Stretching from Turkey all the way to Papua New Guinea, the Asian continent is home to more people than any other. Its beautiful landscapes and history, fascinating cultural diversity and vibrant cities have long made it a favorite destination for tourists of all ages and interests. Read on for a list of five Asian cities that any traveler should add to the itinerary for their next Asian trip.

1. Kyoto, Japan

Known for its fantastically-preserved temples and iconic cherry blossoms that fill the city in March and April, Kyoto is the one city that should not be missed if you are ever in Japan. Kyoto was previously the capital of Japan, and many people see it as a rare link between traditional and modern Japanese culture. Geisha performances still take place in antique tea houses across the city, and you should not miss a visit to the sixth-century Shimogomo Shrine which is like taking a trip far back in time. 

2. Hanoi, Vietnam

The center of Vietnamese resistance against the invading U.S. Army, Hanoi today is a modern city bustling with culture and arts. Take a wander through the old town, though, and the labyrinthine streets are full of the remnants left behind by French colonialism. The legendary North Vietnamese leader and freedom fighter Ho Chi Min’s Soviet-style mausoleum is a major attraction for locals and tourists alike, and you can queue up to catch a glimpse of his embalmed body.

3. Manila, Philippines

Manila is one of South East Asia’s best-kept secrets. Long given a bad reputation for being crime-ridden and dangerous, the capital of the Philippines today is a growing tourist destination. It is famous for its stark divides between the historic and modern and the rich and poor. There is plenty to do, with the city’s rich cultural tapestry of street food, colonial sites, museums and alluring nightlife providing entertainment for all tastes.

4. Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Much less hectic than Indonesia’s crazy capital of Jakarta is the hipster paradise of Yogyakarta on Java’s southern coast. The laid-back city is considered an important hub for the unique Javanese culture, and it is replete with shining pagodas and temples. With a large student population due to its top-quality universities, Yogyakarta comes alive at night with its hundreds of trendy cafes and bars at which to part the night away. 

5. Kandy, Sri Lanka

The jewel in the crown of the beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka, Kandy is perched in temperate uplands on the edge of the stunning Kandy Lake. The colonial capital of Sri Lanka is full of ornate landscaped gardens full of tropical plants and flowers. There are also a whole host of well-maintained museums detailing Sri Lanka’s colonial and cultural history, while the local cuisine is world-renowned for its rich tastes and aromatic flavors.

Asia is so big that there really are not enough days in a whole lifetime to visit all of the marvels which it contains. That said, if you manage to make it to the five cities in this list, you will have been able to experience what can truly be said to be the essence of this fascinating continent.