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Asia is the continent to end all continents. Well, that’s not exactly true, but when you look at economic clout, size and population, Asia is the powerhouse of the world, and is therefore a prime destination for travel. The following guide is a beginner’s manual for the most popular topics for those who are wishing to travel to Asia, and some of what they should expect. With the following information you should be able to make an informed decision to start your plans for a trip to this magnificent place.
If Asia where to have a prom queen it would be Thailand. Every year more people visit Thailand than any other country in Asia. Thailand travel is actually one of the most popular destinations in the world. While these visitors come from all over the world many of them arrive from nearby Australia. People come to Thailand to experiences the tropical beaches, the sun, the food and the culture, which, historically is very old. Thai’s have a fierce sense of independence and they are very nationalistic. If you have ever dreamed of a Tropical Asian vacation, Thailand is it. However the only real drawback to the country is the fact that so many people go there. It’s pretty touristy.
In all fairness, you can have a bad experience anywhere in the world, but when you are traveling abroad, especially of you are obviously American; you should keep track of the news. Asia can be tumultuous continent, and keeping a breast of the shifting political climate will ensure that you stay safe and have a great time.
Obviously we all know about China. It is one of the world’s largest countries and is home to a fifth of the world’s population. This has made China more like a different planet then a different country. Of course the government there is still officially communist, a better term might be ‘a centrally planned command economy’. For instance, you will be relatively free to go where you please in the country without distractions from police. But the moment you step out of line, there will be a Chinese police officer there to put you back in. That said, China has everything, an amazing and diverse cuisine, a cultural diversity that rivals Europe, amazing landmarks like The Great Wall and easily the most friendly people you’ll meet anywhere on earth. In short, China, is a must see.
Singapore is like that friend of yours that managed to clean up his act after high school and become a millionaire. While, it has never lost its status as a capital for world trade, it has in fact traded its previous incarnation of pirates, opium dens and vice, for one of order, cleanliness and modern amenities. And, in many ways, Singapore is one of the most Asian places on earth. Because it does attract so much business, you’ll find a population made up of about every single Asian nationality…and thusly, you’ll be able to find anything you want here. In fact, Singapore is more like Epcot center, then your friend.
If China is a strange other planet, then Japan is its even stranger mood. Japan travel is one truly trippy experience and one that everyone should experience if they are able. Japan is as modern a society as they come. With massive cities and a population that treats new technology like it was the daily newspaper, you’ll be absolutely blown away. In short Japan is one step ahead of us in EVERYTHING. From fashion, to movies, to food, to technology, just about everything starts in Japan first.
But, be warned, if you are uncomfortable with crowds, you may want to avoid this country, you will be constantly bumping and pressing into people. Folks there are just used to it, but you might not be. Also, there are cultural norms in Japan that we might find disturbing (cartoons called Rapeman for instance) but you have to realize that Japan is much safer than America, so you should not be scared.
There is absolutely no country in the world that looks like Indonesia. Firstly, it is a multi-nation state. This means that within all areas that are governed by the (rather authoritarian) Indonesian government you will find many different races and religion and cultures. The language is the same though, several years back, the Indonesian government created a uniform language for all to speak. It was crafted so well, many people say you can learn it in a month.
This is great news for a traveler, but it should also be a point of caution. The government here has been pretty tough on these diverse populations, and you should avoid problem areas. Apart from that, 90% of the country is perfectly safe. Most of this diversity stems from the fact that the country is an archipelago and you can island hop fairly cheaply from one completely unique culture to another. Another interesting fact about Indonesia, is that it is the 3rd most populated country in the world, and the majority of this population is Muslim.
Malaysia is like a toned down version of Indonesia. The country is pluralistic, with influences from several different populations including, Chinese, Malay, Indian and just about everything else. If you are looking for Urbanity at its most feverish, head to Kuala Lumpur, if beaches are more your thing, Malaysia has plenty of them. Malaysia is also a high tech center for the entire region, in much the same way Japan leads with culture, Malaysia leads with economy. This is one wealthy place; so don’t be expecting to pay developing world prices here.
The Philippines is probably the forgotten country on most people’s travel list…why that is blows my mind. The country is safe, cheap, beautiful, and there is so much to do. In fact there are over 7,000 islands that make up this country, and each one of them is special. In fact, the only negative thing I could say about the Philippines is that a natural disaster about every 20 minutes hits the country. Sure that’s an exaggeration, but the country does see its fair share of natural strife. If you are brave and you pick you time right, you’ll have the time of your life there, and best of all, you’ll be able to do so for four times as long because the country is so cheap.
The name itself strikes up so much feeling in any potential traveler it makes your hairs stand on end. Eschewing the authoritarian cleanliness of Singapore, HK, is truly THE international city, and as a result it is an economic and cultural quagmire. But that is a good thing. This small island is packed full of so many people (many of home are rich beyond your comprehension) that you’ll feel like an ant in an ant colony. You can get anything you would ever want in HK and you can get it at any price (which is a little baffling as well). What makes HK even cooler is the colonial influence left over from the British, the cultural and architectural mix will have your head spinning. There’s nothing more to say really. HK is amazing, and there are few words that can describe it.
India’s only rival in Asia is China. With a population growing much faster than that of its massive northern neighbor, India is poised to become THE major player in the world economy. Over the past 50 years, it has survived the vacuum left by the ousting of the British, A civil war between its Muslim and Hindu populations and many natural disasters to become the new leader in information technology.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, you are not going to travel to India to go sit and watch some 23-year-old, hammer out programming code. You want the traditional experience, and there is still plenty of that. From the food, to the people, to climate, India is a shocking…there is no other way to put it. Many people who travel here leave after a couple days, citing heat, and smell as two things they can’t handle. But those who are strong always end up saying that India changed their life forever.