Short gaps via East Asia
East Asia used to fire the imagination of distant destinations, of strange and mysterious cultures. Now, East Asia is beginning to open its doors to tourists and people are becoming more and more curious by what’s on the other side of the world, and they like what they’re seeing.
East Asia is still foreign enough to be exciting, demanding enough to be testing and it’s as close to getting off the ‘beaten track’ as you’re going to get.
If you’ve got the money to fly to Seoul in South Korea or Tokyo in Japan then you’re looking at an amazing stop gap. A month in Japan is a perfect amount of time for seeing what the country has to offer.
Be blinded by the neon lights of Tokyo, see the sunrise from Mount Fuji, catch a rare glimpse of a Geisha's in Kyoto, take a stroll along the Great Wall of China, see the Forbidden City, visit the Terracotta Warriors, meet giant pandas at Chengdu and, snowboard in South Korea and truly discover the magical Far East.
Key stops in East Asia
There are a few keys destinations in East Asia that you can fly into:
Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai for China, Tokyo in Japan, and Seoul for South Korea are all possible stops.
Travelling around the area is extremely easy by any mode of transport. The budget airline Air Asia flies to a number of airports making international air travel not only extremely cheap, but extremely easy. For example, you can pick up a flight from Beijing in China to Seoul in South Korea for as low as £30.
Popular routes that include East Asia
London >> Beijing >> Chengdu >> Shanghai >> London
London >> Shanghai >> Seoul >> Tokyo >> London
London >> Tokyo >> Osaka >> Kyōto >>Yokohama >>Chiba >> Tokyo >>London
What we recommend…
Most people only visit one of these countries as they aren't cheap to travel around, especially Japan, but if you keep your senses then you can see a lot of East Asia on a budget; you just have to know how to do it!
All of East Asia is incredibly safe to travel around. Even though Japan is the most popular tourist destination you shouldn’t overlook China.
China is so varied that it’s like visiting five different countries in one. From the cold and snowy north to the hot and humid south, China has some of the world’s best and biggest sites. Just take the Great Wall as an example.
Our recommendation? Spend a month doing a tour of South Korea and Japan. You will experience stuff that you may never do again (temple stays, bullet trains and a culture built around being ‘polite’ - very unusual!).
Why East Asia?
Want to do something that is a bit different? Have a think about stopping off in South Korea. Seoul is now one of the most happening capitals in the world. The country is full of national parks, a serious ski scene and you can really live the history of the North/South war with a quick zip up to the Northern border on the cheap bullet trains.
From here take a cheap ferry ride or short flight to Japan. Slightly more expensive, but with unique temple stays, impressive cities like Tokyo and a culture based around chomping raw fish and singing Elvis songs after a tub of Sake at the local Karaoke bar, you'll have a blast.
The other destination in this area is of course China. We'd recommend first time travellers to stick to the easier tourist spots of Beijing or Shanghai - the language, alphabet and culture making it a very difficult country to travel around.
For those more adventurous, China is a massive country to explore. Another thing to take may be a stomach of steel, well, you have to try the delicacies of duck's tongue, chicken's feet and pigs blood - 'When in Rome' and all that. Or you could just stick to the sweet and sour pork balls.
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