The Top 20 Most Visited Countries in Asia in 2023
Experience the Diversity of Asia – Temples, Beaches, Cities, and Beyond
Asia is home to some of the most diverse and fascinating destinations in the world. From historic sites and natural wonders to futuristic cityscapes and pristine beaches, there are endless possibilities for unforgettable travel experiences across the continent.
If you’re looking to plan your next big trip, Asia should be at the top of your list.
In this blog post, we will discover and count down the top 20 most visited countries in Asia based on up to date 2022–2023 visitor numbers. We’ll highlight must-see attractions, upcoming events, and key travel tips for each destination. Whether you’re a first-time traveler or a seasoned jet-setter, this list offers inspiration for your next adventure in Asia.
So get ready to start dreaming about temple hopping in Cambodia, lounging on the beaches of Thailand, and exploring the futuristic city of Tokyo.
An Overview of Tourism in Asia in 2023
Before we dive into the top 20 list, let’s take a brief look at the tourism landscape in Asia leading into 2023. According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism continues to rebound strongly in the first quarter and second quarter of 2023. Leading the recovery are Europe and the Middle East.
In Asia specifically, countries in the Middle East have seen a particularly strong comeback. Qatar and Saudi Arabia achieved their highest-ever visitor numbers in 2022 on the back of major events like the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Southeast Asia also saw a revival, with countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia bouncing back thanks to eased travel restrictions.
Looking ahead to 2023, the growth trend is expected to continue. While Japan and South Korea are co-hosting the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in July/August, major destinations like Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines are projected to get closer to 2019 visitor levels.
So, if you’re looking to plan that bucket list Asia trip, 2023 is shaping up to be an excellent year to visit this dynamic region. Now, let’s get to the main event – the top 20 most visited countries in Asia!
Countdown of the Top 20 Most Visited Countries in Asia
Taiwan – 0.9 million visitors
Taiwan may be small in size, but it packs a big tourism punch. Renowned for its dynamic capital, Taipei, Taiwan woos visitors with an exciting mix of Chinese and Japanese influences. Must-see sights include the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper, the sprawling National Palace Museum, and the historic neighborhoods of Jiufen and Tamsui. Taiwan also boasts stunning natural scenery like the Taroko National Park and Sun Moon Lake.
Maldives – 1.68 million visitors
This Indian Ocean paradise is beloved for its jaw-dropping “one island, one resort” setup. The Maldives features over 100 private island resorts, ranging from romantic water bungalows to family-friendly mega resorts packed with amenities. In addition to blissful beach relaxation, popular activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, and island-hopping.
Cambodia – 2.29 million visitors
Home to the magnificent Angkor Wat complex, Cambodia entices history buffs and adventurers. Spend days exploring Angkor’s hundreds of awe-inspiring temples, then relax along the riverside promenade in charming Siem Reap. Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, offers cultural attractions like the National Museum and harrowing Khmer Rouge history at sites like Tuol Sleng.
Or, for a more immersive experience, opt for Siem Reap floating village tours to combine temple visits with cruising through Cambodia’s iconic floating villages.
“Speaking of venturing off the beaten path, Cambodia is one of those underrated Asian destinations that offers intrepid travelers rich rewards.
Though the magnificent Angkor Wat complex remains Cambodia’s claim to fame, the country has so much more to offer beyond the temples. Phnom Penh provides a pulsating urban vibe with its museums, markets, and happening riverfront area.
The southern islands and beaches around Sihanoukville and Kep entice those seeking tropical relaxation. In the northeast you’ll find rustic provincial towns, remote jungles, and exotic wildlife. And you can’t forget the iconic Tonle Sap lake region, where entire villages fascinatingly float along the waterways.
With such diversity in landscapes and experiences, Cambodia has the potential to become Asia’s next big travel hotspot. The Cambodian people are remarkably resilient, having overcome turmoil in the past to create a vibrant culture and thriving tourism industry today.
Local guides like those at Mysiemreaptours.com excel at providing personalized trips combining Cambodia’s top sights with offbeat hidden gems. So do yourself a favor and put Cambodia on your Asia travel short list, before all the crowds discover its magic! I predict in the next few years, Cambodia will start climbing the most visited countries rankings.”
Macau – 2.47 million visitors
This vibrant melting pot of Chinese and Portuguese heritage offers exciting resorts, UNESCO sites, and unique fusion cuisine. In Macau, you can tour historic sights like the Ruins of St. Paul’s, indulge in egg tarts and Portuguese seafood, then try your luck at one of Macau’s lavish casinos. Upcoming events include the Macau Food Festival from November 23-December 3.
