Getting Around Asia

Asia Things to Do Getting There Getting Around

The largest and most populous continent has dozens of countries but getting around overland here can be a problem due to often strict border controls and the great distances involved. Getting about by air is without doubt the best way to travel, and there are several budget airlines and flag carriers offering cheap domestic and cross-border travel.

The break-up of the Soviet Union increased the possibility of traveling overland from Europe to India and beyond although the Trans-Siberian route through Iran and Pakistan is the only real option. Traveling extensively by train within China is better than traveling by bus for long distances.

Train: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand have the most useful rail options while China also offers useful services. In general, Southeast Asia’s rail options are quite poor with often slow and sketchy services in most developing countries.

Bus: Bus travel in Asia is the most common and cheapest form of travel, and there is a myriad of classes available to the tourist from standard, non-air conditioned buses that are most popular with locals, to large intercity VIP-type services. Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan all have excellent bus systems, and travel by bus is the main way of getting about China and Mongolia.

Car: Car hire is most popular in South East Asian countries, where you can easily pick up a vehicle at an airport. Driving in China and North Korea requires that you have a driver. The roads are generally good in Asia although many countries have little in the way of English road signs, namely China and Mongolia, plus distances can be vast and cross-border travel tough. Japan has the best roads but expensive tolls and fuel.

Ferry: Ferry travel is extensive across Asia, particularly in South East Asia where Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand all have a significant number of tourist islands. Japan also has extensive ferry services between its main islands and the Okinawa chain, while travel between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong and Taiwan is mainly by boat.

Air: Major air hubs are in Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Beijing, Tokyo, and Seoul and there are also many lesser international airports spread throughout the continent. Several low-cost carriers offer cheap travel around Asia, such as Malaysia’s AirAsia and Singapore’s Tiger Airways.