Asia is the largest continent in the world and it’s home to some pretty impressive landmarks. From the world-famous Taj Mahal to lesser-known (but still famous) Asian landmarks like the Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Uzbekistan, this post features 30 of the most beautiful landmarks in Asia.
The landmarks featured in this post include both ancient ruins and temples as well as some of Asia’s most beautiful natural treasures. I hope it gives you some inspiration for your next trip to Asia.
30 beautiful landmarks in Asia that you must visit
Landmarks in South Asia
1. Taj Mahal, India
I’m starting this list with the Taj Mahal – which is one of Asia’s most famous landmarks! This stunningly beautiful wonder of the world is located in the historical city of Agra, India. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who passed away after giving birth to their 14th child in 1631.
The Taj Mahal’s construction began in 1632 AD and it was completed in 1648 AD. Its architecture is a fusion of Hindu and Islamic styles, and it’s believed that 20,000 workers helped construct it. According to the story, the hands of all of these workers were cut off so that they could never construct a building like the Taj Mahal again.
2. Hawa Mahal, India
Located in Jaipur, the beautiful Hawa Mahal was built from red and pink sandstone by Kachhwaha ruler Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Its construction was completed in 1799, and it’s interesting to note that this palace has a whopping 953 windows.
The main function of the Hawa Mahal was to provide royal women with a view of everyday life through the windows, as these women could not appear in public (hence the reason for the big amount of windows).
3. Sigiriya Lion Rock, Sri Lanka
This beautiful example of ancient architecture is Sri Lanka’s most visited tourist attraction. The rock, which is what remains of a long-extinct volcano, is pretty impressive on its own, but what makes it even more interesting are the ancient ruins perched on top of it.
During the 3rd century, monks built a monastery on top of the rock. However, when King Kashyapa came to power in 477 AD, he moved the capital to Sigiriya, turning the place into his palace and fortress. The story goes that the king then inhabited Lion Rock with his 500 concubines.
Lion Rock owes its name to its original entrance gate which was shaped like the head and paws of a lion. Today, only the paws remain.
4. Nine Arch Bridge, Sri Lanka
Completed in 1921, the Nine Arch Bridge was built by the British, and it’s one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic landmarks. The bridge owes its name to the nine arches that are part of its construction.
This beautiful bridge is one of my favourite landmarks in Asia. It’s surrounded by tea plantations and only a short walk from Ella. A visit to the bridge can easily be combined with the (easy) hike to Little Adam’s Peak, which is one of the best things to do in Ella.
Eco tip: I know it might be tempting, but please don’t fly your drone at the Nine Arch Bridge as it upsets the bees. There are daily bee attacks here, and they’re all caused by drones.
5. Bouddhanath Stupa, Nepal
Located in Kathmandu, this impressive Asian landmark is the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet and the largest one in Asia. It’s estimated that the Bouddhanath Stupa was built during the 14th century.
After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, many Tibetans came to this stupa, and until today, it remains an important pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists.
6. Mount Everest, Nepal
Reaching an elevation of 8,849 m (29,032), Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. It’s located between Nepal and Tibet, and it was named after George Everest, a British surveyor and geographer who served as the Surveyor General of India.
There are multiple ways of seeing this impressive mountain, from chartered heli flights to unforgettable hikes to Everest Base Camp and other viewpoints.
7. Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is Bhutan’s most famous landmark. This sacred Buddhist site was built on the side of a cliff, 900 m (2962.7 ft) above the Paro Valley. It was constructed in 1692 at one of the 13 caves where Guru Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rimpoche) meditated in the 7th century A.D.
According to the legend, Padmasambhava flew to this cave on the back of a tigress. He then meditated in the cave for three years, three months, three days and three hours. This cave has been considered sacred ever since.
Famous landmarks in Southeast Asia
8. Bagan, Myanmar
The ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar was the capital of the Pagan Empire from the 9th to the 13th century. At this kingdom’s peak, over 10,000 Buddhist temples were constructed. Many of these temples were removed due to damage caused by earthquakes but as of today, there are still over 2,200 remaining temples.
Exploring the temples of Bagan was one of my most beautiful travel experiences and it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Myanmar.
9. Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
Located in Yangon, Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar. The current pagoda was completed in 1362 but historical evidence suggests that the first pagoda standing here was built around the 6th century. Over the years, this pagoda has been enlarged and renovated many times.
With its 99 m (324 ft), the gold plated Shwedagon pagoda is quite an impressive sight! It’s said that it contains sacred relics of the Gautama Buddha as well as the three previous Buddhas. You’ll also find numerous smaller stupas as well as other structures around it.
10. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is the largest religious structure in the world, which makes it one of the most famous landmarks in Asia. This gigantic complex was built by Khmer King Suryavarman II around 1150. Originally, Angkor Wat was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu but it was taken over by Buddhist monks in the 13th century.
