The Best Road Trips in Asia and the Middle East

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PART 5 OF THE SERIES: BEST ROAD TRIPS AROUND THE WORLD

We have been exploring a sampling of the best road trips around the world as laid out by some rising stars on the travel writing scene.

Up until now, we have considered North America, Europe, Oceania, and Central and South America. And now we have reached the best road trips in Asia and the Middle East.

As you will see, there is an incredible variety in landscapes and cultures that span this vast continent. And the best way to explore is by taking the road, whether that means highway, gravel road, or desert path.

Read on to see why your next adventure may be one of these epic road trips.

Vietnam – The Ha Giang Loop

by Luke Storey from Wild About BC

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Photo credit: Luke Storey
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“The Ha Giang Loop is an epic road trip that winds through the mountains in the remote regions of Northern Vietnam. This is a 375-kilometre loop trail that starts and finishes in the town of Ha Giang and is usually completed in 4 days on a motorbike. It’s getting harder and harder to discover unique and off-the-beaten path adventures but the Ha Giang Loop certainly ticks these boxes.  

Driving through this remote region feels like a step back in time. While there are some towns dotted along the way it is mainly remote villages and farmland with little to no infrastructure. This circuit winds through valleys and mountain peaks, some of which are right on the border with neighbouring China. You’ll enjoy stunning views over mountains (make sure you bring your camera), enjoy driving the crazy roads, and interacting with the friendly locals. 

Some of the highlights of this trip include the viewpoints from Ma Pi Leng over the Nho Que River and from Heaven’s Gate (Quan Ba) and another great stop is Du Gia waterfall which is perfect for cliff jumping and is full of local kids who are having the time of their lives swimming and jumping from the rocks. This is a seriously amazing trip through the mountains and it will give you such a unique experience as you take in a part of Vietnam that very few travellers will make the effort to see.

Luke

Oman

by Emily from Wander-Lush

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Photo credit: Photo by Emma Harrisova on Unsplash

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    Safe, affordable, and home to some of the region’s most dramatic landscapes and authentic cultural experiences, Oman is one of the best places in the world for a road trip. 

    You can see a good chunk of the north-eastern part of the country in as little as 7-10 days. Add on a few extra days if you want to venture further to the Musandam Peninsula, dubbed the ‘Norway of the Middle East’ because of its fjords.

    The perfect Oman road trip starts in the capital, Muscat, with a visit to the legendary Muttrah Souq and a thorough exploration of the city’s museums. As you head south along the coast towards Sur and Al Hadd, tracing the Gulf of Oman, stop off at the Bimmah Sink Hole and any one of the wadis that appear like oases in the desert. Nothing beats taking a dip in the cold water of a wadi after a long day of driving.

    Inland, the Jebel Shams mountains await, with their sandcastle fortresses and mud hut villages. A night glamping in the Wahiba Sands Bedouin-style is a must, as is a trip to Nizwa for the fortress on your way back to the capital.

    Oman has great highways and affordable fuel – plus wild camping is permitted anywhere. If you’re sticking to the major roads, a sedan will do you fine, but if you plan on off-roading or dune bashing then opt for a 4WD. 

    Emily

    Iran

    by Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad

    Iran-Tehren-best-road-trips-in-Asia-and-the-Middle-East-sajad-nori-
    Photo credit: Photo by Sajad Nori on Unsplash

    If you’re looking for a very underrated and incredibly stunning road trip to take, then rent a car and head out to beautiful Iran, where the architecture will amaze you, and the people will welcome you with open arms. 

    Moreover, Iran is also an incredibly safe country to travel in, and you can easily rent a car at the airport (in either Tehran or Shiraz) and start your journey from there.

    There is so much to see on a road trip to Iran, from the stunning mosques in Esfahan and Shiraz to the traditional houses in Kashan. Be sure to also stop by the desert town of Yazd, where you can learn about the Zoroastrianism culture and traditions. 

    If you’re looking to explore Iran’s beautiful nature, be sure to visit the stunning Chahkooh Canyon on Qeshm Island. You can also stop by the majestic Rainbow Mountains in Hormuz Island, which is also home to a red beach. Another unmissable natural wonder is the Ali Sadr Cave, which you can paddle through. 

    No trip to Iran would be complete if it didn’t involve tasting some of the delicious local food. Faloodeh is a very popular dessert made of frozen sugar syrup and rose water. You can find it in many places in Iran, but as it originated in Shiraz, be sure to try it there!

    Jiayi

    India – Darjeeling to Sandakphu, West Bengal

    by Soumya Goswami from Nature Diary

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    Photo credit: Soumya Goswami

    If the mountain is calling you, it is time to forget your mundane life and pack your backpacks. A road trip from Darjeeling to Sandakphu (The highest peak of the state of West Bengal – 11930 ft) can be a great idea as you can enjoy the most outstanding natural beauty while making the journey. 

