TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards have been announced, including the world’s most popular landmarks. Here are the iconic Asian sites that made it to the list.
1. Angkor Wat – Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia’s Angkor Wat sees over two million visitors every year. Spread over an area of 400 sq km, the magnificent structure is the largest religious monument in the world. Dubbed the “City of Temples”, the Wat is a harmonisation of ancient architecture, intricate carvings and sophisticated structures, surrounded by lush rainforests.
Tip: Go on a cycling tour of the Angkor Wat at sunrise for a unique experience.
2. Taj Mahal – Agra, India
Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world and considered the biggest tribute to love, was built by Mughal emperor Shahjahan for his wife Mumtaz. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and remains one of the most visited sites in the world.
Tip: Discover this historic landmark through a private Taj Mahal and Agra Fort Tour.
3. Great Wall at Mutianyu – Beijing, China
Located approximately 70km north-east of central Beijing (a two-hour drive), the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall (above) stretches over 5km and used to serve as the northern barrier to defend the capital and imperial tombs. There are 23 watchtowers densely placed along the stretch – a feature that is rarely found in other sections of the Great Wall. It’s one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall that is open to tourists.
Tip: Discover this historic landmark through an intimate tour with a gourmet picnic and wine.
4. Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) – Bangkok, Thailand
Famed for its giant reclining Buddha gilded in gold measuring 15m tall and 46m long (above), Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples and a must-visit attraction for first-time visitors to Bangkok. The temple compound is also home to the leading school of massage in Thailand with two massage pavilions located within the area.
Tip: Discover this historic landmark through a private half-day tour of the temple complex with a tour guide.
5. Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine – Kyoto, Japan
Originally dedicated to the god of rice, the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine is famous for its tunnels of brightly painted red torii (arches or gates; above) that frame the pathways through the forest. They’ve also been the backdrop for Hollywood films and TV shows, such as Memoirs of a Geisha. It’s now a site where people come to seek blessings, making it one of Kyoto’s most famous sights.
Tip: Discover this historic landmark and more through a Fushimi Inari and sake brewery tour with Walk Japan.
6. Shwedagon Pagoda – Yangon, Myanmar
One of the most famous pagodas in the world, the Shwedagon Pagoda is a majestic, gilded stupa that is 99m tall and sits atop a hill – making it a prominent feature of Yangon’s skyline. The pagoda consists of hundreds of temples, stupas and statues. The stupa’s shimmering golden facade, made of genuine gold plates, was built thanks to donations from previous monarchs and affluent Burmese.
Tip: Go on a walking tour of the Pagoda with Yangon Day Tours and discover local markets and monasteries on the way, as well as enjoying authentic local food.
7. Petronas Twin Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Once the tallest structure in the world (1998-2004), the skyscrapers of the Petronas Twin Towers define the Malaysian capital’s skyline. The structure houses an upmarket shopping mall, a 202,343sq m park and a double-decker skybridge that connects the two towers on the 41st and 42nd floors. Designed by famous Argentine-American architect Cesar Pelli, the iconic building was finished in a record time of six years.
Tip: Enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the observation deck on the 86th floor.
8. Amber Fort – Jaipur, India
Amber Fort (below), one of the finest examples of stunning Rajput architecture, is a major tourist attraction in Jaipur. The fort along with Jaigarh Fort is located on top of Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) and connected by a subterranean passage. This passage was created as an escape route in times of war, to enable the royal family members to move to the more formidable Jaigarh Fort.
Tip: Discover this historic landmark through a full-day private sightseeing tour of Jaipur that includes the architectural masterpieces of Amber Fort.
9. The Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand
The Grand Palace was historically the official residence of the kings of Siam (and later Thailand). Today, it is still used for official events. The spectacular complex is divided into three main zones: The Outer Court is home to other structures including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha); the Middle Court houses the most important residential and state buildings and is used for important ceremonies; and the Inner Court is reserved for the king and his queen and consorts. The Emerald Buddha that sits in the temple is carved from a single piece of jade and is considered the holiest religious object in Thailand.
Tip: Discover this historic landmark through a comprehensive guided tour with an alms-giving session with Buddhist monks.
10. Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chin Minh City, Vietnam
Built by local fighters during the Indochina conflict, the Cu Chi tunnels boast an extensive network of over 200km of tunnels. Serving as functioning underground cities, the tunnels included hospitals, schools, kitchens and meeting quarters, and showcase the brilliant survival tactics of the local guerrilla armies. The extensive secret tunnels served as fortifications for Viet Cong and played a major role in North Vietnam winning the war. There are many English-speaking tour agencies that conduct guided tours.
Tip: Go on a speedboat excursion of the historical site with Les Rives Experience and witness the traditional way of life for Vietnamese people along the Mekong River.
– TEXT BY SHWETA PARIDA
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.