there are plenty of fantastic tours that will really delve in deep into the history and culture. No matter how you decided to do it, go!
How long should we plan for our trip to Israel?
We spent ten days driving around the country and feel like it was the perfect amount of time. You could do more if you have more time, but for a good taste ten days was great. The country is small enough that you can spend a few days in each region and see the majority of the sights. However, there are plenty of ways to stay longer if that is something that interests you.
What is a general budget for visiting Israel?
Israel requires a medium budget. Hotels in Jerusalem are a bit higher than other parts of the country, but you can still get a room for two for around $125 per night. Restaurant meals can be about $12-$15 per person.
One of our favorite countries in the world, Japan is all at once exotic, clean, easy to navigate, has some of the most courteous people in the world, and the food is completely different than anywhere else. After living there for five years, we still can’t help but go back for more. We absolutely love it.
From temples to festivals, Tokyo to Sapporo, there is so much to do and see. It just never gets old. They have the best themed restaurants, sumo wrestling, anime and manga, kawaii culture, supreme bathing, and so much more.
Is Japan worth a visit?
If you are itching for an adventure, but you really want a clean and friendly Asian country to visit, Japan is for you. We feel that if you are looking for a place to really start traveling in Asia, start with Japan. There’s so much to see and do from temples and museums, to tea houses, public baths, hiking, mountains, beaches, and great food to top it all off. You will love Japan.
How long should a trip to Japan last?
The very minimum a trip to Japan should be one week, and that is only if you plan on staying in the Tokyo area. If you would like to do more than that I would say 2 or 3 weeks would be even better. With a couple of weeks, you can get to Kyoto, Osaka, or even the island of Hokkaido. No matter how long you go, though, you will leave planning your next visit.
What is the general budget for visiting Japan?
apan is definitely one of the most expensive countries to travel in Asia. Transportation and hotel costs are some of the highest in the region. However, it’s all clean and orderly, and well worth it, in my book. To give you an idea, here are some hotels in Tokyo to compare. You are looking at $150-$175 per night. Meals can be very inexpensive, but if you are sitting down in a restaurant, plan on at least $30 per couple for an inexpensive meal. For more traditional meals, you will definitely be paying a premium price.
Having initially gone to Jordan to experience the world heritage site of Petra, we were so surprised how much there is to see and do in this fantastic country. The historical sites dating back thousands of year to include important religious sites as well as Roman ruins and gorgeous desert vistas.
Is Jordan worth visiting?
Jordan is well worth a visit. It’s a lovely country with tons of sights, starting with its most famous one, Petra. However, from biblical sites to Roman ruins, there is so much more. The food is pretty amazing as well.
How long do we need in Jordan?
Ten days in Jordan is enough to get you to many of the places around the country. Renting a car is cheap and easy, and the gas is the cheapest we’ve ever found, so we highly recommend a road trip. However, there are lots of tours you can take as well that will show you around.
What is the general budget for visiting?
The best thing about Jordan is the cheap gas. It’s about the cheapest we’ve ever paid. Other costs are not bad either. It’s rather budget-friendly. Amman hotels are some of the more expensive in the country, so you can get a good idea of costs. You will probably spend about $75-$100 per night at a good hotel. You can, of course, buy some cheaper meals on the street, like at our favorite falafel stands, however for a regular restaurant, plan on about $20 per person for a sit-down meal.
Malaysia is another country we keep going back to over and over again. It’s something to do with the beauty of the countryside, the amazing fauna and flora, the tasty foods, and fun, almost chaotic cities like Kuala Lumpur.
From Proboscis monkeys to mouse deer, stunning national parks and gorgeous architecture and handicrafts, Malaysia really has so much to offer the traveler. It’s proximity to so much also makes it attractive for those that want to combine a couple of destinations in one vacation.
Is Malaysia a worthwhile trip?
Malaysia is definitely worth a visit, especially if you love wildlife. There is so much to see. In fact, with its over 800 islands, you are going to have to really pick and choose where you want to go.
How long would we need on a trip to Malaysia?
Malaysia has everything from sight-seeing historical sites to lovely beach resorts, so no matter how much time you spend there, you’re going to want to return. However, for a first trip, one week to ten days will give you a great look into the country.
What is the general budget for visiting Malaysia?
Malaysia gives you a good return for your money. The resorts and hotels are a bit cheaper than other countries. If you are going through Kuala Lumpur, the capital and most expensive city, you can compare hotels here to give you an idea for your budget. Meals are very cheap. You can eat at many food stalls all over the country and get anything you want there for next to nothing, maybe $5.00 per person. And eating in full-on restaurants, regular ones, will only cost a few dollars more, about $8-12 per person.
One of the most adventurous and fun trips we have ever taken was to Mongolia. Taking a Russian Van across the vast steppes was eye-opening, exotic, dusty, and just plain fun.
