Asia is the world’s largest and most heavily populated continent, containing 60% of the world’s people, and contains a variety of countries with very different characteristics, climate and tourist infrastructure. It is located to the east of the Suez Canal and the Ural Mountains, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas. It is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Asia is subdivided into 48 countries, two of them (Russia and Turkey) having part of their land in Europe.
Popular and established holiday destinations include countries as diverse as Turkey, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia. Up –and-coming destinations include the burgeoning economic superpower of China and the newly-accessible Myanmar (Burma)
The ABTA Travel Trends Report 2013 identifies Turkey as a destination on the up, as the Bond film Skyfall had key scenes shot in the capital Istanbul and the coastal area of Antalya. It also highlights Burma (Myanmar) as a destination that should increase in popularity this year following the release from house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2010 and the expansion of the country as a tourist destination.
The health care arrangements in Asian countries vary widely and it is worth noting that the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will not be valid in any Asian country including Turkey. Travel insurance is needed to provide comprehensive cover for emergency medical conditions and also for repatriation back to the UK. It is wise to visit your doctor prior to visiting Asia, to check if you need any immunisations. It is best to take the precaution of not drinking tap water in Asia, and use bottled water instead.
Asia is famous for its cuisine, including fresh and sizzling street food, where you can watch it cooked in front of you, and the way that it often served as the centrepiece of a happy social gathering. The style and flavour of the food obviously varies by country and region, but there are some dishes that countries are particularly famous for, including authentic Chinese food, for example Peking Duck, a fresh Japanese sushi platter, a spicy curry from India, sticky chicken satay from Indonesia, a tastry kebab from Turkey or fragrant Thai green curry.
Although the voltage in Asia is 220v, which is very close to the 230v of the UK, there are variations, as Japan has a 100 volt system, and whilst Indonesia uses the same square plug configuration as the UK, other areas have the European two-prong style plugs. It is really best to pack a universal adapter, to cover all possibilities. Some developing countries and islands in Asia do not have "clean" or reliable power. Many islands run on generator, which when started and stopped produces a spike on the power line. Power surges and sags can be hard on delicate electronic devices such as laptops. Avoid connecting your devices and leaving them unattended. When you see the lights change in intensity, pull the plug!
Currency – The currency varies by Asian country, check here to see what currency is used in different countries.
Driving - As Asia encompasses many different countries it is best to check here to see what side of the road you should drive on.
Climate - Asia has extremely diverse climates and geographic features. Climates range from arctic and subarctic in Siberia to tropical in southern India and Southeast Asia. It is moist across southeast sections, and dry across much of the interior. Some of the largest daily temperature ranges on Earth occur in western sections of Asia. Southwestern sections of the continent are hot. Siberia is one of the coldest places in the Northern Hemisphere, and can act as a source of arctic air masses for North America. The most active place on Earth for tropical cyclone activity lies northeast of the Philippines and south of Japan. The Gobi Desert is in Mongolia and the Arabian Desert stretches across much of the Middle East. The Yangtze River in China is the longest river in the continent. The Himalayas between India and China is the tallest mountain range in the world. Tropical rainforests stretch across much of southern Asia and coniferous and deciduous forests lie farther north.
Clothing – As the climate varies so much, it is wise to pack layers, and to be aware that some countries have more conservative dresscodes, especially when visiting religious sites.
Where to go?
For history and culture – Visitors to Myanmar liken their visit to travelling back in time and the main cities of Rangoon and Mandalay have a picturesque and faded colonial charm. You can also explore the fascinating Buddhist culture by visiting beautiful temples and statues of Buddha. Other highlights include a relaxing trip up the Irrawady River or another watery delight – Lake Inle, home to villages on stilts and spectacular floating gardens.
For kids and teens and relaxation for adults – Combine a spot of relaxation and tanning for parents, with some beachside fun for children by visiting the tranquil beaches of Koh Lanta on Thailand’s West Coast. Children can frolic in the shallow turquoise waters and build pristine white sandcastles. There is also the option to get active and try out snorkelling, diving and kayaking.
Action – If you want to explore the flora and fauna of the Malaysian rainforests, you can decide how active you want to be in this process, if you want to up the active stakes you can take a kayak or go on a cycling trip or a walking trek, if you prefer to ease your foot off the pedal, there is also the option of a mangrove boat trip.
Nightlife – Bangkok, Thailand is (in)famous for the more wild side to its thriving nightlife, but you can also have a relaxing, safe and enjoyable time that suits you. Take your pick from live music, jazz clubs, trendy bars and nightspots and great restaurants.