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Asia has always been a magnet for adventurous travelers from the West wanting to experience a completely different culture and way of life to the one that they are accustomed to. From gap year students to retirees, the one thing that really makes a visit unforgettable is having the freedom to spend weeks or months exploring the many and varied experiences on offer.

Asia is the world’s biggest continent consisting of around 30% of the Earth’s total land area and is bordered by the Pacific to the East, the Indian Ocean to the South and Arctic Ocean to the North. Home to well over 4 billion people it’s also by far the most populous continent.

In being home to such a huge population, Asian cultures are varied and unique, with a great many languages, cultures and histories which continue to prosper and survive. Though without digging in too deep, this is a short overview and summary of the main cornerstones which permeate even the most unique.

History

Asia was home to some of the world’s earliest civilizations who developed predominantly around the lush river valleys of the huge continent, and who have been credited with first introducing many primitive technologies as well as the concept of mathematics.

Inland, the central steppes region has long been home to nomadic tribes who roamed widely on horseback. Asia was also the birthplace of most, if not all, of the world’s major religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Asia religion

Asia and the Family

Throughout Asia the concept of the family is very strong as is the sense of group collectivism. It’s usual for several generations of the same family to live in the same place where old and young alike can get the care they need.

Children are also generally expected to be far more dutiful and obedient to their parents and grandparents than they are in the West. The idea of always honoring the family and never bringing it into disrepute is another typically Asian trait commonplace everywhere from India to China and beyond.

Asian Cuisine

It was Asia that the world looked to for many of the exotic herbs and spices that first began being introduced to the West as long ago as Roman times. It’s these spices that characterize a great deal of Asian cuisine making much of it spicy and full of big flavours thanks to ingredients like chilli, coriander and cumin.

By far the most widespread crop throughout the continent is rice which thrives in the hot and humid conditions. As a relatively cheap food source this forms the backbone of a great deal of Asian cuisine which also tends to feature more vegetarian dishes than the more expensive meat.

Rice in Asia RF

Superstition and Luck

Alongside strongly-felt religious beliefs many Asian cultures also feel that superstition and luck have a great deal of relevance to their lives and the use of lucky charms is widespread.

It’s not known where many of these beliefs originated but in a number of cases they also play a major part in folk tales. So if you want to ensure good fortune on any visit it might be a good idea to check out some of the most popular good luck charms before you go.

Of course, the only way to really discover just how much the kaleidoscopic continent of Asia has to offer is to visit it yourself. Its vivid colors, unforgettable sights and experiences and smorgasbord of unique cultures will mean you’ll make memories you will never forget.

OUR FAVORITE ASIA TRAVEL GUIDES: CLICK TO LOOK INSIDE ↓

Lonely Planet Southeast Asia

Lonely Planet Central Asia

India travel guide amazon

101 Coolest Things to Do in India

INSPIRED?! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

    16 Comments

  1. You got that right, Asia is such a magnet for Western Folks to go and visit. My first visit to Asia was Hong Kong last year which is deemed to be a city with a lot of western influence and Chinese culture. No way is it like any other western city, it totally surprised me, the culture, the foods, the smells, the way of life, the landscape….and since then I been to Asia a few times and it keeps capturing my heart. I love Asia. 🙂

    • So glad to hear you’ve fallen in love with the continent Danik! Yes, even in the most cosmopolitan cities I’ve found it’s a completely different scene to that of the West. Which is an incredible thing – too much of the world is becoming cookie cutter in my opinion, but Asia remains unique 🙂

      Happy travels!

  2. I am afraid that I haven’t traveled enough through Asia and it’s a pity as it is one of the most beautiful continents with many ancient civilizations. I like how bonded families are in Asia

    • Definitely one of the most beautiful continents, and yes, the cultures here are so fascinating with such a long history. I hope you have the chance to discover Asia soon!

  3. This is such a great little intro into Asia. It s great for first timers to read this port to understand a little better about the continent.

    • Thanks Barb! That was our aim, something quick as more of an Asian culture 101 – obviously there are many diverse cultures within the continent itself, but nice to know about the similarities which bind them all 🙂

  4. I haven’t spent a ton of time in Asia, but looking forward to getting to know it much better since we are moving to China at the end of May! It will certainly be an adjustment on almost all levels, but getting to know and understand a new culture is something that makes our expat life so exciting.

    • Have an amazing move to China Drew! Looking forward to following your updates during your stay 🙂

  5. I have yet to make it to eastern Asia. I’m dying to experience the rich cultures of Thailand and Japan (especially the food!).

    • Hope you have the chance to travel soon! Yes, the food is an incredible reason to visit, especially in Thailand and Japan!

  6. I love Asia, but I’m a little biased. 🙂 I think the mystery is what draws travelers. Superstition is big in Asia, that’s why phone numbers and buildings with the number 8 go for big bucks.

    • I agree, I don’t think I can pin down the draw to one specific thing – seems to be many different reasons people flock here, there’s a certain exotic draw that I think is a combination of everything!

  7. It’s lovely quick guide Megan…but it also wants to make me read more. I am an Asian, but there is always something new that I discover when I travel around too 🙂

    • Thanks Siddhartha! And yes, I can imagine that even being from Asia, it’s such a diverse continent that there’s always something to learn about other cultures too 🙂

  8. The family commitment and fresh, locally grown foods are always by two biggest take aways when traveling in Asia. It certainly is a different lifestyle to the west and whilst I don’t agree with everything, I think a combination of western and eastern cultures would make the perfect combination.

    • I agree that a combination of western and eastern cultures would make the perfect combination – there is always something we can learn and take from other cultures to improve upon our own way of life 🙂

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