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Best Cities to Visit in Asia

Asia’s diverse cityscapes offer a mix of bright neon lights, ancient temples, delicious cuisine and awe-inspiring skylines; making it one of the most magical continents to visit on a cruise and land holiday.

Here’s our pick of the best cities to visit in Asia and what to see.

Singapore

Known as one of the cleanest and most efficient cities in the world, check out Singapore’s iconic Supertree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay, which is lit up in dazzling bright colours each night. Fill up at one of the city’s hawker markets, including Airport Road Food Market, where noodles, fish, chicken and rice are on the menu.

Singapore is home to several must-visit neighbourhoods, including Little India, Kampong Gelam and Joo Chiat/Katong, where you’ll find colourful heritage shop houses, quaint boutiques and restaurants where Peranakan culture has its roots.

Bangkok

Thailand’s intoxicating capital is a whirlwind of markets, tuk-tuks and temples. Tick off a visit to the Grand Palace and the famous Emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Kaew and the striking Wat Arun Buddhist temple on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Explore Chinatown and eat your way along Yaowarat Road for some of the city’s best street food. For sky-high views, head to the revolving floor on the 84th floor of the Baiyoke Tower II, with entry including a drink at the Roof Top Bar on the 83rd level.

Hong Kong

A true 24-hour city, Hong Kong is buzzing with shopping, street markets and attractions. Taking the near-vertical Peak Tram to the summit of Victoria Peak is a must do on Hong Kong Island. From multi-course Michelin-starred restaurants to dirt-cheap street food, the dining scene in Hong Kong is one of the best in the world. Hong Kong is also home to some of the best street markets you’ll ever come across. Visit the Ladies Market in Mong Kok and Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon, sampling local delicacies along the way. Jump on a traditional red-sailed Aqua Luna junk boat in Victoria Harbour to admire the city’s skyline from the water.

Tokyo

Frenetic and fast-paced, but also utterly Zen if you know where to look, Tokyo is the most fascinating of cities. Explore the peaceful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, which is even more beautiful during the pink-hued cherry blossom season. Make a pilgrimage to the snow-capped Mount Fuji and take a deep dive into the city’s cultural highlights, such as Senso-ji temple and the Imperial Palace Gardens.

Cross the famous Shibuya Crossing and get your fill of fresh sushi at Toyosu Market. Before it’s time to leave, enjoy a cocktail at a swanky bar, with Tokyo home to many sophisticated watering holes.

Beijing

China’s capital city is captivating for its ancient history and cultural landmarks. If your schedule allows, a visit to the Great Wall of China should be your top priority. In Beijing itself, discover the UNESCO-listed 601-year-old Forbidden City, which was the centre of two imperial rule dynasties with over 900 terracotta-rooftop buildings. Explore the grand Summer Palace and make time for the must-visit Tiananmen Square to see Mao’s mausoleum, the Zhengyang Gate and to witness the daily flag raising (or lowering). Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Wangfujing Snack Street Market to sample freshly prepared dim sum, steaming hot pots and Sichuan noodles. Look out for the skewered scorpions!

Jaipur

Rajasthan’s stunning Pink City is awash with cerise-tinged landmarks that give it its rosy moniker. Visit Jaipur’s most famous landmark and an unwitting star of Instagram thanks to its Wes Anderson appeal, the five-storey Hawa Mahal, known as the Palace of Winds. Tour the colourful City Palace and fascinating Jantar Mantar astronomical observatory. Spend time exploring the wonderful array of jewellery, crafts, art and spices at Jaipur’s markets and, on the outskirts of Jaipur, discover Jal Mahal palace, which sits in the middle of a lake, the red-hued Jaigarh hilltop fort and Amer Palace, which overlooks Maotha Lake.

Ho Chi Minh City

With over two million mopeds whizzing around, Ho Chi Minh City manages to makes Piccadilly Circus look utterly Zen. Make your first stop the moving War Remnants Museum to gain an insight into Vietnam’s war with the US and find serenity at the Jade Emperor Pagoda and Giac Lam Pagoda temples. If you’re looking for signs of the city’s French colonial past, check out Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. And for a glimpse of old Saigon, don’t miss Ben Thanh Market, where you can pick up everything from live shellfish to exotic spices and Vietnamese coffee.

Kyoto

The former capital of Japan, Kyoto retains centuries-old temples and shrines having been spared from the destruction of World War II due to its many historical sites. Visit the gold leaf adorned Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), a stunning Zen Buddhist temple in northern Kyoto. Also take in Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is famous for its crimson Torii gates that feature over a network of trails. Make a pit stop at the lively Nishiki Market for fresh sushi and Japanese cookware and don’t leave without visiting the Gion district, which was the setting of the historical fictional work ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.

 

Shanghai

This thrilling city is bursting with glamorous bars, restaurants and towering skyscrapers that light up the waterfront promenade known as the Bund. Take the world’s quickest elevator to the world’s tallest Observation Deck (in the world’s second tallest skyscraper) on the 121st floor of Shanghai Tower. Discover ancient Chinese art at the Shanghai Museum, located in People’s Square in the Huangpu District.

Embark on a culinary food tour of the city’s street vendors at Yuyuan market and Sipailou Road and experience the thrill of Jin Mao Tower’s skywalk, a 340-metre high walkway with no handrails.

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