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The Top 20 Must See Attractions in Asia

Asia is both the largest and the most populous continent on Earth. The continent consists of 49 sovereign states, 6 dependent territories, and 6 states with limited international recognition. Many of the first settlements of humans originate in Asia so it has a long and interesting history. As it is such a large continent that is home to such a high proportion of the world’s population, it is little wonder that Asia also offers a diverse and fascinating experience for visitors. Each of the countries has its own unique history and culture that travelers can discover visiting each destination. Asia is also home to some of the world’s most fascinating and exciting attractions. Here are 20 of the top attractions in Asia.

20. Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army is one of the most iconic cultural symbols of China. It is a collection of t4erracotta sculptures that depict the army of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. They are mainly of soldiers, horses, and chariots. This funerary art was buried with the emperor in approximately 209 BC. The purpose of the figures was to protect Qin Shi Huang during the afterlife. In 2007, a study of the site showed that there are 150 cavalry horses, 520 horses, 130 chariots, and 8,000 soldiers. The soldiers vary in height and this reflects their status. The tallest soldiers are the generals. Most of the statues are still buried in the pits close to Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. However, there are many other terracotta statues of a non-military nature in nearby pits. These include strongmen, musicians, acrobats, and various officials. There is now a museum over the pits that allows the public to view various parts of the Terracotta Army.

19. Ocean Park Southern District, Hong Kong

Ocean Park Hong Kong is commonly referred to as simply Ocean Park. It is located in Nam Long Shan and Wong Chuck Hang in the Southern District of Hong Kong. It is an animal theme park, oceanarium, marine mammal park, and an amusement park. The park has been open since 1977. A huge expansion program that began in 2005 means that the park now boasts more than 80 attractions and rides, including four roller coasters and two water rides. It is the largest theme park in Asia and the 13th most visited theme park in the world as it attracts approximately 7.6 million visitors a year. Half of those who visit come from mainland China. This park covers a whopping 226 acres but is divided into two sections by a huge mountain in the middle. The two sections are The Summit and The Waterfront. To move between the two sections, guests must the 1.5-kilometer cable system.

18. Kenting National Park, Taiwan

This national park is located on the Hengchun Peninsula of Pingtung County in Taiwan. The park covers the Townships of Manzhou, Hengchun, and Checheng. It is the southernmost park on the island and is also Taiwan’s oldest national park as it was established in 1984. It is famous for its tropical climate and its focal point is a scenic mountain. The park also features an amazing beach. Kenting National Park is one of the major tourist destinations in Taiwan as it attracts approximately 5.84 million visitors each year. This location is also host to the Spring Scream rock-band festival that is held annually in March. One of the main reasons people visit the park is to get closer to nature. It is home to 15 species of mammals, 21 species of freshwater fish, 59 species of reptiles and amphibians, 310 species of birds, and 216 species of butterflies and insects.

17. Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia

Tanah Lot is a rock formation on the island of Bali in Indonesia and its name means ‘home in the sea’. Other than the rock formation itself, the main tourist attraction is the Hindu pilgrimage temple Pura Tanah Lot. The temple is said to have been created under the instruction of Dang Hyang Nirartha during the 16th-century. He fell in love with the rock formation during his travels and wanted a monument placed on the small island. The main deity of the temple is the god of the sea, Dewa Baruna or Bhatara Segara. It is one of seven temples located on the coast of Bali. Not only is this a massively popular spot for tourists, it is also a cultural icon of Indonesia. It is a beautiful spot to take photographs as a memento of your visit to the Indonesian islands.

16. Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto, Japan

Kinkaku-Ji translates as the ‘Temple of the Golden Pavilion’. It is a Buddhist temple that is located in Kyoto in Japan. It is one of the most popular Japanese attractions as it attracts huge numbers of tourists each year. This structure is a designated National Special Landscape and National Special Historic Site. It is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The site of the temple was once a villa that was owned by a statesman. It dates back to 1397 but all the buildings on the site except the pavilion were burned down during the Onin War which took place between 1467 and 1477. A monk burned down the pavilion in 1950 and a new structure was built in 1955.

