Stretching from the Pacific Ocean in the east, to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and from the northernmost tip of Russia, down to the southernmost end of Indonesia, Asia is the largest continent in the world. And yet, only three of its countries crack the world’s top 10 tourist destinations each year.
Considering the wealth of charm throughout the continent—from the most gorgeous restaurants and resorts, to the breathtaking natural wonders—it’s a disservice to Asia that travelers aren’t placing its gems on their bucket list. So, to help guide jetsetters who are keen on aesthetics, we’ve put together our picks for the 10 most beautiful places to visit in the continent.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (Japan)
This otherworldly site in Kyoto is one of the most-photographed sites in the city—and for good reason. The stunning bamboo shoots flanking the long, outdoor walkway create such a crisp and serene scene, it almost looks like a desktop background. And still, no photograph can accurately capture the feeling you get walking through this fairytale grove. When you visit, do take pictures—but also spend some time being present and savoring the natural beauty without any gadgets around.
Bukchon Hanok Village (South Korea)
To get a sense of Seoul’s history, visit this traditional village. Comprised of winding alleys, centuries-old edifices, and other preserved architecture, the village stands in stark contrast to the modern city skyline just behind it. Best visited on a sunny day, give yourself a lot of time to explore the hidden nooks of this charming site.
Great Wall (China)
Few things in existence are as timelessly iconic as the Great Wall of China. Just an hour and a half outside Beijing, travelers should take every opportunity to stop by this UNESCO World Heritage Site—even if you’re just in town for longish layover. Stretching over 21,000 kilometers, there is literally nothing on the planet like it. And even though it seems like a played out destination, trust us, it’s worth the trek. Set in China’s rolling hills, every angle of this ancient wall is awe-inspiring.
Brasserie Les Saveurs (Singapore)
Singapore is, among other things, a top destination for food lovers. Add to that the country’s high standard for luxury, and of course you’ll get some of the best, most beautiful restaurants in the world. For travelers ready to splurge, try Brasserie Les Saveurs in the St. Regis Hotel. The classically posh interiors paired with the best French cuisine in the country, offer visitors a truly decadent experience that will make any occasion all the more special.
Kuang Si Falls (Laos)
For travelers who love nature, this multi-levelled, turquoise waterfall outside Luang Prabang makes for a refreshing day trip. Although the fresh water can be a bit chilly, most of the falls’ natural pools are open for swimmers. But before jumping in, be sure to ask your guide which pools to avoid—some of them are sacred, and closed to the public.
Wat Rong Khun (Thailand)
Also known as the White Temple, this northern Thailand marvel is an ornate, monochromatic Buddhist temple that looks as stunning in photos as it does irl. On top of being a gorgeous piece of architecture, the all-white exteriors are meant encourage visitors to focus on their mind instead of on material possessions—giving the entire compound a serene, rejuvenating atmosphere.
Tirta Gangga Water Palace (Indonesia)
This maze of pools and fountains, set amid rice terraces, is a former royal palace located in Bali. Surrounded by manicured gardens and peppered with stone carvings, it is a peaceful getaway from the beaches of this popular tourist destination. Visiting here will also give you a deeper understanding of the islands history and religion.
Taj Mahal (India)
One of the most admired buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal as a bucket list destination is almost a cliche. But who cares? Known as being one of the greatest symbols of love, this spectacular mausoleum built by one emperor for his favorite wife, took 21 years to build—and it is a masterpiece that is worth seeing in person. Since it is photogenic at sunrise, sunset, and even through the fog, there are no bad times to visit.
Soneva Jani (Maldives)
Located in the Noonu Atoll of the Indian Ocean, this premier resort is straight out of your wildest island dreams. On top of being the height of luxury, this resort is also eco-friendly. So, while you’re enjoying the pristine waters, powdery beaches, lush tropical greenery, and world-class amenities—you’ll also be helping to preserve the environment!
Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Bhutan)
This cliffside temple set in the Himalayas houses a Buddhist monastery. Travelers who want to take in this gorgeous building overlooking an even more gorgeous view have to work for it. The only way to see it is by going on a 4-5 hour hike up a dirt trail (although if you’re desperate, you can hire a horse). While it may make you sweat, the effort to explore this sacred site is more than worth it.
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