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EXPERIENCES EVERY WORLD TRAVELER MUST HAVE IN ASIA

Thailand Floating Market

The Most Memorable Moments Often Won’t Fit into Any Photograph

Check your travel bucket list. Does it include Asia? China, Japan, the tropical regions of Southeast Asia? If not, it’s time for an update, because these regions await with nearly infinite discoveries that simply cannot be fully appreciated until they are experienced. There are UNESCO Sites and historical structures galore, many of which are so iconic they’re instantly recognizable in photographs. These are, of course, must-see spots that will leave you in awe. But there are also wonders not capturable in any image. Things you must taste, hear, feel.

Here, we’ve curated a list of just a sampling of the things one must do to have truly experienced Asia. Like any great “must” travel list, this is a good start – one that will grow with each traveler’s unique journey.

EAT

Street food. Where? On virtually any street in various destinations throughout Southeast Asia. If much of a destination’s heritage is expressed through its cuisine, then the traditions of Bangkok, Myanmar and Penang are vibrantly displayed and served up on city streets. Look for spicy and sour in Yangon, sizzling skewers and fried noodles in Bangkok, and a tangy blend of Indian, Chinese and Malay ingredients in Penang (known as a foodie paradise). In Hong Kong, Dai Pai Dongs (pop-up food stalls) are found throughout the neighborhoods, inviting you to sample dim sum and other treats pretty much any time, anywhere.

Penang, Malaysia street food
Traditional street food called lok lok in Penang, Malaysia.

SHOP

We’re not talking tchotchke souvenirs. Select Asian cities are internationally renowned for their monuments of retail wonder, ranging from today’s hottest designers to handmade works following ancient tradition. Head to Shanghai for shopping at virtually all hours, with highlights including the exotic fabrics at Casa Pagoda, handcrafted ceramics at Spin, and the treasures of old at the famed Dong Tai Lu Antiques market. By contrast, Shanghai’s waterfront Bund area glitters with skyscraping shopping and galleries. Kuala Lumpur is the place for top designer wares, specifically chic footwear, with Jimmy Choo topping the marquee of favorites. Art and fashion are famously, and equally, diverse and readily available in Hong Kong, with styles that span a world of tastes.

Shanghai Antique Market
Collection of calligraphy brushes at the antique market in Shanghai, China

SAIL

From ship to shore… and back to the water is where you should go to explore some of Asia’s most breathtaking natural sites, many of which are also cultural icons. Beyond the luxury of your Crystal ship are waterways worth exploring. Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is wrapped in thick jungle and dotted with floating markets and houseboats, while Halong Bay is steeped in history both geopolitical and mythological. In Puerto Princesa, Philippines, the subterranean river is a UNESCO treasure and one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders. In Thailand, dozens of floating markets in and around Bangkok are a feast for all senses, including one’s sense of adventure. Floating along the river and mingle with local merchants, sample the day’s specialties and don’t miss the sights along the shoreline.

Thailand floating market
Merchants sail by selling fresh food at a floating market in Thailand

HIKE

Urban or rugged, treks through Asia will take your breath away, whether from the sheer physicality or the awe-striking sights along the route. On one end of the spectrum, Hong Kong’s Dragon’s Back trail is considered one of the best natural retreats in close proximity to the glittering metropolis. It’s strenuous but immensely rewarding, particularly when capped with a visit to the city’s Central District. For a more spiritually reflective and physically challenging experience, opt for an intense four hours along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage path at Daimonzaka. The half-day hike from Shingu up Mount Nachi will leave you speechless at the sight of the Kumano Nachi Shrine, Nachi Falls and the red pagoda of Seigantoji.

Hong Kong Dragon's Back Trail
Hong Kong Dragon’s Back trail looks over the sea and city below

These unforgettable experiences are a fantastic start to any world traveler’s explorations of Asia, and Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity 2020-2021 Asia voyages are the perfect beginning of the journey. Book today, and update your travel bucket list.

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