5 Asian sites make list of world’s best landmarks
LAST week, TripAdvisor released its list of the world’s 25 best landmarks, and five Asian sites were on it. Most come as no surprise, as they are spots well known to even those who have never traveled to the region – after all, most kids grow up with at least passing references to the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. But ranking on the list will no doubt bolster interest in these countries, and be a further boon to local economies that benefit heavily from tourism dollars. Below are the five Asian spots that made the list, and deservedly so.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Coming in at number two is Angkor Wat, which is among the most famous sites in Cambodia. This ancient structure is the ultimate study in Khmer architecture and defining feature of Cambodia’s cultural tradition. UNESCO calls it ” one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia.” Many visitors get up before dawn to witness the sunrise over Angkor Wat, despite the throngs of fellow tourists. If you decide to participate in this early-morning experience, try to seek out an unclaimed vantage point from which to watch the sun come up in quiet, to take in the moment away from the crowds. Past travelers have warned against visiting during the afternoon hours, as the heat becomes unbearable, but you can easily fill up the entire morning exploring this extensive complex.
Taj Mahal, India
Described by UNESCO as the “the jewel of Muslim art in India,” it comes as no surprise that this world-famous white marble masterpiece ranks high on the list at number three. The Taj Mahal is said to be a testament to everlasting love, as it was commissioned by Shah Jahan I, the fifth Mughal emperor, to honor Mumtaz Mahal, his beloved wife, after she died. The entire complex, including a mosque, courtyard and cloisters, took 21 years to complete. Today the Taj Mahal draws visitors from all over the world, attracted by the sheer splendor and history of the place.
Bayon Temple, Cambodia
Siem Reap got two nods on the TripAdvisor list, with the Bayon Temple coming in at number five. While less famous than Angkor Wat, Bayon also offers insight into Khmer culture, as the Buddhist structure reflects a design aesthetic that is unique from its more well-known neighbor. Reviews of the site indicate that the temple’s location, surrounded by jungle in the gorgeous, lush Cambodian scenery, adds to the overall ambiance and uniqueness of the place.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu, China
While there are several locations along the Great Wall where visitors can access what is arguably one of the most well-known sites in the world, Mutianyu (number 17 on the list) is a favorite for its cable car rides to the top of the wall and toboggans you can take on the way down. Mutianyu is no secluded entry point and you’ll likely see plenty of other tourists when you’re there, it is a nice alternative to Badaling, the most famous section of the Wall, which is utterly crawling with people. At Mutianyu, you can still get stretches of the structure to yourself and get a moment of peace to contemplate the Wall’s place in Chinese history and to reflect on the lives of those who constructed it.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma
That a Burmese site is on this list should only further boost tourism interest in a country that was for a long time closed to the outside world. Shwedagon Pagoda, which ranked 18th out of 25, is a major attraction in Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, and is the country’s most famous Buddhist monument. The area surrounding the pagoda is an intersection of prayer, devotion, commerce, food and the general bustle of life in the city.