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. 

Terracotta Army

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).

Acrobats

Explore a random Hutong, spend an afternoon relaxing in Beijing’s Summer Palace and end your day watching an acrobatic show in Bejing.

Shanghai

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.

Li River

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.

Panda

Make friends with a panda bear, apparently they are good swimmers.

Tianmen Shan

Climb the stairs of Tianmen Shan, the gateway to heaven. It really does look like a portal to another world.

Xi'an

Spend a day exploring the ancient city Xi'an.

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 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.  

Starting possition

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.

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  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.

Peak Tram

Ride the Peak Tram and take in the spectacular harbour view from Victoria Peak. 

Victoria Peak

Enjoy a morning stroll or jog around Victoria Peak.  

Ferry

Cross Victoria Harbour on the star ferry.

Markets

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. 

High tea

Have high tea in either the famous Peninsula Hotel or, if views are more your thing, then head to the Inter-Continental.

Big Buddha

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.

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 Hong Kong -  Tips

Transport

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. 

Timing

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. 

Survival

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.

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  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.

Masada

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.

The Wall

 Write out your wish list and leave it in the Western Wall.

Mount of Olives

Soak up the sweeping views from the world’s oldest continuously used cemetery, Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.

Tunnels

Check out the tunnel tour of the Western Wall.

Enter the West Bank

Visit the West Bank – no not to make a deposit. You’re going to see Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah.

Tel Aviv

Party in Tel Aviv.

Dead Sea

Float about in the Dead Sea, it’s difficult to dive into. 

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 Israel -  Tips

Get a good guide

Take tours, Israel is fascinating and a holy hot spot for three religions, good guides will not only keep you informed and show you stuff you can’t find in your guide books, but they will also keep you safe.

Hot hot hot

Visit Masada in the morning, it gets hot out there.

Border crossing

The border crossing from Jordan is perhaps the slowest in the world, be sure to have a good breakfast, expect delays, don’t panic when your luggage disappears for an hour or so and just follow the rules.

Threads

Ladies should pack a long scarf and be sure to wear clothes that cover your arms and knees.

Passport

Consider having your passport stamp on a separate piece of paper if your planning further travels in the Middle East.  

History

Swat up on your history and local politics before arrival. Israel has a complicated past and you wouldn’t want to offend anyone. 

The guns are real

Follow the latest news before you go, avoid the Gaza Strip and keep an eye on any safety warnings issued.

Day off

Bear in mind from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday things get a little quiet as the locals focus on the Jewish day of rest. 

Taxi

Find a taxi driver from Palestine if you are planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

Jerusalem

Base yourself in Jerusalem, it’s simply amazing. 

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  Jordan - Destination  guide

The land were being polite will require you to refuse a meal three times before accepting it. Like the Pyramids, Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China, Petra is one of those must-see places before you die. Conveniently, it’s located in one of the most stable and friendly countries in the Middle East - Jordan. Jordan has so much to offer, don’t just settle for Petra, get in a car and carefully explore this treasure from top to bottom.

Petra

Petra – Everything about Petra is amazing. No, you won’t see Indiana Jones searching for the Holy Grail here, but you will feel like him if you arrive early enough and stay a few minutes ahead of the tourists.    

Jerash

Visit the well-preserved Roman city of Jerash. 

Wadi Rum

Ride a camel in Wadi Rum and eat a fig from the same tree T.E. Lawrence ate from.

Crusader castles

Explore Crusader castles: Kerak, Shobak and Ajloun.

World's oldest bar

 Enjoy a drink or smoke some shisha in the world’s oldest bar – located just outside the entry to Petra. 

Explore the Roman Amphitheatre

Explore the Roman Amphitheatre - Amman

Citadel ruins Amman

Take a guided tour of the Citadel ruins and museum – Amman. 

Qasr Azraq

T. E. Lawrence fans will want to visit Qasr Azraq, a large fortress where Lawrence wrote his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom.  

Royal Automobile Museum

Fed up with history? Check out the Royal Automobile Museum – the king is into cars and if you are too, then you will enjoy his impressive collection.  

Dead Sea

Get out of the desert, give your skin a good time and cover yourself in mud before floating about in the Dead Sea.

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 Jordan -  Tips

Timing

Time your arrival at Petra and book yourself onto an evening walk through the Siq in silence. Viewing the Treasury for the first time at night is a sight to behold.

Water

Petra is a furnace in summer, cover up, take water, arrive early and climb up to the monastery before the heat. 

Photos

The best time to snap pictures of Petra’s Treasury is in the afternoon when all the tourists have gone home and shadows are no longer confusing your camera.  

Coins

Keep your eyes open for ancient coins if visiting Jerash or Petra, particularly after a recent rainfall. 

Good guides / Bad guides

Find an official guide to reveal Petra’s secrets, you won’t regret it. 

Essential viewing

Watch Lawrence of Arabia before you arrive.

Whisper

Stand on stage at the Roman Amphitheatre Amman and confidently address your audience with a whisper, the acoustics will impress your friends seated anywhere in the stands.  

Border crossing

The border crossing to Israel is the most tedious border crossing in the world. Have a big breakfast and expect delays if you brave it.

Photos

Attempt to look good in your photos, take some shoe polish.

Tips

The people are lovely, kind and friendly, treat them with respect and tip them appropriately. 

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  Mongolia - Destination  guide