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Exotic Asia: The Far East's most spectacular destinations

Exotic Asia: The Far East's most spectacular destinations
Japanese maples and Mount Fuji, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Honshu, Japa (Art Wolfe / Getty Images)

Exotic Asia stirs Western imaginations with its epic history and stunning natural beauty. Whether explored by boat or on foot, amid five-star luxury or with a sleeping bag slung on your back, Asia's lush landscape is as intoxicating as it is colorful. Here's a closer look at four of Asia's most spectacular destinations.


Truly one of the wonders of the world, Angkor Wat is an immense 500-acre Hindu temple — the largest temple in the world. It’s set within a massive network of striking 12th century stone structures and ringed by an impressive moat. Walk along the causeway and climb a series of stairways leading nearly 700 feet skyward to five soaring towers and vast galleries and courtyards. A monument of unfathomable architectural majesty, Angkor Wat is often compared with the Great Pyramids and Taj Mahal.


Cruise along the beautiful Yangtze River and you’re transported into the very heart and soul of China. The third-longest river in the world (one that features prominently in 50 centuries of Chinese history), the Yangtze flows nearly 4,000 miles from the Tibetan Plateau to Shanghai and the East China Sea. Luxury cruise lines offer an abundance of amenities and stunning views, most notably along the popular Three Gorges corridor and the Difeng Scenic Zone, which are bounded by high cliffs and steep, dramatic precipices. 


One of the most breathtakingly beautiful mountains in the world, Mount Fuji rises 12,388 feet into the clouds. And during the spring — the most popular time for visitors — the snow-capped and gently sloping volcano is framed by brilliant pink cherry blossoms. Fuji, ringed by five scenic lakes, is Japan’s most popular attraction, drawing more climbers than any mountain in the world (mountain lodges host both serious climbers and casual day hikers). Tokyo is only 62 miles away, linked to the mountain by roads and bullet train. 


Crystal turquoise waters and lush landscapes with stunning beaches; high waterfalls and abundant, colorful marine life that draws divers like a magnet. Malaysia’s Terengganu, where baby powder sand and blue skies meet mangrove forests and charming fishing villages, is called the Emerald of the East for good reason. This aquatic paradise along the east coast of Malaysia is a popular tourist attraction, with well-traveled oceanside highways and offshore islands that beckon in the sun.

—Bob Young, Custom Publishing Writer