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6 Awe-Inspiring Ancient Ruins in Asia You Need to Visit!

Written by Going Places
Asia, land of elaborate, ancient temples and architecture that attract millions of travelers annually. While some are jungle-covered and unknown to visitors there are others deemed UNESCO heritage sites with tourists from across the globe sprawling to see them. Popular or unknown, these enchanting ancient ruins in Asia are worth adding to your personal bucket list!

Angkor Wat

Siem Reap, Cambodia
ancient ruins in asia - angkor wat (1)A site like Angkor Wat needs no introduction. It is easily the most famous attraction in Cambodia and possibly Asia. Built under the reign of Suryavarman II in the 12th century, the complex shows off astounding Khmer architecture. Angkor Wat is considered the most impressive and best-preserved of the approximately 300 temples and monuments that once stood in the area. The temple alone covers a massive area of 1,500 meters by 1,300 meters. A visit at sunrise or sunset might be incredibly popular but it’s also one of the best times to capture the temple’s magic.

Wat Phu

Base of Mount Phou Khao, Laos

Ancient Ruins in Asia - wat phu

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

Luoyang City, China
Ancient Ruins in Asia - Longmen Grottoes
Located near the shores of the Yi River in the Henan Province of China, this cavernous destination is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some call it a cave dwellers’ paradise, but, in reality, the Longmen Grottoes are part of a temple that was built in the 5th Century. These caves contain close to 100,000 Buddhist rock carvings ranging from a few inches to 50 feet tall! At night, the caves are illuminated for a magical sight, showcasing the brilliant Chinese art from the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties. Both sides of the temple still have the remnants of a troglodyte village.


Mandalay, Myanmar

Ancient Ruins in Asia - Bagan

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.

Ajanta Caves

Aurangabad, India

anient ruins in asia - ajanta caves

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.


Sri Lanka

ancient ruins in asia - Sigiriya

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! 

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