Famous Asian Landmarks

27 Incredible Famous Asian Landmarks

Asia is a remarkable continent comprising many different cultures and landscapes. Come on a journey with us through these famous landmarks in Asia. Discover ancient civilizations, deserts, mountains, mosques, and temples as we take a look at these incredible natural and man-made places.  Take a journey with us through the Middle East and along the ancient Silk Road through China and Central Asia, to the roof of the World in Tibet. Explore volcanoes in Japan, Siberia’s vast wilderness, and much more as we discover these Asia landmarks!


27 of Asia’s Incredible Landmarks

These astonishing landmarks of Asia have to be seen to be believed and they’re stunning Some are manmade, some are natural, and I’m sure you’ll agree they’re all incredible. Read on, explore and we’ll share the best places to stay to visit them and how to visit them too.

1. Hagia Sophia, Turkey

Hagia Sophia has been in the news recently for the controversial decision of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to turn the former church into a mosque (not for the first time in its history).

Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a church in 521 AD when Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) was the seat of the Byzantine empire. When Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 it was turned into a mosque and was used as such until 1935 when it was turned into a museum. It’s a top reason to visit Istanbul!

In 2020 Hagia Sophia was again turned into a mosque, a decision which has been seen as highly controversial by some, but it is still possible to visit the site (inside and out).

  • Opening Hours: 09:00 to 19:00
  • Ticket Price: free
  • Time Needed for a Visit: one to two hours

Best Way to Visit Hagia Sofia

One of the best ways to visit and explore Hagia Sofia is to take an Audio Tour of Hagia Sofia > reserve here and skip the line

Best place to stay to visit Hagia Sofia

Check into the Hagia Sofia Mansions, Istanbul. Located right next to the Blue Mosque and close to Hagia Sofia, this is the perfect location to explore Hagia Sofia and Istanbul. You’ll find stunning rooms, contemporary architecture, and a delightful location. Check rates and book early!

2. The Great Mosque, Iraq

Complete in 851, the UNESCO-listed Great Mosque at Samarra in Iraq was once the largest of its kind in the world. The spiraling Malwiya Tower minaret stretches 52 meters (171ft) into the desert sky.

At present (May 2021) it seems that visiting the mosque is not possible, however, if you talk nicely to the soldiers guarding it, they “may” let you have a quick look around, but because of the security situation taking photographs is prohibited.

  • Opening Hours: closed
  • Ticket Price: n/a
  • Time Needed for a Visit: around one hour

3. Petra, Jordan

Petra has to be one of the most iconic Asia landmarks and is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world. Incredibly, the ancient city lay undiscovered for centuries until 1812 when a Swiss explorer, Johann Ludwig Burkhardt stumbled upon the ruins.

The most famous site at Petra is the Ad Deir Monastery carved into the face of the rock, which was built by the Nabataeans at least 2,000 years ago. The site is open to tourists but ticket prices are quite (that is a British understatement for VERY) expensive. Nevertheless, visiting Petra is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and should not be missed!

  • Opening Hours: 06:00 to 18:00
  • Ticket Price: 50 Jordanian Dinar
  • Time Needed for a Visit: one to two days

Best Way to Visit Petra

You’ll want to get in early, or late to Petra. Tickets are priced PER DAY, so go early. (Gates open at 0600),

Best Place to Stay to Visit Petra

4. Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum is a National Park in the Jordanian desert that has been the home to many civilizations throughout history. People have lived and traveled through Wadi Rum from prehistoric times to Lawrence of Arabia and beyond. The valley of red sandstone and granite is truly an incredible sight, and walking through the area has been likened to walking on the moon thanks to its unique and imposing landforms.

Wadi Rum is a must-visit on any trip to Jordan alongside the famous landmark Petra!

  • Opening Hours: 24 hours
  • National Park Ticket Price: 5 J.D ($7)
  • Time Needed for a Visit: one to two days

Best Way to Visit Wadi Rum?

