From paradisiac beaches and ancient temples to lively and colourful cities, Asia provides an incredibly diverse tourist destination.

Its delicious cuisine provides tonnes of tantalising choices, many of its countries are budget-friendly. Plus, the proximity of such varied destinations means you won’t spend hours sitting on planes to get to whole new worlds.

All these factors are great, but because Asia features endless attractions and locations, it may be hard to narrow it down. Here are 9 must-visit locations on a tour of Asia.

1. Gili Islands, Indonesia

The Gili Islands are three beautiful, small islands located in northwestern Indonesia off the coast of Lombok. The islands are the perfect destination for travellers who want to relax, as cars aren’t allowed; the only way to get around is by bicycles or horse carriages. Because of the peace and quiet the islands enjoy, snorkeling and diving are popular amongst tourists in the area.   


2. Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Chiang Mai may be a lesser-known destination in Thailand, but this northern city is one of the most culturally significant in the country. Don’t come here expecting beaches – Chiang Mai is located on the Ping River amongst the country’s highest mountains. Home to more than 300 Buddhist temples, a visit to Chiang Mai will provide you with lots of rich culture, including spirituality and famous markets and festivals.


3. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

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This landlocked country often does not get the attention it deserves. Its stunning scenery and vast open spaces have a unique charm, one that makes you feel you’ve travelled back in time. You can even immerse yourself in the culture by spending a night in a traditional yurt with a local nomadic family. Here you’ll eat traditional food and see life being lived the way it has been for hundreds of years.


4. Astana, Kazakhstan

Not much is known about Kazakhstan, which for the adventurous traveller is one good reason to visit. Astana is a city worth-visiting for many reasons, but probably the most interesting one is its origin. It’s a city built by oil, part of President Nazarbayev’s innovative vision. Made of steel and featuring a stained-glass pyramid and the world’s largest marquee, Astana is the next Asian cosmopolitan city to visit.


5. Borobudur, Java, Indonesia

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Not as oft-visited as Bali, the island of Java deserves more recognition, especially Borobudur – the largest and most famous Buddhist temple in the world. Hidden in the midst of the jungle, this is truly a must-see attraction. The temple was built in the 8th and 9th centuries by the kingdom of Sailendra. The construction took over 75 years, using approximately 2 million blocks of stone.


6. Sri Lanka’s Hill Country

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There’s more to Sri Lanka than beaches. Head to its amazing hill country to experience a much-needed getaway from the higher temperatures in the lowlands. Filled with refreshing rivers, botanical gardens, sacred temples, hikes and incredible tea plantations, this Sri Lankan region doesn’t disappoint. You can even go back in time to the Colonial era with its many tea rooms and English-style hotels.


7. Agra, India

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Best known for its elegant, carved, marble-made and symmetrical temple, the Taj Mahal, Agra is filled with UNESCO world heritage sites, including the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri – known as the “Golden Triangle”. The region attracts millions of tourists every year, in part as well because of its proximity to Delhi and Jaipur.


8.  Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat is an exotic archipelago comprised of beautiful islands, white-sand beaches, lush jungle and stunning islets. As expected, it’s a biological hotspot, being home to one of the most diverse and stunning coral reefs in the world. With plenty of untouched spots it’s perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Raja Ampat is a must-visit destination, especially for those who love ecotourism.


9. Kyoto, Japan

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Kyoto is a great destination to visit as an alternative to busy Tokyo. It has the perfect balance of bustling city, serenity and spirituality, featuring as many as 1,000 Buddhist temples. Think incredible Japanese food, bamboo forests and picturesque city markets.


Explore Asia

A tour of Asia is an amazing trip. The cultures you’ll see, the people you’ll meet, the mesmerising landscapes you’ll witness, the flavours you’ll taste and the wildlife you’ll encounter will stay with you forever.


Sophie is a content strategist and growth marketer. She’s also a yogi, a meditator, and a travel junkie. She gets the best of both worlds by working as she travels, and writes about travelling and living mindfully on her blog, Vuja De View.

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