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The 15 Best Places to Visit in Asia in 2024 (Our Favorites)

The 15 Best Places to Visit in Asia in 2024 (Our Favorites)

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Asia, you’ve landed in the right spot. From Japan to Thailand, India to South Korea — prepare to explore dynamic cities buzzing with nightlife or relax on pristine beaches while indulging in delicious cuisine.

15 of the Best Places to Visit in Asia

Who hasn’t dreamed of a trip to Asia? Holy temples and ancient palaces are nestled in buzzing cities and serene jungles. The cultural variations in architecture, dress, and customs are captivating, while regional cuisine offers delightful spicy, sweet, and umami flavors.

It’s a large continent, home to 60% of the world’s population (around 4.7 billion people) and 49 countries. Each one has its own story to tell with awe-inspiring sights that can change the way you see the world — or simply make for an awesome trip. 

But without a clear guide on where to visit while you’re in Asia, you risk missing out on some of the most fascinating cities, villages, and beaches around the continent. Here’s our list of the 15 best places to visit in Asia and what you can expect at each! 

1. Tokyo, Japan

Red exterior walls of the Temple Gate in Tokyo, one of the best places to visit in Asia, on a nice calm evening

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Tokyo’s shrines, zen gardens, and ancient temples contrast with futuristic skyscrapers and crowded streets, highlighted in colorful lanterns and cherry blossoms (sakura) during the springtime, stunning autumn shades during fall, and lush green in summer. 

This is a sophisticated city that remembers its history and knows how to have fun. Sumo wrestling, kabuki and geisha performances, and holy Buddhist temples and shrines are ingrained in its matrix of modern streets and diverse neighborhoods. 

The Roppongi district has a dizzying array of clubs, bars, restaurants, and art galleries, while the historic Asakusa district is culturally rich with the 5-story, bright red Sensō-ji temple, shops, and Tokyo Skytree with incredible views over the city. 

From Tokyo’s famous street food scene and bustling hub for manga, anime, and video game lovers in the neon-lit Akihabara district to fine dining and trendy cafes and coffee shops, there’s something for everyone in this famous Japanese city. 

Read Next: Is Tokyo Safe to Visit in 2024? & The Best Time to Visit Tokyo

2. Bali, Indonesia

Couple standing on the edge of a pool overlooking a tropical jungle in Ubud in Bali, one of Asia's very best places to visit on a vacation there


The Indonesian island of Bali is known as a hotspot for relaxation, spiritual rejuvenation, and a rich culture that’s apparent in its many ancient temples, holy sites, and festivals. Both a backpacker’s paradise and scenic and romantic enough for a honeymoon, this is a must-visit destination in Asia no matter your travel goals. 

Its idyllic beaches, picturesque terraced rice paddies, and stunning temples make it a memorable place to visit. From nightlife in Kuta to yoga classes and retreats on its inviting shores, Bali is a place that can change you. 

Ubud, the spiritual and cultural hub, is home to the Sacred Monkey Forest and the 9th-century Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, Buddhist temple with intimidating faces carved into stone at the entrance. 

Luxurious beaches, bars, restaurants, and art galleries can be found in Seminyak, while the nearby town of Canggu is encircled by terraced rice paddies and close to the 16th-century Tanah Lot seaside temple and Pakendungan Temple. 

Read Next: The Best Areas & Hotels in Bali

3. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Row of sculptures lining the entrance to a template in one of the best places to visit in Asia, Siem Reap in Cambodia

Ivan Soto Cobos/Shutterstock

Best known as the site of the famed Angkor Wat temple complex, Siem Reap sits in the jungles of Cambodia and it’s the place to visit if you want to feel like a true adventurer, exploring temples and ruins. Ancient jungle cities, museums, and historic villages make it an amazing destination in Asia. 

The sprawling Angkor Wat temple complex, located in the city of Angkor dating back to the 12th-century Khmer civilization, should be at the top of your list in Siem Reap. Here, you can tour the largest religious structure in the world by tuk-tuk, bus, scooter, or private car. 

The impressive Bayon Temple is nearby, Ta Prohm Temple is just east, and a lesser-known temple, Beng Mealea, appears seemingly out of nowhere in the dense Cambodian jungle. Archaeologists are still uncovering lost cities in the jungles that tell stories of advanced societies from centuries ago.