Qatar – 2.56 million visitors
Qatar attracted record visitor numbers in 2022 as it hosted the FIFA World Cup, the first ever held in the Middle East. While known for its lavish hotels and shopping, Qatar offers much more, including vibrant Souq Waqif, scenic desertscapes like Khor Al Adaid (the “Inland Sea”), and fascinating museums such as the Museum of Islamic Art.
Upcoming major events in 2023 include the Qatar ExxonMobil Open tennis tournament in February and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup football championship in January.
Philippines – 2.66 million visitors
From paradise beaches to volcanic landscapes, the Philippines serves up incredible natural beauty. Lounge on the sandy shores of Boracay and Palawan, swim at remote waterfalls, explore Bohol, and soak in the electric vibe of the capital, Manila. Upcoming events include the MassKara Festival in Bacolod from October 1-31.
Oman – 2.88 million visitors
This Middle Eastern jewel wows visitors with rugged desert beauty and coastal wonders. Top experiences include watching sunrise over the sand dunes of Wahiba Sands, strolling historic Muttrah Souk in Muscat, and gazing out over the rocky cliffs lining the fjord-like bay at Musandam. Oman also offers world-class diving along its unspoiled coastline.
South Korea – 3.2 million visitors
From pulsating Seoul to serene Jeju Island, South Korea blends dynamic urban energy with captivating scenery. In Seoul, shop trendy boutiques, explore palaces like Gyeongbokgung, and dive into the city’s legendary nightlife scene in neighborhoods like Hongdae. Outside the city, relax on sunny Jeju Island, then visit the DMZ border zone for a sobering history lesson.
Vietnam – 3.66 million visitors
A mesmerizing mix of natural beauty and complex history makes Vietnam an unforgettable destination. Cruise picture-perfect Ha Long Bay, explore imperial citadels and French colonial quarters in Hanoi, and soak up the electric energy of fast-paced Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam’s beaches and islands also offer the perfect tropical escape.
Upcoming events include the Quang Nam Heritage Festival celebrating traditional games, cuisine, and crafts from May 19-21 in Hoi An.
Bahrain – 3.71 million visitors
As one of the most open and liberal destinations in the Middle East, Bahrain offers a unique mix of history, culture, and modernity. Explore ancient sites like the Qal’at Al Bahrain fort, get a dose of culture at the new Bahrain National Museum, then relax at luxurious beach resorts or hop on a boat to one of Bahrain’s many offshore islands. Formula 1 fans can catch the 2023 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix on March 5.
Japan – 3.83 million visitors
From the neon-lit streets of Tokyo to historic shrines and peaceful mountain towns, Japan mesmerizes visitors with its blend of modernity and enduring traditions. Top experiences include making a pilgrimage to temples like Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine, soaking in hot springs in Hakone, slurping delicious ramen, and taking a day trip to see iconic Mount Fuji.
Two major sporting events are on tap for 2023 – the World Baseball Classic in March and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July/August.
Iran – 4.11 million visitors
Iran is a historical treasure chest waiting to be explored. Marvel at exquisite Islamic architecture in ancient mosques and ornate palaces found in cities like Isfahan and Shiraz. Hike mountain valleys, visit UNESCO-listed bazaars, and relax in idyllic desert oases. Upcoming events include the Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran in April.
Jordan – 4.28 million visitors
Home to otherworldly landscapes and fantastic history, Jordan is on every adventurer’s wish list. Top attractions include the stone-carved city of Petra, the lunar-like desert of Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea’s buoyant, mineral-rich waters. The Roman city of Jerash also offers beautifully preserved ruins.
Indonesia – 5.47 million visitors
Indonesia is enticed with over 17,000 islands offering endless tropical delights. Lounge on the white sand beaches of Bali, dive into vibrant coral reefs, chill out in bohemian Ubud, and embark on a spiritual pilgrimage to ancient temples like Borobudur. Outside Bali, explore Java’s cultural sites, trek Sumatra’s jungles, or island-hop through pristine paradises like the Gili Islands and Komodo National Park.
Singapore – 6.31 million visitors
This city-state powerhouse punches above its weight class with an action-packed mix of attractions. Shop the luxe boutiques along Orchard Road, explore futuristic Gardens by the Bay, go on a binge at hawker food centers, then hit the clubs and lounges of Clarke and Boat Quays. Nearby tropical island getaways like Sentosa and Kusu offer a quick escape from the city.
Major events coming in 2023 include the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens in April and the Singapore Grand Prix in October.
