Base of Mount Phou Khao, Laos
Couldn’t manage a flight booking to Siem Reap? Take a detour and head to Laos instead to set your eyes on Wat Phu. Considered the small, yet soulful version of the enormous Angkor Wat, these Khmer ruins in Southeast Asai date back to the 11th to 13th centuries. The site is divided into six terraces and three separate levels, all joined by ascending staircases that lead to and from the main shrine that sits at the very top of the mountain. Although not as grandiose as Angkor Wat, the level of intricacy and stunning details of the site are worth the visit — not to mention the jaw-dropping hilltop views of the Mekong River in the distance.
The Longmen Grottoes
Bagan is listed among the world’s most important archaeological sites and is one of Asia’s most visited ancient ruins. When King Anawrahta converted to Buddhism, between the 11th and 13th centuries, he built numerous temples to establish Buddhism as the regional religion. Having survived invasions and earthquakes, the area has become a site for holy pilgrimage, where thousands of Buddhists from across the globe continue to flock to year-round. If you climb to the top of one of the higher ruins and look out over the area that has the highest concentration of temples, it’s simply breathtaking. For the braver visitors — especially the ones unafraid of bats — you can crawl through a tiny dark tunnel in one of the temples and watch hundreds of them fly around you.
Considered to be one of Asia’s most breathtaking ancient ruins, it was hidden in a dense forest and was left untouched for 1,000 years. But on 28 April 1819, a British officer named John Smith “discovered” this site after a young local shepherd boy led him to its entrance. Now, visitors from all over the world travel to the Ajanta Caves to admire the spectacular statues and paintings inside. According to UNESCO, the 30 rock-cut Buddha monuments are considered some of the best masterpieces among religious Buddhist art.
This ancient rock fortress was once the home of a huge palace. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, unfortunately, little of the grand structures once built upon this hilltop remains today. But, the site of the magnificent rock, as well as the amazing panoramic view from the top after you, climb it makes this a worthwhile visit.
There you have it, 6 awe-inspiring places to absorb the history of so many remarkable years of architecture in Asia. Have you visited any of these ancient ruins in Asia? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section!