15. Universal Studios Singapore, Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is a theme park that forms one part of the Resorts World Sentosa which is on Sentosa Island. Construction of the park began in December 2006 and it was the second Universal Studios to open in Asia with the first being located in Japan. The park covers an area of 49 acres and features 21 rides, six of which are roller coasters. It has seven themed areas that are structured around a central lagoon. The park also features 30 restaurants and food carts. According to the owners, Universal Parks & Resorts, this will be the only theme park of its kind in Southeast Asia for at least the next 30 years.

14. Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

This is a fort located in the town of Amer in India and it is the principal attraction in the Jaipur region of the country. It covers four square kilometres and overlooks Maota Lake. The fort was originally built by the Meenas using marble and red sandstone. The fort includes Amer Palace which is located directly above the Hill of Eagles. The palace was home to the Rajput Maharajas and their families. There are four opulent levels in the palace and each of these levels has its own courtyard. On average, Amer Fort attracts 5,000 visitors per day. This attraction was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 as it is part of the Hill Forts of Rajasthan.

13. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Located in central Singapore is Gardens by the Bay. This is a nature park that covers 250 acres of reclaimed land. It was created as part of a governmental strategy to transform Singapore from a ‘Garden City’ into a city in a garden. It is the premier outdoor recreation attraction in Singapore. The nature park is divided into three sections; Bay Central Garden, Bay East Garden, and Bay South Garden. The park was opened in 2012 and by 2015 it had welcomed over 20 million visitors. Some of the features of the park are a special children’s garden, a cloud forest, a flower dome, and a supertree grove. The park also boasts an event space where a variety of events are hosted throughout the year.

12. Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Disneyland is one of the two largest theme parks in Hong Kong and it is located at Penny’s Bay on Lantau Island. The theme park, which is a replica of the Disneyland Parks in Florida and California, was opened in 2005. It is owned by both the Government of Hong Kong and The Walt Disney Company. Since it was opened, this attraction has had 25 million visitors. The park is divided into seven themed areas; Main Street USA, Adventureland, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Mystic Point, Tomorrowland, and Grizzly Gulch. The park has the capacity to welcome 34,000 visitors each day. It is the 13th most visited theme park in the world and has plans to expand significantly over the next decade.

11. Grand Palace-, Bangkok, Thailand

The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, is one of the few palaces in the world that is partially open to the public as a museum while also remaining a working palace. The palace consists of a complex of building in the center of Bangkok. It has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782. Construction of the palace started in 1782 under the orders of King Phutthayotfa Chulalok. The monarchy was abolished in 1932 in Thailand but the palace still has royal offices inside that are important to governmental operations in this country. The palace consists of 35 structures in total that are fantastic examples of the unique architecture of Thailand. The palace and other buildings are set between four walls and stunning landscaped gardens and courtyards. The Grand Palace sits on the banks of the Chao Phraya River on Rattanakosin Island.

10. Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Petronas Towers is the predominant tourist attraction of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. These are the tallest twin towers in the world and were constructed between 1994 and 1996. They were designed by renowned Argentine architect Cesar Pelli. The design has become a contemporary symbol of Kuala Lumpur. This attraction boasts many features that appeal to tourists. Below the towers is the KLCC Park. This boasts a fountain with an incorporated light show, a children’s playground, wading pools, and jogging and walking paths. Suria KLCC is a huge upmarket retail park that predominantly sells luxury goods and high-street labels. It also features an underwater aquarium, a science center, an art gallery, and a philharmonic theatre. Finally, there is a double decker skybridge that connects the two towers between the 41st and 42nd floors.

9. Borobudur, Java, Indonesia

Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. This 9th-century Mahayana temple is located in Magelang in Central Java, Indonesia. It consists of nine stacked platforms; six of these are square and three are circular. These are topped by a central dome. The structure is highly decorated with adornments including 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Of these statues, 72 are located around the central dome and they are each seated in a perforated stupa. The Indonesian government undertook a large restoration program between 1975 and 1982 that was supported by UNESCO. Once the restoration was complete, the structure was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Borobudur is a popular site for pilgrimages and is often visited by Buddhists when the Indonesians celebrate Vesak. It is the most visited attraction in Indonesia.

8. Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan and it is located in Sumida, Tokyo, dominating the skyline in the city. It is also the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa. Although its predominant purpose is as a broadcasting tower, visitors head to this attraction to visit the observation tower where they can enjoy a spectacular bird’s eye view over Tokyo. They also visit to eat in the Tokyo Skytree Restaurant. Construction of the tower was completed on February 29, 2012, and was opened to the public on May 22 of the same year.

7. Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto, Japan

Kiyomizu-dear is a temple in the city of Kyoto on Honshu island in Japan. The temple is just one part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Sakanoue no Tamuramaro founded the temple in 778 although some of the present buildings on the site were constructed in 1633. An astonishing fact is that there is not a single nail used to construct any of the buildings. Many visitors like to walk between the love stones that are positioned 18 meters apart at the Jishu Shrine. Lonely visitors try to walk between the stones with their eyes closed. It is believed that if they succeed, they will find love. This attraction is now particularly popular at festival times.

6. Petra, Jordan

This is a historical and archaeological city located in southern Jordan. It is also known as the ‘Rose City’ due to the color of the stone from which the buildings in the city are carved. It is estimated that the city was built in 312 BC and it was the former capital city of the Arab Nabataeans. Not only is this the most visited tourist attraction in Jordan, it is also a symbol of Jordan. Westerners were not aware of the existence of this city until it was discovered by an explorer called Johann Ludwig Burkhardt in 1812. According to UNESCO, Petra is one of the most important cultural heritages.

5. Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Most people are surprised to learn that the Forbidden City is not a city at all. In fact, it is a place complex located within central Beijing. The Forbidden City was built between 1406 and 1420 and consists of 980 buildings which are fine examples of Chinese palatial architecture. It was the seat of the Imperial Chinese Dragon Throne between the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty. This is a period that spans 1420 to 1912. It is now home to the Palace Museum which boasts an extensive collection of artwork and artefacts, particularly from the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It attracts 15 million visitors annually and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987. UNESCO have also listed the Forbidden City as having the largest collection in the world of ancient wooden structures.

4. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Burj Khalifa is a megatall skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was initially known as Burj Dubai before its inauguration and construction on this structure began in 2004. The final piece was placed on top of the structure in 2008 and it became the tallest structure in the world, measuring 2,772 feet in height. It dominates the skyline of Dubai. It is part of a mixed-use development that was designed to gain Dubai international recognition. This attraction has several features that interest tourist. To the exterior, it has the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa Park. Inside, it has two observatory decks and a restaurant. The Other floors in the tower have commercial uses.

3. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Located in Cambodia in Southeast Asia, Angkor Wat is a temple complex that holds the accolade of being the largest religious complex in the world. It stands on a site measuring 402 acres. Originally, the temple was constructed as a Hindu monument to honor the god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire. By the end of the 12th century, it had become a Buddhist temple. Khmer King Suryavarman ordered the construction of the temple in the early 12th-century for use as the state temple in the capital of the Khmer Empire. The temple is now a major symbol of Cambodia and is even shown on its national flag. This is the most popular tourist attraction in this country.

2. Great Wall of China, China

The purpose of the Great Wall of China was to protect the Chinese states and empires from attack and invasion. It runs across the historical northern borders of China and runs from Dandong in the east to Lop Lake in the west. It is a series of fortifications that were built using a range of materials, including stone, brick, wood, and earth. The wall has been added to over the centuries, but the earliest parts of the wall date back to the 7th-century BC. The most famous part of the wall is the section built between 200 and 206 BC by Qin Shi Huang who was the first Emperor of China. The majority of the remaining wall is from the Ming Dynasty between 1368 and 1644. The Great Wall of China is one of the most significant landmarks in China and is a huge attraction for tourists who visit the country. Whether the wall can be seen from space or not has been a matter of controversy for many years.

1. Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal is probably the most iconic structure in Asia and is, therefore, one of the most popular tourist attractions. Tourists flock to have their photograph taken by this monument in India. This mausoleum stands on the south bank of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra. In 1632, the emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the building of this structure with the intention of housing the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, his favorite wife who had passed away. The tomb is now the centerpiece to the grounds which cover 42 acres and are surrounded on three sides by crenelated walls. The complex also includes a mosque, formal gardens, and a guest house. Most of the construction was completed in 1643, but it was another ten years before it was completed as additional phases of the project were added on. It cost 32 million rupees to build, which is the equivalent now to $827 million. In 1983, the Taj Mahal was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is considered one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture anywhere in the world.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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