Which are the most walkable cities in Asia?
COUNTRIES IN ASIA are designing cities not just for buildings, but also for people.
Because by doing so, it increases walkability and promotes sustainable living.
What exactly is a walkable city?
The truth is, all cities are technically walkable, but not all of them have proper pedestrian facilities, are easily navigable, or are enjoyable to walk.
There are a handful of walkable cities in the world such as San Francisco, New York City, Montreal, and London, just to name a few. And these cities are way ahead of Asian cities, having had the necessary infrastructures and conditions in place for decades now.
For example, in the Philippines, two million Filipinos own private vehicles while the remaining 98 million cannot afford cars or choose not to have one. They have no other choice but to walk, cycle, or get on public transportation.
Unfortunately, there’s a lack of proper sidewalks, and their public transportation is notoriously unsafe.
Recognizing the importance of how friendly an area is to walking, cities in Asia are ramping up efforts to ensure they are well-connected with easy accessibility for locals and tourists alike.
This includes building proper sidewalks, improving public transportation, enhancing parks and recreational facilities, and increasing services.
In Pune, India, the Mahatma Gandhi Road was converted to a vehicle-free walking plaza from 4pm to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It saw between 10,000 and 20,000 pedestrians each weekend where families and children could play, move, and chat along the plaza.
Such social interaction encouraged people to be a part of a thriving, inclusive community. Businesses also benefited from the walking plaza, as they attracted more business than they had before the road closure.
The project was discontinued for a couple of years, but there are talks to bring it back.
Which are the most walkable cities in Asia?
Shanghai has some of the most interesting neighborhoods in the country, with pocket parks scattered among a network of low-rise and high-rise buildings and narrow lanes.
The city’s pedestrian-friendliness and walkability are what distinguishes Shanghai from most Chinese cities, perfect for those who love to explore on foot.
Travelers would love strolling through the French Concession (streets lined with leafy French plane trees and old colonial architecture) and discover a cute shop, cafe, or gallery that they wouldn’t have otherwise spotted on a train or cab ride.
Seoul, South Korea
South Korea’s megacity is so walkable; it’d be such a waste to not put on your walking shoes and head out.
Let your feet lead you to one of the many historical palaces in the heart of Seoul and around the city center where towering skyscrapers seem to touch the sky.
Then, take a leisurely stroll down and dip your feet in Cheonggyecheon stream, a serene waterway that runs through the metropolis, before heading off to one of the city’s gazillion coffee shops for coffee and cake.
Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolis and has a world-renown, efficient albeit labyrinthine metro system that’s complemented by an equally reliable bus service.
Locals often commute by subway or bus, but they also often walk to work (if it’s not too far out), to buy groceries, for meals, and to meet friends.
The city is so safe and so built for wandering, with sidewalks that are super connected, you’d gladly wear out your sneakers. In fact, you might find it a better way to destress than going to one of those baths.
Taipei, the energetic capital of Taiwan, is one of the few truly dynamic places in the world, a toss between traditional and rapid modernization.
Like most bustling cities in Asia, Taipei is both chaotic and comfortable, but it’s also completely clean and walkable, with one of the most reliable subway systems in the world.
Prepare to discover Taipei one step at a time when you prowl the streets, turning off only to check out one of the immaculately maintained parks around the city, before ending your walk at one of the sprawling night markets.
If there’s one thing that Singapore has got going for them aside from being voted the world’s safest country and being Southeast Asia’s business and economic hub, it’s the fact that it’s extremely well planned.
It has cheap and efficient public transportation but is also pedestrian-friendly.
Whether you choose to walk, bike, or jump on a scooter to go to the mini-mart, there are endless ways to enjoy the landscape of Singapore without having to hail a ride.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An comes highly recommended from travelers who have had experience trawling the ancient town and it’s easy to see why.
Formerly an important trading port, the Vietnamese destination has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Although you’d need to fork out an entrance fee of VND120,000 (US$5.17), it’s worth it as it comes with admission tickets for five attractions.
Hoi An is even more amazing at night and a sight to behold when traditional lanterns illuminate the streets. So do as tourists would do and remember to whip out your cameras.