Truth be told, I had no desire to visit Asia before I moved to Guam in 2009. That all changed the moment I set foot in Narita City on my 24-hour journey from Dallas to Guam. The Hubs and I had a long layover in Narita, so we decided to venture out. Tokyo is now a frequent stop and destination for me.
What I love about Asia is just how different from the western world it is. Every traveler should visit Asia at least once in a lifetime!
See How the Other Half Lives
…The other half of the globe, that is. Asian lifestyles, traditions, and thinking are so different from the western world. I didn’t scratch the surface of understanding until I moved to Guam and started traveling to Asia regularly. I’m so glad I opened my mind to these colorful and fascinating cultures! No one enjoys it, but seeing poverty in Asia opens your eyes to just how fortunate middle class westerners are.
A visit to modernized countries like Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore allows a glimpse into extreme wealth in Asia and that’s an interesting study as well!
Please Your Palate
If you go to Asia for nothing else, go for the food. I’ve had some of the best food of my life throughout Asia and Indonesia. My favorites?
- Dumpling soup in Hong Kong
- Vegetarian curry in Little India, Singapore
- Carpaccio in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
- Bean salad in Ubud, Bali
- Apricot croissants in Hong Kong
- Dessert crepes in Harajuku, Tokyo
Where City Meets Safety
I have friends, Harry and Kiyomi, who are long-time residents of Tokyo. Kiyomi, told me she could walk down the streets of Tokyo at night holding $100 bill and no one would bother her. I’ve experienced that for myself, having spent time alone in Tokyo. The same goes for many major Asian cities, and coming from the U.S. you just don’t expect that! It’s a refreshing change from the random crime of mega cities in America.
Witness Centuries Old Lifestyles
There is a village in Hong Kong that remains one of the last of its kind, a working fishing village. The Tai O fishing village is accessible from the Big Buddha, but because it’s a bit off the beaten path, I didn’t see it the first time I went there. There’s always something new (or old) to discover in Asia.
OMG the Shopping
There are places in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Seoul where the shopping is so extensive, husbands go there to die. Every metro station is a mall and every mall has floor upon floor of shops. Sure, “average American-sized” women like me (Mindy Kaling quote) can’t fit in the clothes, but that doesn’t rule out beauty products, electronics, and the sheer intricacy of window shop designs. Then there are the street markets — fish, tchotchkes, hot food, you name it — which are full of character, cheap, and so fun to explore.
The World’s Most Modern Structures
Not only are Asian skyscrapers taller than the rest, the architectural design is simply astonishing. I thought the U.S. of A. was modern until I stepped foot in Singapore and Dubai.
See Cultures Collide
Singapore is overtly British and Macau is Portuguese. The melding of cultures in Asia is truly fascinating. All your preconceptions of Asia go out the window when you see black and white cobblestone streets in Macau and a thriving Arab Quarter in Singapore.
My favorite outdoor space has to be Singapore’s Botanic Garden with its intensely hot but lush orchid garden. Japanese gardens are also famous for their Zen-like qualities.
I had sworn off zoos for the most part, but I was pleasantly surprised at how natural and humane the enclosures at Singapore Zoo are. Not to mention the vibrant monkey population there, like the impossibly stylish Douc Langur, pictured above. Hong Kong’s Ocean Park also has lots of sea life and even the elusive red panda. If you are an animal lover, you can expect great things from some of these exotic zoos. As with any wildlife or animal activity, I recommend doing your homework to ensure you’re an eco-friendly traveler.
The World’s Most Efficient Transportation
I rode the Shinkansen, Japan’s fast and efficient bullet train, from Tokyo to the Fuji Rock Festival in the mountainside village of Naeba. Singapore’s metro system is among the world’s most clean and cheap. Hong Kong also has a safe and cheap metro, albeit one that requires forgoing personal space at rush hour.
January 5, 2015 at 2:23 pm
Love it! Honestly, I also had no real desire to visit Asia until I started thinking about moving to South Korea after university. And, I completely agree that the food is enough of an incentive in itself. Now, I’m in Canada and I can’t wait to go back!
January 5, 2015 at 4:04 pm
Wow, South Korea would be a big move. I’ve heard so many good things about Korea — food, shopping, safety, hiking — but it is so cold in the winter. You have to be a brave soul!
January 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm
I currently live in Japan and I love love love Asia so much. I had my first trip to SE Asia a week ago, which made me love Asia even more. The shopping and food alone could keep me here forever, but I love everything else that comes with living on this side of the world.
January 5, 2015 at 4:03 pm
Where did you go in SE Asia? It’s a region I want to explore even more.
January 6, 2015 at 10:50 am
I went to Cambodia. I spend about 4 days in Phnom Penh and 4 days in Siem Reap.
January 5, 2015 at 5:51 pm
Love this article! I completely agree. I’ve visited India and China but I’d love to get over to Singapore and Vietnam. I hear I can have a great custom suit made in Vietnam so that would be pretty fab! As a global gal, I’m really liking your blog! <3 http://www.InteriorsbyJacquin.blogspot.com
January 5, 2015 at 6:33 pm
Thanks, Jacquin! What places do you recommend in India and China? And yes, I highly recommend Singapore!
January 9, 2015 at 11:43 am
I would definitely suggest Jaipur and North India in general for India. You can still see a lot of traditional culture there and it’s so colorful! As for China, the Great Wall of China is a must. I went during winter and everything was snow capped. Made for amazing photos even though it was freezing. Shanghai has great shopping and the weather is a bit milder there. Happy New Year!
January 9, 2015 at 11:59 am
I actually like going to snowy places now that I live in perpetual humidity on Guam. The Great Wall during winter sounds lovely!
January 5, 2015 at 8:53 pm
I live in China now and I love it! I’ve visited Japan and Kyoto is wonderful. This month I am headed to Cambodia and I will be in Bali in June. I love Asia! There is so much history and East meets West everywhere. Plus the food is like no where else!
January 6, 2015 at 9:35 am
Bali is one of my favorite places in the world. What are you doing in China?
January 5, 2015 at 11:51 pm
I have totally missed out of Asia so far, I hope to change that soon 🙂 I would love to go to some place in Vietnam, but India sounds tempting as well.
January 6, 2015 at 9:34 am
I hope your travel wishes come true in 2015!
January 5, 2015 at 11:59 pm
My dad visited China four years ago, and I remember being in awe at the pictures he took there. Asia has a lot to offer for the traveler, you just have to reach out of your comfort zone a bit.
Mersad Donko Photography
January 6, 2015 at 9:33 am
I agree on that!
January 6, 2015 at 6:01 am
All great reasons listed! I went to Asia for the first time last April and I can’t wait to visit another part of Asia in March. So many beautiful destinations and full of history. I am also a huge fan of the shopping and food 🙂
January 6, 2015 at 9:33 am
Cool. Where did you visit and where are you going next?
January 6, 2015 at 10:49 am
South Korea and I’ll be visiting Turkey this year (both the Europe and Asia side). I really loved South Korea, good memories! 🙂
January 7, 2015 at 1:44 am
AH! I’ve never been! Maybe my next long trip should be somewhere in Asia. It seems like there are lots of great destinations I’d like to check out.
To be honest, I’d love to be transferred to Hong Kong or Singapore with my company and then use that as a home base for going elsewhere! If that does happen it won’t be for a while, but it’d be awesome if it did.
January 9, 2015 at 11:59 am
I’d recommend Singapore! It’s much cleaner and less populated than Hong Kong. Such a modern city!