We stayed in locally owned gers, went camel riding in the lesser Gobi Desert, ate a local specialty called Khuushuur. We didn’t stay long in the capital city, Ulan Bator, but instead really embraced the old capital of Karakorum and the peacefulness of the rural countryside and Mongolia had to offer. I would go back in a heartbeat!
Is it worth a visit?
One of our favorite countries, Mongolia is well worth a trip. The thing with Mongolia is that you have to get out of the capital city. Ulan Bator has a certain old world charm. However, we found the best times were with the people in the countryside.
How long do we need?
It’s a bit tough traveling around the country, so it takes some time. I would recommend at least ten days if you are going to get out and do more than just Ulan Bator. Mongolia is also one of those places that unless you are just staying in Ulan Bator, you’ll want to arrange a guide and driver to take you around.
What is the general budget for visiting?
Mongolia is a cheap destination. Here are some Ulan Bator hotels to make a comparison, but out in the countryside you are paying a minimal fee to sleep in a ger. Meals are cheap as well. You can eat a meal in a restaurant for about $10.00 per person.
We’ve been to the Philippines one time, which is by far, not enough. There are so many islands and things to see, that it’s impossible to do in a short time. We stayed for ten days were able to go to two islands, Luzon and Palawan.
Incredible bright green terraced rice fields climbing up into the sky, delicious roadside food stalls, and those incredibly colorful Jeepneys; what’s not to love about a trip to the World Heritage Banaue Rice Terraces in the Phillipines?
Is the Philippines worth a visit?
If you love beaches, relaxing, fresh fish, and a few historical sites mixed in the Philippines is definitely worth visiting. It’s another one of those Asian island countries where there are so many islands to explore, each with their own personality and things to do.
How long do we need in the Philippines?
To do a little justice to seeing the sights, don’t go to the Philippines for less than ten days. In all actuality, you’ll need double that, and you’ll want to make sure you are flying to a couple of islands. The hardest part is deciding where to go.
What is a general budget for visiting the Philippines?
The Philippines is a truly budget-friendly place to visit. Hotels and resorts widely vary, but you can still have a rather luxury, relaxing stay for about $100 per night. Meals are also super cheap and you can eat at a restaurant for about $20 per couple.
A short trip, we spent only a layover in Doha, Qatar. However, it is a very small country, and I think we made the most out of it. Some of our must-see things to do are the traditional souks, the Museum of Islamic Arts, and the really cool Al Zubarah fort.
Is Qatar worth visiting?
Qatar is a really great country to spend a few days, well worth a short visit. Like most places, the longer you stay the more you’ll learn.
How long do we need in Qatar?
One or two days is enough to see the major sights in Qatar, more of course, would be better. With good planning, you can see so much in a little time, because the country is rather small in area. Doha, the capital city, has a lot to offer and there are some great sites outside of the capital as well.
What is the general budget for visiting Qatar?
Qatar was a little more expensive than other countries. Here are some Doha hotels to compare, but prepare to pay about at least $100-$150 per night. Meals are much more expensive than most of Asia. You are looking at $55 for a couple’s restaurant bill.
One of the smallest countries in Asia, Singapore packs a punch! When people ask us where to start traveling in Asia, Singapore is always our answer, because everyone speaks English and it’s super clean and easy to navigate.
Is it worth visiting Singapore?
We love Singapore, and we believe it to be one of the best places to visit in Asia, so yes! Singapore is well worth visiting for its mixture of cultures, religions, and of course cuisines. The entire city-state is pristinely clean, and everyone speaks English. Plus there are some amazing things to do in Singapore that you just can’t find anywhere else in the world.
How long do we need in Singapore?
A minimum of three of four days should be spent in Singapore, but if you want to dive in a little deeper, we’d suggest staying a bit longer. In a long weekend or layover, you can easily visit the highlights of the city.
What is the general budget for visiting Singapore?
Singapore is pretty expensive for an Asian country. Hotels in Singapore are higher priced than in other countries, however, at least you’ll know you’re getting air conditioning. This is key! If you eat meals at the Hawker centers, you can save some money, but eating at a restaurant will run you at least $20 per person.
Having lived in Daegu, South Korea for three years we grew to love the quirkiness and fun of the Korean people. This ancient culture grapples with the traditional versus the modern, and hey, they’re really making it work.
To hike and marvel at the beautiful temples is a tribute to their traditions and history, and then there is the modern day instagram worthy everything from libraries to statues, like the little men of Jeju Island.
However the very best thing about visiting Korea is the spicy food. Kimchee, fried chicken, even eggs have a Korean twist that make them oh so delectable.
Is it worth visiting South Korea?
South Korea is definitely worth visiting, and should be on everyone’s Asia itinerary. Whether you just spend a few days in Seoul, or you get out and see some of what the countryside has to offer, you will thoroughly enjoy your trip to South Korea.
How much time is needed for a great trip to South Korea?
