tales of travel

Stories, insights, recipes and more from all over Asia.


From the Tiger’s Nest to the Taj Mahal, here are our top 4 iconic sites throughout Asia. While these are 4 of our favorites, there are many more waiting for you. To learn more about all that Asia and the Pacific has to offer, please contact one of our travel experts today.

1. Cambodia – Angkor Wat

Big, beautiful and breathtaking. Angkor Wat, the largest and most breathtaking monument at Angkor. Built as the funerary temple for Suryavarman II, who ruled from 1112 to 1152, Angkor never fails to reward the first-time or repeat visitor with its grand scale, surreal bas-reliefs and unbelievable attention to detail. Spend a morning exploring one of our most magnificent creations. Few know that beyond Angkor Wat, in the surrounding area are many other fascinating and beautiful monuments that while although not as well known, are just as interesting and beautiful in their own right.

Your time here will encompass an exploration of Angkor focusing on the Angkor Thom complex, including Phimeanakas, Baphuon, the Terrace of the Elephants, the Terrace of the Leper King and finally the Bayon, with its mysterious towers and beautiful bas-reliefs. Surrounding sites also include Banteay Srei, loosely translated as “Citadel of Women.” This small temple houses some of the finest and best-preserved examples of classical Khmer bas-reliefs. The walls are densely covered with some of the most beautiful and intricate carvings of any Angkorian temple. The temple’s relatively small size, pink sandstone construction and ornate design give it a fairyland ambiance.

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2. Myanmar – Shwedagon Pagoda

Magical, alive, with profound devotion. This site is like no other, and said to house eight hairs of Lord Buddha. Over 350-feet tall, gilded in gold and gems, the Shwedagon is the most revered shrine in the country and a site all Burmese aspire to see at least once in their lifetime.

“It rose superb, glistening with its gold, like a sudden hope in the dark night of the soul of which the mystics write, glistening against the fog and smoke of the thriving city.” W. Somerset Maugham

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3. Bhutan – Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)

Peaceful, beautiful with stunning views. This morning, your journey to Bhutan culminates with a visit to one of the most venerated pilgrim sites in the Himalayan Buddhist world. Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), icon of Bhutan, clings to a cliff 3,000 feet above the Paro Valley floor. This dramatically situated and most sacred monastery is accessible by a roundtrip walk of about five to six hours but can be done at any pace.

Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the main structure of Taktsang in 1998, but it has now been completely reconstructed and is as beautiful as ever. (Be sure to take some snacks for the hike.) If you don’t feel that you would like to go all the way to the monastery, there is a teahouse midpoint on the hike with wonderful views. It is a great place to relax and have lunch.

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4. India – Taj Mahal

Showing profound love from one human to another. A stunning creation. Nothing compares with a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal. Taking 22 years and 20,000 laborers to construct, the white marble used in construction was quarried 200 miles away and transported to the site by a fleet of 1,000 elephants.

Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in the mid-17th century, the Taj Mahal is truly one of the wonders of the world. Though the Taj appears to be amazingly perfect from almost any angle, it is the close-up marble inlay work that is most astounding.

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