Asia is still a mystery for many. They see stories on the news and video travelogues. However, they don’t know how expansive it is, let alone what portions to visit and how to get around. To help those ready to book a trip, here’s what to expect when you visit Asia.
It’s More Than China & Japan
Though China, Japan, and South Korea are mentioned as the top travel spots, Asia is much more than those countries. In fact, it comprises over 17 million square miles of mountains, plains, plateaus, and deserts. It’s also split into distinct regions.
It might not seem like it, but India is part of Asia and at one of its westernmost borders. Where the south of the country can seem crowded and hot, areas closer to the Pakistan border are cooler and more mountainous.
As you head east you reach China. With the largest landmass in Asia proper, there are numerous opportunities to see everything from coastal cities filled with casinos to a vast desert. China is so enormous that you can travel through several climatic regions without leaving the country.
Continue further east and you end up in Japan. This island nation is a mix of the past and the future, and it’s all connected via their famous bullet train. You can enjoy the metropolitan vibe of Tokyo during the day and end up in ancient Kyoto in the evening.
This leaves the region known as Southeast Asia. Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore comprise this area of coastal and island nations. Like China and Japan, populated areas of these countries are a mix of contemporary and ancient.
Visas & Passports
To enter any country in Asia you must have a passport that’s valid at least six months before entry. For a stay that’s longer than one month, ensure your passport has up to one year on it before renewal.
You’ll need your passport if you decide to travel across the continent during your stay. Therefore, keep it with you at all times. You also want to have the phone number and website information for your country’s embassies or consulates in case you lose your passport or visa.
That latter form of identification may also be required in some Asian countries. In most cases, these are for trips where you remain in one country for up to 30 days. Whether you need a travel visa depends on the country and where you come from.
In Japan, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea, visas aren’t required for citizens of the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. On the other hand, they are always required if you want to enter China.
For the most part, countries within Asia have modern transportation systems that are easy to access for travelers. You can rent a car to travel across smaller nations, or you might want to consider the commuter train services in your destination. South Korea, Japan, and China are known for their high-speed rail services.
For less-traveled areas, you may need to rely on public bus transportation or rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle that can traverse rough terrains. Both of these suggestions are good for those who wish to hike or camp in these areas.
A total of 2,300 languages are spoken among the nearly five billion individuals that call some part of Asia home. Don’t let that scare you. Though they may have their own dialects, over 50 percent of the continent speaks Mandarin. They also speak a good deal of English in urban areas.
Though locals may try to work with you for translations, it’s a good idea to learn common phrases for the areas you visit. Also, expect the hand gestures you use in your country to mean something different in Asia. Make sure you know which ones result in negative connotations.
Like other countries, Asians welcome visitors with open arms as long as you abide by their culture and customs. In other words, don’t be the Ugly American or Ugly European when you step onto their soil. If you’re curious about the traditions they follow or the foods they eat, then most of them will happily reciprocate with a warm welcome.
The main thing to expect when you visit Asia is its enormity. Don’t feel overwhelmed. First-time travelers to the region should take things slowly. Start with Japan or Southeast China and go from there. As your knowledge grows, what you’ll expect from a trip to Asia is enjoyment