When thinking of places to visit, often the same places come to mind. People think of visiting the UK, Europe, South America – but for a truly exotic journey rich in culture, history, and excitement, nothing beats a visit to the Far East. Generally, when speaking of the area, people are focusing primarily on Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea. The area encompasses so much that picking just where to go can be difficult, because naturally, you want to see and do everything! So, I hope that reading this list of the best places to visit in the Far East will make the decision much easier!
1. Great Wall of China
Probably the top place to visit in the Far East is the Great Wall of China. You can't make a pilgrimage without stopping to see this vast, sprawling wall, which stretches through a vast number of provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions. Different sections of the wall were built by a number of emperors at entirely different times, which is why some of it is ancient and crumbling, while other sections are in excellent condition.
No journey to the Far East is complete without a visit to Tibet, either. Unquestionably a mystical city, and as such there is much to see. The Potala Palace has been home to a successive number of Dalai Lamas, and the Jokhang Temple is one of Tibet's holiest locations. There is so much to see and do here, and it is so ripe with culture and subtleties of the Buddhist religion that it would be a shame to pass up the opportunity to explore Tibet.
3. Kyoto, Japan
I'm naming Kyoto as a whole simply because there are so many things to see there. For instance, the Kyoto Imperial Palace is located there, where the Imperial family lived in 1868. There's much more than that, however, as Kyoto is a beautiful mix of both the old and the new, where history meets modernity and the two often live side by side.
4. Tiananmen Square
Another key place to visit in the Far East is Tiananmen Square, which you can find in the very heart of Beijing. It is so symbolic of so many people's histories – and the histories of so many nations – that it simply cannot be passed up or ignored. It's one of those places that gives you chills, simply because you are standing there, and if you are visiting the Forbidden City, you simply must make the stop.
I'm including Bangkok in its entirety as well, just because it has become so incredibly popular in recent years. If you want the history and cultural richness of the Far East combined with lots of excitement, Bangkok is certainly the way to go. After all, in addition to having a full, thrilling nightlife, it also boasts a lot of incredible shopping, and hey, that's what some people like on their vacations!
6. Yungang Grottoes
The Grottoes are located in Datong, which is in China's Shanxi Province. The caves, with sides made of mountains, are 1,500 years old and contain 51,000 amazing Buddhist statues. The biggest one is a statue of Seated Buddha, who is 56 feet high. There are carvings depicting the Buddha, as well as a number of scenes which depict both famous monks and Buddhist teachings. There are also a number of other things to see in Datong, such as the Nine Dragon Screen and the Hanging Monastery.
Yakushima is actually an island; located just off Kyushu's southeast coast, it is next door to Tanegashima and just to the north of Okinawa. While popular among Japanese tourists, it is little known besides that; this very fact makes it a great place to visit in the Far East, because it's like discovering a secret hideaway. After discovering things like the Fruit Gardent, the Shitogo Gajumaru-en Banyan Garden, and the many waterfalls – especially the Ooko-no-taki – you'll better understand why.
8. Taroko Gorge
Coming from West Virginia, which is home to the New River Gorge, I have a fondness for gorges anywhere – but nothing I've ever read about or seen truly tops the Taroko Gorge. Located near the east coast of Taiwan, it is 19 kilometers long and is mostly made up of such rocks as gneiss, schist, and marble. Even that is nothing compared to the many birds, mammals, butterflies, reptiles, flowers, and plants surrounding the gorge in its sprawling national park.
In naming some of the places to visit in the Far East, I know I've missed more than a few. There are so many things to see, though, and so many things to do, there's no way I could have captured them all. So, can you tell me of some other must-see places to visit on a trip to the Far East?
Top Photo Credit: babykailan