Bring it back to the present day with a visit to Pub Street, lined with bars, pubs, and nighttime entertainment, all just down the road from Angkor Wat. 

4. Seoul, South Korea

Gyeongbokgung Palace and its over-water walking path in Seoul, Korea

pairat Pinijkul/Shutterstock

South Korea’s capital, Seoul, marries the modern day with Korea’s storied past in an alluring metropolis that’s less busy and crowded than many of Asia’s other capital cities. It’s the 2,000 year-old cultural hub of South Korea, filled with royal palaces and temples, K-pop music, and natural beauty preserved over the years. 

There’s the 14th-century Gyeongbokgung Palace standing proud in the northern part of the city. The fascinating trapped-in-time Bukchon Hanok Village is an unexpected glimpse of traditional hanok, or Korean homes, in the city with the Changdeokgung Palace another 15 minutes east. 

The food here is delicious and increasingly popular worldwide, like Korean BBQ, kimchi, and shatter-crisp Korean fried chicken. The city’s focus on preserving ancient architecture is juxtaposed with its modern skyscrapers, including the Lotte World and N Seoul towers, where you’ll rise to panoramic city views. 

Don’t miss the National Museum of Korea to learn about the country and city’s history, check out one of the massive street markets for great food and shopping, visit the Jogyesa Temple in the royal quarter, and check out Lotte World theme park for some thrills. 

Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Seoul in 2024

5. Chiang Mai, Thailand

The stunning hilltop palace of the Golden Hall in Chiang Mai, a must-visit place in Asia


Chiang Mai, located in northern Thailand, is one of the best places to visit in Asia for sacred Buddhist temples and beautiful scenery, ranging from rugged mountain views with gleaming temple spires to sacred caves and ancient moats. 

The Old City center of Chiang Mai is home to hundreds of Buddhist temples, so take a day or two to see some of the highlights here, walled in and guarded by ancient moats.

Start with the 14th-century Wat Phra Singh temple, home to the Phra Singh Buddha image, gilded naga (serpent) gables, and a golden, 5-tiered Chedi housing an inner chamber filled with artifacts. 

The 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, ornately designed with its own golden Chedi, Buddha images, and flanked on all sides by giant staircases lined with naga, houses the City Pillar Shrine and stone-carved elephants guarding the Chedi. 

National parks, like Doi Inthanon and Doi Suthep–Pui National Park, are stellar itinerary additions. The latter is where you’ll find the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep golden mountain temple and the Hmong Tribal Village with charming shops and villagers in traditional dress.

On Saturday nights, Wualai transforms into the “Saturday Walking Street” as a night market with street food and shopping. 

Read Next: Is Chiang Mai Safe to Visit? & The Best & Worst Times to Visit Chiang Mai

6. Hoi An, Vietnam

For a roundup on the best places to visit in Asia, a few wooden boats floating on the water outside of the small town of Hoi An


Hoi An, a coastal Vietnamese city with a famed Ancient Town at its heart and a network of canals running through it, is a charming place to visit with bright yellow buildings, bustling markets, craft villages, and cool examples of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and French colonial architecture. 

It’s not exactly a hidden gem — more like a tourist hotspot — but its Ancient Town is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and incredibly beautiful to stroll. At night, the city is illuminated with colorful lanterns that lend an exotic flair and glow to the old architecture in the city center.

Wooden shops, old temples, and colorful, narrow Vietnamese-style “tube houses” are sights to behold, while the busy craft villages are packed with stalls and vendors selling street food and goods of all kinds. It’s a great place to get clothing tailored on the cheap! 

Make sure to see the 16th-century Chùa Cầu covered bridge and its pagoda temple on top, ride bikes out to An Bang Beach, and the stunningly intricate Hoi Quan Phuoc Kien house of worship honoring Thien Hau, a Chinese sea goddess.

Read Next: Best Time to Visit Vietnam in 2024 & What a Trip to Vietnam Costs

7. Luang Prabang, Laos

Hazy street in the old town of Luang Prabang in Laos, a must-visit place when vacationing in Asia


Nestled in a lush mountain valley peninsula in northern Laos, Luang Prabang was once the country’s capital and retains its well-preserved sacred sites from Buddhist temples to solemn monasteries. It’s rich in natural beauty and history alike, making it a stunning spot to visit.

