The most popular travel spots in Asia are also some of the world’s favorite tourist cities. Japan is the only country with three places in the “global top-ten,” but a few other locations in Asia are newcomers to the continent’s most popular towns for tourists to visit. Here’s a quick rundown of the current top four cities to visit in Asia:
Myanmar’s capital city is formally called Yangon, but most people call it by its older name, Rangoon. The country is one of the best-kept secrets in world travel, if only because it takes a bit longer to obtain a visa than for other tourist meccas. The rewards, however, are truly grand. They include some of the best coffee on earth, vegan dairy that tastes better than anything you can buy in a store, historic Buddhist temples virtually untouched for more than a thousand years and extremely friendly locals.
The country used to be called Burma and has had a turbulent political history. Nowadays, things are calm, safe for travelers and comparatively inexpensive. Indeed, if you spend time in Japan, Korea and Thailand before heading to Myanmar, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the low cost of lodging, food and souvenirs. There’s actually an ancient saying about Myanmar’s capital city: “You’ll never forget time spent in Rangoon.”
Second only to Rome as the world’s most beloved travel destination, tourists do need to be reminded that a trip to Japan’s capital city can be pricey and a bit of a logistical challenge. It pays to purchase one of the very inexpensive rail passes before arriving. You can get them online via the national Japanese tourist agency and they’ll save you a ton of money on train fares during a two-week or longer stay.
But with proper budgeting and meal planning it is entirely possible for travelers to spend a few weeks in Tokyo without breaking the bank. The museums, shrines and parks alone are enough to fill a travel itinerary, but other must-see attractions include a stop at a Kabuki theater, a Sumo wrestling match and Tokyo Tower. If you fall in love with Tokyo after a day or two, you’ll be among the millions of other travelers who feel the same way.
The capital of Taiwan, Republic of China, is one of the hidden gems of Asia and has been for more than a hundred years. Many veteran tourists of the Asian continent say that Taiwan is the “real China” because its citizens live under a freely-elected, democratic form of government, as opposed to the Communist-ruled mainland. For travelers that means the freedom to wander the city as you wish and get a close-up look at the authentic Chinese culture.
Ho Chi Minh City
Also commonly called by its old name, Saigon, this Southern Vietnamese hub is enjoying a resurgence of tourism. Most people don’t realize that before the Vietnam War the country was the “Hawaii of Asia” and was beloved by travelers all over the world. Now that the war is long forgotten, Ho Chi Minh City is popping with excitement and night life. The seaside restaurants are world class and local entertainment is lively and works for any budget.