5. Registan Square, Uzbekistan

Samarkand was the ancient home of the Timurid Empire which stretched across Central Asia. It was here that Amir Timur (Tamerlane) created a center of Islamic learning which included art, culture, economics, and astronomy.

Samarkand’s medieval architecture dates back to 1420 AD and dominates the city. Registan square is made up of three large madrassas; Ulugbek, Sherdor, and Tilla Kari. In medieval times the square was home to a large bazaar.

Samarkand is a must-see destination in Central Asia and is now easier than ever to visit since Uzbekistan ushered in visa-free travel in 2019. Registan Square is surely one of the most famous landmarks in Asia and should be on the bucket list of anyone interested in history!

Tip: if you slip one of the traders inside Ulugbek madrassa a couple of dollars, they will let you climb the minaret for incredible views of the city!

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 to 19:00
  • Ticket Price: 30,000 Uzbek Som ($3)
  • Time Needed for a Visit: two to three hours

6. The Kalon Mosque, Uzbekistan

Built in 1127AD, the Kalon minaret stretches 47 meters above the center of Bukhara in Uzbekistan. The minaret was built by the Karakhanids, and the same style can be witnessed all over central Asia (see Burana Tower below).

Like Samarkand, the medieval Islamic architecture of Bukhara has survived incredibly well and this Asia landmark is a must-see when traveling the ancient Silk Road.

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 to 2000
  • Ticket Price: 13,000 Uzbek Som ($1.25)
  • Time Needed for a Visit: around one hour

7. The Burana Tower, Kyrgyzstan

The Burana Tower is a large minaret near the small town of Tokmok in Kyrgyzstan and is the last remaining part of the ancient city of Balasagan. The 25-meter (82ft) tower is surrounded by the imposing peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains. The 36-acre site is also home to an ancient graveyard with burial mounds, petroglyphs, and a small museum. It’s possible to climb the tower for sweeping views across the plains to the mountains.

To reach the Burana tower from Bishkek, take a marshrutka (shared minibus taxi) from the eastern bus station. The journey should cost around 50 Kyrgyz Som (less than $1).

  • Opening Hours: 09:00 to 17:00
  • Ticket Price: 150 Kyrgyz Som ($1.77)
  • Time Needed for a Visit: one to two hours

8. Pamir Highway

The Pamir Highway is one of the most famous landmarks in Asia. This desolate road stretches through the Pamir range through Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The road is dominated by sweeping valleys and high mountain passes and is stunningly beautiful.

Traveling the Pamir Highway is one of the most incredible journeys across Asia and should only be attempted by adventurous travelers, as there are long distances between towns and villages! The best way to travel the Pamir Highway is to take a tour, hire a car or even cycle if you are brave enough!

9. Konye Urgench, Turkmenistan

The UNESCO ruins at Konye Urgench were once the capital of the Khorezm empire and the center of the Islamic world. Like many such sites across Central Asia, it was sacked by Ghengis Khan and his invading armies, but many of the buildings are still standing.  The architecture is similar in style to that found across the region from Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan and has been restored to a decent level.

The ancient city is located in the north of Turkmenistan close to the border with Uzbekistan and this Asian landmark is a must-see on any trip to the country. Visiting Konye Urgench is included with many tours of “The Door to Hell” at Darvaza (see below).

  • Opening Hours: 09:00 to 17:00
  • Ticket Price: 21 Manat
  • Time Needed for a Visit: around one hour

10. The Darvaza Gas Crater (Gates to Hell), Turkmenistan

Definitely, the most obscure Asia landmark on this list, the Darvaza Gas Crater in the middle of the Karakum Desert has been burning for over 50 years!

In 1971 Soviet geologists found what they thought was a large oil field in the Turkmenistan desert and set about extracting. However they discovered large pockets of natural gas, and in an effort to burn it off to continue drilling for oil, they set light on the gas. It hasn’t stopped burning since then!

