From the arid central deserts of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan to the snow capped mountains of Nepal and the bustling metropolis’ of Hong Kong and Tokyo, nowhere on earth does the ancient meet the modern so vividly and explosively as it does in Asia.
Ancient remnants of long lost civilisations from India to China are as an intrinsic parts of the landscape as the high rise neon skyscrapers of Tokyo. Ancient traditional cultures sit calmly alongside the modern paradigms of communism and consumerism, almost like a metaphor for the melting pot of creeds and religions that span Asia. Buddhism and Hinduism are worshiped beside the relatively recent introductions of Islam and Christianity. As you travel the region you will hear the haunting sounds of the Muezzin calling the faithful to prayer as you catch the smell of scented smoke drifting on the breeze from the incense and joss sticks burning in the numerous shrines and temples throughout each country.
No matter where you go in Asia the food will always be one of your best experiences. With cuisines from Indian Curries to Chinese stir fries that have been adopted across the world and world renowned gastronomic hotspots like Singapore, you will be spoilt for choice.
No matter what your tastes there is something for every backpacker in Asia. If you want to explore ancient ruins and modern wonders of the world head to the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal in Agra, if you want to relax on a sun kissed beach there is Taiwan, a country relatively few Western tourists have yet to find. Whether wildlife spotting down the majestic Mekong or exploring the cultural paradigms of Islam in central Asia is your thing, or you would rather take a culinary tour of the famous regions of China, there will be something here to tempt you.
When to go.
When to go depends invariably on where you go. Asia stretches from the tropical backwaters of Kerala in the South to the frozen wastes and snow covered mountains of Northern Japan and China, with arid deserts, lush lake filled countryside and every type of terrain in between. If you are travelling through Asia, try to avoid public holidays, especially in heavily populated places like China or Japan. Alternatively at least plan to spend a few days wherever you are to enjoy the holiday when one hits, as transport hubs can get insanely crowded, prices shoot up and it can get increasingly difficult to travel.
Depending on the country you go to Asia can either be extremely cheap by western standards in places like India or regions such as South East Asia, or it can be extremely expensive in the major cities of Singapore, China or Japan. Whatever your budget, you will be able to travel through much of Asia relatively easily.
The hardest part is generally the increasingly infuriating bureaucracy that infests the visa application systems of many countries such as China or India. Whilst they rarely pose problems beyond filling in endless forms and waiting for officials to rubber stamp them, they are often annoying nonetheless. Certain parts of central Asia, Afghanistan in particular are still subject to travel advisory warnings and you should research thoroughly the visa process and restrictions on the individual countries you want to visit far in advance of going.