When talking about Asia, the superlatives come easy. By far the largest continent, it has both the highest spot on earth, Mt. Everest, and the lowest, the Dead Sea. It has the most people and the largest variety of climate types, stretching from within the Arctic Circle all the way to eleven degrees south of the equator, from the frozen tundra of Siberia to the sweltering jungles of Indochina and Indonesia.
Asia also lays claim to an unparalleled variety of landscapes, flora, fauna and ethnicities. Here you can find some of the emptiest places on earth, places where you can go for days and countless miles and never see another human being. At the opposite extreme, Asia is home to some of the planet’s most crowded cities, places that can overwhelm the visitor with an onslaught of noise, choking air, congested streets, chaotic traffic, unruly markets, poverty, touts and beggars.
Asia’s massive scale also means there are many tiny corners that can fly under the traveler’s radar. Many of these places are little gems that can get overlooked in big countries like China or India. It takes some effort to seek such places out, but they usually end up being the most memorable of travel experiences.
It may seem hard to believe that such places can still exist in the 21st century, but they do. While it’s true that the ‘digital age’ has brought the cell phone to just about every corner of the planet, it hasn’t homogenized culture or vaporized local traditions.