The door to hell is truly one of the most famous landmarks in Asia and one of the more interesting sites on the old Silk Road. Although independent travel is very difficult in Turkmenistan, it is possible to arrange a tour that includes camping overnight at Darvaza.  We visited the crater on our overland Silk Road trip – there’s more on that here.

  • Opening Hours: 24 hours
  • Ticket Price: Entrance to the gas crater is free, however, you will need to book a tour to get there, which doesn’t come cheap (around $1,000 for a small group tour). Alternatively, you could try and get a transit visa for Turkmenistan and pay for a driver and vehicle to get there. See my Darvaza guide for more info.
  • Time Needed for a Visit: one to two days

11. Big Almaty Lake, Kazakhstan

Our final landmark from Central Asia, Big Almaty Lake, is a beautiful lake high above Almaty in Kazakhstan. The color of the lake changes from slate-grey to turquoise depending on the sky and looks idyllic surrounded by the towering mountains.

Big Almaty Lake sits in the Zailisky Alatua mountains that dominate southern Kazakhstan (part of the larger Tian Shan Mountains that stretch through China) and the area is perfect for adventurous hikes. Be aware that the lake is very close to the border with Kyrgyzstan and you should pay attention to warning signs and soldiers in the area.

Getting to the lake isn’t easy due to the lack of public transport, so arranging a tour or car and driver is the best way. You can also pay taxi drivers to wait for an hour or two (careful that they don’t get a better offer and leave you stranded though, and I speak from experience).

  • Opening Hours: 24 hours
  • Ticket Price: free
  • Time Needed for a Visit: half a day

12. Taj Mahal, India

This iconic Asia landmark is one of the most famous mausoleums in the world. The Taj Mahal was built in 1643 to house the tomb of Indian emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife.  The UNESCO-listed site covers 42 acres and remains one of the best examples of Muslim art in India. It is located in Agra on the shores of the Yamuna River and is open six days a week for tourists.

Be aware that the Taj Mahal gets very busy and it is advised to go early in the morning to avoid the worst of the crowds.

  • Opening Hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset (closed Fridays)
  • Ticket Price: 1,000 rupees ($13.65)
  • Time Needed for a Visit: half a day

Best Way to Visit the Taj Mahal?

13. The Potala Palace, Tibet

The Potala Palace is one of Asia’s most famous landmarks. This beautiful Buddhist temple sits at an elevation of 3,700 meters (12,100ft) high in the Himalayas and dominates the city of Lhasa.  The palace was built in 1645 but was added to throughout later centuries and you can see this in the distinct colors of each section (white, red, and yellow).

The Potala Palace is open to visitors who are on a tour in Tibet (the only way foreigners can enter Tibet is on a guided tour) and is truly worth seeing. One of the most famous landmarks in Asia and indeed the world!

  • Opening Hours: 09:30 to 15:00
  • Ticket Price: May to Oct ¥200 ($31) Nov to Mar ¥100 ($15.50)
  • Time Needed for a Visit: two to three hours

14. Lake Baikal, Siberia

Lake Baikal is the deepest and largest freshwater lake on earth. This famous landmark in Asia (Siberia is in the Asian part of Russia) is home to a unique variety of flora and fauna including the nerpa seal, the only freshwater seal in the world.

Lake Baikal is a truly magical place to visit and in summer is a great place to swim, fish, and camp. In winter, the whole lake freezes over, with the ice thick enough to hold heavy vehicles.

Baikal is easily reached via the world-famous Trans Siberian Railway which stops at nearby Irkutsk and along the southern part of the lake itself.  It is even possible to volunteer on an eco-tourism project creating a hiking trail around the lake. We traveled on the Circum-Baikal railway, which you can read about here.

