6 Amazing Places in Asia to Warm Your Heart (and Your Bones)

By Alessia Castiglione of Topdeck Travel, a youth travel company with a passion for creating grand adventures and life-long memories.

Chasing the sun is no mean feat, but these hotspots dotted throughout Asia will make sure you can chase it for as long as summer is in.

Boat around Thailand’s west and east coasts with James Bond Island, Lawa Island, and a full-day Angthong Island tour to give you enough memories to fill your SD card. Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta and Phang Nga Bay make up the peaceful and secluded south with its beaches, countless snorkelling and swimming havens, and Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao will bring the sunrise/sunset action.

See also: the bustling city and its tuk tuk-filled streets, a Chao Phraya River cruise, the Bridge over the River Kwai, and the JEATH War museum. Thailand is where it’s at.

To Warm Your Heart:
Wat Puak Tam temple and artisan brass making village, Chiang Mai.

Thailand 3

To Warm Your Bones:
Tiger cave temple, Krabi, Thailand. With its nearby beach and notorious rock climbing spot, this place gets the blood pumping.

Thailand - Krabi

Hop around the remote islands of Indonesia – from Lembongan Island to Gili T and nature/yoga haven Ubud. Water sports on Lembongan Island, a Cidomo ride in the Gilis, an Ubud cultural dance show, a full day Kintamani tour and plenty of options of the aquatic kind should keep you busy for seven days. Plus, there’s always coconuts, tanning and Indonesian food to be had.

To Warm Your Heart:
14th century temples (complete with monkeys) at the Ubud Monkey Forest, Ubud.

Indonesia 1

To Warm Your Bones:
Gili Islands, Lembongan Island, Seminyak – just to name a few.

Indonesia 2 (bali)


Between Ho Chi Minh’s rumble of four million motorbikes, Nha Trang’s scuba diving culture, and floating markets and jade waters in Halong Bay, Vietnam is the perfect island-city combination. Also: visit the horse-honouring temples, chaotic old quarters and philanthropic restaurants in Hanoi. See O Quy Ho, a H’mong village, and stay with a H’mong homestay host, explore the Muong Hoa valley and its ethnic villages, and express yourself at a batik painting master class. The land of pho and snake wine will not disappoint.

To Warm Your Heart:
Koto restaurant, Hanoi.

Vietnam 2

To Warm Your Bones:
Hoi An and Nha Trang beaches.

Vietnam 1

Get blessed by monks in Siem Reap, meet Bayon’s stoney faces and, of course, Angkor Wat with her moat. Walk the capital Phnom Penh’s waterfront to find the Silver Pagoda and National Museum, meander around the art deco market, or get taken for a ride and hang with an ox.

To Warm Your Heart:
Buddhist temple to get blessed by monks, Siem Reap.

Cambodia - Angkor Wat 1

To Warm Your Bones:
Angkor Wat (five-kilometre religious site) and Ta Prohm (held up by tree roots!)

Cambodia - Angkor Wat 2

Countless tours, French-influenced food, temples, mingling with locals at morning markets, breathtaking sunrises atop spiritual mountains and coastal island heaven. Give monks their alms, cruise rivers, and learn the meaning of empowering enterprise at night markets where villagers are helping themselves out of poverty one piece of jewellery at a time.

To Warm Your Heart:
Wat Ho Phra Keo in Vientiane with its array of Laotian art, and the bombshell jewellery markets in Luang Prabang.

Laos - Luang Prabang

To Warm Your Bones:
An early rise to see the monks walk through the city for their daily alms collecting ritual, then breathtaking sunrise views atop all 328 steps of Mount Phousi.

Japan blends a mix of the traditional and ultra-modern in Tokyo. Take in temples and geishas in Kyoto and delish cuisines in the culinary capital, Osaka. Robot bars, a Kyoto day trip, too-big-for-the-bowl udon, a Buddhist prayer service, the Hiroshima Peace Museum and a folk village visit (with cat cafes for good measure) will introduce you to the land known for its down-to-the-second precision.

To warm your heart:
Cherry blossoms galore and the Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple.

Japan 1

To warm your bones:
Playing with the snow monkeys in Hakuba, catching a bullet train to Nagoya (or anywhere for that matter), and spotting and photographing Geishas scurrying to work in the Gion district of Kyoto.

Japan - Sensoji Tokyo