Not a huge country, you can do quite a lot on a 2 week trip to South Korea. At the minimum, spend a few days in Seoul then go and see the rest of the country. You can either fly or take the KTX super fast trains. Both are economical and will help you get out and really enjoy your Korean experience.
What is the general budget for visiting South Korea?
South Korea is not as cheap as it used to be. However, it’s not too hard on the pocketbook. Hotels, like these in Seoul, will cost you about $100 per night. Cheap meals can be found, but for a restaurant meal plan to pay at least $25 per couple.
We spent a week traveling around the big sites of Sri Lanka. It’s a beautiful island, and the historical sights and temples are stunning. We visted Sigirya, Dambulla Temple, Temple of the Sacred Tooth, and much more. My favorite places were the elephant orphanage and probably Galle, because the beach was so pristine.
Is it worth visiting Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka, under the tip of India, is one of those amazing places that you might think is difficult to travel. It’s not, and there are so many wonderful things to do such as world heritage sites, temples, and of course pristine beaches.
How long do we need in Sri Lanka?
To visit Sri Lanka, plan on at least 10 days. When you go to Sri Lanka, you will want to mix in touring all the big sights as well as some serious beach resort time. Make it a true vacation, with a taste of culture.
What is the general budget for visiting Sri Lanka?
Budget-wise, Sri Lanka gives you good value for your money. Hotels and resorts vary widely in price depending on luxury, but even still it’s cheaper than many places in the world. An average luxury hotel price is about $100-$200 per night. If you want to stay at a regular hotel it should cost around $50 per night. Meals are super cheap. This is mainly because there are not many sit down restaurants that aren’t fast food. So a meal can cost you as little as $2.00 and up.
After traveling to Taiwan a couple of times, we really like it as a stopover point. A few days here and there allow us to get some great food, take in a museum and walk around some of the gorgeous parks. Taipei is a modern city, and what I love to do there most is eat!
Is Taiwan worth a visit?
Taiwan is a beautiful place to visit and well worth a layover or a trip all on its own. We’ve been a couple of times, and yet, we haven’t run out of things to do. Taipei is a gorgeous city with amazing foods, markets, museums, and cultural icons. However, getting out of Taipei and visiting other parts is really fun as well.
How long do we need in Taiwan?
If you are just visiting Taipei, a few days is sufficient for a trip. However, take a week and get outside the city. Go to the Taroko Gorge or one of the many amazing beaches. Just taking a side trip to Beitou hot springs will be unforgettable.
What is the general budget for visiting Taiwan?
Taipei is a bit more expensive than some of the other Asian countries, but still a pretty good deal. Here are some hotels in Taipei for you to get an idea of prices. Meals prices can be all over the place. There’s super cheap street food that’s very accessible. Then there’s some amazing restaurants where you’ll pay at least $10-15 per person.
United Arab Emirates
UAE is one of the places that we’ve stopped over, in Dubai, many times. It’s a great place to explore for a few days then get back on the plane. One of our favorite experiences was a tour of dune bashing, camel riding, and a night show out in the desert. So much fun!
Is the UAE worth a visit?
Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates, is definitely a trip worth taking. It’s adventure and luxury all mixed up into one memorable trip.
How long do we need in the Emirates?
Two to three days is enough to get a taste of Dubai. Just make sure to take the desert tour, which seems to be everyone’s favorite activity…and it certainly was for us. You can spend lots of time in Dubai and still not see it all, but a few days will give you a real taste for the city.
What is the general budget for visiting the Emirates?
Dubai is pretty expensive, so it’s nice you can do it on a layover. Dubai hotel prices will run you at least $160-200 per night. Meals are also a little more expensive and in a nice restaurant expect to pay about $50 per person. Of course there are cheaper options for a day to day occurrence, where you can pay about $15 per person for a schwarma or café meal.
Vietnam is a fantastic Asian destination. The first time we all went to Vietnam together as a family, and we loved Hanoi, Hoi An, and Hue. There’s so much more to do there, though.
Is it worth a visit?
Definitely worth a visit, Vietnam is a great Asian destination with its exotic temples and markets. The food is some of the best in the world, the markets are chaotic and fun, and there are so many great world heritage sites and things to see that you will easily fill up your itinerary.
How long do we need?
To do a quick tour of Vietnam, 2 weeks should be the minimum amount of time in the country. There’s lots to see all the way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. We recommend making stops in Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue, and Nha Trang at the very least.
What is the general budget for visiting?
Vietnam is a rather inexpensive place to visit. Hotels will cost around $75 per night, and meals are really cheap. You can eat in a restaurant for anywhere between $5-10 for a meal.
Traveling in Asia is always fun, new, and pretty exotic. With this run down of our impressions of each Asian country we’ve visited, we hope it gives you some idea of where your next vacation will be.
Have you been to Asia? What did you enjoy most? Please tell us in the comment section.
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.