33 Most Famous Landmarks in Asia (Updated in 2024)

Last Updated: April 12th, 2024

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Asia, with its diverse cultures and landscapes and centuries of history, is full of amazing landmarks. The continent offers travel destinations that will leave you in awe of the skills of ancient craftsmen, humbled by nature, and ever impressed with modern engineering. Across Asia, whether you are traveling to the jungles of Thailand or the deserts of the Middle East, there are endless landmarks to visit and explore.

In this article, I will share with you some of the most popular landmarks in Asia. The list covers the breadth of the continent and includes a little something for every traveler. Whether you are looking to be in awe of nature, or want to experience glorious architecture that has lasted millennia this list has a landmark you can add to your own travel bucket list.

The 33 Famous Landmarks in Asia

1. Taj Mahal, India

Taj-Mahal-India

If shown a picture of this landmark, most people will instantly recognize the site. The Taj Mahal is the most famous man-made landmark in India. This large building was constructed by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and took more than 20 years to complete. The building and surrounding complex is actually a mausoleum that housed the remains of Shah Jahan’s wife. The Taj Mahal is one the most popular landmarks in the world, not just in Asia. This location sees as many as 8 million visitors each year.

2. The Forbidden City, China

The-Forbidden-City-China

Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City was once the imperial palace for the emperors of the Ming and Quin dynasties. Construction on the city began in 1420, early in the Ming Dynasty. The complex has 980 buildings and from 1420 to 1912, was home to 24 emperors.

The Forbidden City is perhaps one of the best-preserved palace complexes in the world, and it is the largest ancient palatial structure in the world. As the site is located so conveniently in modern Beijing it is one of the most popular sites for visitors. Approximately 14 million people visit the Forbidden City each year.

3. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor-Wat-Temple-Cambodia

This is likely one of the most famous sites in all of Asia. Angkor Wat is Khmer for ‘Temple City’. These dramatic and impressive temples were constructed by the Khmer Empire over five hundred years, beginning in the 10th century. This complex of 72 major temples and numerous smaller temples was built to worship the Hindu god Vishnu.

Angkor, prior to the mid-14th century was the capital of Cambodia. In 1432, the capital was moved from Angkor to Phnom Phen. Today, the site is cared for by Buddhist monks. Tourists flock to Angkor Wat because of the stunning views and the opportunity to photograph one of the oldest, and best preserved sites in Asia.

4. Mount Everest, China/Nepal

Mount-Everest-China-Nepal

Without a doubt, Mount Everest is the most famous mountain in the world. This massive mountain sits on the border between China and Nepal. It rises to a height of 29,029 feet above sea level. The mountain is one of the most challenging summits in the world, with only approximately 4,000 people having completed the climb.

Most tourists don’t care to scale the mountain. Other options for viewing the peak include helicopter tours or a visit to Chandragiri Hills in Nepal which have cable cars that will take you to the best views of Mount Everest.

5. Great Wall of China, China

Great-Wall-Of-China

The Great Wall was built during four Chinese dynasties and took 2,300 years to complete. The wall was built in sections during this extensive period of time starting in 770 BC with the last section completed in 1644 CE. The wall was constructed to protect China from invading armies. It is one of the largest landmarks in the world, stretching 13,170 miles (21,196 km) across the mountains of China. Most visitors to the wall take a day trip from Beijing.

However, it can also be accessed from other parts of the country. Today, the wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is heavily protected by the Chinese government. This is also the only man-made landmark on this list that can be seen from space!

6. Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount-Fuji-Japan

Mount Fuji is likely the most recognizable landmark in Japan. It is the highest mountain in Japan and towers over the cities and towns at its base. This mountain, which is actually a dormant volcano, is one of the most recognizable in the world. Its distinctive conical shape is not seen so dramatically in many other mountains.

This stunning peak rises 12,388 feet (3776 m) above sea level on the island of Honshu. Mount Fuji is considered a sacred site by the Shinto religion. This towering peak is popular for climbing and hiking. Many people visit Mount Fuji during the month of April. This is when the famous Japanese cherry trees bloom.

