Asia, for what it’s worth, is an enigma.
You have so many countries built on history dating back a millennia or so. According to my Asian Civilisation professor, even way before Roman history really began. Most of what we know and understand today, was discovered by the Chinese and then uprooted to our own society.
It’s fascinating to go around Asia and be surprised at how different each and every country is. It’s actually no surprise why many digital nomads choose to live here — aside from the fact, it’s cheaper! — because you have so much to explore. And at the end of the day, you don’t feel like you’ve explored Asia as a whole just yet.
So, why these countries?
I’ve specifically chosen to create an itinerary on routes to take with Malaysia, the Philippines, China (+ Hong Kong and Macau), and Singapore because of my experience visiting these countries. Specifically, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore — to make sure you have an easy time to explore each city!
What you need to know while planning a trip around Asia:
You’ll be surprised. That’s the best I can put it. In every country, you’ll experience something completely different from the other. May it be the biking lane in Beijing compared to the one in Manila, or maybe the street food in Hong Kong versus the ones in Singapore.
The best way to really plan — is to be ready for anything. I mean it. Your ideals about Asian tourists and locals will be challenged, your idea of feminism even, and most especially, you’ll have one awe-inspiring adventure coming your way.
Your first city around Asia: The Philippines
Totally biased butttt I’m from the Philippines! Therefore, I like to think this would be a great start to exploring more of what there is to do while in Asia!
First stop: Manila (3-5 days)
As the capital, you’ll enjoy everything the Metro has to offer you — from local boutique shops, to foodie heaven, and even as far as the shopping!
For outside the Metro: Tagaytay, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas
For anyone who wants to visit other provinces:
The thing is, going outside of Manila is also a great option for every traveller. If you love the beach: Boracay. If you love the outdoors: Batanes. If you want to eat unique food: Cebu.
My picks: Davao (my hometown!), Cebu, Batanes, Palawan
Second stop in Asia: Singapore (4 days)
I’m in love with going around Singapore! I love that it’s a mix of modern elegance and culture at the same time. You have a lot of fun activities in the Merlion city, beginning with a stop to Universal Studios!
Maybe 4 days is too much for you…But trust me, you’ll need to really explore what Singapore has to offer! However, if you can only spare two days, I have what you might need:
Read: 48 Hours in Singapore
Your third stop around Asia: Malaysia (2 days)
Or more specifically, Kuala Lumpur. I don’t know what you’ve heard about it, but KL is definitely the best place to hang out while in Malaysia. You have spicy food everywhere, the cheapest clothes money can buy, and your one-stop in Asia for unique jewelry.
So, here’s the thing. Although I normally recommend more than two days to stay at in one city, for Kuala Lumpur I’ve decided for a shorter recommendation because KL can be quite small. Especially if you’re exploring all on your own.
You can take a train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur with EasyBook.
Your fourth stop: Hong Kong and Macau (7 days)
It depends on which airline you’re flying with but typically, there are more flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong. Any way, the reason why I’m putting these two together is because of their proximity.
You can take the boat from Hong Kong and be at Macau in two hours, vice-versa.
Personally, with Hong Kong you’ll need at least a week to get your bearings and explore the entire island while with Macau, you only really need 4 days tops.
I love how with Hong Kong, you’ll never get tired with how alive the city is whether it’s day or night. You’ll love the food galore, shopping, and definitely the sights to see! There’s like something new in the island all the time.
Whereas Macau is a little more quiet during the day and bustling at night. It’s where you get to watch tons and tons of shows and where shopping is similar to Hong Kong (without the lines).
Your fifth stop: Beijing (5-7 days)
If there’s only one city in all of China to go to, Beijing would be it. You’ll get to go to the Forbidden City, the Imperial Palace, and climb the Great Wall. Okay, a part of the wall. Another thing to note is that Mainland Chinese culture can be quite different from Hong Kong and Macau, because of the latter’s strong European influence.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Beijing, go to Shanghai
Personally, I feel that you can’t compare Beijing to Shanghai and vice-versa. Simply because the latter is more modern while Beijing is more rich in history (and tourist spots).
It really depends on what you’re after. Would you like to go on a constant tour or see the city for yourself?
This itinerary is meant to help you choose a route and the countries to visit while in Asia. Obviously, there are also tons of other alternatives like Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam. However, you should note that in choosing these countries, the cost is lower even while you’re staying for a longer time. Well, okay, Singapore is pretty expensive but the Philippines isn’t. So there?
Over to you:
Are you planning an Asian trip soon?
If so, where are you thinking of going?