Here are a few suggestions of things to see and do in my favourite places in Asia.
Take heed, my lists are not intended as essential bucket lists and nor are they written in any particular order. To protect our sanity, I’ve limited each country to only ten suggestions. While there may be more worthy sights to see first, you don’t need to worry because you’ll hear all about those as soon as you arrive.
China- Destination guide
China is huge. You may have thought it was a long way from your house to the shops but that’s nothing compared to China. Home to one of the world’s oldest civilisations, the Chinese are credited for inventing a lot of life’s essentials including ketchup and toilet paper. Where else in the world can you sit in a traffic jam that can last for weeks or visit a life-sized architectural replica of London named Thames Town?
The Great Wall
Climb up to The Great Wall of China and wander between some of its watch towers while imagining you are under attack. Discard any fantasies you may have of walking the entire wall, it spans 21,000 km. How long? About half the length of the equator and some of it is underwater.
The Forbidden City
Enter The Forbidden City. Although it contains almost 10,000 rooms, you won’t get lost.
See the 8,000 strong Terracotta Army in Xi’an face to face. It took around 37 years to make them and a little over 2,000 years before they were rediscovered (probably by the descendants of the families that were paid not to tell anyone about it).
Explore a random Hutong, spend an afternoon relaxing in Beijing’s Summer Palace and end your day watching an acrobatic show in Bejing.
Visit the Bund area in Shanghai. Be sure to take the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel for a trippy journey with flashing psychedelic lights and a weird soundtrack that will probably confuse you.
Navigate the watery wonder Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo.
The hanging monastery and a big Buddha
See the largest Budda in the world. Measuring 71 metres high, the Leshan Buddha is carved into a cliff face in central Sichuan. If carved Buddas on mountains are your thing, then be sure to also visit Datong where a kilometre long stretch of Buddas may be enjoyed.
Make friends with a panda bear, apparently they are good swimmers.
Climb the stairs of Tianmen Shan, the gateway to heaven. It really does look like a portal to another world.
Spend a day exploring the ancient city Xi'an.
China - Tips
Book before you leave home
Book tickets in advance so you don’t waste time bartering, wading through red tape in a Chinese ticket office or getting on the wrong boat.
Start your Chinese adventure in Beijing, here you’ll find yourself close to most of the famous attractions.
Chinese don't line up like they used to
Arrive at train stations early, there is seldom an orderly line and if you’re on a schedule the last thing you want to do is push your way through a tight scrum of hardened Chinese ladies.
Barter hard, the Chinese are centuries old negotiators.
Watch out for phony taxi drivers, their meters roll over faster than the coins falling out your pocket.
If you’re planning to visit the terracotta warriors from Beijing, save time and a night’s stay in a hotel by taking the Beijing to Xi’an overnight sleeper train.
Get a local map
Buy a Chinese language map, your English version in your guide book means nothing to the locals. Also arm yourself with a good phrase book or a translator app - charades and smiles will only get you so far.
The Great Wall heads up
When visiting the Great Wall head to Mutianyu, less tourists and less hassle than Badaling.
Forget the water, use a brolly
Keep your travel guide hidden when entering the country, some of them are banned and will be confiscated at the airport.
Do not pour water over your head to cool down in front of security guards – you may get arrested if you do.
Hong Kong - Destination guide
Hold on tight, things move fast in the Pearl of the Orient. Grab your camera and credit cards and prepare to snap skylines, shop and shove your way to the front seats.
Ride the Peak Tram and take in the spectacular harbour view from Victoria Peak.
Enjoy a morning stroll or jog around Victoria Peak.
Cross Victoria Harbour on the star ferry.
Explore the street markets. Visit as many as you can and seek out the most unusual food you can find at the Temple Street Night Market. Think, Snake Bile, Cow Offal, Pig Blood Curd and Chicken Testicles, or just think again if you ‘re slightly sain.
Have high tea in either the famous Peninsula Hotel or, if views are more your thing, then head to the Inter-Continental.
Visit the giant 202-ton Tian Tan Buddha.
Ride a junk
Ride a ‘junk’ – Hang on, I’m talking about a sail boat here. Yes, you can charter them.
Enter the Dragon
Escape the noise of the big city and walk the Dragons Back to Shek O Peak.
Happy Valley Racecourse
Party hard at the Happy Valley Racecourse.
Ten Thousand Buddhas
Visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, but don’t waste your time trying to count them.
Hong Kong - Tips
Take advantage of the express airport to city train. Be sure to buy your tickets online before you arrive to the avoid lines at the airport.
Hop on the Ngong Ping 360 gondola to enjoy the best views while traveling to the Tian Tan Buddha.
Ride the Star Ferry at night in both directions to soak up all the views.
Save time and hop onto the MTR to travel between destinations, it’s easy to navigate, cheap and fast.
Arrive at The Peninsula Hotel before 2pm if you’re thirsty for high tea, it’s popular.
Arrive early for the Peak tram, lines can be long and afternoons can be stifling hot. You’ll enjoy the view a lot more when you’re by yourself first thing in the morning.
Be polite and assertive. If you leave a gap in a line expect to lose it, don’t be mad, that’s just the way it is in this big city.
Find a hotel that’s centrally located, or at least close to an MRT station.
Don’t forget to barter when buying goods in the markets.
Take a brolly, it rains a lot.
Israel - Destination guide
One sure thing Jews, Christians and Muslims will all agree on is that Israel is the biblical Holy Land. It’s a fascinating country to visit and you don’t need a religious view to visit or appreciate its long and confusing history. Just pack an open mind, respect the views of others and take a lot of pictures.
There are loads of things to fill your schedule with here, choosing the right postcard may be one of the hardest things you’ll do but don’t worry when sending it, even the glue is kosher.
Get hopelessly lost
Get hopelessly lost in the old City of Jerusalem – getting lost is the easy bit.
Take in views of the Dead Sea and familiarise yourself with the local history from the ancient fortress Masada.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Explore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Jerusalem.
Dead Seas Scrolls
Visit the Qumran Caves and learn about the discovery of the Dead Seas Scrolls.
Write out your wish list and leave it in the Western Wall.