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With so many different countries and cultures in Asia, knowing where to go first can be tricky. We’ve narrowed it down to five must-have experiences to inspire your next trip — don’t miss out! Go and experience the culture of Asia!
Experience the Culture of Asia
See a different side of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is best known for its mountains and grasslands, but why not venture into the capital city of Astana? With its bright lights, stained glass and skyscrapers, you won’t know where to look first. Much of its architecture is futuristic, most notably the Bayterek tower, which is topped with a golden egg, and the two conical buildings that flank the presidential palace.
Astana is more than a feast for the eyes, however, with local dishes like besbarmak (boiled horse or mutton served on top of boiled noodles) and baursak (fried bread spheres) and international cuisine, including Georgian, Indian and Korean food, all on the menu. Relax on the balmy indoor beach at the Khan Shatyr — the world’s largest marquee — or explore the national museum, which is filled with archaeological exhibits and contemporary art.
Get a taste of street food in Thailand
The street food scene has seen something of a boom over recent years, but Thailand has always been ahead of the trend. Their cuisine is popular with both locals and tourists alike, with stalls lining the streets and queues of people waiting to have their hunger sated.
Curries, stir fries, soups, salads, dals, and satays all feature in Thai cuisine, but you can’t go wrong with these dishes:
- Khao gang — a mixture of curries and stir fries are served over rice. You choose the combination, so every meal is different.
- Khao soy — Chinese-style egg noodles, coconut milk curry, braised beef or chicken. Sometimes topped with onions, shallots, and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Boat noodles — noodles cooked in a stock made from animal blood and mixed with dark soy sauce and fried garlic, then served with toppings of your choice.
- Hoy tod — a cross between a crispy pancake and an omelette, served with mussels or oysters and eggs, onions, and chilli sauce.
Learn about local life at a homestay in India
Why not skip the hotel or hostel for a room in family-run accommodation? A homestay is an ideal way to experience Indian culture. You’ll gain a better understanding of life from their perspective, plus you’ll eat meals with your host family most days, giving you plenty of opportunities to sample delicious, authentic food.
Immersing yourself in Indian life is also the best way to pick up a few words of the language, which is always appreciated by the locals, and you’ll get an insider’s thoughts on things to see and do in the area — including hidden secrets away from the tourist trail.
- Do: Communicate with your hosts. Let them know your plans and ask if they have any rules while you’re staying with them. Speak their native language with them if possible — you’ll learn much quicker.
- Don’t: Forget about your personal safety. Book your homestay through a reputable website which verifies the hosts and guests. Once they’ve arrived at their destination, many travellers actually feel safer at a homestay than they would elsewhere. Often, the host(s) will be able to tell you which areas to avoid at night, and you may benefit from having them as a tour guide when you go exploring.
Explore Tokyo and beyond in Japan
Even before you visit any of Tokyo’s many attractions, it’s well worth having a wander along the streets just to see daily life unfolding in front of your eyes (you can also view the city from above at the Tokyo Tower, which has panoramic observatories). Fascinated by all things Japanese? Beams in Tokyo is a must-visit — this one-stop shop sells all kinds of local products, from clothing and crafts to artwork and food.
If the fast pace of the city becomes too much then you can watch the world go by on a cruise along the Kanda river, or take a stroll over the Rainbow Bridge (go at night for the best views).
South of the city, it’s worth visiting Yokohama, a bayside metropolis best known for its traditional food and drink. If you want to learn more about Japan’s history, stop at Sankeien Garden to see houses and buildings from years gone by, or head to Kamakura to admire the temples, shrines, and giant statue of Buddha.
Experience Bali’s charm for yourself
Bali is the hub of Indonesia tourist region, and for good reason. Its beautiful views (think pristine beaches and clear, turquoise waters) and tropical weather make it a welcome escape from everyday life for many, so why not make the trip?
Take a hike up one of the volcanoes — Mount Batur is suitable for all abilities and is particularly stunning at sunrise, Mount Agung is very challenging and only for the experienced — or hit the water for a spot of surfing, snorkelling, or diving. You may even spot dolphins from the shore. Stroll around the art galleries in Ubud, then end the day by watching the traditional Balinese dancers perform at the palace.