As the cherry tree is also a sacred symbol for the Shinto, there are many festivals and activities in the area of Mount Fuji during the month of April.

7. Petra, Jordan

Petra-Jordan

The ancient city of Petra is the most important and largest archaeological site in the country of Jordan. Many people think that Petra is only the famous Al Kazneh mausoleum, but in fact, Petra is a complete city that stretches across the valley.

Petra was once the center of the Nabataean kingdom. The site dates back to approximately 200 BC. It was abandoned in 106 BC when the Nabatean kingdom fell to the Romans. And much of the city was destroyed by earthquakes. The site was unearthed in 1912 and since has been an important archaeological site that is extensively studied.

To reach the most famous parts of Petra, the Al Kazneh mausoleum and Ad Deir monastery, you must walk through the gorge approximately 1 mile from the city complex.

8. Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, China

Zhangye-Danxia-National-Geological-Park-China

Also known as the Zhangye National Geopark, this location is home to the Zhangye Danxia landforms. These unique rock formations are quite famous, due to their range of red, orange, and yellow coloring.

Because of the vibrant colors of the hills, this area is also known as the Rainbow Ridges. Numerous viewing platforms have been established to give visitors the best possible views of the formations. The highest of the platforms, called the Colorful Clouds platform has the best views. Many visitors stay until sunset to experience the pink and orange sky that develops around the colorful rock formations.

9. Ban Gioc Falls, Vietnam

Ban-Gioc-Falls-Vietnam

Not a single large waterfall, but rather a staircase of falls, the Ban Gioc Falls near Cao Bang are the largest waterfalls in Vietnam. Water in the falls cascades over 30 meters to the bottom and the formation is 300 meters wide. The waterfalls are surrounded by lush rainforest making for an even more majestic experience. The waterfalls can be viewed up close by hiring a raft that will take you very close to the falls.

However, the best views are from viewing platforms around the falls. These locations will allow you to experience the falls in their entirety and offer amazing opportunities for photographs.

10. Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia-Turkey

Cappadocia is a large area on the edge of Asia and Europe. This unique valley is filled with rock formations and spires made from sandstone. The strange spires are called “fairy chimneys” by locals, which make the valley even more magical.

One of the highlights of Cappadocia is the morning views. Many people visiting Cappadocia plan a hot air balloon ride over the valley in the morning. Adding to the beauty of the area, are the numerous hot air balloons hovering in the early morning sky.

You won’t see houses or buildings in Cappadocia, as they are carved into the rock formations. Near the town of Goreme, take time to visit the Christian churches that are hidden in caves and have some amazing frescos painted on the cave walls.

11. Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal

Boudhanath-Stupa-Nepal

If you are interested in learning about some of the world’s religions, Boudhanath Stupa is the ideal place to learn about Tibetan Buddhism. The Boudhanath Stupa is the most sacred place for Tibetan Buddhists outside of Tibet.

Pilgrims come to the Stupa to meditate and you can watch these dedicated pilgrims circle the stupa while chanting and spinning prayer wheels. The white dome of the stupa is quite impressive with its golden spire and colorful prayer flags. Surrounding the stupa is a small village with shops, restaurants and cafes. This UNESCO World Heritage site is not only an important religious location but is also a bustling tourist destination.

12. Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong-Bay-Vietnam

If you are looking for places to add to your travel bucket list, Halong Bay in Vietnam is a worthy addition. This natural UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most iconic places in Vietnam.

Consisting of 1600 limestone islands and islets, the Bay is a favorite of photographers and rock climbers. In Vietnamese, the word ‘Halong’ means dragon. The legend of the bay says that heavenly dragons were sent by the gods to protect Vietnam from invaders. The islands and islets were made when the dragons spat jade and jewels into the bay. The bay can be enjoyed as a day trip.

However, many people think that the best way to experience Halong Bay is on a short two or three-day cruise.

