Continuing on with our series for the top 100 Places to Visit in Asia, here is part two. Just like part two, all locations are recommended and described by professional travel experts. If you enjoy our series, be sure to share!
21. Taj Mahal, India
Flickr Credit: Toni Lara
Text from Shane of The Travel Camel. Spend a whole day at the Taj Mahal and witness how the light plays with the colour of the white marble. In the morning, it holds a pink hue, which changes to beige, cream and a blinding white in the middle of the day. Later, the colour shifts from ivory, yellow, a soft orange at sunset, and grey at dusk. I have never seen a building take on so many colour moods in a day. Take time to admire the architecture: its line, form, symmetry, carvings, gardens and onion-shaped domes, and you will believe that the Taj Mahal is the most beautiful building ever created.
22. Bohol, Philippines
Text and photo from Steph of Every Steph. Even if you only have limited time in Philippines, make sure to include Bohol in your itinerary. Alona Beach is the most famous destination for beach lovers, as this is one of those white sand beaches fringed by palm that you see in the glossy magazines. Take a countryside day trip to the Chocolate Hills, an amazing (and pretty weird) wonder of nature, then meet the tarsiers at The Tarsier Sanctuary, or go ziplining in this famous ecotourism destination. You prefer chasing waterfalls? No worries, you can do so at Mag-Aso Falls. You see? There’s something for everyone in Bohol.
23. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Text and photo from Nick of The Crowded Planet. Divers and lovers of marine life should definitely travel to Raja Ampat – this small archipelago off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia, is believed to be one of best places in the world in terms of marine biodiversity. In just one dive, I saw more than in all the other 30 dives of my life combined, and the corals were in excellent shape. Besides diving, there’s a lot to do in Raja Ampat – another highlight was visiting Pianemo, a group of small coral islets in a pristine emerald bay. You can climb up to one of the islets and get this wonderful view!
24. Osaka, Japan
Text and photo from Aleah of Solitary Wanderer. Osaka may not be as popular a destination in Japan as Tokyo, but there are loads to do there that make it worth your while to visit this year. First off, for those with kids (or are kids at heart), there’s Universal Studios Japan. Harry Potter fans would love the Wizarding World; it has the only black lake worldwide, and the rides will make you experience what it feels like to be on a broomstick. Even just walking around USJ is a pleasure. There’s so much to see, eat, and experience.
Shopaholics would have the time of their life in Osaka, with Dotonbori providing everything you could ever want, from clothes and shoes, to luggage, accessories, and electronics, in a range of budgets. Some stores offer tax-free merchandise, too. And of course, foodies would have no problem looking for the best Japanese food in Osaka. All the ramen I’d had paled in comparison to the one served in a hole in the wall ramen place near our hotel.
Osaka doesn’t lack of other tourist attractions, too, from the Osaka Castle and the Umeda Sky Building to the number of museums and parks in the city. There are also a number of day trip destinations in the Kansai Region, including Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe. If you’re looking for a place to visit in Japan this year, make it Osaka!
25. Lake Baikal, Russia
Text and photo from Dariece of Goats On The Road. If you’re planning a trip to Russia, or if you embarking on the epic Trans-Siberian Railway journey, then Lake Baikal should be firmly planted on your itinerary. At a depth of 5,000 feet, this is the deepest lake in the world! A trip to this Siberian lake wouldn’t be complete without visiting the largest island on the lake, Olkhon Island. The island may be large (it’s 45 miles long), but there are only 1,500 people living here! The locals here are mostly Buryat people who believe in Shamanism.
On the island your days will be filled with swimming in the impossibly clear water – water so clean that people actually drink straight from the lake. You can also check out a banya (Russian sauna), or take a trip around the island – which we highly recommend. Hop in a typical Russian van and set off with other backpackers to see the northern reaches of Olkhon Island. On the way you’ll pass through little villages and forests before arriving at Cape Khoboi, which is a sacred place. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can camp along the shores of Lake Baikal, but be prepared to accept a lot of vodka from the locals!
26. Sipadan Island, Malaysia
Text and photo from Lina & David Stock of Divergent Travelers. The ultimate in diving destinations, the islands located off the coast of Sabah, Borneo offer up some of the best dive sites in the world. While it is no longer possible to stay on the island of Sipadan, visitors will often stay on the nearby island of Mabul. While it is not Sipadan, the waters surrounding Mabul, nearby Siamil and Kapalai offer spectacular muck diving and a wide variety of species on display. Day permits are issued on a first come, first served basis that allow you to spend a day diving the coveted Sipadan. This ocean volcano offers a protected wonder of underwater enchantment with 600m wall drops, thick coral embankments and insane numbers of large pelagic species, famously including Hammerhead Sharks. Diving in Sipadan is not only one of the top places to dive in the world but also one of the Top 100 Travel Adventures to have in the world.
27. Jyrgalan, Kyrgyzstan
Text and photo from Alesha & Jarryd of NOMADasaurus. No trip to Asia would be complete without travelling to Kyrgyzstan, the mountainous nation in Central Asia. From fascinating cultures to welcoming people, this country is incredible. But the real highlight is for those looking for adventure! The trekking in Kyrgyzstan is simply epic, and you can go from a few hours to weeks at a time, exploring glacial lakes, high peaks and alpine rivers.
28. Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan
Text and photo from Michelle of Cheeky Passports. Hanging on a sheer cliff face overlooking a lush green valley, Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan is the most spectacular monastery in the country. The site is thought to be the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan and legend has it that Guru Rinpoche arrived there on a flying tiger in order to subdue a local demon. Unless you also have access to a flying tiger, you need to trek uphill for about two hours to reach the monastery. You can also ride a horse for part of the way up and hike the rest. Although getting to the monastery is relatively challenging, the experience is unforgettable and no trip to The Land of the Thunder Dragon is complete without a visit to Tiger’s Nest!
29. Sa Pa, Vietnam
Text and photo from Jessica of How Dare She. Sa Pa should not be skipped when visiting Vietnam. It is located in the Northeast of the country, easily accessed from Hanoi. The rolling hills house several tribes, waterfalls, rice terraces and non-stop stunning views. You can explore on your own by rental car or motorbike or book several day tours departing out of Hanoi. Homestays are available in the valley and if you are going to do the hike, the $1 mud boots are worth the rental. The hikes are long and definitely not easy, but the views are worth it.
30. Taipei, Taiwan
Text from Janet of Journalist On The Run. Taiwan’s capital city is one of the most surprising destinations in Asia. While not talked about or visited as much as Asian hotspots like Hanoi or Bangkok, this actually adds to the appeal of the city. From ascending Taipei 101, which used to be the tallest building in the world, and taking in panoramic views of the city, to meandering through endless food markets back on street level, there is wonder to be seen and tasted everywhere you look. One of the best experiences you can have in Taipei is learning to make and taste traditional Chinese tea, an hour long process that can be taught to you at the top of one of the nearby mountains. Be sure to spend a day exploring Taipei’s beautiful temples, especially Longshan Temple, one of the oldest on the city. Taipei can get quite cold and wet in the winter months and packed during the summer so it’s best to visit during the spring or fall.
PART 4 COMING SOON!