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Asia is by far the largest and most populous continent. It’s therefore objectively the one that has the most to offer travelers, by definition. The Asian continent offers a lot of variety, and if you like variety, you should aim to discover each of Asia’s 6 different regions at least once (or at least the 5 first ones).

Asia is by far my favorite continent. Not just because most of the 50 countries are incredibly affordable (of course, traveling for less means traveling more often or for longer), but also because it’s also so wonderful and offers a great culture shock.

(We’ll soon have a post with tips on how to find cheaper plane tickets to Asia given the current prices!)

Because learning about our world is one of the best reasons to travel, and many don’t know about the 6 different regions of Asia, I love helping you discover our world and inspiring you to travel.

Here are the 6 different regions of Asia.


Basics of the regions within continents

Generally speaking, the regions within a continent are more than just geographical: they’re also groupings of countries that share a similar history, culture, and even nature sometimes. At least up to a point. 

Often, the regions are really very different from one another despite being on the same continent. Western Asia is as different from Southeastern Asia as it is from Europe.

That’s why, ideally, Flytrippers highly recommends you try to experience each region of each continent at least, in the absence of the desire to visit every country in the world (not everyone is as passionate about travel as we are, and that’s okay). 

Because how are you supposed to know what you prefer if you don’t try a bit of variety? And no, Thailand and Viet Nam… that’s not really variety. We love it when we get you to explore more!


Overview of the 6 different regions of Asia

Here is how Asian countries will be grouped together for all our many upcoming content pieces.


Flytrippers’ definition of the 6 different regions of Asia

Here are the 6 different regions of Asia, in no particular order:

  • Southeast Asia (11 countries)
  • East Asia (6 countries)
  • South Asia (8 countries)
  • West Asia (19 countries)
  • Central Asia (5 countries)
  • North Asia (1 country)
Map of the 6 different regions of Asia
See the full-size map


I give you a great overview of each region below. You have probably already heard the names of the 6 regions of Asia, but perhaps not necessarily knowing the precise borders, which I’m going to show you with maps and by listing the countries in each region, along with several beautiful images.

These regional definitions are the ones used by the United Nations, but also almost everyone else. Asia really is the continent whose regions are the most clearly defined and the most universally accepted.

There are, of course, many differences within each region. But countries in the same Asian region do look somewhat alike, while the different regions of Asia don’t necessarily look like one another. Because Asia is probably the most diverse continent. Between Jerusalem and Delhi, or Tokyo and Tashkent, or Bali and Siberia… it’s completely different.


Other definitions of the different regions of Europe

Regions of a continent are usually arbitrary and a little subjective, because the delimitations are often unclear and often debated or controversial.

All countries in Asia are quite clearly always considered in 1 specific region of the 6, with only one real exception in fact:

  • Afghanistan is sometimes in South Asia or Central Asia
    • But never in the Middle East (West Asia)
    • Contrary to common myth
    • Many people confuse that region or just don’t know

In Asia, it’s more often the inclusion into the continent itself that’s debated, for geographical and political reasons:

  • The Caucasus region is sometimes included in Europe too
    • When it’s included in Asia, it’s always included in West Asia
  • Cyprus is often instead included in Europe
    • But geographically it would clearly be West Asia
  • Egypt encroaches on Asia but is considered part of Africa
    • It’s just the Sinai Peninsula, which is clearly in West Asia
  • Türkiye is partly in Europe too
    • But the Asian part is clearly in West Asia
  • Papua New Guinea is considered part of Oceania
    • But it shares an island with a country in Southeast Asia


Southeast Asia (11 countries)

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand (photo credit: Humphrey Muleba)


The most interesting region for many travelers (and rightly so)! It’s the peninsula at the southeastern tip of the continent and the many, many islands that surround it. There’s quite a lot of variety in these 11 countries.

Southeast Asia (image credit: Wikipedia Commons)


Countries in Southeast Asia:

  • Philippines 🇵🇭
  • Vietnam 🇻🇳
  • Cambodia 🇰🇭
  • Laos 🇱🇦
  • Myanmar 🇲🇲
  • Thailand 🇹🇭
  • Malaysia 🇲🇾
  • Singapore 🇸🇬
  • Brunei Darussalam 🇧🇳
  • Indonesia 🇮🇩
  • Timor-Leste 🇹🇱

Population: 675 million (#3 of 6)

Angkor Wat, Cambodia (photo credit: Paul Szewczyk)


For those who want countries that are extremely affordable and want a change of scenery, but also countries that are very safe and easy to explore, Southeast Asia is downright one of the best places in the whole world (in my humble experience of just 70 countries).

