- Written by Dan
Article Hostelling International / Photo by roundedbygravity
Your Guide to Asia
Whether you spend 2 weeks or 6 months journeying through Asia, Hostelling International is there to provide you with a home away from home.
Relax, make new friends, and get to know the neighbourhood. Here are some of our top picks for hostels in several of Asia’s great gateway cities...
Hostelling International has over 300 hostels throughout Japan, ranging from modern buildings to converted Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Travellers visiting Japan can hike through deep forests, soak in hot springs, eat sushi, drink sake, and watch sumo wrestling. Sights to see include Samurai castles, the modern wonders of Tokyo, and ancient temples and gardens in Kyoto. Cherry blossom trees have become a symbol for Japan and Kyoto’s HI-Utano is surrounded by a large garden of over 70 cherry blossom trees! This natural setting is enough to make guests want to spend all their time at the hostel, but the Kinkaku Temple and The Ryoan Temple are only a 15 minute bus ride away. The hostel is a great starting point for exploring the western part of Kyoto. Ninna-ji, a close by World Culture Heritage Site, is worth a visit. Arashiyama, Sagano, and Movie Village are only a quick bicycle ride away – bikes are available for rent from the hostel. Reservations are recommended at hostels across Japan during March, July, August, and December.
Residents of South Korea are nature-lovers and are blessed with 20 national parks filled with stunning waterfalls, rugged peaks, and ancient temples. Hostelling International accommodation in South Korea can be found in city centers, on the coast, and in the heart of the countryside. The HI-Olympic Parktel hostel is located on the grounds of the Olympic park in the country’s capital of Seoul. The hostel offers a variety of room types, catering to a wide range of travellers. The dorm rooms are called ‘bunker rooms’ – they sleep four people and are equipped with a 20” TV, tea table, clothes chest, transformer, hair dryer, refrigerator, telephone, slippers, bath toiletries, and cosmetics! The hostel even provides a morning wake up call service. In addition to the amazing room amenities, HI-Olympic Parktel offers unbelievable facilities such as a swimming pool, sauna, health club, indoor and outdoor jogging courses. The newest edition is an indoor golf range with 6 individual teeing grounds! The grounds surrounding the hostel are home to many attractions including the Olympic Sculpture Park and Lakeside Theatre & Music Fountain.
Taiwan is sometimes overlooked as a travel destination, but it is an interesting country with many Buddhist and Taoist pagodas and shrines. Travellers can take their pick in activities, from going out for dim sum to studying the art of shadow boxing. You’ll find lots to do in Taipei, the capital city: concerts, expositions, festivals, sporting events, and the world famous Taiwanese night markets. This lively city is home to the National Palace Museum which holds the world’s biggest collection of Chinese art. The HI-Taipei House provides home-like accommodation in a prosperous area of downtown. This safe, welcoming hostel offers 24 hour reception, air conditioning, lockers, a travel and tour bureau, internet access, and is easily accessible from the international airport. There are excellent choices of both restaurants and local food vendors nearby. Other attractions within a block of the hostel include the Sing-Tian Temple, several movie theatres, and the Taipei Miniatures Museum. You can also expect to find many fortune tellers in the vicinity!
India is a culture-rich country that has magnificent sights and attractions. Visitors can trek among the highest peaks in the world or visit glorious tombs and temples. Landscapes throughout the country change from mountains to deserts. You can ride a camel through the desert plains and see elephants, leopards, and tigers in the wild. India also has one of the largest movie scenes in the world so don’t miss out on a few Bollywood flicks while you’re there. The HI-New Delhi hostel is the perfect spot to start your adventures in India. It is located in the city centre, in the secure area of the Diplomatic Enclave, and is close to the parliament buildings of Lutyens, the Red Fort, and Qutub Minar. Hostel staff will be there to welcome you 24 hours a day and there is also an in-house travel bureau. Other facilities include a terrace, garden, games room, internet access, lockers, and free breakfast. India has a network of 44 HI hostels around the country.
China is the most populated country in the world and has 22 provinces. This beautiful country is home to soaring mountains, winding rivers, patches of rice fields, and endless plains. Tourists can visit Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist temples, shop in vibrant markets, go on bike tours, and drink tea with the locals. Shanghai is often referred to as the ‘Paris of the East’ and is home to the famous temple of Jade Buddha. Shanghai exhibits striking modern architecture and the hostel HI-Easytour is no exception to the rule. It’s located on a quiet side street in the central part of the city near People’s Square and the Opera House. It is easily accessible by underground and airport buses. Many attractions are within walking distance and on National Day the ceremony and fireworks can be seen from the hostel balcony. Guests will find the hostel equipped with a BBQ, garden, on-site bar, internet access, and bicycle rentals. Reservations are recommended across the country during February, April, July, August, and October. Please note that credit cards are not accepted in most hostels across China.
It’s always a good idea to book your first few nights stay in any country you are visiting. That way you know you’ll have a place to rest your head after a long flight! To book hostels worldwide visit www.hihostels.com