In the 16th century, Angkor Wat was largely abandoned and the jungle started taking over the complex. The French explorer Henri Mouhot discovered the site in the 19th century, and that’s when the overgrowth was cleared. Today, Angkor Wat is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.
11. Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia
Located in Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas Twin Towers were completed in 1998, and with a height of 73.6 m (242 ft), these are the tallest twin towers in the world. They were built to house the headquarters of Petronas, the national petroleum company of Malaysia.
If you find yourself in Kuala Lumpur, make sure to visit the Petronas Twin Towers. You’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view over the city on the towers’ observation deck on the 86th floor!
12. Chocolate Hills, The Philippines
Chocolate Hills is the most famous sight on the island of Bohol in the Philippines. These mound-shaped hills turn chocolate brown during the dry season, which makes them look like they’re made of chocolate – hence the name of this landmark.
According to geologists, the hills were formed through weathering carving marine limestone on top of a clay layer. They’re beautiful all year round, but make sure to visit them in the dry season if you want to see them in chocolate colour.
13. Borobudur, Indonesia
Located on the island of Java, Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. This enormous landmark of Asia was built under the rule of the Sailendra Dynasty between the 8th and the 9th century. The temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.
When the region slowly started to convert to Islam in the 14th century, Borobudur was abandoned. It was only five centuries later that it would be rediscovered by the British. By then, the temple was buried under the jungle and the overgrowth had to be cleared in order to reveal Borobudur.
14. The Grand Palace, Thailand
The Grand Palace, located in the heart of Bangkok, is another spectacular landmark in Asia. This palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) from 1782 until 1925 when they moved to other residences. It was built by King Rama, the founder of the Chakri Dynasty.
You’ll also find the famous Emerald Buddha Temple on the grounds of the Grand Palace. This is one of Thailand’s most sacred sites.
15. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Located in the heart of Singapore, Gardens by the Bay is a futuristic park that’s home to an enormous amount of plants, including very rare ones. It’s a popular tourist attraction that cannot be missed on a visit to the city.
Gardens by the Bay was created in 2009 as part of a plan to transform the city into a city in a garden and to raise the quality of life by doing so. One of its most famous landmarks are the 18 tree-like structures called supertrees.
16. Golden Bridge, Vietnam
This architectural masterpiece, located in Da Nang, Vietnam, is one of the most spectacular landmarks in Asia. It paints a picture of God’s hands pulling a strip of gold out of the ground.
Although the giant hands ‘lifting’ this bridge may look old and mossy, the Golden Bridge (or Cau Vang) only opened in 2018. It was built to attract tourists to the Da Nang area and has quickly been featured in many world-famous travel magazines and newspapers.
17. Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay, located in northern Vietnam, is one of the country’s most famous sights. The bay consists of 1,600 towering limestone islands, which are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some of the best things to do in Halong Bay are to cruise its waters, go spelunking in the caves and go diving. It’s one of these bucket-list destinations you can’t miss on a visit to Vietnam!
East Asian landmarks
18. Great Wall of China
The world-famous Great Wall of China was built between the 3rd century BC and the 17th century AD as a defence line to protect the country from invaders. With its 21.196 km (13,170 miles) this is the longest wall in the world and it has become the symbol of the Chinese civilization’s long history.
The Great Wall is easily accessible from Beijing, though there are many other (less crowded) places you can visit it from. It is said, however, that the parts of the wall that are situated around the capital are the most impressive ones. I visited the wall at Mutianyu and Shanhaiguan (where it meets the ocean), and although there were lots of crowds in Mutianyu, it was definitely worth going there!
19. Forbidden City, China
Apart from the Great Wall, one of the things China is most famous for is the Forbidden City. This imperial palace complex is located in the heart of Beijing, and it’s quite impressive, to say the least!
The Forbidden City was the political and ceremonial centre of China for over 500 years. It served as a home to 24 Emperors and their families and servants from 1420 until 1924. Ordinary people were not allowed inside the Forbidden City, hence its name.
20. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
If you’ve seen the movie Avatar (2009) then Zhangjiajie National Forest Park may look familiar to you, as this park was the inspiration for the landscapes in this film. But there’s more to this park than the Avatar mountains alone! Zhangjiajie is China’s first national forest park. You’ll find dense forests, unique rock formations and deep canyons here.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park can be found in the Hunan Province of China, which is located in the South Central region of the country. Although the park attracts a lot of Chinese tourists, you won’t see so many Western travellers here.
21. Potala Palace, Tibet
Located in the city of Lhasa in Tibet, Potala Palace stands 3.700 m (12.139 ft) above sea level, which makes it the highest palace in the world. This enormous structure served as the Dalai Lama’s winter palace from the 7th century until 1959, when the current Dalai Lama was exiled to India.
