Asia is a continent so large and diverse it is almost impossible to describe its overall characteristics. As planet earth’s largest continent it covers an impressive 30% of the world's total land area and is home to an amazing 60% of the world’s population. A vacation to Asia is the ultimate journey through cultures, traditions, landscapes and histories, with a vast array of countries each with their own unique atmospheres and cultural offerings. With boundaries on the Pacific, the Arctic and Indian Oceans, Asia is separated from Europe by the Turkish Straits, Ural and Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, and from Africa by the Suez Canal. Due to its sheer magnitude and diversity, Asia is more often used as a geographical term than as a description of a homogenous continent with countries as contrasting as Jordan and Indonesia or China and India each belonging to this vast landmass.
The continent is split into six regions: Central Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, Russia & the Caucasus, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Historically, it is the birthplaces of some of the world’s first civilisations, such as the civilisation of the Indus Valley, therefore the continent has some of the richest history imaginable, as seen in the plentiful ancient sites such as the temples of Bagan in Myanmar and the ancient capital of Ayutthaya in Thailand or the Ajanta Caves of India. Travellers have been increasingly drawn to embarking on tours to Asia thanks to the diversity and ease of travel between countries on the epic landmass, making multi-centre vacations in Asia a perfect choice for intrepid explorers.
Highlights of Asia
Being such an immense continent, Asia is proudly home to a plethora of must-see sites, natural wonders and cultural attractions. The world’s highest mountain, the iconic Mount Everest, located on the border between Tibet and Nepal can be found here, as well as the world’s lowest point, in the Dead Sea of Jordan and Israel. Asia’s largest river, the Yangtze runs through China and is a popular destination for river cruises. The continent’s size ensures a variety of climatic zones, from the dusty deserts of Rajasthan in India to snow-capped Mount Fuji in Japan and the idyllic tropical beaches of Thailand, each producing their own unique natural wonders.
Of course, the number of both historical and natural points of interest in the continent is dizzying and includes iconic spectacles such as the Taj Mahal in India, the ancient Angkor Wat Temples of Cambodia, the phenomenal Great Wall of China, the mysterious Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol in the Philippines, the jungles of Borneo, famously home to orangutans, tranquil Halong Bay in Vietnam and the paradise Atolls of the Maldives. Many of Asia’s top attractions have been recognised as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, and travellers on a package tour to Asia are often focused on ticking these monumental destinations off of their bucket lists.
What to expect in Asia
As the birthplace of many of the worlds largest religions, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Taoism, Asia boasts a multitude of spiritual monuments and places of pilgrimage. From the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka to the sacred ghats and River Ganges in Varanasi, India and the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Japan, this continent is a paradise of sacred sites and monuments. You can expect to be charmed by the dedication of the monks of Luang Prabang in Myanmar as they collect their alms at dawn, and captivated by the majesty of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Enormous super-cities are another hallmark of this continent, with fast-paced and colourful Bangkok in Thailand crowned the most-visited city in the world. Other megacities on the continent include Delhi, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai and Manila. Outside of the cities, nature abounds and Asia is home to amazingly diverse wildlife. Nature lovers on a trip to Asia can discover endangered pandas in a few select mountain ranges in China, the elusive Bengal tigers in India’s Ranthambore National Park, Sri Lanka’s wild elephants and the Komodo dragons of Indonesia. With such diverse wildlife, geography and climate, it is unsurprising that Asian cuisine is among the most varied in the world and boasts a plethora of delicious flavours and delicacies, each unique to their particular countries and regions. From the mouth-watering dim-sum dumplings of China to the flavoursome curries of India and delightful steaming bowls of pho in Vietnam, a tour of Asia is a journey for the tastebuds as well as the rest of the senses.
The variety of experiences on the continent is inconceivable and a trip to Asia is sure to excite even the most intrepid traveller with its changing scenery, exquisite historical monuments and cultural variety. Asia is a continent so diverse that it can be considered a world within itself.