13. Hawa Mahal, India

Hawa-Mahal-India

The city of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan in northern India is a beautiful city known for its distinctive red and pink buildings. The Hawa Mahal is one of the most amazing buildings in Asia and the world. Hawa Mahal is also known as the ‘Palace of Winds’, which is the English translation for Hawa Mahal.  The five-story structure is the tallest in the world constructed without a foundation.

It was also constructed so that cool breezes can be felt throughout the building, even during the hottest days of the summer. The palace was built in 1799. The facade of the building is very intricate and has 953 Jharokha or window niches. Like many of the other buildings in this city, the Hawa Mahal is constructed of the pink sandstone.

14. Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

Cu-Chi-Tunnels-Vietnam
Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam Image by: Lim Ashley / Flickr

The Cu Chi Tunnels are one of the modern historic locations on this list. The tunnels were constructed during the North Vietnam War. They were used by the Viet Cong to travel around Ho Chi Minh City without being detected. The tunnels also held a small underground city with living quarters for soldiers, a hospital, and storage for ammunition and weapons.

There are over 120 kilometers of tunnels that are accessible to visitors. You can experience the tunnels on your own, but local tour guides can offer unique insights into the history of the tunnels.

15. Jingmaham Living Root Bridge, India

Jingmaham-Living-Root-Bridge-India
A living root bridge in Meghalaya Image by: Santanu Sen / Flickr

The Jingmaham Living Root Bridge is a natural bridge spanning a quick-moving stream. Unlike other bridges that are made from wood, rope, steel, or other “normal” materials, the Jingmaham Living Root Bridge is made from the roots of rubber trees. The roots have been tied together to create a strong, suspension bridge.

They do not seem to be very sturdy, but the Jingmaham Bridge is strong enough to hold 50 people at once. This is a site almost unique to India, and in the same area as the Jingmaham Bridge you can also check out the Double Decker Living Root Bridge.

16. The Silver Pagoda, Cambodia

The-Silver-Pagoda-Cambodia

From the outside, it is not clear why this building, however beautiful, is called the Silver Pagoda. Step inside, and you will quickly see that the Silver Pagoda is named as such because of the stunning silver floor. The floor of this pagoda, located in the Royal Palace in Cambodia is made with 5 tons of silver. The Silver Pagoda is one of the most beautiful features in the Royal Palace.

Its ornate carving and gold roof are amazing to look at. Inside the pagoda, you will want to view the Buddha statues, particularly the Golden Buddha which is covered in over 9,500 diamonds.

17. Komodo National Park, Indonesia

Komodo-National-Park-Indonesia

Komodo National Park is a series of 29 islands and numerous coral reefs that support one of the world’s most vibrant marine ecosystems. This Indonesian national park is popular with nature enthusiasts and divers. On land, the islands offer some of the most beautiful and unique ecosystems.

They also give visitors a chance to view the largest lizard in the world, and the park’s namesake. The Komodo Dragon is a massive and peculiar animal. Considered sacred, and also protected as a threatened species, these giant lizards are a sight to behold.

18. Borobudur Temple, Indonesia

Borobudur-Temple-Indonesia

Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Located in central Java, this massive temple complex was constructed between the 8th and 9th centuries. The complex is made of 73 stupas or bell-shaped temples.

Each stupa holds a unique statue of Buddha. Throughout the massive temple complex, you can view more than 500 Buddha statues, and 2,672 carved panels depicting various scenes that are important to the Buddhist religion. Though not as popular as some other Asian landmarks, Borobudur is notable as the most famous landmark in Indonesia.

19. Fushimi Inari-Taisha, Japan

Fushimi-Inari-Taisha-Japan

Fushimi Inari-Taisha is one of the most peculiar landmarks in Asia. It is also one of the most beautiful. This location is a Shinto Shrine located in the southern part of Kyoto. The shrine is the most important one dedicated to Inari (God of Rice) in all of Japan.

