There’s something about Asia that makes it strangely attractive. Something about it makes it so alluring that I believe every traveler must at least visit one of the places in this huge continent.
When I first left North America to a little island known as Singapore over 10 years ago, I had no idea what Asia was really about. Yes my parents were from Hong Kong, and hence I grew up in an “Asian” family…but really I had no clue what this part of the world was really about.
I was born in a small border town in Canada across from Detroit City. I grew up to listening to Pearl Jam and watching hockey games, and waking up at 5:00 am to shovel my car out of the snow. That was all I knew at the time, shockingly about the rest of the world…
Really I had no clue, only little hints that I got about what Asia was when …
I heard it on the news that all the action was in Asia – world cup was in Japan and South Korea at the time, while Hong Kong, China, and Singapore was hit hard by SARS. I heard it from school that it was the place to be as it is economically “booming”, where China has been growing rapidly while the four Asian Tigers: South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore were becoming prosperous nations. I heard it from my dad and grandma about how they still had family members living in their rural hometown village in mainland China, and strangely they knew who I was, but I had no clue who they were.
And after living abroad in Asia and travelling endlessly (and still travelling), I think I finally understand what makes Asia truly special from the rest of the world. Here are my 5 reasons why you must travel to Asia right now…if you don’t visit at least one place in Asia, then you will be missing out big time!
1.) Asia Has Something for Everyone
There is something for everyone in Asia.
If you are an extreme adventurer, there’s a whole bunch of things to fill your taste such as hiking through Mt Huashan in China – notably rated as one of the most dangerous hiking trails in the world. Maybe you are a back backer, well its a back backpacker’s dream come true, such as back backing across South East Asia to the likes of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Beaches are another awesome site, to the dreamy beaches of Bali, to even the surprising beaches in Okinawa Japan…if you are a beach junkie you will be spoiled for choice.
And for all those shopaholics out here, get ready for all the street night markets and mega malls throughout this entire region. Wander and get bargains from the endless markets you come across in China, to the weekend markets you see in Bangkok, Thailand. At the same time, satisfy your credit card by making a journey to the shopping meccas in this region: Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok!
And what about those with family, or those that are retirees? Well Asia is also tame enough to provide family entertainment such as Disney Tokyo, to the Singapore Night Safari.
I hope you get my point, no matter what your tastes are, there is something for everyone here in Asia. So now you have no excuses.
2.) Comfortable Discomfort
What I mean by comfortable discomfort is that you need to get out of your comfort zone and see and experience something completely different in your life. That is what makes Asia so exciting. The other day I was talking to one of my readers of my blog, and he described what his first trip to Asia was like: “Strange but fascinating”.
I totally agree with this statement.
Back in 2003 when I first left North America, my first ever taste of Asia was in Hong Kong. And everything I saw was so different and intriguing. The subway trains were so high tech and efficient, the McDonald’s menu’s were so different and strange, the streets were so packed with people and the apartments were so tiny. Even the people sported strange hairstyles (almost like high class mullets to me). Almost everything I needed to snap a picture of….simply because I really felt like I was in a totally different world and wanted to document everything!
This is the essence of venturing into Asia, it is the chaos of this cultural shock of the unexpected. It is almost like you will expect a surprise just waiting to happen in every corner. Even now, after travelling throughout Asia all these years, I still get this adrenaline thrill of expecting the unexpected.
I think the best way to sum up this experience is how it feels like when you were a 5 year old kid and how the world you knew at the time was so mysterious and intriguing.
By getting out of your comfort zone and going out there to experience it all, you will then really learn to understand and appreciate the unique cultures in this fragmented, complex part of the world. And I think this is the key to it all.
3.) A Blended Reality of Cultures, a Wonderland of FOOD, and a Rich Heritage
What I find amazingly fascinating about Asia is that this part of the world is extremely fragmented and complex, but yet people here “relatively” co-exist together peacefully. And with such a diversity of cultures, you will be sure to expect some amazing food here! Normally what you find in the Southern countries of Asia are super spicy food packed with chilies and curries, while more subtle and raw tastes you get in the East Asian countries like Japan.
If you look into the history, much of this heritage is retained, passed on from family generations to the next. The history in China and India alone, spans for over a few thousand years B.C.! Just imagine the historical significance of that alone.
Impressive historical sights are everywhere in Asia, from the Great Wall of China, to the Taj Mahal in India.
4.) Its Pretty Cheap To Travel Around
On average, it is pretty cheap to travel around in Asia.
Even with the more expensive cities such as Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, in reality, its still quite affordable. In general, the currency here is low enough for Western countries to have more spending power here in Asia.
And with the boom in the raising middle class here in Asia, there is a growing demand for travel, and therefore you will find a huge network of budget airlines that serve this region, that makes travel extremely affordable. Such popular budget airlines in Asia include Air Asia, Jetstar Asia, and Tigerairways.
In addition to that, there is an extensive array of budget hotels, homestays and inns that helps make accommodation affordable. Sites such as Agoda.com also make finding a hotel that much easier and affordable in Asia.
And once again, the street markets and amazing street food is what helps offsets a lot of the costs.
My personal opinion is that on a whole, it is still pound for pound cheaper and much more affordable to be traveling in Asia than in the European Union. But that’s just my opinion…visit Asia and verify it yourself!
5.) The Energy
The world’s population is about 7 billion people. The population in Asia is about 4 billion people.
Think about that for a second, over half of the world’s population is residing in Asia, with the two most populous countries (China and India) anchoring it all!
Think about how life is like here. It can be slow and it can be extremely fast paced.
When its slow, it’s like taking a slow boat down the Mekong River in Laos and taking the time to reflect. When its slow, its like sitting on the white powdered beaches of Phuket. When its slow, it’s like hiking your way up to the summit view of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.
But when its fast, the pace and speed at things happen is phenomenal. When I first visited China in 2003, it was already considered light years ahead from when it opened up in the 90’s. And just a few years ago in 2012 when I re-visited China, it has completely changed again, with a never ending array of building cranes putting together the next massive sky scraper. And when you go into Tokyo, Japan, you will be faced with over one hundred different train routes in its sophisticated subway train network crisscrossing through the city – all on time and never late.
Whatever it is, slow or fast, there is a certain energy from it. It could be the energy of the streets of Bangkok that brings the life to the city. Or it could be the energy of the peacefulness you feel in the tropical paradise of Bali.
And the point is, this speed at which life moves here reflects the pulsating lively energy you will feel the moment you land in Asia. Its so hard to describe, but once you land somewhere, no matter where it is in Asia, you will know what I mean.
My Final Thoughts
I hope this post encourages you to consider that your next trip will be somewhere in Asia. If you are already planning for your trip to Asia, then awesome! But if you are still deciding or on the fence….just take a leap of faith and just jump into the deep end. You will not regret it.
If you have been to Asia before, please do share your thoughts on what were some of your experiences and what you loved about Asia so that others can benefit from your experiences.
For those who have not been to Asia yet, I hope you find this post to be informative and hope it inspires you to give Asia a try.
Can you relate to this post in any shape or form?
Just reply with your thoughts in the comments below or shoot me an email! I would like to hear back from you!