10 of the most spectacular temples in Asia

The impressive Lord Murugan Statue in front of limestone cliffs

With so much history, Asia is full of incredible religious sites and places of worship. Usually designed and decorated so beautifully as gifts to please the the gods, these 10 temples are just some of the awe-inspiring religious sites from this fascinating part of the world.

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1. White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

The White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand
The White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand is as much an art piece as it is a temple

Wat Rong Khun, known amongst travellers as the White Temple, is a modern, unconventional and privately-owned temple in the Chiang Rai region in Thailand. A local artist from Chiang Rai, Chalermchai Kositpipat, built the temple with his own money. It’s alleged that Mr Kositpipat considers the temple an offering to the Lord Buddha, and believes it will award him immortal life.

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2. Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore

The Sri Mariamman Temple is a Hindu temple located in Singapore's Chinatown
The Sri Mariamman Temple is a Hindu temple located in Singapore’s Chinatown

Singapore is home to many different religions, Hinduism being one of them. Sri Mariamman is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore, dating back to 1827. Located in Chinatown, the temple is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases.

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3. Sensoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

Sensoji is an important cultural landmark in Tokyo
Sensoji is an important cultural landmark in Tokyo

Sensoji Temple is one of Japan’s major cultural attractions, located in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. It attracts locals and visitors alike being the oldest temple in Tokyo (built in the year 628) and one of the most colourful in Tokyo. Legend has it that two brothers went fishing one day and fished out the statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. No matter how many times they returned the statue to the river, they kept fishing it out. So, they built Sensoji nearby to honour the goddess.

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4. Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok's Grand Palace at sunset
Bangkok’s Grand Palace at sunset

A stop at the Grand Palace of Bangkok, Thailand, could easily see travellers spending the full day exploring the incredible palace grounds. The palace is made of numerous buildings, halls, pavilions and courtyards, many of which visitors can explore. The Grand Palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782 and remains a working space today. Next to the grand palace is another must-see temple in Bangkok, Wat Pho, where a 15m-high, 43m-long golden Buddha statue reclines.

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5. Goa Gajah, Bali

The entrance to the Elephant Cave in Ubud
The entrance to the Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) in Ubud

Also known as the Elephant Cave, Goa Gajah is located near Ubud in Bali. Built in the ninth century, it’s believed the cave served as a sanctuary away from enemies and evil spirits. The façade on the entrance is decorated with ghostly and otherworldly figures and inside is a bathing temple, which was not uncovered until the 1950s.

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6. Ong Temple, Vietnam

Offerings for the Gods in Ong Temple, Vietnam
Offerings for the Gods in Ong Temple, Vietnam

Ong Temple is a Chinese-style Temple in Can Tho, Vietnam, decorated with huge incense coils and magnificent statues. Next to the Can Tho River, this temple is one of the most significant religious sites in the area, and is a great traditional experience for travellers visiting the area.

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7. Meenakshi Amman Temple, India

The Meenakshi Temple is surrounded by smaller temples in a complex
The Meenakshi Temple is surrounded by smaller temples in a complex

The heart and lifeline of the 2500-year-old city of Madurai in India’s South, the Meenakshi Temple is a historic Tamil Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Meenakshi – one of the Hindu goddess Parvati’s forms. The temple is covered in colourful carvings and miniature sculptures replicating scenes from Hindu legends.

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8. Lord Murugan Statue, Batu Caves, Malaysia

The impressive Lord Murugan Statue in front of limestone cliffs
The impressive Lord Murugan Statue in front of limestone cliffs

The Lord Murugan Statue is the tallest statue of a Hindu deity in Malaysia. It’s the second tallest in the world, eclipsed only by a statue in Nepal. It’s located at the foot of the famous Batu Caves, a limestone hill full of cave temples.

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9. Guandu Temple, Taiwan

The ornately decorated temple rood of Guandu Temple

Guandu Temple is the oldest temple in northern Taiwan dedicated to the worship of the sea goddess Mazu. The temple rafters and beams are carved and painted and the temple is filled with carved dragon pillars, stone lions and sculptures.

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10. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The world's largest religious site, Angkor Wat, is a UNESCO-protected site
The world’s largest religious site, Angkor Wat, is a UNESCO-protected site

Perhaps Asia’s most famous temple is Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The largest religious monument in the world, the temple grounds measure 162.6 hectares and date back to the 12th century. It’s meant to be an earthly representation of Mt Meru, an abode of ancient gods.

Have you been to any of these magnificent temples? Or any that aren’t on the list? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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