It is known for its red-colored torii gates that make a unique and elaborate trail that leads into the forest of Mount Inari. The shrine is made from more than 4,000 torii gates. Each gate represents a donation that was made to the shrine.

20. Thi Lo Su Waterfall, Thailand

Thi-Lo-Su-Waterfall-Thailand
Thi Lo Su Waterfall, Thailand Image by: Amir Yalon / Flickr

There are tourists that travel the world just to see waterfalls. The Thi Lo Su waterfalls are waterfalls that should be on everyone’s bucket list when traveling to Thailand. These 800 feet tall, and 1,500 feet wide waterfalls tumble down the hill in three separate cascades. Each cascade ends in a beautiful clear pool. The pools are popular spots for visitors to stop and cool off during the 30 to 40-minute hike to the waterfalls. The area around the Thi Lo Su Waterfall is quite large, and it is easy to spend a full day here exploring the jungle.

21. The Grand Palace, Thailand

The-Grand-Palace-Thailand

The Grand Palace, located in the heart of Bangkok is the most popular landmark in the country. This massive palace complex was once the home of the Kings of Siam. The Grand Palace has numerous temples and palaces each surrounded by beautiful and ornate gardens.The most famous structure in the Grand Palace is the Wat Phra Kaew temple.

This is the most spectacular Buddhist temple in the world. It also houses an ancient statue of Buddha carved from emeralds. As the Grand Palace has become such a popular tourist destination, there has become a need for strict rules about photography and a dress code.

22. The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan

The-Tiger’s-Nest-Monastery-Bhutan

The Tiger’s nest is one of the most important locations for Buddhists. For centuries devout Buddhists have traveled to Bhutan to climb the hill to the Tiger’s Nest. The legend of this place is that Guru Rinpoche flew to the mountain on the back of a tiger and meditated for many months in a cave.

This monastery was built around the cave and is one of the most impressive Buddhist monasteries in the world. The monastery does allow visitors, however, the hike to the site can be very challenging. However, the views of the Tiger’s Nest and the valley below are remarkable.

23. Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia

Petronas-Twin-Towers-Malaysia

Petronas Twin Towers is one of the most modern landmarks on this list. However, it is no less impressive than some of the ancient features. The towers were completed in 1998, and are home to Petronas, the Malaysian national petroleum company.

The towers offer retail and office space, and from public spaces, some of the most amazing views of the surrounding city. The Petronas Twin Towers are considered to be the tallest pair of buildings in the world.

24. Nine Arch Bridge, Sri Lanka

Nine-Arch-Bridge-Sri-Lanka

Nine Arch Bridge is a railroad bridge constructed near the town of Ella in Sri Lanka. This brick and stone bridge was constructed when the country was a British colony. The bridge and its nine arches span a deep valley and was once considered a marvel of engineering. Today, the rail line still runs across the bridge and the area around the Nine Arches Bridge is one of the most popular places in Asia for taking photographs.

25. The Chocolate Hills, Philippines

The-Chocolate-Hills-Philippines

Located on the Bohol island of the Philippines, the Chocolate Hills are one of the most interesting geological formations in Asia. These strange rounded hills dot the island. During the rainy season when the vegetation is green, they are unremarkable.

However, as the rains subside and the temperatures warm, these hills brown on the top, and take on the appearance of mounds of light chocolate. The best place to view the Chocolate Hills is from the town of Carmen.

26. Jeju Volcanic Island, South Korea

Jeju-Volcanic-Island-South-Korea

Jeju Island is a popular attraction for both locals and visitors to South Korea. This island is known for two peaks, Sunrise Peak and Halla-san. Sunrise Peak is the more popular of the two features on Jeju Island. It is a typical volcanic cone with a crater. It is a popular hike to the top of Sunrise Peak, taking about an hour. Halla-san is the highest mountain in South Korea. Like Sunrise Peak, it is also a dormant volcano.

