• Ama Dablam, Solo Khumbu, Himalaya, Nepal Ama Dablam, Solo Khumbu, Himalaya, Nepal
  • An inquisitive boy at Namche Bazaar, Nepal An inquisitive boy at Namche Bazaar, Nepal
  • Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan, India Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan, India
  • A snow-covered Great Wall, China A snow-covered Great Wall, China
  • Motorcycle parking, traditional ger, Mongolia Motorcycle parking, traditional ger, Mongolia

Travel Guide to Greater Asia

It's hard to comprehend that one region can house more than 3 billion people, while also playing host to some of the most remote places on the planet. But the contrasts of Greater Asia don't stop there. 

Map of Greater China

At one end of the region, are the technologically advanced nations of Japan and South Korea. At the other end, are the former Soviet-occupied "stans". And in the middle, we have chaotic India, war-torn Afghanistan, and the almighty People's Republic of China. 

A region of isolation

Isolation is a common theme that transcends the stark diversity of Greater Asia. And it's not just the geographic isolation of Mongolia that surprises visitors. It's the cultural isolation of Japan, the political isolation of North Korea, and the religious isolation of Tibet, that creates such diversity. 

Central & East Asia

Of course this diversity gives travellers many opportunities to discover the unknown. And in many cases, the isolation only exists at a macro level. This means that while Greater Asia may appear inaccessible to outsiders, the locals are actually very warm and welcoming.

Greater Asia | Must See

There's always so much to see, but so little time. Here are a few must-see cities to add to your next itinerary.

Pyongyang, North Korea

Foreigners can only tour Pyongyang with an approved guide. If you attempt to catch a taxi, the driver is unlikely to take you without express permission. And if you're caught trying to hoodwink officials, you'll be put on the next plane home.

Pyongyang

But despite restrictions, it's possible to sneak a peak behind the opaque cloak of North Korea's rule. To make the most of a visit to Pyongyang, kindly ask your guide to travel by foot rather than taxi. This makes for a much deeper immersion in the local culture, which is largely kept away from prying foreign eyes.

Xi'an, China

They say you haven't been to China unless you've been to historic Xi'an. And as a former capital, once home to more than 10 dynasties, they're probably right. It's also the Eastern terminus of the Silk Road, which somewhat explains the city's position as Western China's manufacturing powerhouse. 

Xian

On the historic front, you'll find a wealth of important sites and relics in and around Xi'an: Neolithic Banpo, the Terracotta Army of the Qin emperor, the Han and Tang imperial tombs, and in the city itself, the Goose Pagodas of the Tang, the Bell and Drum towers, and Ming city walls.

Udaipur, India

India's most romantic city, Udaipur is known as the "Venice of the East" and the "City of Lakes". Relax on a boat ride around the picturesque Lake Pichola, surrounded by the stunning hilltops of Aravallis. Or indulge yourself and live like a king for a day at one of the many palaces converted into luxury hotels.

Udaipur

Hollywood has also recognised this city's beauty using the stunning scenery as a backdrop. The most famous example, James Bond's 1983 Octopussy, was filmed in the floating Lake Palace. You can catch Octopussy, nearly any day of the week, being played at rooftop restaurants overlooking the lake.

Greater Asia | Must Do

The road less travelled is rarely in plain sight. But these must-do activities are sure to get you on the right track.

Mahjong

Attach your thinking cap and don your poker face, because this ancient Chinese game of skill, strategy and luck, isn't for the faint-hearted. The game is played amongst four focused people, atop a small wooden table, using white-enamelled blocks.

Mahjong

Mahjong is socially popular across Asia. An invitation to play is regarded as a welcoming gesture or an offer of friendship. If you're arranging an extended stay, it's worth reading up on the rules before departure. 

T'ai Chi Chuan

T'ai chi chuan (or tai chi) is an "internal" martial art. People practice it to improve and maintain their physical and mental wellbeing. T'ai chi chuan translates to "supreme ultimate fist", which somewhat hints to the art's underlying message.

T'ai Chi

T'ai chi chuan may seem awkwardly spiritual to first-timers, but the synchronous actions and large groups are oddly empowering. Simply join at the back of one of these groups, shake out the cobwebs, and follow the graceful movements. 

Horse Riding

Nomadic horse-riding tribes live throughout the Mongolian steppes and Tibetan Plateau. These tribes can give you a taste of what it's like to live so closely with horses. The local terrain can also give more experienced riders a run for their money.

Horse Riding

Visit within the first few days of August for the Litang Festival where Tibetans celebrate with horse races, games and demonstrations. If visiting in mid-July, check out the Nadaam festival in Ulan Bator, which includes three traditional games; Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery.

Greater Asia | Must Try

If you want more than sights, sounds and smells, give the place a good taste test. Check out these must-try local favourites.

Sashimi

Raw fish doesn't sound like much fun, but there are a few nice consolations. Firstly, sashimi is always prepared from the freshest fish available, otherwise it tastes and smells awful. Secondly, it's a great natural source of energy and nutrients.

Sashimi

The wholesomeness of sashimi is a nice change to the normally erratic diet of the global traveller. Try sashimi made from tuna, salmon and squid. These are all quite subtle and provide a great cut. Add soya sauce and wasabi for taste.

Kobe Beef

Just as genuine Champagne comes from a specific region of France, genuine Kobe beef comes from a specific region of Japan. Anything else is just a copy. And while you may argue that genuine Champagne is nothing to phone home about it, authentic Kobe beef leaves no doubt.

Kobe Beef

The host family of cattle are predisposed to an intense marbling of fat throughout the meat that gives it a very succulent texture and buttery flavour. But don't be too alarmed, the meat has a higher than usual ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat, which is somewhat healthier for our hearts. Just try it, it's to die for.

Sichuan Cuisine

The province of Sichuan can get quite frigid in winter, so it makes sense to load the local food with spices, chillies and the unique Sichuan peppercorn. But it can get excruciatingly spicy. Enough to induce tears, sweats and finally, the hiccups.  

Sichuan Cuisine

But it pays off to be strong and embrace the pain. It's widely thought that hot chillies induce the secretion of endorphins. Which is probably why people get so addicted to hot food. At least give it a go, keep some milk by your side, and let the tears flow. You'll feel much happier afterwards.

Vital Stats

Region Info Greater Asia
Population 3,230.3 million
Highest Altitude 8,848 m
Mount Everest, Nepal 29,029 ft
Lowest Altitude -154 m
Aydingkol Lake, China -505 ft
Lowest Temperature -52.3 °C
Mohe County, China (1969) -62.1 °F
Highest Temperature 40.9 °C
Kumagaya, Japan (2007) 105.6 °F

Travel Trivia

In which country does the Himalaya NOT reside?

Trivia: In which country does the Himalaya NOT reside?

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