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The Top 10 Tourist Destinations in Asia

An Introduction to Some of Asia's Best Tourist Hotspots

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With so many exciting destinations in Asia, deciding where to go can be the stuff of which nervous breakdowns are made.

Don't despair! Use this list of top 10 Asia tourist destinations in Asia to get ideas for the perfect trip.

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Image © Greg Rodgers, licensed to About.com

Many travelers prefer Thailand's pleasant northern capital over the hectic pace of life in Bangkok. Most of the tourist action happens within Chiang Mai's Old City, where orange-robed monks from the many temples smile as they pass.

From cultural festivals and sprawling night markets to mountain trekking and numerous temples -- Chiang Mai attracts over a million visitors annually who can't wait to come back.

2. Penang, Malaysia

Kek Lok Si Temple
Photo by Alexandra Krajanova / Used with Permission

Known as the "Pearl of the Orient," Penang is a place to relax, eat to the brink of misery, and appreciate Malaysia in a new way. Malaysians are quite proud of their large island.

A legacy of colonization in Penang has produced what is arguably some of the best cuisine in all of Southeast Asia. Penang hawker food combines the best of Malay with influences from Chinese and Indian immigrants to produce mouthwatering creations such as laksa noodles.

Superb eating is not the only indulgence on the island. Home to nesting sea turtles, the Penang National Park is Malaysia's youngest national park.

3. Singapore

Hong Kong
Photo by Greg Rodgers

Notoriously expensive and needlessly shunned by budget travelers, tiny Singapore is a modern-yet-green city/country well worth a visit for the food, mega-mall shopping, and unique blend of cultures.

Yes, Singapore costs far more than neighboring Malaysia or the rest of Southeast Asia, however, the city has a pleasant vibe, lively Indian and Chinese culture, speaks good English, and is pleasant enough just to stroll. You could spend months living in Singapore and still discover hidden places and eateries the guidebooks have missed!

4. Malaysian Borneo

Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sabah
Image © Borneo Travel / Used with Permission

Sabah, one of two states belonging to Malaysian Borneo, is a natural paradise. Plentiful rainforest, endangered orangutans, and indigenous cultures are certainly worth grabbing a cheap flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Sabah is the perfect balance between wild and developed. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is a happening tourist city in the shadow of towering Mount Kinabalu. When you've had enough shopping and cheap seafood, trade the concrete for East Sabah, where there are plenty of opportunities to experience Southeast Asia at its wildest.

5. Islands in Thailand

koh phi phi thailand
Image © Greg Rodgers, licensed to About.com

Some too small to merit a dot on a map, the islands in Thailand are among the world's most beautiful. Imagine white sand and blue water, cheap diving, and your choice of isolated tranquility or savage nightlife -- all for far less than the cost of a trip to Hawaii.

The diversity of the Thai islands is amazing. Phuket and Koh Samui are developed, tourist hot spots with vibrant nightlife, while tiny Koh Lipe barely maintains electricity. Beautiful Koh Lanta is the perfect compromise.

6. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia
Image © Greg Rodgers, licensed to About.com

Siem Reap is the gateway for exploring one of Southeast Asia's most fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Angkor Wat. Over 900 years old, the temples of Angkor are scattered across 600 square miles of jungle. The jungle is slowly reclaiming the ancient temples as vines strangle ruins and break apart bricks.

The picturesque Angkor temples frequently serve as movie sets and bring to life the inner-archaeologist in over one million visitors each year.

7. Beijing, China

Beijing China
Image © Greg Rodgers, licensed to About.com

Crowded, polluted, dreadfully appealing -- love it or hate it, Beijing is the pounding heart of China. Amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City make navigating Beijing's urban sprawl well worth the effort.

Give Beijing a chance; rather than fleeing from the madness, stick around long enough to become a part of it. Wandering the busy streets can actually become quite addictive!

8. Bali, Indonesia

Kintamani - Bali, Indonesia
Image © Greg Rodgers, licensed to About.com

Bali, with its miles of beaches and volcanic landscapes, is nothing short of magic. Once only a destination for honeymooners and surfers, Bali is now one of the top destinations in Asia.

Most of the action culminates in South Bali at hedonistic Kuta Beach. Travelers in search of more than a hangover head for Ubud -- the peaceful cultural center of Bali -- or even opt to climb a volcano in the Kintamani Region.

Excellent beaches, a welcoming Hindu culture, and beautiful scenery make Bali the busiest island in Indonesia.

9. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Japan
© Photo by About.com Guide Shizuko Mishima

Perhaps not the cheapest of places to visit in Asia, bustling Tokyo is the world's largest metropolitan economy, even exceeding New York City. Urban marvels, talking toilets, and an aloof culture begging to be understood await as soon as you exit the airport.

Learning a few Japanese travel tips will help you save money while traveling in Japan.

10. Goa, India

Goa India Beach
Photo by Enygmatic-Halycon / Creative Commons

Goa is India's smallest and wealthiest state, mostly thanks to abundant tourism. Once mainly a haven for hippie culture and electronic music lovers, Goa has grown into a sophisticated destination. Today, many excellent beaches ranging from highly developed to relatively untouched lure travelers away from hectic Mumbai and Delhi.

If the sun and tourists become too much, consider heading north to the Himalayas with a visit to Manali or the home of the Dalai Lama.

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