  • Time Needed for a Visit: one day to one week

15. Gobi Desert, Mongolia, and China

The Gobi Desert is the sixth-largest in the world and covers much of northern China and southern Mongolia. This vast, empty expanse stretches for 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) across parts of Inner Mongolia and Gansu Province.

There are many activities in the Gobi from camel trekking to off-roading as well as exploring ancient Silk Road towns. Two great places to see the desert up close are Jiayuguan and Dunhuang in Gansu Province.

When setting off into the desert, be sure to have plenty of water, sunscreen, and warm clothes as temperates can drop quickly at night. The best way to see the Gobi is to take a tour with a 4X4 vehicle.

Best Way to visit the Gobi Desert?

16. Mount Everest, Tibet & Nepal

The 8,800 meter (29,032 foot) Mount Everest straddles both Nepal and Tibet and can be summited from either side. The majesty of Everest is hard to put into words without actually seeing it. For those that don’t have the will or bank balance to climb this magnificent peak, the base camps can be visited from both Nepal and Tibet.

On the Nepal side, it takes up to two weeks of hiking to reach EBC, however, on the Tibetan side there is a paved road leading to the foot of the mountain and the Chinese base camp making visiting a lot easier (but less adventurous no doubt).  Read our guide to hiking to Everest Base Camp – where we document every single breathless step on the Nepal side.

If visiting EBC, be sure to acclimatize first as you will be reaching heights above 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) and the risk of altitude sickness is very real. Truly one of Asia’s most incredible landmarks!

Best Way to Visit Everest Base Camp?

17. The Great Wall of China

This famous landmark in Asia needs no introduction! The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications stretching across the northern part of the Middle Kingdom. Sections were built at different times with the earliest thought to be constructed around the seventh century BC.

The most popular sections of the great wall such as Badaling and Mutianyu are easily reachable from Beijing by train, bus, and taxi. Although these sections have been rebuilt, they are still an impressive sight and make for a great day trip from the capital.  Our guide to visiting the Great Wall on public transport is here.

If you want to see parts of the wall that haven’t been reconstructed, there are plenty of options from Dandong on the border with North Korea, to the Jiayu pass in far-western Gansu Province. People even camp in some of these sections, although it is forbidden.

  • Opening Hours: 06:00 to 19:00
  • Ticket Price: ¥40
  • Time Needed for a Visit: half a day to two days

18. Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang

The Longmen Grottoes are one of the most important cultural landmarks in Asia. The site contains thousands of statues of the Buddha carved into the rock face above the Yi River in Luoyang.  The statues range in size from a couple of centimeters to over 17 meters (57 feet) tall and date back to 493 AD.

The grottoes stretch for a kilometer along the river and over to the other side. The entrance also includes access to a nearby garden and temple. Come in April when Longmen joins the city-wide peony festival!

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 to 18:00
  • Ticket Price: ¥90 ($14)
  • Time Needed for a Visit: two to three hours

Best Way to Visit Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang?

19. Tigers Nest, Bhutan

The Tigers Nest, also known as Paro Taktsang, is a Buddhist monastery built into the cliff face 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level in the Himalayan Mountains of Bhutan. This famous landmark in Asia has to be seen to be believed!

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 18:00
  • Ticket Price: 500 ($6.90)
  • Time Needed for a Visit: two to three hours

20. Bagan, Myanmar

The UNESCO-listed site at Bagan in Myanmar contains over 2,200 temples and Pagodas that date from the 9th to the 13th centuries. This Asian landmark is located in the Bagan Archaeological Zone, Myanmar’s primary tourist attraction.

One of the most popular ways to view Bagan is by hot air balloon, and the sunsets over the temples are incredible!  If you can’t afford the hot air balloon then visit by electric bike – it’s great fun – I wrote about it here.

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 to 17:30
  • Ticket Price: K25,000
  • Time Needed for a Visit: one to two days

Best Way to Visit Bagan, Myanmar?

21. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is a series of temples in Cambodia dating back to the 12th Century and is considered the largest religious site in the world.  Angkor was the capital of the Khmer Empire (not to be confused with the Khmer Rouge) and was originally a Hindu site, before being converted to a Buddhist temple.  Our guide to Angkor Wat is here and there’s more on visiting the nearby town of Siem Reap here.

  • Opening Hours: 05:00 to 18:00
  • Ticket Price: 1 Day = $37, 2 days = $62 and 7 days = $72
  • Time Needed for a Visit: one to seven days

Best Way to Visit Angkor Wat

22. Juche Tower, North Korea

The Juche Tower is a 170 meter (560ft) column topped with a large red flame in Pyongyang representing the Juche ideology of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This Asian landmark sits on the east side of the Taedong River and can be seen from all over the city.

It is possible to take a ride in the rickety old elevator to the top for incredible views across Pyongyang.

  • Opening Hours: 09:00 to 17:00
  • Ticket Price: Entry to the museum below is free and it costs $5 to take the elevator.
  • Time Needed for a Visit: one hour

23. Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

Victoria Harbour is the body of water between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. The world-famous vista of the harbor backed by gleaming skyscrapers and Victoria Peak is one of the most iconic landmarks in Asia.

One of the best ways to view the harbor is from the Star Ferry. These iconic ferries crisscross the harbor every 10 minutes from 06:30 to 23:30 and cost just $2 one way.  I’ve covered this and other ways to get around Hong Kong here. Another great way to see the harbor is from the top of Victoria Peak. You can take the Peak Tram or hike up to the top for incredible views of Hong Kong and the harbor.

  • Opening Hours: 24 hours
  • Ticket Price: free
  • Time Needed for a Visit: under one hour

24. The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Korea

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), sometimes known as the 38th Parallel, is the fortified zone separating North and South Korea.  It is possible to visit the DMZ from both North and South Korea.

25. Gamcheon Culture Village, Busan, South Korea

Gamcheon Culture Village is located in the southern city of Busan in South Korea. This unique settlement is made up of hundreds of brightly colored houses clinging to the cliffside above the ocean.   One of the most interesting things to do at Gamcheon is to obtain a tourist map at the post office and collect stamps from various places in the village.  You can read more about Gamcheon in our guide to Busan here.

  • Opening Hours: Although the village doesn’t close, tourists should leave by 5 pm.
  • Ticket Price: free
  • Time Needed for a Visit: two to three hours

Address: 203 Gamnae 2(i)-ro, Gamcheon 2(i)-dong, Saha-gu

Top place to stay in Busan: The Guesthouse Dear Moon.Not only are rooms comfortable, but there’s also a shared kitchen and terrace. It’s perfectly located near the Gukje market and the included breakfast is a great addition to this mid-range Busan accommodation. You can book a room here.

26. Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji is a 3,776-meter (12,389 foot) volcano in central Honshu and is Japan’s highest mountain. This active volcano last erupted from 1707 to 1708.  According to UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries”.  It is possible to climb Mount Fuji in around one day, but only during the short climbing season. 

  • Time Needed for a Visit: One to two days
  • Where is it? Honshu, Japan

27. Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay is an area off the coast of Vietnam famed for its karst stacks rising from the ocean. The limestone pillars have been formed over millions of years and are a true sight to behold.  One of the best ways to see Halong Bay is to take one of the many boat cruises that last from one day to a week. This way you can explore hidden islands, swim, kayak, and enjoy the incredible scenery.

  • Time Needed for a Visit: One to three days
  • Where is it? Hanoi, Vietnam

Final Words on Famous Landmarks of Asia

The continent of Asia spans a huge number of cultures, landscapes, and sights.  They are truly magnificent, and if you’re anything like us they’ll capture your heart and imagination and won’t let you go.  There are magnificent histories, ancient civilizations, and some incredible cuisines to try here amongst these Asian landmarks. 

Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.

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