With a continent so rich in culture and history, there is no better place to road trip than Asia. These single country and multi-country Asia road trip itineries will have you exploring some of the most unique and scenic parts of the world by car.
Before you set off on your self-drive Asia road trip adventure, here are our favourite booking services:
Route: Through Sri Lanka, starting and ending in Colombo via Kandy, Sigiriya, Ella, Udawalawe, Weligama, Mirissa, Galle and back to Colombo
We have done a family road trip through Sri Lanka twice now, once for three weeks and this time for two weeks.
Sri Lanka is beautiful with so much to see. From lovely beaches and hotels to relax at, to breathtaking scenery, there is something for everyone in the family.
We went with my younger brothers and Grandma. We started in Colombo with two nights to acclimatise. After Colombo, we had a driver and made our way to Kandy.
Inland Sri Lanka is a great place to start, so you can end the trip by the beach. Kandy is a beautiful lake town with lots of hilltop hotels and a huge temple right by the lake.
After Kandy, we took the scenic train to Ella. This was one of the highlights of my trip, as the views on the 6-hour journey are incredible.
Tip: Keep the same driver, as they can then take your luggage to Ella by car while you enjoy the train luggage free.
After visiting waterfalls and climbing mountains in Ella, we spent a day at the national park at Udawalawe to see elephants and wildlife. While we went bodyboarding at the beaches after our tour of mainland Sri Lanka, Grandma was able to have massages and relax after our road trip.
From Mirissa it is easy to do day trips to other beaches and also to the old town of Galle. It was nice to spend the time together and also to be able to go off and do our own things.
Route: Taipei, Hualien, Taroko National Park, Sun Moon Lake, Kaohsiung, Kenting National Park.
Taiwan is an underrated road trip destination. The drive from Taipei in the North to Kaohsiung in the South is an epic journey taking you through the whole island.
The Taiwanese are wonderfully kind and welcoming to children, the roads are well-maintained and clearly signposted and there are convenience stores on every corner making Taiwan a very easy country to drive around with young children.
You can drive from Taipei to Kaohsiung directly in four hours on the highway. However if you really want to experience Taiwan, we suggest taking between 7 and 14 days to meander across the island and visit the best sights.
Drive south from Taipei to Hualien and experience the wild East coast stopping at some hot springs and gorgeous wind-swept beaches on the way.
Continue on to the famous Sun Moon Lake and enjoy the shimmering waters and grand pagodas before heading South towards Kaohsiung. Once you reach Kaohsiung make sure that you hang on to your hire car for a few more days so that you can drive further south and explore Pingtung county.
If you have time, head down to tropical Kenting National Park to soak up some sun on the palm-fringed beaches.
-Kirsty from World for a Girl
Kuala Lumpur to Penang
TIME NEEDED: 2 to 3 days
Route: Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Selangor, Ipoh, Tambun, Taiping, Penang.
A road trip from Kuala Lumpur to Penang is one of the easiest, most straightforward drives you can do in Malaysia.
It’s 400km-long and only takes about 4 to 5 hours on a very well-paved highway. It’s safe and is great to do with kids as it packs nature, culture and fun.
For this reason, there’s no real need to rush. It’s recommended you take at least 2 to 3 days to complete it, stopping at some of the key attractions en route.
Kuala Lumpur obviously has all the bells and whistles of modernity, but the way to go is to take a detour off the highway to Kuala Selangor, a beautiful little town set around a verdant hill populated by cheeky langurs. They are extremely tame and well-behaved and are a hit with kids, who love to be able to get that close to these beautiful monkeys.
Up next is Ipoh, a former tin-mining town that’s blossomed in the lesser developed version of art hub Penang.
Stop at the Old Town where you can sample the famous white coffee and gorge on plates of Malaysian delicacies like curry chee chong fun, and stroll along charming heritage lanes covered with street art.
