Asia and the Middle East make up a vast, diverse, and extraordinarily beautiful part of the world.
From the rolling rice paddies of Bali to the energetic streets of Bangkok, there’s so much to see that choosing a specific country, or even region, can seem an impossible task. And that’s without factoring in making an itinerary and choosing the sites and attractions you want to see most.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with TUI Tours, the world-renowned tour experts who can make your travel dreams a reality.
So, if you’re thinking about a holiday in Asia or the Middle East, but aren’t sure which sights and destinations are most alluring to you, check out some of these captivating places to get inspired.
1. Jaipur, India
India is one of the most colourful and captivating countries in the world – and Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is arguably the most charismatic city of all.
Rajasthan is India’s most extravagant state, and its capital’s streets are a contradictory blend of chaos and calm – from the buzzing of bikes and the whizz of rickshaws, to dawdling walkers and the odd camel strolling leisurely down the street.
Jaipur, known as the ‘The Pink City’ is most famous for its magnificent pink palaces, which reflect the city’s grand past, and during an eleven-night TUI Tour, you’ll get to visit many of Jaipur’s most spectacular sites.
The pink Hawa Mahal (known as ‘The Palace of the Winds’), which resembles a soaring five-storey beehive is the perfect place to stop and take photos. And a visit to Maharaja’s City Palace – with its elaborate complex of courtyards, gardens, and buildings – will take your breath away. This palace is the former Royal Residence, and while part of it is now converted into a museum, a private portion of it is still used by the Royal Family of Jaipur.
You’ll also visit the enormous hilltop Amber Fort, which enjoys a gorgeous lakeside location, and is a splendid mix of Hindu and Muslim styles. You’ll then head to the UNESCO Jantar Mantar, the royal observatory that resembles an eclectic collection of sculptures. Along the way, you’ll visit museums, enjoy plenty of downtime, and feast upon the delicious local cuisine.
But this exceptional tour allows you to discover far more than just the delights of Jaipur. You’ll also visit dazzling Delhi, where you can ride a rickshaw; visit India’s second-biggest mosque; and sample street food. You’ll go sightseeing in Lucknow, watch a Hindu ritual on the River Ganges, and visit India’s most famous attraction and magnificent monument – the iconic Taj Mahal.
Discover the delights of Jaipur
2. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Of all Asia’s most exhilarating and energetic cities, Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast Vietnam is definitely a contender for the top spot.
First-time visitors to this sprawling Vietnamese city can’t help but be carried away by its high-octane vivacity, and from the hum of millions of motorbikes to the mouthwatering aroma of sensational street food, you could spend weeks here and not get bored.
During a 14-night tour of Vietnam with TUI Tours, you’ll get to explore Ho Chi Minh City – formerly known as Saigon – and understand why, despite its heartbreaking past, it’s now a modern metropolis on the move. This is a city where the past, present, and future exist together, where historic temples sit beside futuristic skyscrapers.
To learn how the war shaped this city, you’ll visit the War Remnants Museum, where you can view over 20,000 artefacts and photos, and discover how Vietnam won its independence. You’ll also visit the grand Saigon Opera House; the Central Post Office, with its elegant French architecture; and enjoy mesmerising views from the observation deck of the 68-floor Bitexco Tower.
But of course, there’s much more to Vietnam than Ho Chi Minh City! You’ll also visit the capital Hanoi, where you’ll take a guided tour of all the city’s main sights. You’ll spend two nights in Hoi An, the picturesque waterside city that’s a UNESCO heritage site – and if you want to extend your time here, you easily can with TUI Blue.
If that weren’t enough, you’ll also cruise around Halong Bay, marvelling at the limestone peaks that rise from the shimmering emerald waters. You can get a close-up view on a kayaking tour, take a trip to a 10,000-square-metre maze that extends into a mountain lake, and learn how freshwater pearls are cultivated for jewellery at a pearl farm.
Embrace the excitement of Ho Chi Minh City
3. Ubud, Bali
Bali is known for not only being a tropical paradise but a spiritual centre – a place where you can rest and relax amidst the captivating culture and rich history. And if you’re looking to enjoy some mindful meditation or even just relaxation and rejuvenation in glorious surroundings, there’s nowhere better to head than Ubud, the spiritual city in the heart of Bali.
During a seven-night private tour of Bali with TUI Tours – without a group and led by just a guide – you’ll spend three nights in Ubud, surrounded by beautiful emerald rice fields and iconic Balinese temples.
You’ll get to visit villages to watch dances and see craftsmen at work, admire traditional Balinese monuments, visit Goa Gajah (also known as the Elephant Cave), and sample the country’s fabulously fresh cuisine, which is just as good for vegans and veggies as omnivores.
Ubud’s central location means you’re perfectly placed to explore many of Bali’s most fabulous sights, like the 500-year-old Taman Ayun, which is surrounded by a huge moat, so it feels like you’re floating. You’ll also be able to stop at the Tegallalang Rice Terrace, where you can admire glorious views of mist-wrapped mountains and swaying palm trees.