The Mekong and Nam Khan rivers feed the valley’s fertile soils and form Luang Prabang’s abundantly leafy, green landscapes with palm trees fringing the river’s edges. It’s an ideal spot for outdoor recreation, like kayaking, biking, and hiking, through its beauty. 

You’ll find traditional Laotian and French-colonial architecture in this UNESCO World Heritage site, including a huge number of Buddhist temples in the Old Quarter. The ornate Wat Xieng Thong temple demands your attention with its golden gleam and gardens. 

Get outdoors and trek to the 3-tiered Kuang Si Falls or down to the Pak Ou caves, where thousands of Buddha statues and images are placed within the cavern. It’s a great launching point for a Mekong River boat tour to see more of the area! 

Read Next: Is Laos Safe to Visit in 2024? & The Best & Worst Times to Visit Laos

8. Hong Kong, China

Red tourist tram making its way high above the downtown skyline of Hong Kong

ESB Professional/Shutterstock

From the districts of Tung Chung (Lantau Island) to Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon), Hong Kong is incredibly diverse and its neighborhoods each offer a different cultural mix of attractions, shops, restaurants, and activities. Tram rides to Victoria Peak give you a chance to look over it all when you arrive.

Part of Hong Kong’s diversity is its range of landscapes and islands. Check out Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, 200+ smaller islands, the Kowloon Peninsula, and New Territories to explore while you’re here. Bike, hike, and explore markets, galleries, museums, and restaurants across Hong Kong. 

This foodie city ensures there’s never a shortage of yummy regional fare like dim sum, Siu Mei rice, and wontons served in flavorful broths. See nuns chanting and a garden of bonsai trees at the Chi Lin Nunnery in Kowloon, and check out the Mong Kok markets for shopping and street food. 

Shek O Beach looking over Island Bay and rising green hills is absolutely gorgeous on Hong Kong Island. Take day trips to islands like Cheung Chau or Lamma, stopping at boutiques, seafood restaurants, hiking trails, and visiting beaches with caves and amazing coastal views.

Take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car from the bustling Ngong Ping Market on Lantau Island to some of Hong Kong’s best attractions, including the Tian Tan Buddha with its Altar of Heaven model of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, the Tai O Fishing Village, and the Baolian Temple. 

Read Next: Is Hong Kong Safe to Visit? & The Best Time to Visit Hong Kong in 2024

9. Kyoto, Japan

The Old Town area of Kyoto, pictured as one of the best places to go to in Asia, with two local woman with umbrellas walking down the street


Kyoto, Japan isn’t just an anagram for Tokyo — it was once the capital of Japan, just like Tokyo is today. This historic city promises great experiences at its ancient temples and shrines, walking paths through bamboo forests and monkey sanctuaries, and royal palaces. 

Kyoto is what you’d picture old Japan to look like, with many of its traditional wooden houses still standing along stone-paved streets dotted with cherry trees. Visiting its temples, castles, palaces, and shrines will be the highlight of your visit. 

The gilded, 3-story Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji temple, is the most famous, but you shouldn’t skip the 1,200 year-old Kiyomizu-Dera temple and the Kyoto Imperial Palace. It was home to the royal family prior to the Tokyo move and open for tours. 

You can hike or ride a bike along the Philosopher’s Path, lined with cherry trees and following a canal, head to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest for sanctuary, and wander the bustling Nishiki Market downtown for deals, handcrafts, and souvenirs. 

Read Next: The Best & Worst Time to Visit Kyoto in 2024

10. Taipei, Taiwan

Modern glass buildings in downtown Taipei with trains running in front of them

Richie Chan/Shutterstock

Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, calls to travelers who want great food, amazing views, and the chance to explore vast museums, historic temples, and beautiful scenery not far from the city center.

Check out the stunning Chinese Bangka Longshan Temple, visit the impressive Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, then ride to the top of the Taipei 101 tower observatory to experience the city’s sweeping panoramas at sunset. 

Take advantage of buzzing shopping streets, like Dihua Street, before moving on to temples like Guandu and Tamsui. Wander the massive National Palace Museum and the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines next door. You’ll be close to Beitou hot springs nearby to take a relaxing evening soak!

Enjoy an easy hike at Elephant Mountain for great views of Taipei, ride the Maokong gondola, and browse the Ningxia Night Market for goodies and street food to have the ultimate Taipei experience.

Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Taiwan & What a Trip to Taiwan Costs

11. Kathmandu, Nepal

Historic buildings and temples in the Patan Durbar Square in Katamandu, Nepal


Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, is famous for its Old City, home to the Durbar (royal) Square. Here, ancient gilded temples and royal palaces are remarkably well-preserved, and along with other important sites, form the Kathmandu Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site

Wooden Hindu temples, busy local markets operating day and night (like Mangal Bazaar and Asan Bazaar), and stunning views of the Himalayas from various viewpoints around the city make it an unforgettable place to travel in Asia. 

Check out the massive Buddha Stupa, Boudhanath, with its mandala and golden spire near the city center. It’s one of the biggest in the world. The riverfront Pashupatinath Temple honors Pashupati (Shiva), while the hilltop Changu Narayan temple honors Vishnu. 

Thamel, a bustling nightlife district here, is where you’ll find the dance clubs, bars, and trendy restaurants with Nepalese food and international favorites. Check out the local markets for souvenirs and the Garden of Dreams for its stately fountains and urns!

Read Next: Is Nepal Safe to Visit in 2024? & The Best & Worst Times to Visit Nepal

12. Boracay, Philippines

Aerial view of the white sand beach in Boracay, one of the best places to visit in Asia

R.M. Nunes/Shutterstock

If relaxing on a pristine shore of the Philippines appeals to you during your trip to Asia, the island of Boracay should be at the top of your list. While it’s been developed largely over the past few decades, it’s still one of the best tropical beach destinations in Asia — possibly in the world. 

The scenery here is iconic, with coconut palms and clear, aqua waters lapping the sugar-white sands and 12+ beaches lined with resorts, bars, and restaurants along its stunning shores. An observation deck at Mt. Luho, the highest point, will give you incredible views over the island and ocean. 

The highly-developed White Beach in Station 2 is the most popular, but if you’re seeking a little more seclusion, head to Station 1, where you’ll find nice resorts and private beaches that are less crowded. Yapak Beach, or Puka Shell Beach, has coarser sand but rarely sees crowds. 

The Boracay Sunken Forest, or Dead Forest, is an eerily-beautiful place to visit near Bulabag Beach, and you can take a day trip over to Ariel’s Point if you’re up for snorkeling, cliff jumping, diving, and more.

Read Next: What a Trip to the Philippines Costs & Best Time to Visit the Philippines

13. Jaipur, India

Old castle-like walls of one of Asia's best places to visit, Jaipur, pictured overlooking the city far below


Part of the famous Golden Triangle tour route through India, Jaipur is one of the best places to visit in Asia with its iconic pink-hued architecture, royal roots with well-preserved palaces and gardens, and busy markets and restaurants that are culturally distinct. 

Rows of intricately-carved columns line the front of Jaipur’s City Palace complex, which is surrounded by courtyards, lush gardens, and museums you can tour to learn about the royal history. Royals still reside in part of the palace (Madho Niwas) today! 

Jaipur is often called the Pink City because many of its buildings are colored in a distinct pinkish-terracotta color and styled in dramatic ways. The Hawa Mahal palace on the edge of the City Palace complex features 5 levels with hundreds of curved bay windows. 

The city is also the capital of the Rajasthan state, home to great markets like Bapu Bazaar and Sireh Deori Bazaar, where you’ll find everything from handicrafts to jewelry and textiles. Visit the rampart-guarded Amber Fort on a hilltop overlooking Jaipur to complete your stay.

Read Next: The Best Time to Visit India in 2024 & What an Average Trip to India Costs

14. Hanoi, Vietnam

Small red train running through the middle of a bustline city with homes on either side of the tracks, seen at one of Asia's best places to visit, Hanoi

Nuttachai Wantanaboon/Shutterstock

The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, is the country’s cultural and spiritual hub with old temples, traditional markets, and an abundant display of ancient architecture with Vietnamese, Chinese, and French-colonial styles visible around the city. 

The Old Quarter of Hanoi has been transformed into a massive street market, featuring almost 40 streets. Woodwork, street food and cafes, eggshell paintings, silk and textiles, and handicrafts abound here with a lake and pagoda creating a beautiful backdrop. 

You can visit the bright-yellow Hanoi Opera House, fascinating temples like Tran Quoc Pagoda and One Pillar Pagoda, and the captivating Temple of Literature (Văn Miếu), built in 1070 as the first national university in Vietnam. 