If your kids aren’t impressed, drive to nearby Tambun to visit the Lost World, a dinosaur-themed water park next to limestone caves. It also has one of Ipoh’s best resorts.
It would be a sin to not stop in Taiping, voted in 2019 as one of the world’s most livable cities. The Lake Gardens are fantastic to stroll or bike, the old town has more food galore, and if your kids love nature, you may bring them up Maxwell Hill — either by jeep or a strenuous 4-hour hike.
Once you get to Penang, you’ll be spoilt for options. Kids will love Escape, which has both a jungle action-park and a waterpark with the longest waterslide in the world at 1,140 meters.
Komtar is Penang’s highest building, and turned into a kid-friendly entertainment center in 2016. There’s a dinosaur museum, aquarium, full course zipline at 200 meters of height and an observatory deck to take in great views over the island.
The Habitat on top of Penang Hill is another family-friendly spot that will bring you close to nature and has a set of ziplines, Flight of the Colugo.
And of course, don’t forget George Town, with all its smorgasbord of food, heritage buildings, and vibrant nightlife.
Mumbai to Goa is one of the most amazing road trips in India. Goa is barely 600 km from Mumbai and the roads are fairly good, so if you start early in the morning you can easily reach by evening with two or three breaks.
But if you have time, you can break your journey up and spend a night in Satara. Satara is one of the famous hill stations of Maharashtra. You can visit the famous volcanic Kas Plateau. There are also many wonderful waterfalls like Thoseghar falls, Vajrai falls etc.
After spending a day here you start your journey to the heavenly beaches of Goa. Goa is an amazing place for a vacation with family. There are many things to do in Goa with kids, like visiting the spice plantations and Dudhsagar waterfall, adventurous water sports and beaches. They will also love spending time at the waterpark and snow city.
There are many old churches, forts and buildings showcasing the Portugal architecture. You can give your kids a history lesson along the way. Chapora fort has one of the most beautiful views to offer.
If you want to see wild animals, visit the National Park. There is also a butterfly conservatory if you want to spend some time admiring nature.
Be sure to try the local seafood and Goan dishes too.
A fabulous side trip to really enhance a Dubai vacation is to road trip down to Muscat, Oman. You will need to cross the border here by land. This is straightforward to do as long as your paperwork is in order.
Tip: If you’re hiring a car, just make sure Oman is specified on the paperwork too!.
There are several different routes you can take, either heading straight to the UAE east coast and through to Sohar in Oman, before dropping down to Muscat.
We prefer to take the longer inland route to see more small towns and historic sites along the way – you can always catch whichever bits you miss on a circular route on the way back!
The highlights we would include are the oasis town of Al Ain in the UAE with an overnight stop to explore the UNESCO sites, visit the zoo and several museums and fort.
Cross the border here then head into theHajar Mountains, staying overnight at the peak of Jebel Shams, the highest point in Oman and often dubbed “the Grand Canyon of Arabia”.
Heading down again you will follow the backside of the mountains through several ancient villages before coming to Nizwa. This surrounding area is full of fabulously restored forts, and don’t miss the Al Hoota Caves.
Your trip will take you all the way back through the mountains to Muscat where you can enjoy the stunning Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, walk the Corniche and explore the Muttrah Souk (here you will finally discover what is frankincense and myrrh!).
A favourite with kids is to head out on to the waters in the Gulf of Oman for dolphin spotting and spectacular city views. Muscat is a sprawling, traditional low-rise city which is a huge contrast to the bright lights of Dubai – visiting both puts the Middle East into some perspective.
All up, you can hit it straight in 6 hours on a good border crossing, but we suggest 5 days to a week if you are tackling it as a round trip and want to enjoy all the special stops and highlights along the way.
This would extend to 10 days at least if you want to head to Sur, Ras al Jinz and the Wahiba Sands in the south-east of Oman, beyond Muscat.
