There are 49 countries in Asia with hundreds of different cities, towns and islands you could visit. All are special in their own way, but where is best to go?

Whether you have a few weeks, 1 month or are lucky enough to have a year travelling or backpacking in south east Asia or the far east, you are going to have an amazing experience. The food, culture, sightseeing attractions, parties and activities are incredible.

But when planning a trip for the first time it can be daunting especially with the language barrier and culture shock. If you don't want to travel solo or do want a more structured experience check out Asia gap year programs

To help give you ideas for where to go we have put together a list of 5 of the most popular destinations to visit in Asia. We also provide tips for what you can do from sightseeing to helping wildlife to going scuba diving!

Start getting excited for the most amazing trip of your life.


1. Thailand

Elephant Sanctuary Thailand

Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia, with bustling cities, tasty cuisine, friendly people and some of the most spectacular islands on the planet.

If you have time to just visit one country, we recommend Thailand. It has an established backpacker culture, is great value for money and also is an all round 10/10.

Most flights arrive into the Thai capital Bangkok which is a great introduction to the country. You'll discover so many amazing places eat in cities like Bangkok, from street food to 5 star dining establishments which usually acts Thai dishes along with overseas dishes. Food is a big part of Thai culture.

From Bangkok you could travel north for hill tribe trekking and elephant sanctuaries, or go south for beaches, parties and adventures. Its easy to get aroind the country, you could search Thailand tours or travel on the tourist buses or trains.

Phuket along with the islands like Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, Koh Chang and Koh Tao are really popular destinations beacuse of the island vibes and beaches.

In the north of Thailand a visit to Chiang Mai is recommended epsecially if you would like to volunteer in Thailand. Here you can find lots of wildlife sanctuaries, some even offer the chance of work with elephants - a life changing experience.

Start planning a gap year to Thailand now!


2. Indonesia

Bali view

Indonesia appeals to all kinds backpackers, those who want to explore beaches and islands, those who want to party and also people who want to volunteer.

Places like Bali have long been popular with Australian and New Zealanders, and millions of tourists now visit every year. There are lots of tours available to book all year round and also Indonesia gap year programs in places like Bali and Lombok.

Yogyakarta is another popular place to add to your itinerary, this is the geographical and cultural centre of Java, and it is rapidly evolving into one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Indonesia.

Strategically located on the main line between Jakarta and Bali, Jogja, his nickname the locals and travellers alike wonder, has become an almost obligatory stop for those walking through Java.

For somewhere really exotic plan a trip to Borneo - the largest island in the world and the best where you can see lush jungles, stunning islands and also exotic animals up close. For a really unqiue experience search volunteer projects in Borneo - on some you can help orangutan conservation.

Lots of Indonesia tours take in all the main tourist destinations or if you would like to spend longer here you could apply to teach English in Indonesia.


3. Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Take a gap year in Cambodia? Isn't that a war torn dangerous country to go? Well, it was a few decades ago but now tourism is booming and you really need to go.

The temples of Siem Reap in Cambodia have the prestige and greatness, and they really are one of the most amazing places you need to see in your life.

Siem Reap is the gateway to the Angkor Wat temples, made famous by the smash hit hit Tomb Raider. These temples are among the best preserved in the world and somethere you really have to tick off your bucket list.

For one of the truly great experience on a gap year in Asia, perch atop one of the main temples ubiquitous empty terraces just before sunset to watch the bright sun reflecting off the needles of golden temples.

Other places to see in Cambodia include Phnom Penh and the beautiful and less touristy islands like Koh Rong. View our guide to volunteering in Cambodia for a special experience.


4. Japan

Japan budget

Are you looking for a culture shock? Always had a facsination with Japan? Or keen to experience one of the most high-tech countries in the world?

Take a gap year to Japan. Now!

Japan is one of the more expensive countries to visit in Asia, and a popular way to see more is to apply to work in Japan. Thousands of foreigners are employed teaching English in Japan - this is a great way to earn money and travel to see more of the country/continent.

If the language barrier is making you nervous consider Japan tours - there are lots of itineraries with weekly departures.


5. India

Humayun Tomb

India is a huge country and might be the biggest cultural shock you will ever have.

Think more than 1 billion people, massive cities full of noise, people, skyscapers and some of the most vibrant festivals in the world.

On a gap year in India you can't leave without seeing one of the most beautiful monuments in India - the Tah Mahal in Agra. This building is iconic and somewhere you have to visit.

Goa is another top rated destination for backpackers, the beaches and atmosphere here is special and very relaxed.

Volunteering in India has long been a popular activity with foreigners and there are options throughout the country. Helping communities and teaching is very popular.

You could also combine a trip to India with a gap year in Sri Lanka or treat yourself to a island hopping trip in the Maldives.


Plan a Trip to Asia

There we have it, out top countries you need to see on your gap year in Asia. This was really hard as there are so many other places worthy of special mentions including Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and China.

If you want to see as much of the continent as possible search tours in Asia - some trips take in multipe countries and are great value for money, especially compared to travelling in Australia, Europe and north America.

For something more rewarding check out our guide to the best volunteer programs in Asia.