Ho Chi Min’s Mausoleum makes for an informative, historic stop, and you’ll be delighted with the different Vietnamese dishes and flavors you can try across Hanoi. Bun rieu (crab noodle soup), traditional Pho, and Nem nuong nha trang (pork spring rolls) will be favorites!

15. Beijing, China

The Temple of Heaven viewed from the steps leading up to it for a list of the best places to visit in Asia


As China’s ancient capital and some of the richest history in Asia, Beijing is an incredible place to visit. There are 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites here, including the Great Wall of China, the Temple of Heaven, and the fascinating Forbidden City. 

Come to Beijing to immerse yourself in Chinese culture and see its historic roots, dating back over 3,000 years before the initial unification of China. You’ll see structures as old as the 12th century, like the Tianning Temple pagoda and the Drum Tower north of Beijing’s Forbidden City palace complex.

The Forbidden City is amazing to explore and tour with a guide, who can point out the significance of the different imperial palaces, temples, gardens, and opulent halls, some guarded by gilded lions and dragons, copper tortoises and cranes, and bronze elephants. 

Head to the Great Wall of China (20-minute high-speed train ride), see the solemn reminder of Tiananmen Square with the mausoleum of Mao and the National Museum of China, and indulge in Chinese cuisine at its famed Wangfujing Snack Street and the Dongcheng district, just outside of the Forbidden City.

Frequently Asked Questions

Giant Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tubet, one of the best places to visit in Asia


Wondering what else you should know to start planning the Asian trip of a lifetime? Here are the most frequently asked questions that travelers like you had about places to visit in Asia. 

Which is the best country to visit in Asia?

Japan is one of the best countries to visit in Asia because it offers stunning, traditional architecture in Buddhist temples, shrines, and homes, modern cities, and beautiful natural landscapes that contrast nicely with the upturned roofs of tiered pagodas.

From Tokyo to Kyoto, Japan is filled with incredible places to visit and each city and village offers a different cultural mix and glimpse into the country’s history.

Which part of Asia is most beautiful?

Beauty is subjective, but many consider Southeastern Asia to be the most beautiful part of the continent because of its diverse geography with mountains, plains, islands, rivers, and oceans in tropical and sub-tropical climates that create steamy jungles to Himalayan tundras.

Southeast Asia is home to several of the best places to visit in Asia, including Siem Reap, Cambodia, Bali, Indonesia, Luang Prabang, Laos, Boracay, Philippines, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Hanoi and Hoi An, Vietnam.

Where should I go for my first time in Asia?

Thailand is a great place to go for your first time in Asia, offering several world-class cities, amazing temple complexes and ruins to tour, and traditional street markets and Thai cuisine that is delicious and familiar to the American palate.

Chiang Mai is a great place to start your adventure in Thailand, where lots of expats live along Nimmanhemin Road with its trendy cafes, bars, and shops. You’ll be able to tour 14th-century golden Buddhist temples, hike mountain trails, and explore tiny hill villages with local tribes offering crafts for sale.

What is the most visited destination in Asia?

Hong Kong is the most-visited destination in Asia, welcoming nearly 30 million tourists in the span of one year, according to recent data from Statista. Bangkok, Thailand comes in a distant second place with 24.1 million visitors.

Hong Kong’s amazing diversity makes it a popular place for international travelers, who can hang out on Hong Kong Island, Lanau Island, smaller offshore islands for day trips and outdoor recreation, and enjoy the culture, food, and attractions.

Which is the no. 1 country in Asia?

China is the largest, most populous country in Asia with some of the oldest history and architecture found on the continent. In terms of sightseeing and ease of travel, many consider Thailand or Japan to be the best countries in Asia for tourists to visit.

Consider your budget, sightseeing and cuisine preferences, ease of travel and booking, and preferred travel dates to pick the #1 country in Asia for your trip.

The Best Places to Visit in Asia: Final Thoughts

From Tokyo to Beijing and unique islands, villages, and historic sites in between, the vast wonder of Asia makes it one of our favorite places to visit on international travels. With the 15 best places to visit in mind, you’ll be able to plan a memorable trip that hits all the highlights! 

Stay realistic with your itinerary and budget — you may not able to tour every place on this list, but it’s nice to group a few nearby locations together for a grand Asian adventure that takes you through some of the continent’s most historic and culturally rich areas.