Spectacular Sites to Visit on Your First Trip to Asia
Asia is home to many of the most exotic and ancient destinations in the world. You’ll find thoroughly modern cities that have global significance as well as villages where little has changed in 100+ years. It’s a part of the planet that’s rooted in ancient traditions, many of which have helped preserve the spectacular landscape.
You could spend months exploring just one Asian country and still not come close to seeing all the wonders worth seeing. If you only have a week or two and have never visited Asia before, here are three countries to consider a few things you have to do while there.
Things to Do and Experience in Singapore
Singapore isn’t typically at the top of the tourist destination list, but it should be. The island city-state at the south end of Malaysia offers a unique experience that’s perfect for Westerners that haven’t traveled to Asia. The population is multicultural with many expats and Europeans now calling the city home.
Singapore’s tourism department is clearly trying to attract tourism from countries in the Western Hemisphere. After all, there is a Universal Studios theme park.
Things to do and experience in Singapore:
Relax with a round of golf. Did you know you can book golf courses in Singapore on golfscape.com? The stunning oceanside courses are one example of how Singapore caters to visitors from the West.
Take a walk through the Gardens by the Bay. This natural park is absolutely breathtaking. It’s the perfect place to stop and take a break after hours of shopping and museum hopping in central Singapore.
Take a trip to Chinatown. Don’t have time to travel to China during your trip? When you’re in Singapore you don’t have to go far to get a taste of what the country is like. Roughly 75% of the population in Singapore is Chinese, and historic Chinatown is where the culture is on full display.
Things to Do and Experience in Thailand
Thailand is my adopted home, so I may be a little biased. But it’s hard not to be impressed with the pristine beaches, palaces and temples through the country. What really makes Thailand so special is the people. They are warm, friendly and helpful, which is important if you only speak English.
Things to do and experience in Thailand:
Get a tailored suit. Seriously, Thailand’s tailors are among the best in the world and it’s much less expensive than trying to buy a tailored suit in Europe.
Explore the underground cave shrines. In Kanchanaburi and Phetchaburi you’ll find Buddhist shrines that aren’t out in the open. Instead, you must venture into caves, which is an experience worth having all on its own.
Dive with whale sharks in Koh Tao. There are dozens of beach towns on not one but two coasts in Thailand. Each one offers something different, but Koh Tao tops my list. It’s one of the few places in the world where you can dive with whale sharks, if you’re brave enough. If not, you can still visit with the robust population of expats while sipping a drink on the beach.
Things to Do and Experience in Japan
There is nowhere else in the world like Japan. It’s a blend of super futuristic pop culture and ancient Asian culture coming together. Because there are 23 U.S. military bases in Japan, there’s also a strong American presence in several cities.
Things to do and experience in Japan:
Swing by the Olympic sites. Right now visitors will get a glimpse of the multi-billion dollar construction projects that are underway for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Unless you plan to visit again, it’s probably the closest you’ll come to seeing the Olympics in person.
Walk through the red gates of the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. If anyone you know has visited Japan, there’s a good chance you saw a picture of them on Instagram walking through thousands of vermilion torii gates behind the shrine. The gates are located along a trail that leads into the forest of Mount Inari.
Climb Mount Fuji . . . or at least go see it. Between July and September, thousands of tourists scale the side of Mount Fuji. Some do it because they’re avid climbers, others want to get an amazing photo and some people just want to be able to say they set foot on the famed UNESCO World Heritage site.