Planning a visit to East Asia? There’s a lot of ground to cover in this part of the world, and a lot of history to unearth. Whichever country you’re staying in, you’ll want to make time to see one of these incredible sites.
This 12th-century city should be considered a must-visit for those visiting Cambodia. The trouble is, every other tourist will have reached the same conclusion. You’ll get sparser crowds just after sunrise (once the initial 5am rush has subsided). There are many temples on offer here, with the biggest three being Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm.
Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam
This amazing island is made from a series of limestone pillars, jutting out of the Gulf of Tonkin. They’re truly spectacular, and provide a home for all manner of plant and animal life. Inspect them from the water. Good Vietnam tours will include a boat ride around the islands.
Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
Singapore’s Botanic Gardens has been around for more than a century and a half, and makes a welcome break from the hustle-bustle of the surrounding urban space. The park is free to enter, and packed with amazing greenery.
Golden Temple of Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Here we have the largest ‘cave’ monastery in the world, sitting underneath an enormous rock face in the middle of the country. Buddhist pilgrims have been coming here for centuries; with its pure white walls and impressive statues, it’s worth the trip.
Ancient Kyoto, Japan
Not so much a single place, but rather a string of amazing old wooden structures, dotted around the city. There are seventeen locations in all, found in the city and the surrounding area. In them, you’ll find wooden architecture and amazing temples.
Luang Prabang, Laos
This city was once the capital, and provides a microcosm of the country’s history, thanks to a combination of French colonial and traditional indigenous architecture. It’s this cultural collision that really sets the city apart. There’s nowhere else on the continent quite like it!
Gunung Mulu National Park, Borneo, Malaysia
Among Borneo’s many national parks, this one stands out thanks largely to the mountain at the centre. Hike to the top, and you’ll be treated to incredible glimpses of the local wildlife, before the clouds roll in to cover the landscape. You’ll need hiking experience to get the most out of this place.
The Tropical Rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia
This site actually comprises three distinct Indonesian national parks: namely, Gunung Leuser, Kerinci Seblat, and the Bukit Barisan Selatan. There are more than ten thousand species of plant here, and hundreds of different animals (including the Sumatran Tiger) spread across more than two million hectares. In other words, you could spend a long time here without seeing everything.
East Asia is a very, very big place, and it’s home to some natural and ancient treasures that really take the breath away. If you’re planning a visit to the region, then you’ll want to make the most of the limited time you have available. Plan extensively so that you don’t go home with any regrets.
On the other hand, you might want to try to pack many experiences into a single very long, once-in-a-lifetime trip. Prioritise what matters to you, book in advance, make sure you’ve checked everything, and enjoy yourself!