Ubud is also home to the Monkey Forest in the village of Padangtegal, which is worth a visit during any downtime. This is a 30-acre natural reserve that’s home to over 700 grey long-tailed macaques!
After Ubud, there’s much more excitement on your Balinese itinerary. You’ll visit the bustling seaside resort of Seminyak, where you’ll have lots of free time to take a yoga class, pick up souvenirs, get a massage, or try water sports like surfing and scuba diving – among many other things.
You’ll also take a sunset trip to Uluwatu, which is known for its cliff-top views. Here, you’ll visit a sea temple, where you can see the famous Kecak fire dance, as well as hundreds of monkeys.
Find peace and tranquillity in Ubud
4. Kandy, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a country that has it all: pristine beaches, ancient ruins, charming cities, wild mountains, and flavoursome food.
Located off the Southern coast of India, the relatively small size of this island means visitors can see a lot in a short space of time – and during a seven-night TUI tour, you’ll see the best Sri Lanka has to offer.
One of the island’s highlights is Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second city and cultural capital. Nestled in the lush highlands and bordered by tea plantations, Kandy is home to countless grand colonial buildings, and during your trip, you’ll get a guided tour of its narrow streets and bustling bazaars, while feasting on the delicious spicy curries Sri Lanka is known for.
Other stops include a visit to Sri Lanka’s most important religious shrine, the ivory-white Temple of the Tooth, which is said to be the home of one of the Buddha’s teeth! And you’ll get to appreciate Kandy’s unique music and dance at a cultural show – in addition to admiring over 4,000 different types of plants at Kandy’s Royal Botanical Gardens. Be sure to keep an eye out for the famous orchids!
The tour will also give you the chance to hike to the top of fifth-century Sigiriya Rock Fortress (a citadel perched above a 350-metre rock formation surrounded by dense jungle), and explore the ruins of a 1,500-year-old royal palace.
Plus, you’ll visit ancient cave temples and country villages, see elephants during a safari, and hike up Sri Lanka’s shrine-adorned mountains.
Discover Kandy’s unique culture
5. Bangkok, Thailand
No list of must-see places to visit in Asia and the middle east would be complete without Bangkok.
Home to soaring skyscrapers and golden temples, bustling markets and quiet parks, and elegant restaurants and superb street food – the sights, smells, and sounds emanating from the Thai capital are intoxicating. It’s no wonder so many visitors keep coming back.
A 13-night tour of Thailand with TUI will show you the best of Bangkok, and your guide will take you to some of the most spectacular temples in the city, including the Royal Grand Palace, where you can admire the giant Buddha statue.
You’ll also visit the city’s largest flower and vegetable market, where you can take photos of the colourful blooms, and try fresh and exotic produce. With a whole free day in Bangkok too, you’ll have plenty of time to see the city at your own pace – whether that’s sampling the famous street food or treating yourself to an extravagant dinner in one of the many fancy restaurants.
But this tour will also take you to Central Thailand, where you’ll visit the ancient city of Ayutthaya and tour two Buddhist temples. You’ll then head to Phitsanulok, where you can admire spectacular architecture at the riverside temple of Wat Chaiwatthanaram, and marvel at the rows of Buddha statues at the ancient monastery of Wat Yai Chai Mongkhol.
Next, you’ll head north for a bicycle tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site Sukhothai, a historical park that was once the capital of Northern Thailand. You’ll visit the city of Chiang Rai and from here, you’ll take a trip to the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. You’ll take a boat trip, learn about the region’s drug-trading past at a museum, and admire the beautiful scenery.
You’ll also visit Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, where you can climb the 300 steps up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of Thailand’s most sacred temples. You’ll have plenty of free time here too, so you can tour mountain temples, go shopping on the famous San Kamphaeng Road, and sample some of the country’s best dishes – from pad Thai to spicy curries and green papaya salad.
Embrace the hustle and bustle of Bangkok
Asia and the Middle East are vast and varied parts of the world, and if you’re thinking about going, it can be difficult to pick a destination. Though, hopefully, this article has helped inspire you – as each tour offers something very different.
If you’re after an exhilarating city break, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok will definitely do the trick. If you’re looking for a more peaceful break, Ubud in Bali and Kandy in Sri Lanka can offer the serenity you’re searching for. And if you’re looking to immerse yourself in history and culture, Jaipur is utterly intriguing.
The best thing about these TUI tours is that they don’t just take you to these special destinations – they also allow you to explore many different parts of a country, and with expert guides to lead you, you’ll gain a whole new perspective on each place. And if you want to stay on and relax afterwards, TUI Blue offer opportunities to do that in their beach hotels.
For more travel inspiration, why not check out the travel section of our website? And to check out more TUI tours, just head over to their website.