POPULAR DESTINATIONS- ASIA

Islands in Thailand

Although some are too small to merit a dot on a map, the islands in Thailand are among the world's most beautiful.

Imagine white sand and blue water, cheap diving, and your choice of isolated tranquility or savage nightlife -- all for far less than the cost of a trip to Hawaii.

The diversity of the Thai islands is amazing. Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui are developed, tourist hot spots with vibrant nightlife, while tiny Koh Lipe once barely maintained electricity. Beautiful Koh Lanta is the perfect compromise.

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Penang, Malaysia

Known as the "Pearl of the Orient," Penang is a place to relax, eat to the brink of misery, and appreciate Malaysia in a new way. Malaysians are quite proud of their large island.

A legacy of immigration and colonization in Penang has produced what is arguably some of the best cuisine in all of Southeast Asia. Penang hawker foodcombines the best of Malay with influences from Chinese and Indian immigrants to produce mouthwatering creations.

Superb eating is not the only indulgence on the island. You'll find hip museums and art galleries along with plenty of other things to do in Penang.

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Singapore

Notoriously expensive and needlessly shunned by backpackers and budget travelers, tiny Singapore is a modern-yet-green city/country well worth a visit for the food, mega-mall shopping, and unique blend of cultures.

Yes, Singapore costs far more than neighboring Malaysia or the rest of Southeast Asia, however, the city has a pleasant vibe, lively Indian and Chinese cultures, speaks good English, and is pleasant enough just to stroll.

You could spend months living in Singapore and still discover hidden places and eateries the guidebooks have missed!

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Malaysian Borneo

Sabah, one of two states belonging to Malaysian Borneo, is a natural paradise. Plentiful rainforest,endangered orangutans, and indigenous cultures are certainly worth grabbing a cheap flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Sabah is the perfect balance between wild and developed. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is a happening tourist city in the shadow of toweringMount Kinabalu.

When you've had enough shopping and cheap seafood, trade the concrete for East Sabah, where there are plenty of opportunities to experience Southeast Asia at its wildest.

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Beijing, China

Crowded, polluted, dreadfully appealing -- love it or hate it, Beijing is the pounding heart of China.

Amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as theGreat Wall and the Forbidden City make navigating Beijing's urban sprawl well worth the effort.

Give Beijing a chance; rather than fleeing from the madness, stick around long enough to become a part of it. Wandering the busy streets can actually become quite addictive!

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Bali, Indonesia

Bali, with its miles of beaches and volcanic landscapes, is nothing short of magic. Once only a destination for honeymooners and surfers, Bali is now one of the top destinations in Asia.

Most of the action culminates in South Bali at hedonistic Kuta Beach. Travelers in search of more than a hangover head for Ubud -- the peaceful cultural center of Bali -- or even opt to climb a volcano in the Kintamani Region.

Excellent beaches, a welcoming Hindu culture, and beautiful scenery make Bali the busiest island in Indonesia.

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Sri Lanka

Although Sri Lanka off the southern coast of India doesn't receive nearly as much attention as its neighbor to the north, the islands there rank among the best honeymoon destinations in Asia! Great spicy curry, friendly people, an interesting culture, and a much more relaxed atmosphere lure more and more travelers each year.

A honeymoon in Sri Lanka is both an affordable and unique way to start a new life together.

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Tokyo, Japan

Perhaps not the cheapest of places to visit in Asia, bustling Tokyo is the world's largest metropolitan economy, even exceeding New York City. Urban marvels, talking toilets, and an aloof culture begging to be understood await as soon as you exit the airport.

Learning a few Japanese travel tips will help you save money while traveling in Japan.

• If in Tokyo, consider a trip to the cultural city ofKyoto, Japan.

• Before you go, learn how to say hello in Japan and how to bow properly.

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The Maldives

Not far from India, the island nation known as theMaldives is Asia's smallest country, both by population and land mass.

A lack of space doesn't stop the Maldives from attracting an estimated 600,000 annual tourists who come to take advantage of the incredible island beauty and world-class scuba diving.

Floating bungalows and honeymoon resorts set on some of the bluest water you have ever encountered will make you and your new partner want to stay forever.Male is the capital, largest city, and usual port of entry for visiting the Maldives.

While the beauty of the islands is breathtaking, a honeymoon in the Maldives will cost significantly more than one in the Thai islands.

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Bangkok

is full of exquisitely decorated Buddhist temples—as you go from one to the next you’ll be continually blown away by the craftsmanship and elabourate details.

But if you’d rather seek enlightenment in a gourmet meal, or dance the night away, you’ll also enjoy Bangkok—the restaurant and nightclub scenes here are among the best in the world.

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Hong Kong's

a great city for an adventurous eater. Stop at a street vendor for fish balls on a stick or stinky tofu. Bakeries offer wife cake, pineapple buns and egg tarts. Or opt for as much dim sum as you can eat.

If you're tired of local and regional Chinese specialties, check out upscale offerings from some of the world's top chefs, like Joel Robouchon and Alain Ducasse.

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KATHMANDU

Nepal's capital is situated in a valley full of historic sites, ancient temples and shrines, golden pagodas and fascinating villages.

Hotels, bars and restaurants cater to all budgets. Shops offer handicrafts, carpets and Nepali paper prints. Bus services, taxis and bicycles open up the city. Trek to see the Monkey Temple, the valley's oldest and most sacred shrine.

Mingle with locals and animals amid Durbar Square's monuments and temples, or join mountain trekkers in the bustling Thamel District.

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Kuala Lumpur

Feel the pulse of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, its capital and largest city. The famous Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest building in the world, provides a bird's-eye view of the cosmopolitan metropolis and houses a multitude of shops and art galleries.

For a look at the city's past, take in the 1910 Moorish-inspired Old Railway Station, the riverside Jamek Mosque and the Sultan Abdul Samad building with its 131-foot clock tower. Malay, Chinese and Indian influences ensure colorful dining experiences.

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Dubai

Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline.

At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. On artificial islands just offshore is Atlantis, The Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks.

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