The Orient has always had a mystique for Westerners that has drawn visitors for centuries. It began with Marco Polo regaling readers with tales of his travels to China in the 13th century. This led to merchants and missionaries spreading goods and religion throughout the continent.
People like de Gama, Adams and Huyghen van Linschoten further opened the Far East to the West, leading to Goa, Hong Kong and Macau flourishing. Asia will assault your senses – the culture shock making it a bucket-list destination for serious world travelers.
Here are some of the places that must be visited when traveling through the Orient.
Spending a gap year abroad is a rite of passage for most teenagers once they finish with secondary school. While Europe was the original destination of choice, Asia has supplanted it as the destination of choice for people on a gap year. Thailand is one of the most popular destinations due to its sunny weather, wealth of beaches and exciting nightlife.
While the capitol Bangkok is the major metropolitan destination, smaller beach communities like Hua Hin and Pattaya are just as enjoyable. Visitors should speak with a real estate agent before going to find a vacation rental to be assured of there being Western amenities like toilets.
Tokyo may be one of the most exciting places in all of Asia to visit. There are the bright lights and bustle of the city which can be a shock to the system. Technology lovers can find all the latest gadgets that Japan is known for producing. Lovers of nature can take day trips to visit the countless hot springs or hike up Mount Fuji.
Of course, it goes without saying that foodies will be in heaven with all options for great sushi or eating yakitori or ramen from street vendors. While Tokyo may be one of the most expensive cities to visit, travelers are sure to return home changed for the better from being exposed to all that Tokyo has to offer.
These two ports cities are both Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China. Macau was founded by the Portuguese while Hong Kong was originally British. Macau is like the Las Vegas of the Orient, with several casinos that have to be seen to be believed. Hong Kong is more businesslike with many international companies having headquarters there.
Hong Kong is also notable for its tradition of film making. It is where stars such as Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan all got their start and to this day there are films constantly being made. Both of these cities are also a quick drive to Guangzhou (Canton) which is the largest metropolitan area in China. It is also where the familiar Western take on Chinese food originated.
Home to over 1.2 billion people, India is simply too large to pick one place to visit. Cities like Mumbai and Kolkata are located near the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal respectively. The capitol Delhi is a short trip to Agra, home of the majestic Taj Mahal. Many Europeans love India because of the lasting influence of the British Raj giving it a slight Western feel at times.
With Buddhism and Hinduism being the major religions, it is a great place for visitors looking for something spiritual. The country is so vast it is possible to experience tropical weather in places like Goa while also being able to enjoy more alpine weather in places like Patna near the foothills of the Himalayas. With so much to see and do in India, visitors could easily spend the entirety of their gap year exploring all the country has to offer.
Taking a trip through Asia is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will change a traveler’s perspective of the world.
From the bright lights of Tokyo to the relaxed party atmosphere of Thailand; from the spiritual solemnity of India to the sinful excess of Hong Kong and Macau, Asia offers something for everyone.
It is a continent completely different than anywhere in the West, but one that any serious traveler must see at least once in their life.