There are many reasons that scare people away from considering taking a road trip in Asia, and there is no doubt that the driving standards and the quality of the roads can vary from country to country. This doesn't mean that the idea should be entirely dismissed however, as Asia has some spectacular roads that are scenic and great fun to drive, and many of these have interesting and strange histories.
Driving in Asia can take a little getting used to, and the road customs are often different to those in the west, but if you learn the customs and know what to expect when you're driving, then there is no reason you can't enjoy one of these spectacular journeys.
The Karakoram Highway
Often hailed as the highest road in the world, this trip is as much an appreciation of the amazing engineering feat as it is a tourist attraction, and there are many people who travel long distances just to be able to drive or ride a motorbike over the Himalayas on this road connecting China and Pakistan. There are some stunning scenic stops along this road which are well worth taking time to enjoy, with beautiful lakes and mountain views. Many people also use this route to gain access to some of the best mountain climbing spots in the world. As the road rises to over 15,000 feet, it is well worth being aware of altitude sickness and how it will affect you during the trip.
The Hokkaido Scenic Byway
Hokkaido is the most northerly of Japan's four main islands, and many people also consider it to be the most beautiful of the islands in terms of the scenery, and the Hokkaido Scenic Byway is a series of routes around the island that take in some of its most beautiful sights.
From stunning coastal scenes to the beautiful inland mountains, this route is one to savor and takes in some wonderful scenery, along with a wealth of attractions along the way. Winding down the windows as you drive through the lovely lavender fields is spectacular, and the number of hot springs along the way are well worth a stop along the route!
Golden Road To Samarkand
Uzbekistan is a country that is well off the tourist trail for most people, but with its long history and the fact that the city of Samarkand was once the capital of the large empire of Tamerlane, it is a fascinating place to explore. Although there isn't a formal route, most visitors will fly into the capital city Tashkent, and then transfer to Bukhara. This beautiful old city is home to many historic sights, and from there it is possible to follow the historic Silk Road route to Samarkand, and the historic Rabat I-Malik Caravanserai is a great place to stop along the way. After arriving in Samarkand you can explore the history of the city and visit the spectacular Registan square in the old city, while the observatory of Ulugbek is fascinating and shows how advanced the culture was in its knowledge of the universe.
The Mountain Tunnels Of Guoliang and Xiyagou
The Taihang mountains have been a remote and difficult part of China to access for centuries, and while most of the country is accessed by a publicly funded road system, it was decided that it was uneconomical to build roads in this region, so in the end the locals blasted their own roads out of the cliffs themselves. Driving through these tunnel roads is a remarkable experience, as the road is literally inside the cliffs, and the windows along the route have spectacular views over the surrounding mountain scenery. These two tunnels are connected by a road that takes you through the Taihang mountains on a relatively short stretch of sixty kilometers, with most visitors getting to the area by going through the city of Xinxiang.
Nha Trang-Quy Nhon, Vietnam
A 134 mile stretch of highway that is truly spectacular, the mountain scenery on the inland side of this road is matched by the stunning sea views and lovely golden beaches on the ocean side of the road. It is easy to stretch this trip into a vacation, as there are so many lovely towns and villages to stop along the way, and there are plenty of places to relax on the beach. Every two years, there is a week long festival held where visitors come together to drive the route together, and to enjoy the spectacular area in a large celebration.
The Journey Is Yours
If a road trip in Asia is your ideal car travel experience you are likely to be impressed. From beaches to trails to old cities there's lots to see and do while traveling across Asia.