Asia | Destination Guides

Sacred Sites in Asia: From Temples to Pagodas

Recently updated on August 13th, 2023 at 02:15 pm

With such rich heritage and cultural diversity, Asia is home to an astonishing multitude of temples, shrines and pagodas. Naturally, some of these revered sites stand out from the rest, reflecting the beliefs of each country’s people while displaying their most resplendent decorative arts and architecture. From southern Kyoto to the capital of Myanmar, set out on your own journey to discover the most magnificent sacred sites in Asia.

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto Japan

Sacred Sites

Kyoto abounds with temples and shrines, including a number of the most impressive in the country; one such site is Fushimi Inari Taisha. Tucked away in southern Kyoto, this shrine instantly makes an impression with its striking pathways leading through thousands of vermilion torii gates amidst the woodland of Mount Inari. The shrine is named after Inari the god of rice, with statues of foxes representing the belief that these are the god’s messengers.

Travel to Kyoto on the Splendours of Japan trip with Trafalgar.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon Myanmar

Sacred Sites

This 2,500-year-old Buddhist site is truly breathtaking with its glinting gold-plated and jeweled temples, stupas and statues that fill the sprawling sacred space. But this complex isn’t just worth visiting for its resplendent architecture and arts, it’s also at the heart of local life, with both monks and devotees meditating, worshipping and caring for the site.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai Thailand

Sacred Sites

Often referred to as Doi Suthep, the name of the mountain this temple sits on, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is among northern Thailand’s most sacred sites, with the beauty to match. Displaying the graceful architecture that’s typical to this region, the temple complex features abundant ornate detail, including a white elephant shrine, which reflects the monastery’s 14th-century origin.

Travel through Thailand with Trafalgar on the Treasure of Thailand trip.

Angkor Wat, Angkor Cambodia

Sacred Sites

There aren’t many temple complexes better known across the globe than Angkor Wat. Not only is it the world’s biggest religious site – covering over 160 hectares, as a part of the greater 400 square-kilometre Angkor area – it’s also remarkably captivating with both its history and crumbling beauty. Originally constructed as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, Angor Wat became a Buddhist temple in the late 12th century.

Visit Angkor with Trafalgar on the Secrets of Cambodia with Laos, Highlights of Vietnam with Cambodia, and Treasures of Thailand with Cambodia itineraries.

Kelaniya Temple, Kelaniya Sri Lanka

Sacred Sites

A short journey away from Colombo, Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya temple is home to a sacred stupa where Buddha is said to have preached on the eighth year following enlightenment. For this reason, it has been one of Sri Lanka’s most revered pilgrimage sites for many centuries, and preserved over time by a number of the country’s kings.

Visit Sri Lanka with Trafalgar on the brand new Wonders of Sri Lanka trip.

Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang Laos

Sacred Sites

A fine example of Laos’ unique style of temple architecture, Wat Xieng Thong displays the elegant tiered roof and red and gold decoration that’s typical within the country, as well as a tree of life mosaic that depicts the story of this temple’s origin. Situated in a peaceful garden on the banks of the Mekong River, the temple is a tranquil retreat, too.

Travel through Laos with Trafalgar on the Secrets of Cambodia with Laos trip.

 Jagdish Temple, Udaipur India

Sacred Sites

Located within the City Palace complex of Udaipur, Jagdish Temple draws visitors in with both its history – having been built in 1651 – and ornate architecture. This Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu so features a carved idol of the four-armed figure, along with many more sculptures, carvings and painted murals.

Image credits: Cover photo taken at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple © iStock / Sam Antonio Photography. Fushimi Inari © iStock / Cebas. Shwedagon Pagoda © iStock / tawanlubfah. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep © iStock / Cornelia Pith art. Angkor Wat © iStock / wanderluster. Kelaniya Temple © iStock / Marietf. Wat Xieng Thong © iStock / chrisinthai. Jagdish Temple © iStock / alessen.

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