The world’s largest continent is host to some of its most spectacular natural and manmade wonders. With thousands of sights that are an optical feast, which ones should you visit first?
Here are 10 of our favorites for your next voyage to this wonderfully diverse land.
Described by Marco Polo as a “gilded city alive with tinkling bells and the swishing sounds of monks’ robes,” Bagan’s overgrown, forgotten temples are still as imposing as they were centuries ago, with over 2,000 temples scattered across the expansive dry landscape flanked by balloons hanging in the distance.
Gigantic limestone pillars teetering perilously over emerald waters, mostly uninhabited and capped with rainforests, carved out with coral grottos and caves. Ready to go?
The “Rose City,” carved and built into pink sandstone cliffs, is part manmade, part natural wonder. Emerging after a deep narrow gorge, stumbling across Petra feels like entering another time and place, forgotten by civilization.
7. Borobudur, Java, Indonesia
The stunning 1,000-year-old Buddhist temple is nestled in an idyllic landscape of rice-terraced hills framed by volcanoes. The grand structure seems to “emerge” – in all its grandeur – in the early morning wrapped in white shrouds of mist.
History’s greatest monument to undying love, the Taj Mahal’s architectural harmony is unmatched in scale and awe. Constructed out of pure, white marble and adorned with precious inlay jewels, it shines in the sun and sparkles in the moonlight.
5. Luang Prabang, Laos
The ancient town, a colorful mishmash of Lao and French architecture, sits sleepily at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan. Surrounded by verdant mountains, its an unmatched example of a town harmoniously joined with its stunning natural surroundings.
4. Paro Taktsang Monastery, Bhutan
Perched on the cliffs of the Himalayas in Bhutan, the complex was built in 1692 at the site of a cave where Guru Padmasambhava supposedly meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours. Ascending the mountainside, one passes thousands of prayer flags, crosses over steep waterfalls to finally stare down upon the Paro valley.
Winding ramparts stretching over mountains, deserts, and grasslands: this incredible feat of engineering can be seen from space.
Bursting with gilded temples, flanked by moats and overlooked by Thailand’s tallest mountain, this quintessentially Thai city is a beautifully serene stroll through nature and civilization.
Japan’s highest mountain is a place of spiritual and national importance scaled by over 300,000 people a year. It forms a serene backdrop to the idyllic landscape outside of Tokyo best viewed and contemplated from afar.