What usually makes a city or country a popular travel destination are its unique landmarks. Travel planning and booking site TripAdvisor recently announced its Travellers’ Choice awards for landmarks and the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur was ranked seventh in Asia and first in Malaysia.
Award winners were determined using a formula that takes into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for must-see man made attractions all over the world throughout a 12-month period.
Top 10 Landmarks in Asia:
1. Angkor Wat – Siem Reap, Cambodia
Stretching over 400sqkm, Angkor Wat is a harmony of ancient architecture, intricate carvings and sophisticated structures. Walking through the temple complex surrounded by mountains and lush rainforests is a magical experience. Also known as the “City of Temples”, it saw over two million visitors last year.
2. Taj Mahal – Agra, India
The Taj Mahal, designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1983 for being “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage”, is one of the most iconic wonders of the world. It sees an increasing number of visitors from all over the world each year.
3. Great Wall at Mutianyu – Beijing, China
Located 70km northeast of Beijing, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall stretches over 5km and used to serve as the northern barrier to defend the capital and imperial tombs. It is one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall open to tourists.
4. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) – Bangkok, Thailand
One of Bangkok’s oldest temples, Wat Pho is famed for its giant gold-gilded reclining Buddha. The temple compound is also home to the leading school of massage in Thailand with two massage pavilions located in the area.
5. Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine – Kyoto, Japan
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its tunnels of brightly painted red torii (arches or gates) framing the pathways through the forest. People often come here to seek blessings for prosperity. It is also a popular shooting location for TV programmes and movies like Memoirs Of A Geisha.
6. Shwedagon Pagoda – Yangon, Myanmar
One of the most famous pagodas in the world, the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda is a 99m tall, gilded stupa that sits atop hill. This golden structure is a prominent feature of Yangon’s skyline and consists of hundreds of temples, stupas and statues.
7. Petronas Twin Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
An iconic landmark of Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas Towers are twin skyscrapers that dominate the city skyline. The towers held the record for the world’s tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004 and there’s an upmarket shopping mall, a 20ha park, and a double-decker skybridge that connects the two towers.
8. Amber Fort – Jaipur, India
Amber Fort is one of the finest example of Rajput architecture. Immediately above it on the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) is the Jaigarh Fort, and both are connected by a subterranean passage meant as an secret route in former times of war to enable the royal family members to escape.
9. The Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand
The Grand Palace was historically the official royal residence. Today, it is still used for official events. The complex is divided into three main zones: the Outer Court consists of structures like Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha); the Middle Court houses the most important residential and state buildings; and the Inner Court is reserved for the king, queen and consorts.
10. Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Built by local fighters during the Indochina conflict, the Cu Chi tunnels comprise an extensive network of over 200km tunnels. They used to function as underground cities and included hospitals, schools, kitchens and meeting quarters.
In Malaysia, the top landmarks are the Petronas Twin Towers, Langkawi Sky Bridge, Menara Kuala Lumpur, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque, Penang Heritage Trust, Putra Mosque, Zahir Mosque, Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple, Masjid Selat, and Kek Lok Si Temple.
The top 10 landmarks in the world are Machu Picchu in Machu Picchu, Peru; Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia; St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Italy; Taj Mahal in Agra, India; Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba in Cordoba, Spain; Church of the Saviour on Spilt Blood in St Petersburg, Russia; The Alhambra in Granada, Spain; Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington DC; and Milan Cathedral (Duomo) in Milan, Italy.