    It is the best road trip where the adventure starts from the Singalila National Park in Manebhanjan. The distance from Darjeeling to Manebhanjan is around 26 Km, and it takes almost 1.25 hrs to reach there surrounded by lush greenery and mountains. 

    On this road trip, you can enjoy the density and serenity of the pine forest, the foggy roads with all their mysteries, and the gurgling stream that will continue the journey with you. The red pandas are a unique attraction in the forest.

    From Manebhanjan, there are only two ways to reach Sandakphu. Either you can trek the entire trip, or you can hire a car. Trekking to Sandakphu is a good idea if you are a group of young people, but hiring a car is always the best option for a family trip. You will find the Land Rovers from Manebhanjan to make the journey. 

    This road trip will include the hilly villages, like Tonglu, Gairibas, Tumling, Kalipokhri, Meghma, and Chitre. So take small stopovers over there, have some spectacular pictures, and then start the next part of your journey.

    Once you reach Sandakphu and are lucky enough, you can get the shining view of ‘Sleeping Buddha’. When the sunlight falls upon the famous Kanchenjunga, you can enjoy the charming view of the spectacular Himalayan Mountain Range. 

    Surrounded by pine forests, hilly streams, mountains, etc., spending your days in Sandakphu will always be in your memory, and this can be the best road trip of your life.

    Soumya

    China

    by Tjasa Pele fromThe Travel Momento

    China-Road-Trip-The-Travel-Momento-best-road-trips-in-Asia-and-the-middle-east
    Photo credit: Tjasa Pele

    Are you looking for a completely unique and a little bit mysterious road trip that is enormously rich in history and culture? Then look no further and get a ticket to China.

    As one of the largest countries in the world, China features stunning contrast and a diverse landscape. From beautiful gardens, large rivers, and misty mountains to desert, metropolises, and crazy traffic in just a few hours of distance. 

    China offers an incredible blend of traditional and historical with modern architecture and skyscrapers. But it’s also the people and feelings that will make you fall in love with this country. 

    To get the best of both worlds, you should start your road trip to China in Beijing, a great example of mixing the past and the present. Beijing is known for the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square,  the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall of China, and hutongs. The latter will make you remember China by interesting and sometimes unusual tastes of street food. 

    From Beijing, you should continue to see the big apple Shanghai or dive even deeper into the history of China by visiting the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. Finish your trip with a glimpse of the Chinese inner landscape and nature. 

    A great choice is to admire Li River cruising alongside magical karst peaks in Yangshuo and hiding from the world among rice terraces in Longsheng. 

    Travelling through China is easy and safe. It will without a doubt leave you with incredible memories and a desire to come back and explore more. 

    Tjasa

    Japan – Hokkaido Road Trip

    By Lotte of Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog 

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    Photo credit: Lotte of Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog

    An amazing road trip destination is Hokkaido, Japan’s most northern island. The scenery is absolutely stunning, with beautiful caldera lakes, cone-shaped volcanos, and endless forests.  

    What’s more, driving here is an absolute delight as only 5% of the population of Japan lives on Hokkaido (while it’s over 20% of the total surface of the country). Roads are never busy and well-maintained. And with a well set up navigation system getting to your destination is easy.  

    There are so many things to see and do on this amazing island, you could easily spend a month road tripping around Hokkaido without getting bored. Some of the highlights are: 

    • Noboribetsu and Jigokudani (Hell Valley): an intriguing volcanic area with mud pools and steaming vents. Be sure to check out Oyunuma Pond, a mesmerizing steaming lake with a surface temperature of 50°. 
    • Furano: a lovely little town in the heart of Hokkaido. Regardless of the season, there are always plenty of things to do in Furano. Engage in winter sports during winter or visit a winery during summer. Also, take a trip to the brightly colored and aptly named Blue Pools.  
    • At Lake Akan, you can learn about the Ainu culture, the native people of Hokkaido. Lake Akan is also where you will find marimo, peculiar green spheres of algae, and very famous in Japan. 

    Lotte

    Wrap Up

    Wasn’t that an amazing list? Each one of these could be a bucket list road trip. If you want to know more, be sure to visit each of the travel writer’s websites. You can find the link in their post.

    We want to thank each of them for their contribution. And we look forward to more of their journeys in the future.

    But, what do you think? Did we miss some? With so much land mass, I’m sure we did. If you have suggestions for future routes, leave them in the comments below.

    More road trips

    If you want more road trips, we have plenty to choose from. Whether you want to camp in a National Park like Yosemite or hit two National parks like Zion to Bryce Canyon. Or if you want a road trip in the midwest, check out our list of the best road trips from Kansas City.

    To make a great road trip, consider our guide on Road Trip Car Camping. It’s a soup-to-nuts breakdown of everything you need to sleep sound and travel safe.

    Look for our concluding article in this series coming this week.

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