Written by Melissa Lu
Photography by Melissa Lu, Ying-San Ooi, and Yun Ling Ng

Consisting of almost 50 countries, the massive continent of Asia is full of spectacular, exotic attractions that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The great variety in climate and geography create a diverse range of fascinating, incomparable scenery, and the diversity in culture creates unique attractions within each country. As an introduction to the fascinating sights in Asia, here is a list of some extraordinary locations to visit, with each location showing the character and individuality of the vast continent.

Valley of Nine Villages (Jiuzhaigou), China
Jiuzhaigou, also known as the Valley of Nine Villages, is home to beautiful lakes, large cascading waterfalls, and unique wildlife, all of which make it a treasured national park and reserve. It is located in the Sichuan province in China, and is famous for its incredible scenery. The lakes in the valley are known for their vibrant colors, ranging from turquoise blue to green, that are created by the different minerals present in the water.

Pulau Ubin, Singapore
Pulau Ubin is a beautiful island off the coast of eastern Singapore known for its original wooden villages and abundance of diverse wildlife and vegetation. It is one of the last places that has not been largely urbanized in Singapore, and has become a tourist attraction because of its natural beauty, and appealing simplicity.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is a magnificent, ancient temple located in Cambodia. This grand temple, built in the 12th century, holds extreme importance to Cambodia, and was originally designed to symbolize Mount Meru, a holy mountain in Hindu mythology. There are over 3,000 ‘apsaras’ (nymphs) carved into its walls, all done with exquisite detail and precision. The temple is also surrounded by a huge moat that is approximately 650 feet wide, and has a tower filled with hidden paintings. These fascinating characteristics have earned Angkor Wat special place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Udaipur, India
Udaipur is a city in India that is known for its magnificent palaces, numerous temples, and stunning lakes. These lakes, along with its lovely landscapes are what enable the city to be considered one of the most romantic places in India. Udaipur’s incredible forts and gardens are also points of interest that attract many tourists. A CMU student who had a chance to visit this charming city provided these pictures from her trip. Here’s what she had to say about Udaipur: “The City Palace is built on the lake and the architecture was gorgeous. Every restaurant and hotel had breathtaking views of the lake…The best part of Udaipur was a show we saw where they showcased the different dances from the state of Rajastan.”

Bali, Indonesia
Bali is an island off the coast of Indonesia that is marked by its varied geographical features, which include rugged volcanoes, magnificent beaches and beautiful coral reefs, and fertile rice paddies. It is also the home to various sacred temples, such as Pura Uluwatu, that highlight the unique and distinctive culture that permeates the island.

Pura Uluwatu
Pura Uluwatu sits right on top of a steep cliff, a distinguishing characteristic that the temple is known for. This location provides visitors with a magnificent view of the Uluwatu beach below, a well-known surfing spot. The unique architecture of the temple and its sculptures provide a glimpse into the past and are what attract so many tourists to the temple.

Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah, which means ‘Elephant Cave’, is a large cave that is filled with intricately-carved walls, ancient bathing pools and fountains, and religious sculptures. It was originally built as a sanctuary for meditation, but has now become a historical archeological site. The entrance to the cave is marked by a large face carved into the rock. Another distinguishing feature of the cave is the surrounding land, which is made up of rice paddies, gardens, and ancient ruins.

Of course, the places mentioned in this article only account for a small portion of all the beautiful, incredible places there are in Asia. There are plenty more unique and fascinating places to visit in many other Asian countries as well. Though this is not close to a comprehensive list, it will hopefully provide at least a glimpse into the beauty and wonder within in Asia, and will maybe even inspire you to visit some of these extraordinary places yourself.

Read this article and more in our Fall 2016 Issue OUT NOW

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