Potala Palace now serves as a museum where tourists can admire the architecture and learn more about Tibetan culture.
22. Taipei 101, Taiwan
Taipei 101 is another impressive and famous landmark in Asia. This 508 m (1,667 ft) high tower was completed in 2004. It was the tallest building in the world until 2010 when the Burj Khalifa was built.
An interesting fact about Taipei 101 is that it’s one of the greenest skyscrapers in the world. It was the first of its kind to be awarded the highest LEED rating (a green building certification program) in 2011.
23. Mount Fuji, Japan
Standing at an elevation of 3.776 m (12388 ft), Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. This volcano has been dormant since its last eruption in 1707, but it’s still classified as an active volcano. Mount Fuji is located just 100 km (62 mi) from Tokyo, and it’s Japan’s most visited site.
If you’re visiting this mount in the summer, it’s possible to climb it. There are mountain huts offering food and accommodation en route to the crater.
24. Fushimi Inari-Taisha, Japan
Fushimi Inari-Taisha is an important Shinto shrine located in Kyoto, Japan. This Asian landmark is most famous for its 1,000 vermilion-coloured torii gates; these are gates marking the approach and entrance to a shrine.
The history of Fushimi Inari-Taisha can be traced back to the 8th century when it was founded by the Hata family. According to the legend, a rice cake was shot into the air, after which it turned into a swan. The swan flew away and landed on the peak of a mountain where rice grew. This led to Inari Okami (the god of rice) being enshrined on this mountain, and the construction of Fushimi Inari Taisha.
Central Asian landmarks
25. Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Uzbekistan
Located in Samarkand, the Bibi-Khanym Mosque was originally built under the order of Timur, the Turco-Mongol leader who ruled the city. Timur built the mosque for his wife between 1399 and 1405, but it was destroyed during an earthquake in the 19th century. When the Soviets came, plans were made to restore the mosque, and restoration works started in 1974.
Today, this magnificent piece of Muslim medieval architecture is considered to be one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. It’s a must-see on a visit to Samarkand.
26. Darvaza Gas Crater, Turqmenistan
Darvaza Gas crater, which is also known as the Gates of Hell, has been burning since 1971. It was formed by accident while mining for natural gas. A driller fell into a gas cavern, which caused the ground to collapse and the entire drilling rig to fall in. This then lead to poisonous fumes leaking.
Soviet geologists set the hole on fire to avoid an environmental catastrophe. They assumed the fire would die down within a few weeks but it’s actually still burning today.
It’s one of the most unusual landmarks in Asia, and a visit to it might be worth adding to your crazy bucket list ideas.
Landmarks in Western Asia
27. Pink Mosque, Iran
The Pink Mosque, also known as the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, is a stunning mosque in Shiraz, Iran. It’s known for its mesmerizing stained glass, Persian rugs and beautiful painted tiles. Constructed between 1876 and 1888, the Pink Mosque was built during the Qajar dynasty, which ruled Iran from 1789 to 1925.
Due to its spectacular colours, this beautiful landmark is often nicknamed the ‘Mosque of colours’, the ‘Rainbow Mosque’ or the ‘Kaleidoscope Mosque’, and it’s argued to be the most beautiful place in Iran!
28. Burj Khalifa, U.A.E.
Located in Dubai, the Burj Kalifa is most famous for being the tallest building in the world. Its construction began in 2004 and it was opened in 2010. At 828 m (2716.5) tall, it’s no wonder that this towering skyscraper attracts tourists from all over the world.
Inside the Burj Khalifa, you will find expensive hotels and residences, sky lobbies, recreation rooms and an observation deck that can be visited on the 124th floor. Do make sure to book in advance if you want to visit the observation deck, as this is on top of many people’s lists when they are in Dubai.
29. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, U.A.E.
Located in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed’s Grand Mosque is a spectacular piece of architecture that was built at the request of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Sheikh Zayed was the first president of the U.A.E. but he passed away before the mosque was finished in 2007.
The Grand Mosque is home to seven enormous crystal chandeliers and the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. It’s one of my favourite monuments in the world, and I can’t wait to visit it again one day!
30. Petra, Jordan
The ancient city of Petra is hidden deep in a valley surrounded by deserts and mountains. This city was entirely carved out of stone by the Nabataeans around 312 BC. The Nabataeans were a group of Arabian nomads that eventually settled in Petra. It’s still a mystery why they give up their nomadic lifestyle, though.
Needless to say, a visit to Petra is an absolute must on any Jordan itinerary! This incredible place is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It has a very rich history and its architecture is quite unique.
Asia landmarks: Map
Famous landmarks in Asia – Final thoughts
These were the 30 famous landmarks in Asia featured in this post. I hope you enjoyed it and found exactly what you were looking for. Let me know in the comments if you think there’s a famous Asian landmark missing from this list. I’m updating this post frequently.
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