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Ten of Asia’s most iconic sites

| Words by Zoe Crane | , , , , , , ,

temples of Bagan

Interesting facts and statistics about some of Asia's top attractions.

Asia is filled with iconic sites and visiting them can be a lifelong dream realised. Compiled from Trip Advisor data, take a look at our list below. If you've an icon that missed the list then let us know in the comments.

Map: Some of Asia's most visited destinations.

1. Angkor Wat, near Siem Reap – Cambodia

Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world.

  • Trip Advisor reviews: 12,726
  • Number of visitors: Around 2 million international visitors (4 million total)
  • Cost and opening: Open from 5am to 6pm daily (can vary depending on sunset), tickets are $20 USD for a one-day pass, $40 USD for a three-day pass and $60 USD for a one-week pass.
  • Interesting fact: During the Vietnam War, Jacqueline Kennedy fulfilled a lifelong dream and visited Angkor Wat, despite the obvious risk.
  • Overview: Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. Built in the 12th Century and rediscovered at the end of the 19th Century, the City of Angkor was once home to around 1 million people, making it the largest city in the world at that time.

2. The Grand Palace, Bangkok - Thailand

The Grand Palace is set amongst open gardens.

  • Trip Advisor reviews: 11,684
  • Number of visitors: and 8,000,000
  • Cost and opening times/days: Open every day from 8:30am to 3:30pm, entry costs 400 Baht, around $12 USD.
  • Interesting fact: As the Grand Palace is a sacred site there are strict dress codes for visiting. Both men and women must be modestly dressed and no bare feet are allowed. There is a booth near the front gate that can provide clothes to those that are improperly dressed.
  • Overview: The Grand Palace was the Royal residence from 1782 until 1925. Its many buildings are set amongst open gardens, and while part is open to the public as a museum, many royal offices still operate inside.

3. Taj Mahal, near Agra – India

During the full moon, a limited number of visitors are able to visit the Taj Mahal at night.>

  • Trip Advisor reviews: 10,192
  • Number of visitors: Around 8 million, of which about 690,000 are foreign visitors.
  • Cost and opening times/days: The Taj is open from sunrise to sunset, Saturday to Thursday (closed Friday). During the full moon, a limited number of tickets are available to see the Taj Mahal at night. Tickets for foreign visitors are Rs 750, around $15 USD.
  • Interesting fact: Over a thousand elephants were used in the construction of the Taj Mahal to transport construction materials.
  • Overview: Regarded as one of the finest examples of Muslim art in India, this white marble mausoleum was commissioned in 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favourite wife and is considered a monument to love.

4. The Great Wall of China, China

Despite being around 5,500 miles long, The Great wall cannot actually be seen from space.

  • Trip Advisor reviews: 8353 (Mutianyu and Badaling combined)
  • Number of visitors: over 10 million (Badaling and Mutianyu areas combined)
  • Cost and opening times/days: Though a little further from Beijing (around 2.5 hours) it is worth the trip to see the Great Wall at Mutianyu as there are far fewer tourists than at the Badaling section. Open from 7:00am to 5:30pm (7:30am to 5:00pm in winter), tickets are 45 CNY, about $7 USD, with additional fees if you choose to ride the cable car or slideway.
  • Interesting fact: Unfortunately the Great Wall cannot be seen from the space. Indeed, you would need good binoculars and a very clear day to see it from the International Space Station.
  • Overview: Built mainly as a defence against invaders, it started out as many different walls that have since been unified. Around 5,500 miles long, the most accessible parts are near Beijing.

5. Hanoi’s old Quarter, Hanoi – Vietnam

Hanoi’s old quarter is a hub of commercial activity and exciting nightlife.

  • Trip Advisor reviews: 7031
  • Number of visitors: 2.1 million visitors
  • Opening times: Shops open around 9am and close around 6pm or 7pm, but after dark there are plenty of restaurants to try with ‘bia hoi’s (street bars) opening late into the night.
  • Interesting fact: The streets in the Old Quarter are named after the product originally traded there. While a few are still dedicated to those products, most are not. Some unusual names are Hang Hom – coffin street, Hang Luoc – comb street and Hang Dieu - bongs and pipes street.
  • Overview: Retaining the architecture and layout of old Hanoi, the historic streets were once filled with merchants and households specialising in silk, bamboo, tin, etc. While many of these trades have since lapsed, the area remains a hub of commercial activity and is well known for its silk shops amongst others. It is also home to fine local cuisine and exciting nightlife.