-Keri from Family Travel Middle East
Almaty to Charyn Canyon and Kolsai Lakes, Kazakhstan
Almaty in Kazakhstan is not only a great city if you travel with children, but is also a good starting point for a family road trip along some of the best National Parks in Kazakhstan. Almaty lies in the southeastern part of the country close to the border with China and Kyrgyzstan.
In this part of Kazakhstan, the steppes meet with the snowcapped peaks of the Tien Shan mountains. The result is a variety of different landscapes and some of Kazakhstan’s most spectacular nature that is easily reached by car. From the vast steppes to rocky canyons and alpine mountains with deep blue lakes.
From Almaty, the first stop is the beautiful Issyk Lake before you head to the Charyn Canyon. This National Park is great for children, with a well-marked and easy 2-kilometre hike through the canyon. At the end of the canyon is an eco-lodge with good facilities where you can eat and sleep.
The next day, continue to Kolsai lakes National Park. The first lake is accessible by car. From there you can take leisurely walks along the lake with beautiful mountain views. The nearby village of Saty has plenty of homestays. Most of them will gladly host families as well.
I recommend spending a day at the Kolsai lakes before returning to Almaty. Even though you will travel through some very remote parts of Kazakhstan, the facilities in the Charyn Canyon and the Kolsai Lakes are quite good. If you don’t mind simple accommodation and food you may consider adding in the singing sand dunes of Altyn Emel.
– Ellis from Backpack Adventures
Seoul to Jeju Island
TIME NEEDED: 3 to 4 days
Route: Seoul Island Loop, starting in Jeju City
There’s a reason that the route from Seoul to Jeju Island is the most travelled in the world, despite Korea’s relatively small population. This is also why it takes place as one of the best road trips in Asia.
The island is just a 45-minute flight from the capital, popular for both its secluded beaches and natural beauty, as well as its many strange and (largely) family-friendly attractions. Not only is it easy to rent a car on Jeju, but it’s pretty much expected.
Most accommodation on Jeju has free parking, and most of the attractions are off-the-beaten-path insofar as public transport.
Tip: Don’t forget to bring your international license. Also, buy a sim card with plenty of data so you can use your own GPS app. Even the English-language version of our provided GPS often switched to Korean.
If you arrive early in the morning, I’d recommend starting by heading west from Jeju City, visiting the Teddy Bear Museum, the Chocolate Museum, and O’sulloc Green Tea Fields before checking into your hotel, ideally just outside of downtown Seogwipo City.
On day 2, visit the Olle Trails for a quick hike and some beautiful pictures of Oedolgae Rock. Another lookout point nearby is Jusangjeolli Lava Cliffs; the volcanic area reminds me quite a bit of Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
A short drive away is Jeongbang Waterfall, one of the only waterfalls in the world to fall directly into the ocean.
If you’re an adventurous bunch, Seogwipo is a great base to plan a hike up Hallasan, the island’s landmark mountain. Otherwise, I’d drive directly east and visit Seopjikoji before it closes at sunset.
On the final day of your family-friendly road trip, wake up early to see the sunrise from Seongsan Ilchulbong, also known as Sunrise Point. Afterwards, take a half-day trip to Udo. This tiny island off the coast is just 15 minutes’ ferry ride from Seongsan Port.
If you arrive at night, I’d recommend staying in Jeju City your first night and doing this trip in reverse.
-Max from Dame Cacao
Shimla to Manali
TIME NEEDED: 10 days
Route – Spiti Valley Circuit from Shimla to Manali
In today’s fast-paced life, family trips provide much-needed freshness and bring the family together. Himalaya offers many options for road trips with family.
A road trip to the fairyland of Spiti Land is a grand trip to take with the family. It has all the ingredients to make a family trip memorable and cherishable.
Spiti Valley is a trans-Himalayan cold desert that lies in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh in India. The complete circuit to Spiti Valley starts from Shimla and ends at Manali. It meanders through Satluj and Spiti river and passes through dreaded Himalayan areas like Kunzum and Rohtang on the way.
