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Best Places to Visit in Asia

From megacities to remote islands, Asia's top travel spots offer a hearty dose of adventure, ancient history and culture. After considering local prices, accessibility and the variety of attractions in each destination, along with traveler feedback, U.S. News ranked the best places to visit in Asia. Contribute to next year's list by casting your vote below. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

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Best Places to Visit in Asia

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    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    This far-flung destination, which is located miles from civilization in the Indian Ocean, is made up of about 1,200 islands that provide an idyllic atmosphere that's pretty much paradise. The islands of the Maldives feature lush tropical landscapes, unparalleled white sand beaches, crystal-clear ocean waters and coral reefs that prompt extensive exploration. The best way to experience this slice of paradise? In one of its many overwater bungalows, of course.

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    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    There's no dilly-dallying here – Tokyo is as fast-paced as cities come (it's one of the largest cities in the world, after all). With millions upon millions of residents to its name, Tokyo features flashing lights and insanely crowded streets that novice visitors may have a hard time keeping up with. But travelers should accept the challenge and enjoy Tokyo's exhilarating energy and unrivaled shopping scene, not to mention its delicious, fresh sushi.

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    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    Phuket, Thailand's elongated beaches and cerulean waters embody a paradise that few other Asian destinations can rival. You'll find those beautiful beaches docked with traditional, wooden long-tail boats and limestone rock formations that rise from the sea. Relaxing on the beach, swimming in the water and enjoying boat tours are the most popular things to do here, as is visiting the towering Big Buddha statue. What's more, lodging here is relatively affordable.

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    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    Bali's natural beauty is so profound, travelers have been known to refer to the Indonesian destination as "heaven on Earth." Here, lush rainforests, picturesque mountains, sweeping valleys and scenic beaches all sit side by side. You'll also find a handful of serene temples – including Uluwatu and Tanah Lot temples – and you can't miss out on a trip to Ubud, Bali's cultural capital and home of the region's famous rice terraces.

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    Sagarmatha National Park

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    This Nepalese national park is famous for housing the behemoth that is Mount Everest. However, it is important to know that Sagarmatha is not just Everest. The park also offers several other sky-high peaks, as well as sweeping valleys, glaciers, deep gorges and incredible wildlife, including snow leopards and red pandas. However, due to Sagarmatha's high elevation and rocky, steep terrain, a trip here isn't for the faint of heart.

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    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    This former British colony offers an easy introduction to China. The city blends both cultures to create a hub that is Eastern at heart but with roots deeply influenced by the West. You'll see this in the city's capitalist culture, which is illustrated by its towering skyscrapers, numerous street markets and thousands of dining options. For unmatched natural beauty, head to one of Hong Kong's more than 250 outlying islands.

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    Chiang Mai

    #7 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    One of the most interesting destinations in Thailand, Chiang Mai definitely has a buzz about it like Bangkok but offers more of a reprieve thanks to its surrounding mountains and location in the northwestern part of the country. Your itinerary should include tours of breathtaking temples like Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh, trips to night markets, a visit to an elephant sanctuary or two and a wander through beautiful Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.

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    #8 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    Thailand's capital is filled to the brim with eye-catching Hindu sites, nonstop nightlife and incredible Thai cuisine. Find your chi at sacred sites like Wat Arun and Wat Pho, or hit up the Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the world's largest street markets. While here, grab some grub from street stalls as much as possible: Bangkok is considered one of the best places to get street food in the world.

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    #9 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    History lovers will revel in the sites of Kyoto. The city, which used to be Japan's capital during imperial times, is awash with ancient religious sights, including Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine that dates back to A.D. 711. In addition to saving time for shrines and temples, be sure to pencil in a visit to the famous Philosopher's Path, preferably during cherry blossom season, and treat yourself to kaiseki, which are traditional multicourse meals native to Japan.

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    #10 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    Singapore is unique in that it's a melting pot of Asian cultures. This fusion has led to prosperity that takes form in the city's colorful neighborhoods, eclectic culinary scene and overall modernity. After shopping on flashy Orchard Road and chowing down in cultural enclaves like Little India or Chinatown, head downtown to take in the towering skyscrapers from Merlion Park, the Singapore Flyer or the sky-high Gardens by the Bay.

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    Jaipur

    #11 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    Travel to Rajasthan's capital to marvel at incredible architecture. Jaipur, India's biggest claim to fame is spellbinding Hawa Mahal, a pink palace that was modeled after Krishna's crown (a Hindu god) and features an astounding 953 windows. The windows allowed the original occupants, the ladies of the royal family, to view the comings and goings of the Indian city without being seen. There are also the Jaigarh Fort, Panna Meena ka Kund and Jantar Mantar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that displays larger-than-life astronomical instruments.

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    Taipei

    #12 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    Known for its can't-miss night markets and historical attractions, Taiwan's capital is a must-see destination for those traveling to Asia. Popular things to do here include riding to the top of the ultramodern Taipei 101 tower, visiting the National Palace Museum (where you'll find numerous artifacts from Beijing's Forbidden City) and stopping by the bustling Shilin Night Market for some tasty Taiwanese street food, including its famous stinky bean curd.

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    Hanoi

    #13 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    Hanoi is perfect for first-time Vietnam visitors. The country's capital offers plenty in the way of history, culture, shopping, dining and natural splendor. Start your day off with a Vietnamese coffee, then head to Hanoi's central Old Quarter for a stroll through Dong Xuan, the city's largest market. After that, visit one of the city's many temples, including the ancient Temple of Literature, which dates back to the 11th century.

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    #14 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    South Korea's capital does an incredible job of blending the ancient with the modern. Between all of the busy streets and towering skyscrapers lie ancient palaces, shrines and villages waiting to be explored. The city's UNESCO World Heritage sites are a good place to start, especially the 15th-century Changdeokgung Palace Complex.Take in all sides of Seoul during your trip and save time for its incredible green spaces, such as Namsan Park and Bukhansan National Park.

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    Railay Beach

    #15 in Best Places to Visit in Asia

    If you only have time to go to one beach in Thailand, make it Railay Beach. Located in the country's Krabi province, Railay Beach features glistening white sands and is surrounded by limestone rock formations (covered in leafy green vegetation) that jut out from the sea. As if this beach destination couldn't get more alluring, you're only able to reach it by boat. Daytrips from nearby Ao Nang are popular tours among travelers.

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