Padar Island, Indonesia (photo credit: Killian Pham)


Best known for its warm climate, beaches, and lush nature, Southeast Asia also boasts welcoming cultures and a relaxing, exotic atmosphere.

Palawan Island, Philippines (photo credit: Eibner Saliba)


My favorite Southeast Asian destination to date is probably Bali, because I haven’t explored much of the region yet, unfortunately. Yes, it’s very touristy in Bali, but there’s also a very unique atmosphere on this Indonesian island paradise. Honorable mention for the island of Borneo (and Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for those who love cities like me). I’m planning to go back to Southeast Asia this winter, finally (so stay tuned for my concrete planning tips — but spoiler alert, I’ll just apply as many of the 100+ tips in our free ebook as possible).


East Asia (6 countries)

Tokyo, Japan (crédit photo: Erik Eastman)


Some of Asia’s most popular countries are in this eastern region, which has many of the continent’s most developed and wealthiest countries.

East Asia (image credit: Wikipedia Commons)


Countries in East Asia:

  • Taiwan 🇹🇼
  • Japan 🇯🇵
  • South Korea 🇰🇷
  • North Korea 🇰🇵
  • China 🇨🇳
  • Mongolia 🇲🇳

Territories in East Asia:

  • Hong Kong 🇭🇰
  • Macau 🇲🇴

Population: 1.6 billion (#2 of 6)

Jiufen, Taiwan (photo credit: Maren Wilczek) 


For those who want excellent infrastructure and less chaos than further south, East Asia has 4 countries and 2 territories that are very easy to explore (and 2 very isolated countries, either geographically or politically, namely Mongolia and North Korea).

Seoul, South Korea (photo credit: Alexandre Trouvé)


The big cities of China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea are incredible metropolises. But East Asia also has some magnificent landscapes. Such a huge region is bound to have a little bit of everything.

Guilin, China (photo credit: William Zhang)


My favorite Eastern Asian destination to date is probably Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, again because I haven’t explored the rest that much. My trip to Hong Kong was before recent events, though… Honorable mention to China proper, which I feel is too often overlooked.


South Asia (8 countries)

Taj Mahal, India (photo credit: Fahrul Azmi)


It’s considered by many to be the region of Asia offering the biggest cultural shock. It’s often referred to as the Indian subcontinent, and every country has a border with India (sometimes maritime), with the exception of Afghanistan, which is somewhat in a class of its own (and that’s why it’s sometimes considered part of Central Asia with the other “stan” countries).

South Asia region (image credit: Wikipedia Commons)


Countries in South Asia:

  • Sri Lanka 🇱🇰
  • Maldives 🇲🇻
  • India 🇮🇳
  • Nepal 🇳🇵
  • Bangladesh 🇧🇩
  • Bhutan 🇧🇹
  • Pakistan 🇵🇰
  • Afghanistan 🇦🇫

Population: 1.9 billion (#1 of 6)

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka (photo credit: Sander Don)


For those looking for a complete change of scenery and to step out of their comfort zone, these extremely affordable countries (except Bhutan) are perfect and have it all.

Kathmandu, Nepal (photo credit: Raimond Klavins)


The South Asian way of life is completely different from our own, and the region has unrivalled natural wonders. Mountains, deserts, lakes, oceans…

Swat, Pakistan (photo credit: Asi Abbasi)


My favorite South Asian destination was the Himalayas and Rishikesh, but a bit by default. It’s because my July trip to India and Sri Lanka didn’t allow me to explore as much as usual. Firstly, because a good part of it was spent in Delhi, where I was attending the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit, and finally, because I had a misadventure that I’ll be recounting in a separate article soon.


West Asia (19 countries)

Petra, Jordan (photo credit: Alex Vasey)


Very different from the rest of the continent, this region is really worth discovering. It’s almost always called the Middle East, but that term excludes the 3 countries of the Caucasus, so I use West Asia, which is better (and more uniform with the names of the other regions with cardinal directions).