27. Gyeongbokgung Palace, South Korea

Gyeongbokgung-Palace-South-Korea

The Gyeongbokgung Palace was constructed in 1395 as the home for the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. This palace is one of the most beautiful landmarks in South Korea and is also one of five built by the Joseon Dynasty. The Gyeongbokgung Palace is located in Seoul so it is easy to access for most visitors.

As one of the most prolific Dynasties in Korean history, the National Palace Museum offers a look into the Joseon Dynasty and is located at the Gyeongbokgung Palace site.

28. Burj Khalifa, United Arab Emirates

Burj-Khalifa-United-Arab-Emirates

The deserts of the Arabian peninsula were once considered to be almost unlivable. However, with enough money, even the desert can become a lavish oasis. The City of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is an example of modern engineering at its best. The Burj Khalifa is the crowning glory of the city’s engineering marvels.

This massive skyscraper rises 2,716 feet above the Dubai skyline. The tower is considered to be the tallest in the world and is also an impressive sight to behold.

29. Kuwait Towers, Kuwait

Kuwait-Towers-Kuwait

Perhaps one of the most interesting sites in Asia is the Kuwait Towers. These odd-looking towers are a favorite attraction to visitors to Kuwait. The towers with their blue spheres are actually water towers for the city. But, they also house restaurants and viewing platforms.

30. The Batu Caves, Malaysia

The-Batu-Caves-Malaysia

The Batu Caves are one of the most interesting sites in Malaysia. This series of caves have been turned into temples with numerous shrines to the gods. The site is located very near to Kuala Lumpur, making it a very popular tourist location. The 272 stairs into the cave begin at the base of the massive Lord Murugan statue.

It is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Asia, thanks to its massive size and bright gold color. The best time of day to visit the Batu Caves is in the morning before it gets too hot. Also, this is a religious site, so make sure that you dress appropriately for visiting a religious location.

31. Taipei 101, Taiwan

Taipei-101-Taiwan

Until 2009, Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world. This 101-floor skyscraper towers over the Taipei skyline. Located in the Xinyi district of the city, the skyscraper sits among upscale shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. The building was constructed to look like a stalk of bamboo, and while it is no longer the tallest building in the world, it is the tallest “green” building.

This amazing building has all sorts of eco-friendly features. If you are visiting Taipei 101, make sure that you ride the world’s fastest elevator to the 89th-floor observation deck. From here you will have some great views of the city and the surrounding hills.

32. Sigiriya Fortress, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya-Fortress-Sri-Lanka

Perched high atop a massive rock near the town of Dambulla, Sigiriya Fortress is one of the most famous landmarks in Sri Lanka. This fortress was constructed on the top of a prominent rock outcrop. The fortress and palace that once sat upon the rock are now in ruins.

However, visitors can still see remnants of the palace and fortress and the canals, alleys, and fountains that surrounded the palace. When visiting the Sigiriya Fortress, you will have to hike up the rock. One of the most distinctive and impressive parts of the Fortress is the enormous lion-shaped gateway. The Fortress and Palace were named for this gateway. Sinhagiri is literally translated to ‘Lion Rock’.

33. Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan-Myanmar

Bagan was the capital city of the Pagan Kingdom of Burma. The city was the capital of Burma (Myanmar was formerly known as Burma) between the 9th and 13th centuries. During this time thousands of Buddhist pagodas and temples were constructed on the plains around Bagan. The area is located north of the city of Yangon. Today visitors to Myanmar travel to the Bagan plans to experience the remaining temples and pagodas.

About The Author

Jason Gass is a Colorado based freelance writer and blogger whose goal is to share a good cup of coffee and great stories around a campfire with close friends. When he’s not working, he spends most of his time traveling, searching for the best breweries, and road-tripping in his teardrop trailer with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.

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Picture of Jason Gass

Jason Gass

Jason Gass is a Colorado based freelance writer and blogger whose goal is to share a good cup of coffee and great stories around a campfire with close friends.
When he’s not working, he spends most of his time traveling, searching for the best breweries, and road-tripping in his teardrop trailer with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.

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