The northeastern region of Asia contains most of the power, population and pollution in this part of the world. Look at any map and it would appear that China completely dominates the scene. With the biggest population on earth, and one of humanity’s oldest and greatest civilizations, China certainly deserves its place in the annals of history.
Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have booming economies and modern cities filled with trendy people that are only just now being challenged by China. Although each country seems to slightly resemble the other they are all very different, and provide a completely different travel experience.
It’s hard to ignore China. This cradle of Asian civilization boasts some real treasures such as the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors of Xian, and Beijing’s magical Forbidden Palace. Though the Chinese are arguably the rudest people you’ll find in Northeast Asia, they number more than a billion and are hard to avoid.
Any visitor to China will be awed by the crush of people, its filthy public toilets and the glittering prosperity of Shanghai. Contrast this with the sublime order of Japan, and you’ll wonder where things went wrong. The idyllic temple-laden streets of Kyoto make it one of the world’s greatest destinations, while the giddy sleeplessness of Tokyo can humble even a New Yorker. Mt Fuji’s perfect form seems to sum it all up.
But don’t discount the smaller countries of Northeast Asia as potential travel destinations. South Korea is an ancient culture with amazing food, mountain-clad landscapes and some of the hippest Asians around. Seoul is overflowing with them, but head into the countryside and you’ll find beautiful temples and quiet rural towns.
Taiwan is equally endowed with sublime nature, a hip culture and a unique edge to its Chinese population. This surprisingly beautiful island has unbeatable cuisine and a tidy capital in Taipei. Hong Kong is always a favorite for its exciting pace and incredible setting, and Macau seems set to win the gamblers’ hearts.