Geishas in Kyoto's Gion district.
Geishas in Kyoto's Gion district. CONTRIBUTED

Asia’s seven best destinations

AUSTRALIAN travellers can't get enough of Asia.

It's a paradise overflowing with food and culture, home to pristine beaches and bustling cities and it's the ideal destination for a relaxing escape or an action-packed adventure tour.

Australia's proximity to this vastly diverse continent means travellers can be walking on the white sandy beaches of the Philippines, devouring dim sum in Hong Kong or soaking up the culture of Japan after a relatively short flight and minimum jetlag.

To celebrate this great region that continues to surprise and mesmerise even the most seasoned traveller, following feedback from travellers Flight Centre has put together its pick of the Asian destinations that showcase the different sides to Asia.

BEST FOR FOOD: HONG KONG

Famous for its glittering high rises that flank the harbour and bustling city, Hong Kong is equally renowned as the food capital of Asia thanks to its stunning array of street food, Michelin Star restaurants and everything in-between. Speak to anyone who has visited Hong Kong and they will always mention the food first; whether it's the delicious array of dim sum, dumplings and the soupy Xiao Long Bao, crispy roasted Peking Duck or the city's ridiculously popular egg tarts. Though it's not just local cuisine and Chinese food that's on offer, Hong Kong is a city that overflows with culture and travellers can delight in cuisines from around the world including Korean, Indian, French and Italian as well as some of the best steakhouses in all of Asia.

BEST FOR CULTURE: JAPAN

Japan is a fascinating country and its culture is like that of another world. Different to other Asian cultures, Japanese culture has been developed over thousands of years, is steeped in history and continues to evolve. Geisha's, samurai, Zen gardens and Japanese tea ceremonies often spring to mind when it comes to Japanese culture but it's much more dynamic and distinct. Even the most jaded traveller can be overcome by the beauty of the country and its distinct culture, from the traditional to the evolving and contemporary.

BEST FOR BEACHES: PHILIPPINES

With more than 7,000 islands and more beaches than you could ever dream of relaxing on, the Philippines has a beach to suit every taste and travellers who are craving pristine waters, white sand and tropical islands won't want to look any further than the Philippines. For those who crave the party island life and don't mind crowds of tourists then Boracay is your bet, if you're keen to get back to nature and be one with the ocean and its creatures head to Palawan for an encounter with the majestic whale sharks, if you're simply craving you're own stretch of beach Sipalay's Sugar Beach offers Robinson Crusoe like isolation while Pagudpud offers travellers the whites sand and bluest water after an exceptionally scenic drive.

BEST FOR CITY: SINGAPORE

It's the stopover destination that travellers have grown to love and over the years Singapore has reinvented itself as one of the best cities not just in Asia, but the world. The city is a jungle of skyscrapers, luxury shopping malls and architectural masterpieces all backing onto actual jungle. Travellers can experience the cultures and cuisine of the world just by walking down its streets, shop in some of the world's largest malls or hunt down dusty antiques or dive into electronic store heaven and marvel in the almost sci-fi architecture that has popped up over recent years.

 

BEST FOR RELAXATION: THAILAND

There's something comforting and relaxing about the smiles that adorns the faces of the Thai's they truly are the happiest people in the world, their ability to put travellers at ease makes Thailand the best Asian destination for a spot of relaxation. Abound with wellness and meditation retreats hidden away in tropical forests, among rice paddies or on an isolated beaches; Thailand radiates a golden hue on all those who step foot on its shores. Whether it's relaxing on a sun soaked beach, meditating in a sacred temple, devouring delicious Thai food at a wellness retreat or enjoying a quintessential Thai massage in the comforts of the resort spa; Thailand is the relaxation destination.

 

BEST FOR HISTORY: CHINA

China is one of the world's oldest continuous civilised countries, dating back more than 10,000 years. From the crumbling Great Wall, beautiful Buddhist statues, quaint villages and mountains topped with age-old temples; China has got oodles of history for those who are willing to look for it. Decades of rapid and aggressive development may be beginning to take its toll in the likes of Beijing, Shanghai and Zhejiang; but selective travel through the country can uncover breathtaking countryside and unique culture as well as antiquities and artefacts that have long been forgotten by the 21st Century.

 

BEST FOR NATURE: MALAYSIA

You're probably raising your eyebrows at this claim but we're sticking to it, there's more to Malaysia than the glittering skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur.Travellers can go off the beaten track in Malaysian Borneo to discover wild jungles filled with mountainous peaks, remote tribes, orangutans and pygmy elephants as well as some spectacular diving; head to Langkawi for its pristine beaches, bird-watching, jungle trekking, the oldest mountain on the Malay Peninsula or to swim under waterfalls; or take a breath of fresh air in Malaysia's Cameron Highlands where travellers will be refreshed by tea plantations that seemingly roll into the distance and strawberries ripe for the picking.



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