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10 Best Countries to Visit in Asia

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Asia is a diverse but supremely mesmeric continent packed to brim with the most amazing countries and destinations. From vibrant cities and classic settlements to inspiring architecture, enlightening museums, and amazing shopping and dining, there is something special about every country in Asia, where its distinct culture, character and past make for an unforgettable holiday. But, if you are not sure where to start your Asian exploration, the following list of best countries in Asia allows you create your perfect wishlist.

 

  1. Malaysia

Lying in proximity to Singapore and Thailand, the beautiful country is fondly called Mini Asia. From exuberant cities such as Kuala Lumpur to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites (including Gunung Mulu National Park), it is a land of marvelous contrasts. See soaring skyscrapers and high-end leisure attractions co-existing with timeless colonial era landmarks and verdant gardens and parks. That’s not all; Malaysia is one of the world’s most megadiverse countries where its fertile grounds constitute over 20% of the planet’s animal species.

Putra Mosque Malaysia

Putra Mosque Malaysia

 

Best Time to Visit: February to September

Top Attractions & Experiences: Kuala Lumpur, George Town, Perhentian Islands, Gunung Mulu National Park and Langkawi

 

  1. Thailand

Be it for culture, revered shrines, intriguing history, natural treasures or dynamic modern sights, Thailand has it all in right measure. Starting from the capital city of Bangkok to the exceptionally scenic Chiang Mai and the history-steeped Ayutthaya to the paradisiacal gems of Phuket and Koh Samui, it goes without saying that a vacation in Thailand will take your breath away.

Wat Benchamabophit Thailand

Wat Benchamabophit Thailand

 

Best Time to Visit: November to April

Top Attractions & Experiences: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Phi Phi Islands

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  1. The UAE

Known for its mix of out of the world attractions, natural desert landscape, cultural sights, unequaled culinary scene and effortless Dubai visit visa online procedures, the UAE is bestowed with everything that you would ever look forward to in an Arabian holiday. Be in awe at Dubai’s super stylish sights (such as the largest of its kind Burj Khalifa and one of its kind Palm Jumeirah) and appreciate the immaculate blend of modern and traditional attractions at the capital city of Abu Dhabi. These cities are also a haven for thrill seekers and outdoor aficionadas, with desert safari, dhow cruise, and yacht ride Dubai. Apart from these, you get to bask in the untouched beauty of its lesser-known but enormously charming emirates such as Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

 

Best Time to Visit: November to March

Top Attractions & Experiences: Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Qasr Al Hosn, Qasr Al Watan, Desert Safari, Dhow Cruise, and Jebel Jais (Ras Al Khaimah)

 

  1. Maldives

No other destinations in this list are probably as exquisite as Maldives. It is a dream-come-true spot for anyone craving for a holiday in the lap of the nature. After all, where else you get to stay in an overwater bungalow and further admire the rare, ethereal natural phenomenon such as the Bioluminescent Beach at Vaadhoo Island.

maldives

maldives

Best Time to Visit: February to September

Top Attractions & Experiences: Male, Baros Island, Hulhumale Island, Banana Reef, Mirihi Island, Veligandu Island, and Vaadhoo Island

 

  1. Jordan

Jordan is often overlooked as a country of political unrest and protests. But, did you know that it is now safe to visit? Now, if you are skeptical about a visit here, Jordan is a true surprise package with its compelling diversity and historical significance. Its attractions and sights are simply eternal, being an intense combination of age-old tradition and modern. Whether you wish to journey into the past (with the ancient city of Petra) or want to immerse yourself in its unparalleled natural wonders (ranging from red dunes and Dead Sea to towering mountains), Jordan seamlessly fits the bill.

Petra

Petra

Best Time to Visit: Spring (April – May) and autumn (October – November) months

Top Attractions & Experiences: Petra, Jerash Ruins, Wadi Rum, Wadi Mujib, Aqaba, Amman’s Roman Ruins, and Dead Sea

 

  1. India

India is not only one of the world’s largest countries, but also one of the most amazing holiday destinations that cater to every preference and pocket. The place is blessed with unrivaled natural beauty, interesting historical landmarks, majestic architectural masterpieces, wonderful cities, and endless festivals, among many others. Whether you are traveling to the country’s northern, southern, eastern or western part, every region of India stands out for its epic charm and incredible offerings.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Best Time to Visit: Spring (April – May) and autumn (October – November) months

Tops Attractions & Experiences: Delhi, National Parks (like Ranthambhore National Park, Corbett National Park etc), Historical and Religious Sites (such as Taj Mahal, Hawa Mahal, and Konark Sun Temple), Kerala and living root bridges of north eastern part

 

  1. Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the two special administrative regions in China, another being Macau. With the strong influences of both western and eastern cultures, Hong Kong is jam-packed with a vast spectrum of fantastic attractions, amazing leisure choices, and a vibrant social and cultural scene. Discover the city’s appealing essence by taking the famous Star Ferry, visit Hong Kong Disneyland and take in the region’s spiritual side with Lantau Island’s Po Lin monastery and Tian Tan Buddha.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Best Time to Visit: September to December

Top Attractions & Experiences: Victoria Peak, Star Ferry, Symphony of Lights, Disneyland Hong Kong, Hong Kong Museum of History and Temple Street Night Market

 

  1. Singapore

This charming, compact city-state is one of the destinations that you would never get tired of exploring in Asia. With a mix of fantastic sights, bustling ethnic quarters and UNESCO-listed landmarks to name a few, Singapore tours promise you a marvelous getaway with treasured moments. It is where you get to stroll down the enormously lush yet high-tech garden by way of Gardens by the Bay. Wildlife enthusiasts are in for a surprise with attractions like Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park. And don’t miss to spend at least a day or two at its Sentosa Island which is the region’s ultimate amusement and recreation center.