It also passes through incredible Himalayan setups like Kalpa, Nako, DHankar, Tabo and Kaza. There is no land like Spiti valley. It presents a myriad of things such as serene landscapes, snowcapped mountains, vast barren expanse, high Himalayan lakes and beautifully built Buddhist monasteries.
The best way to enjoy the trip is to go with an open mind and enjoy every turn and corner as it comes. Stay in monasteries, walk-on river beds, sit next to Himalayan lakes, interact with locals and spend time in star-gazing at night.
One of the most intriguing road trips that we have embarked on was from Bangalore to Pondicherry and back to Bangalore again. We spent a total of five days on the road. It was an interesting journey.
We planned our route in such a way that we managed to cover as many places in Tamil Nadu as we could. We broke our journey in Mahabalipuram before heading out to Pondicherry.
One of the stops that I highly recommend taking on the way is Gingee fort. Famed as the Troy of the east, this is a lesser-explored location in the south of India. The fort is located across three hillocks and is also known as one of the most impregnable forts in India.
Other locations that we visited on the way were Kanchipuram and Auroville. Kanchipuram is a city that is famous for its temples and its sarees. It is a beautiful place and makes a great spot on the way. If you love vegetarian food then this a great place to stop for lunch too.
It was after this road trip that I realized that I loved Tamil Nadu. The people are warm and welcoming. The food is delicious. The roads are great for Indian standards and there a number of gorgeous places to explore. Definitely a place I would head back to.
–Shawn & Penny from Globe Trove
Fort Kochi to Munnar
TIME NEEDED: 2 to 3 days
Route – Fort Kochi, Eravikulam National Park, Munnar
I travelled to Kerala for 2 weeks with my parents. We loved Kerala but I would like to specially mention our road trip from Fort Kochi to Munnar. This is my parent’s favourite place in Kerala. This is easily one of the best road trips in Asia.
It was October and monsoon season was almost over. It is beginning of October and it rained intermittently but never disrupted our plans. Due to this, we managed to see some spectacular views, as everywhere we travelled was lush green.
From our road trip from Fort Kochi to Munnar, we saw waterfalls that were full of water due to morning rain. Road conditions are good in Kerala making it a pleasant drive.
Closer to Munnar, we encountered lots of fog and mist, even though it was afternoon. This created a dramatic effect and added thrill to our road trip.
In Munnar, we stayed for two nights. If you like natural surroundings then stay in a tea plantation. We stayed in a hotel surrounded by tea and spice plantations and it was a great experience.
TAKE A GUIDED BICYCLE TOUR THROUGH THE TEA PLANTATIONS >>Fort Kochi to Munnar should be on your list of things to do in India.
– Sapna from My Simple Sojourn
Silk Road, India
TIME NEEDED: 4 days
Route – Siliguri, Gangtok, Old Silk Route, Zuluk.
The road to Zuluk via the Old Silk Route is one of my best road trips. The 32-strip zigzag road from Nathang valley is worth visiting with friends and families to take a trip to the Eastern frontiers of the country.
The entire region is covered by boulevards and forests of the Lesser Himalayan trails.
The region also treasures different varieties of plants and shrubs found only in this corner of the country. There are important sunrise and sunset points in the region from where one can witness the highest peaks in the world.
The peaks become distinguished and you can observe and witness them clearly during the winter months when the weather turbulences diminishes and the entire region is palpable with perfect weather.
There are small mansions in the region covered by enchanting forests and wild trees, which may delight young travellers with big imaginations. The route is an eye-catcher for travellers and adventure enthusiasts across the globe and can be reached very easily from Eastern India.
–Somnath from Travel Crusade
Ready to start planning the best road trips in Asia with these perfect self-drive itineraries the whole family will love. From beautiful scenery to ancient sites, make the most of driving at your own pace through Asia.
GET OUR PRINTABLE ROAD TRIP MEAL PLAN & FOOD LIST: