Comprising 48 countries, Asia is not only the world’s biggest continent in size but is also a melting pot of rich culture, historical heritage, ancient cities and natural wonders. What adds to its popularity are some of the most picturesque places it houses, owing to the region’s diverse topography. So, let’s have a look at the most beautiful places in Asia and a few interesting things to do when touring the region.
With relaxation of travel restrictions that were implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world, tourists to Asia are keen on exploring the offbeat and alluring destinations.
For a romantic escape with someone special, visitors can go island hopping or simply relax at the beautiful beaches in these countries in South East Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. You can also plan a trip to the Indian subcontinent, which is home to serene mountains, vibrant cities, dense forests, sandy dunes and much more. Not to miss are some lip-smacking local dishes that are unique to every destination in the continent. This makes Asia one of the most tranquil, divine yet adventurous places to visit in the world.
Here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Asia
Kuang Si Falls, Laos
The three-tiered waterfall creates a vista of tranquil and turquoise beauty. Located 29 km south of the ancient city of Luang Prabang, tourists can reach the main waterfall nestled amid dense tropical forests. To reach this place, it takes a 15-20-minute hike from the Kuang Si Falls market, where you can find the locals selling marvellous handicrafts.
Best suited to visit anytime between November to April, after the monsoon has ceased, Kuang Si Falls will allow you to visit from 8:00 am until 5:30 pm by paying approximately INR 104 (20,000 kips) as entrance fee.
It is also known as the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls.
Hội An, Vietnam
Lying on the north bank near the Thu Bon River, Hội An is a remarkably preserved example of a Southeast Asian port dating back from the 15th to 19th century. The UNESCO World Heritage Site encompasses cultural influences from various regions across the world, including China, Japan and Europe. This can be seen in the unique architectural designs, such as its well-preserved building of 1,107 timber-frame buildings.
The town also offers lip-smacking fusion food that travellers can enjoy while sightseeing the gorgeous islands, seashores and dunes.
Hội An, translating into “peaceful meeting place,” offers something to all kinds of tourists seeking to learn about old traditions, unwind at pristine beaches, experience countryside solace, indulge in scrumptious meals and much more. Hence, adding Hội An to your travel list is definitely a great choice.
The best time to visit this prettiest and colourful place in Asia, Vietnamese is from March to May.
Jinhae, South Korea
Whether it is music, TV shows, movies, skincare products or local food, everything emerging from South Korea is taking over the world. An addition to the list of the most beautiful places in Asia is Jinhae.
Located in Changwon, Jinhae, commonly known as Jinhae-Gu, hosts one of the best spring festivals in South Korea, and it is as splendid as it appears in photographs. Witness the pink-hued cherry blossoms create a shade underneath the clear blue sky and take Instagram-worthy snaps. Thus, Jinhae also serves as a romantic spot for couples.
Additionally, you can walk over the Romance Bridge, which is built on the calm Yeojwacheon stream, to get a better look of the area and attend the Light Festival while you are here.
Plan your trip to Jinhae during the months of March and April to experience the ultimate beauty of this place.
Famous for its many temples and peaceful surroundings, Bagan is one of Myanmar’s must-see destinations. It is located in the Mandalay Region and serves as a rich archaeological site forming the Bagan Archaeological Zone. The area includes over 2,000 ancient monuments, temples and pagodas designed to enchant your souls. Some notable and not-to-miss sites to experience Bagan’s beautiful architecture includes Bupaya Pagoda, the Mahabodhi Temple, and the Inn-hyapa Stupa.
Situated on the eastern bank of River Ayeyarwady (also known as Irrawaddy), Bagan is commonly regarded as the Sea of Temples. It is best suited to visit from November to May.
Apart from the scenic temples and stupas, try the hot air balloon ride for a magical experience as well as the local food, which is a combination of Thai, Indian and Chinese.
Mt. Fuji, Japan
One of the most prominent UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, Mt. Fuji is truly the pride of the Japanese tourism industry. Owing to its imposing yet graceful conical form, Mt. Fuji — or Fujisan in Japanese — attracts more than a million tourists every year. While some take their time to immerse themselves in the beauty of the nearby towns, mountaineers gear up for an arduous climb to the top to experience the breathtaking scenery.
Adventurers usually plan a two-day itinerary to hike along the trails of the ethereal mountain. They start at Fujinomiya 5th station (2,400 m) and reach the Akaiwa Hachigo mountain hut (3,300 m) to rest and spend the night. The next day, hikers can reach the summit.
Besides scaling the mountain, visitors can explore the Fuji Five Lakes, comprising Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Yamanakako, Lake Saiko, Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko. Other places they can visit include Yamanakako Hanano Miyako Koen, a lakeside park allowing calming views of Mt. Fuji, and Oshino Hakaki, which is home to eight springs.
Backwaters of Kerala, India
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Asia, the backwaters of Kerala are the real deal and offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Aligned to the coast of the Arabian Sea, tourists can feel at ease while cruising along lakes, canals and lagoons that comprise the backwaters.
The city of Alappuzha, in particular, attracts thousands of tourists each year. It is especially popular because of its houseboat cruises, which allows one to soak up nature and connect to its purest form. You can get the best experience by visiting the scenic destination from September to March.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Made up of three islands — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air — the Gili Islands in Indonesia welcomes you to experience a relaxing vacation in paradise. With white sand palm-fringed beaches and coral reefs, the islands have now become one of the top spots for tourists in the country.
With no cars, motorbikes or outside distractions, the Gili Islands lure travellers from all over the world. The tropical getaway serves as a must visit place for divers and snorkelers. Watch green turtles glide over a beautiful display of colourful coral reef and experience the unique marine life.
However, for all party goers, the nightlife at Gili Trawangan will keep you entertained starting at dusk with its array of bars and restaurants. Those seeking a quaint refuge can visit Gili Meno for a small-town feel as the place has only a hundred permanent residents, while Gili Air is closer to the mainland.
You can witness the most beautiful sights on the islands from June to October.
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya is home to the most prominent historical monument in the island country, which is surrounded by the Indian Ocean.
Located between the towns of Damballah and Habarane at about 349 metres above sea level, Sigiriya Rock was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 . Visit Sigiriya is in June, August and January.
Filled with ancient history, Sigiriya has a lot to offer to its visitors, including temples, national parks, mist-wrapped forests and beautiful sights.
The must-visit beauties of Sigiriya include the Lion Rock Fortress, Pidurangala Rock, Kaludiya Pokuna, The Lion’s Paw and Sigiriya Museum.
Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sagarmatha National Park is another most beautiful destination in Asia you must visit. What makes it more special is the culture of Khumbu Sherpas and the unique display of flora, fauna and mountainous landscapes.
Tourists can witness the mesmerising view the Himalayan peaks — Nuptse (7,861 m), Everest (8,850 m), Ama Dablam (6,856 m) and Thamserku (6,608 m) — from the visitor centre of Sagarmatha National Park.
Additionally, the national park houses glaciers, dramatic mountains and deep valleys. One can spot rare species of snow leopard and the lesser panda.
The entry fee for the national park is approximately Rs 1,872 (NRs 3,000). As for the best time to visit, it is from October-November and March to May.
Besides beaches and islands, another attraction in South East Asia that will impress most visitors is the sand dunes of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Originally consisting of three main sand dunes, Sam Sand Dunes is the most famous among tourists. Spanning 3-5 km, the deserted area is encompassed with just sand and no plants.
Visited by more than a million travellers every year, a normal itinerary to explore the sand dunes include riding camels, enjoying desert safari, witnessing gorgeous sunsets and living in camps.
One of the most famous sites for travellers in the country, tourists can visit the sand dunes of Jaisalmer between October and March for the best desert holiday.
Goa Jomblang Cave, Indonesia
Get ready for one of the most unique experiences you would witness during your visit to Indonesia. A natural tourist attraction in Asia, the Goa Jomblang cave is part of a cave system that traverses Gunung Kidul, southeast of Yogyakarta. Perfect for adventure junkies and photographers, you will be lowered 50 m into the sinkhole cave with the help of a rope and hike to Grubug Cave to witness streaming rays of sunlight flooding the dark cave.
To witness the best view of this scene in one of the most beautiful places in Asia, you need to leave Yogyakarta early in the morning (6:30 am – 7:00 am) and reach the Jomblang cave by 9:30 am. It is important to reach early since they allow only 75-80 people per day, considering the ropes used to get the people up and down the cave are operated manually, by the locals.
Visitors will need to pre-book their trip. The entry fee costs around Rs 2,400 (IDR 450,000), and the best time to visit is between April and December.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi
One of the largest mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an epitome of magnificent architecture and design, reflecting a mix of ancient and modern Islamic arts and culture.
The alluring place of worship has 82 white marble domes and a roof-line held up high by 1,000 pillars. Gold-plated Swarovski chandeliers, reflective pools, a courtyard with one of the largest marble mosaic artwork and a unique prayer hall add to the splendour of this amazing experience.
Entrance is free for everyone; it welcomes non-Muslims to experience peace, beauty and art as well. The best time to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is from April to May and September to October.
Taroko National Park, Taiwan
Sprawling across an area of 1,200 sq km is Taroko National Park, which is situated 3,700 metres above sea level. The Liwu River, one of the highlights of the national park, carves its way through a marble-like mountain, creating a stunning view.
Other attractions visitors must experience are the Swallow Grotto, Zhuilu Cliff and Qingshui Cliffs. Travellers can enjoy the amazing scenery from the Zhuliu Suspension Bridge, and the many waterfalls — including Baiyang Waterfall, Yindai Waterfall, Lushui Waterfall and Changchun Waterfall — in the area enhances the beauty of this place.
Entry to the park is free, and the best time to have a spectacular time at Taroko National Park is before 7:00 am during the months of March to May.
Lantau Island, Hong Kong
The best time to visit Lantau Island is between October and December, and the largest island of Hong Kong has a lot to offer to explorers.
It has a unique mix of rural and urban experiences. For instance, the Lantau Islands is home to shopping complexes, Disneyland, traditional markets and some of the best wine and dining options offering a 180-degree view of Discovery Bay, as well as white sand beaches.
Lantau draws tourists from around the world to witness the Big Buddha statue, also known as Tian Tan Buddha. It sits majestically on a lotus throne atop Mount Muk Yue peak and serenely gazes down on visitors. A 10-minute walk from Ngong Ping Village and 268 steps to the podium can get you to this imposing structure measuring around 34 m in height.
Disneyland is another attraction of Lantau Island. Create your itinerary by adding places such as Tung Chung Fort, Wisdom Path, Cheung Sha Beach and Pui O Beach.
Situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh, the village is home to around 1,000 people. A gem in the Indian continent, Hanle creates an enchanting experience for its visitors with stunning aerial views and an adventure out of the world.
One of the most beautiful places in Asia, the village is situated around 260 km away from Leh, and has an elevation of close to 4,300 metres. Fortunately, the roadways are smooth and welcomes visitors with no hassle, making travelling easy despite the cold weather.
Watch the twinkling stars underneath the purple sky and enjoy a heavenly escapade. The best time to visit Hanle is between April to September.
Classical Gardens of Suzhou, China
Suzhou is commonly known as the city of gardens and houses some of the best flora, which recreates mini natural landscapes. Signifying the ancient importance of Chinese masterpieces, and dating back to the 11th century, the gardens represent the philosophical aspect of natural beauty in Chinese culture.
Nine out of 69 gardens in Suzhou have been inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites with the Humble Administrator’s Garden being the largest one. Other famous visits include Master of the Nets Garden and Lingering Garden. All of them are popular for their striking architecture, distinguished rock formations, rich and polished towers, and much more.
The Classical Gardens of Suzhou is one of the most beautiful places in Asia one can visit between April and May for the best experience.
Being the third-largest Island in the world, Borneo teleports you to a paradise which is home to a varied fauna and flora to explore in dense rainforests.
One of the rarest places on earth, Borneo is located southeast of the Malay Peninsula, in the Greater Sunda Islands group. Surrounded by four seas — the South China Sea in the northwest, the Sulu Sea in the northeast, the Celebes Sea to the east and the Java Sea in the south — Borneo on an island in the Malay Archipelago.
The long series of mountain ranges overlook the calm turquoise waters of the island, creating a surreal view. Besides soaking up nature, tourists can elevate their visit to Borneo Island by enjoying scuba diving, hiking up to Mount Kinabalu and exploring the natural caves.
For the most beautiful sights, visit the island between March and October.
Danum Valley, Malaysia
Said to be one of the world’s most complex ecosystems, the Danum Valley not only gives you a view of the dense rainforest but also lets you experience a variety of birds and animals. Tourists can easily spot wild cats, orangutans, macaques, gibbons, red leaf monkeys and pygmy elephants. Although rare, you might get a chance to witness the rare clouded leopard, if you’re lucky.
A night drive, walk across the canopy, and experiencing treetops are some of the other attractions for tourists. If you love nature, the core area of the Danum Valley is a must-visit place due to its rich communities of flora and fauna.
The best time to visit the one of the most beautiful place in Asia, pristine rainforest is between March and October.
Paro Taktsang Monastery, Bhutan
You must visit the Paro Taktsang Monastery from March to May and from September to November.
The Paro Taktsang Monastery sits 3,120 metres above sea level adjacent to the Paro Valley, appealing to tourists across the world. Having great importance and cultural impact, the Paro Taktsang Monastery will surely be an unforgettable experience for visitors due to its location. The temple is surrounded by magnificent mountains and ethereal valleys. Also, one can experience the trails covered with pine forests, which are thoroughly covered with prayer bannerettes, creating a positive energy.
The rich green valleys and majestic mountains add to its beauty. However, the isolated location of the monastery is another one of its highlights. Besides the peaceful vibe at the Buddhist monastery, travellers can also experience trekking and visit other temples in the Paro Valley.
Kumano Kodo, Japan
Kumano Kodo is a network of pilgrimage trails and holds great importance in the history of Japanese culture. These pilgrimage routes have been in existence and in use for over 1,000 years. They were inscribed into UNESCO as heritage sites in 2004 as well.
The Kumano Kado features well-sculptured shrines — Hongu Taisha, Hayatama Taisha and Nachi Taisha. Additionally, the way to these shrines provides spiritual experience to the travellers. The Kodo Pilgrimage links Kumano to Kyoto, Kyoyasan, Yoshino and Omine and Ise — Japan’s most important shrine. Travellers can also enjoy the emerald green trees while covering the tracks and the views of the mountain ranges, especially the Kii Mountains.
The best time to visit Kumano Kodo is in the months of May and September.
(Hero and Featured Image Credit: Sebestien Goldberg/ Unsplash)
This story first appeared on Travel+Leisure India and South Asia.