6. Army of Terracotta Warriors, near Xian, China

Each one of the over 8,000 terracotta soldiers is unique.

  • Trip Advisor reviews: 6076
  • Number of visitors: 520,000
  • Cost and opening times: Open from 8:30am to 5pm (5:30 from March to November) every day. Admission from March to November is 150 Yuan, around $24 USD, and 120 Yuan from December to February.
  • Interesting fact: Despite there being over 8000 statues of soldiers, no two are exactly alike.
  • Overview: Emperor Qin Shihuang had this enormous army of life-size soldiers, horses, chariots and entertainers buried with him over 2,200 years ago, because he believed they would help him be powerful in the afterlife. It is suggested that around 700,000 workers were involved over many years to create the army, which was discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well.

7. Halong Bay, Vietnam

Dotted with secret grottoes and sandy coves, limestone islands jut out of Halong Bay

  • Trip Advisor reviews: 3543
  • Number of visitors: Around 2 million international visitors each year.
  • Cost and opening times/days: Cruises leave the harbour around midday. Day cruises are around $160 and overnight cruises are around $200 including a return transfer from Hanoi.
  • Interesting fact: Evidence of prehistoric human beings have been found in the area dating back tens of thousands of years.
  • Overview: With around 2000 limestone islands jutting out of the sea, Halong Bay is one of the most scenic places in Asia. Dotted with secret grottos and sandy coves, most travellers explore the bay with a cruise on traditional “Junk” style boats.

8. Mt Fuji, Japan

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Mount Fuji is the highest peak in Japan and can be seen from Tokyo on a clear day

  • Trip Advisor reviews: 3456
  • Number of visitors: 300,000 (recorded climbers)
  • Cost and opening times/days: The best way to see Mount Fuji is to travel to Hakone and get a two or three day free pass, which includes all your transport in the region and discounts at dozens of attractions. The two day pass costs around $60 USD.
  • Interesting fact: It is an active volcano. The last time it erupted was in 1707, and it is classified as low risk of eruption, although the pressure below it did rise after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
  • Overview: Known locally as Fujisan, Mount Fuji is the highest peak in Japan and can be seen from Tokyo on a clear day. Heavily featured in art and literature for centuries, it is a sacred site of pilgrimage. Travellers head to Hakone for the best chance of a good view, and there are many ways to see the mountain which is often shrouded in mist, including boat trips and cable cars.

9. Temples of Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

Over 2,200 temples can be seen dotting the plains of Bagan

  • Trip Advisor reviews: 1993
  • Number of visitors: 250,000 (2014)
  • Cost and opening times: There is a $20 USD fee to enter the archaeological zone giving you access to the entire area for five days. Once you have a ticket you can visit at any time, though we’d recommend avoiding the middle of the day due to the heat.
  • Interesting fact: The Ananda temple, built in 1105AD is one of the most popular temples in Bagan and is known as the “Westminster Abbey of Burma”
  • Overview: The ancient city of Bagan was the capital during the 9th to 13th centuries, with over 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries built during that time. Today over 2,200 still exist and can be seen dotting the plains as far as the eye can see.

10. Taktsang Palphug Monastery (Tiger’s Nest Monastery) – Paro, Bhutan

Paro Taktsang, or Tiger’s Nest, is a Buddhist temples clinging to a cliff, 3120 meters above the sea level.
  • Trip Advisor reviews: 1049
  • Number of visitors: in 2014, just 133,480 tourists visited Bhutan, though we can’t find a record of how many of them visited the Tiger’s Nest Monastery
  • Cost and opening times: All foreign tourists to Bhutan (except Bangladesh, India and Maldives Nationals) need to travel as part of a tour. Tiger’s nest is included on most tours. It takes between one and three hours to hike to the monastery, or you can get a horse part of the way up for around $10USD.
  • Interesting fact: The legend of Tiger’s nest is that Padmasambava, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew to Paro Taktsang in the seventh century on a tiger which had recently been his concubine. He then stayed in the cave to meditate and eventually subdued the local 'demons' and began to convert the Bhutanese to Buddhism.
  • Overview: Taktsang Palphug Monastery is better known as Paro Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest is a Buddhist temple complex in the upper Paro Valley. It clings dramatically to a cliff, over 3000 meters (10,000 feet) above the sea level and nearly a kilometre (3,000 feet) above the valley floor.