Now let’s move on to the top 5 most visited countries in Asia…
And now we are down to the 5 Most Visited Countries in Asia
Malaysia – 10.07 million visitors
Malaysia dazzles with an exciting fusion of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences. In the electric capital, Kuala Lumpur, visit the Petronas Twin Towers, then go on an eating tour through Little India and Chinatown. Relax on the idyllic beaches of Langkawi and Penang. Adventure seekers can trek through lush rainforests in Taman Negara National Park or dive at eco-paradise Sipadan Island.
Don’t miss the colorful Thaipusam Hindu festival on February 5 in KL and the Colours of Malaysia independence day celebrations in August.
Thailand – 11.15 million visitors
From renowned beaches to historic temples, Thailand remains the tourism king of Southeast Asia. Soak up the sun on insta-famous islands like Phuket and Koh Samui, discover Bangkok’s frenetic energy then recharge in lush northern cities like Chiang Mai. Foodies flock for Thailand’s fiery cuisine, and adventure seekers love activities like trekking, snorkeling, and jungle safaris.
Upcoming festivals include Loy Krathong on Nov 27 – 2023, Songkran 2024, Thailand’s epic New Year’s water festival in April.
When it comes to visiting Asia’s top destinations, I always recommend opting for private, customized tour experiences. Air travel demand is strong and consumers are prioritizing “big-ticket” international trips. The premium consumer base in particular seeks out high-end experiences worth splurging on. This is where private tour operators like Siem Reap private tours shine. Their intimate small-group and personalized services deliver elite experiences beyond what you could get as an individual traveler. With their expertise crafting customized itineraries, five-star customer service, and insider access, you’re guaranteed VIP treatment at amazing Asia attractions. After years of spending on material goods, today’s travelers yearn to make cherished memories through premium trips. So why not indulge in a bespoke Asian journey that caters precisely to your travel dreams? Private tours make that fantasy a reality.
Saudi Arabia – 16.51 million visitors
Amassing record visitor numbers in 2022, Saudi Arabia is one of the hottest new destinations in the Middle East. Mecca and Medina attract millions of religious pilgrims, while Saudi’s Red Sea coast tempts luxury travelers with world-class resorts and diving. Nature lovers can explore vast deserts and craggy mountains, while history buffs will appreciate ancient sites like Madain Saleh and Al-Ula.
Saudi will host the Diriyah E-Prix Formula E race on January, 2024.
United Arab Emirates – 22.65 million visitors
Home to mega attractions like the Burj Khalifa, the UAE dazzles with over-the-top luxury and manmade wonders. In glitzy Dubai, shop and dine in opulence then hit beaches and water parks for fun in the sun. Nearby Abu Dhabi impresses with sites like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Louvre Abu Dhabi. Outside the cities, desert safaris, dune bashing, and stargazing excursions tempt travelers.
Upcoming major events include the Dubai Shopping Festival from December 15-January 29 and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 26.
Turkey – 50.45 million visitors
Turkey clinches the title as the most visited country in Asia by a wide margin. This Eurasian nation wows visitors with its diversity, from the bustling bazaars of Istanbul to seaside resorts along the Turquoise Coast to magical landscapes like the rock valleys of Cappadocia. History buffs flock to impressive Roman and Greek ruins dotting the country. Outdoor enthusiasts relish adventures like hiking Mt. Ararat, paragliding over Oludeniz beach, and hot air ballooning over Cappadocia.
With incredible diversity spanning Europe and Asia, it’s easy to see why Turkey claimed the top spot. Upcoming major events include the Istanbul Music Festival from May 27-June 21 and the Istanbul Jazz Festival in July.
Final Reflections on Visiting Asia’s Most Popular Countries
And there you have it – our countdown of the top 20 most visited countries in Asia, with insights on upcoming events, attractions, and travel tips for each destination. From perennial favorites like Thailand and Singapore to up-and-comers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Asia offers incredible variety.
While mainstream spots definitely deliver amazing experiences, I’d encourage travelers to also consider venturing off the beaten path in Asia. Once you stray from major tourist circuits, you can find hidden temples, unspoiled islands, and fascinating local cultures without the crowds.
Regardless of which destinations you choose, traveling in Asia is sure to be an adventure full of unforgettable memories. The boundless diversity, rich history, and sensational food guarantees there is something to delight every traveler.
If you’re looking to plan your own trip to Asia’s most visited countries, I’m happy to help! Feel free to contact me to get the planning process started.
My team and I have first-hand experience crafting custom Cambodia and Siem Reap itineraries, so we can help match you with the perfect destinations and experiences for your travel style and interests. I hope this blog post brought some inspiration as you dream about your next big Asian adventure!