Gardens by the Bay Singapore

Gardens by the Bay Singapore

Best Time to Visit: December to June

Top Attractions & Experiences: Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Flyer, Chinatown, Sentosa Island and Clarke Quay

 

  1. Japan

Holidaymakers of all types will be captivated by Japan’s rich mix of traditional old and contemporary new sights, helped by a thriving art and cultural scene. Yes, places to visit in Japan are as varied and unique as Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya and Mount Fiji.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial ParkHiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Best Time to Visit: Spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) months

Top Attractions & Experiences: 17th century Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Nijo Castle (Kyoto), Itsukushima Shrine (at Miyajima Island), Osaka Castle, Mount Fiji, and Nara’s Temple City

 

  1. Cambodia

This is one of the ultimate destinations to visit in Asia for culture and history buffs. It is where you get to see the world’s oldest and largest religious monument, Angkor Wat Archeological Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 12th century. Apart from these, Cambodia is home to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, Bassac Lane and Russian Market.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Best Time to Visit: November to April

Top Attractions & Experiences: Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh, Ratanakiri, Phnom Sampeau (hilltop pagoda at Battambang), Preah Vihear and Kratie

 

Conclusion

Wherever you choose to go from this list, you can be rest assured that they will not only blow you away but also draw you back here again and again. While majority of the countries are now open for tourism, be sure to check for travel guidelines plus formalities and further adhere to all COVID-19 rules as required by the destination you plan to visit. So, where you would like to visit in Asia for your upcoming holiday? Share your favorite place in the comment below.

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Meta’s AI AI machine translation research helps break language barriers

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Today, Meta announced that it has built and open sourced ‘No Language Left Behind’ NLLB-200, a single AI model that is the first to translate across 200 different languages, including 55 African languages with state-of-the-art results. Meta is using the modelling techniques and learnings from the project to improve and extend translations on Facebook, Instagram, and Wikipedia.

 

In an effort to develop high-quality machine translation capabilities for most of the world’s low-resource languages, this single AI model was designed with a focus on African languages. They are challenging from a machine translation perspective. AI models require lots and lots of data to help them learn, and there’s not a lot of human translated training data for these languages. For example, there’s more than 20M people who speak and write in Luganda but examples of this written language are extremely difficult to find on the internet.

 

We worked with professional translators for each of these languages to develop a reliable benchmark which can automatically assess translation quality for many low-resource languages. We also work with professional translators to do human evaluation too, meaning people who speak the languages natively evaluate what the AI produced. The reality is that a handful of languages dominate the web, so only a fraction of the world can access content and contribute to the web in their own language. We want to change this by creating more inclusive machine translations systems – ones that unlock access to the web for the more than 4B people around the world that are currently excluded because they do not speak one of the few languages content is available in.

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“It’s impressive how much AI is improving all of our services. We just open-sourced an AI model we built that can translate across 200 different languages — many of which aren’t supported by current translation systems. We call this project No Language Left Behind, and the AI modelling techniques we used are helping make high quality translations for languages spoken by billions of people around the world. To give a sense of the scale, the 200-language model has over 50 billion parameters, and we trained it using our new Research SuperCluster, which is one of the world’s fastest AI supercomputers. The advances here will enable more than 25 billion translations every day across our apps. Communicating across languages is one superpower that AI provides, but as we keep advancing our AI work it’s improving everything we do — from showing the most interesting content on Facebook and Instagram, to recommending more relevant ads, to keeping our services safe for everyone,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post on his Facebook profile.

 

Language is our culture, identity, and lifeline to the world. However, as high-quality translation tools don’t exist for hundreds of languages, billions of people today can’t access digital content or participate fully in conversations and communities online in their preferred or native languages. This is especially true for hundreds of millions of people who speak the many languages of Africa.

 

“Africa is a continent with very high linguistic diversity, and language barriers exist day to day. We are pleased to announce that 55 African languages will be included in this machine translation research, making it a major breakthrough for our continent,” Balkissa Ide Siddo, Public Policy Director for Africa said while speaking about the launch of the AI model. “In the future, imagine visiting your favourite Facebook group, coming across a post in Igbo or Luganda, and being able to understand it in your own language with just a click of a button – that’s where we hope research like this leads us. Highly accurate translations in more languages could also help to spot harmful content and misinformation, protect election integrity, and curb instances of online sexual exploitation and human trafficking.”

 

While commenting on accessibility and inclusion in the pursuit of building an equitable metaverse, Ide Siddo added “At Meta, we are working today to ensure that as many people as possible will be able to access the new educational, social and economic opportunities that the next evolution of the internet will bring to future technology and an everyday living experience tomorrow.”

 

To confirm that the translations are high quality, Meta also created a new evaluation dataset, FLORES-200, and measured NLLB-200’s performance in each language. Results revealed that NLLB-200 exceeds the previous state of the art by an average of 44 percent.

 

Meta is also open-sourcing the NLLB-200 model and publishing a slew of research tools to enable other researchers to extend this work to more languages and build more inclusive technologies. Meta AI is also providing up to $200,000 of grants to non-profit organizations for real world applications for NLLB-200.

 

There are versions of Wikipedia in more than 300 languages, but most have far fewer articles than the 6+ million available in English. Following Meta’s partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that hosts Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects, modelling  techniques and learnings from the NLLB research are now also being applied to translation systems used by Wikipedia editors. Using the Wikimedia Foundation’s Content Translation Tool, articles can now be easily translated in more than 20 low-resource languages (those that don’t have extensive datasets to train AI systems), including 10 that previously were not supported by any machine translation tools on the platform.

 

To explore a demo of NLLB-200 showing how the model can translate stories from around the world, visit here. You can also read the research paper here.

 

 

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