West Asia (image credit: Wikipedia Commons)


Countries in West Asia:

  • Iran 🇮🇷
  • Iraq 🇮🇶
  • Kuwait 🇰🇼
  • Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦
  • Bahrain 🇧🇭
  • Qatar 🇶🇦
  • United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪
  • Oman 🇴🇲
  • Yemen 🇾🇪
  • Jordan 🇯🇴
  • Israel 🇮🇱
  • Palestine 🇵🇸
  • Lebanon 🇱🇧
  • Syria 🇸🇾
  • Cyprus 🇨🇾
  • Türkiye 🇹🇷
  • Georgia 🇬🇪
  • Armenia 🇦🇲
  • Azerbaijan 🇦🇿

Population: 290 million (#4 of 6)

Island of Hormuz, Iran (photo credit: Reza Ghazali)


For those who want to discover something completely different, these countries are hard to beat. Contrary to the very common and very false myth, most countries are extremely safe (even among the safest countries in the world).

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (photo credit: ZQ Lee)


There’s so much history (as you’d expect). It’s such a culture shock. And there’s a lot of variety in West Asia. Yes, there are deserts, but not true everywhere. Yes, there are rich countries, but that’s not true everywhere. There really is something for everyone.

Istanbul (European part), Türkiye (photo credit: Fatih)


My favorite destination in West Asia to date is Türkiye. Tough choice because I’ve honestly loved all 10 countries I’ve visited in the region, but Türkiye is really great (so much so that I’ve been there 4 times). I highly recommend it! An honorable mention to Oman for amazing landscapes and true authenticity (which I really liked and is one of the safest countries in the world) and to Iraq for those who like to go off the beaten path (it was Kurdistan, it’s honestly really fine to go there).


Central Asia (5 countries)

Samarkand, Uzbekistan (photo credit: Ozodbek Erkinov)


I’d say it’s the most underrated region on the continent, and perhaps in the world. It’s often called the “stans” for the 5 countries with that suffix in their name, located at the confluence of many influences.

Central Asia (image credit: Wikipedia Commons)


Countries in Central Asia:

  • Turkmenistan 🇹🇲
  • Uzbekistan 🇺🇿
  • Tajikistan 🇹🇯
  • Kyrgyzstan 🇰🇬
  • Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

Population: 75 million (#5 of 6)

Son-Kul, Kyrgyzstan (photo credit: Amir Asakeev)


For those who want to go off the beaten path and where there’s so much history (it was a strategic location on the ancient Silk Road), these countries are perfect — and so affordable once you’re there.

Astana, Kazakhstan (photo credit: Snowscat)


Central Asia is as authentic as it gets. And the people are extremely warm and hospitable. The nature is magnificent too.

Karakul, Tajikistan (photo credit: EJ Wolfson)


My favorite destination in Central Asia is, without a doubt, Uzbekistan, which was an incredible revelation for me in 2021. A wonderful country that I absolutely adored. Probably one of my favorite countries in the world. Kyrgyzstan was great too, it’s just that I didn’t stay long. I can’t wait to go back and discover the other countries.


North Asia (1 country)

Altai Mountains, Russia (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)


I don’t count it among the main regions of Asia because it’s really just 1 part of Russia, Siberia. It takes up the whole north of the continent, but it’s really not what people usually associate with the Asian continent.

North Asia (image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Countries in North Asia:

  • Russia (Siberia) 🇷🇺

Population: 37 million (#6 of 6)

Olkhon Island, Russia (photo credit: Sergey Pesterev)


It looks like a completely fascinating place. The fact that it’s so isolated and rarely visited makes me so eager to discover all this great space in the north of the Asian continent. But to see cold and empty landscapes, some Canadians prefer to just go North in our own country (with the record-high welcome bonus on the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, you can get 4 roundtrips to Northern Canada worth $12,000 — but you have to be approved before Tuesday night).

Novisibirsk, Russia (photo credit: Mikhail Pavstyuk)


Crossing all of North Asia on the iconic 9000 km Trans-Siberian Railway is an item on many a traveler’s bucket list, including me of course. But most people won’t want to go right now.

Lake Baikal, Russia (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)


It’s the only region of Asia I’ve never been to, mainly because I try as much as possible to avoid countries that charge me a fee just for the privilege of spending my money in their economy (the Russian visa is expensive and even a bit complex). But I’ll go at some point for sure.


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Visiting the 6 different regions of Asia is a must if you want the most varied travel experience. The continent has a lot to offer and is definitely worth the trip, especially if you want to travel for less and get a change of scenery.

What would you like to know about different regions of Asia? Tell us in the comments below.


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Featured image: Phi Phi Islands, Thailand (photo credit: Evan Krause)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 71/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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