10 Most Beautiful East Asia Destinations

10 Most Beautiful East Asia Destinations

It’s true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to beautiful destinations, there are some that manage to stand out to visitors from all corners of the world. The ancient cities and natural regions in East Asia are home to all kinds of beauties, from architectural feats to seemingly impossible natural features.

Those hoping to explore the beauty of East Asia, however, may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of potential destinations. 30 different countries make up Eastern Asia, varying in size from China all the way down to Micronesia. With a variety of natural landscapes, numerous ancient buildings and temples, and classic sandy beaches, here are just 10 of the beautiful destinations visitors can explore in East Asia.

The accommodations recommended in this article are based on research on the cities mentioned. Each of our recommendations has been selected based on its visitor reviews as well as its location relative to the destinations discussed. All recommended accommodations have at least an 8.5 rating at the time of publication and are within the city limits of the area discussed.

10 Kyoto, Japan

Beautiful architecture at Kyoto, Japan, with green trees, blue mountains, and a clear sky
Photo by David Emrich on Unsplash

Beautiful architecture at Kyoto, Japan, with  green trees, blue mountains, and a clear sky

The former capital of Japan, Kyoto, is full of natural and man-made wonders. Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines can be found throughout the city, with many of them designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites because of their cultural and historical significance. In a city full of beautiful places, standouts include the historic Kinkaku-ji Temple and the Saiho-ji Temple, which also boasts a garden that has been designated a national Special Place of Scenic Beauty. Along the western edge of Kyoto, another designated Scenic Beauty, Arashiyama, is home to gorgeous bamboo groves and even more historical landmarks. With so much beauty to enjoy, it’s easy to spend anywhere from two days to a week exploring the wonders of Kyoto.

Related: 11 Things To Do In Kyoto: Complete Guide To Japan’s Ancient Capital

9 Beijing, China

City of Beijing at night
Photo by Henry Chen on Unsplash

Beijing after Dark 

Walls may not be the first image that comes to mind when considering beautiful places in Asia, but the feat that is the Great Wall of China represents a beauty all its own. Aside from the world-famous Great Wall, Beijing, the nation’s capital, also hosts numerous beautiful, historically significant temples and shrines, such as the Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven. Wonders like the Baiwangshan Forest Park and Longqing Gorge are full of hiking trails and rock-climbing routes for those looking for some of China’s most beautiful natural landscapes.

8 Jeju Island, South Korea

Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
Photo by Ethan Brooke on Pexels

Drone View of the Blue Sea and cliffs off the coast of Jeju Island, South Korea

Considered one of the New Seven Natural Wonders, Jeju Island is a visually stunning and geographically unique location. The mountain at the center of Jeju, Hallasan, rises above the semi-tropical forests that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Global Geopark, and Biosphere Reserve. The variety of unique volcanic features, including the world’s longest volcanic tube, add to the unique beauty of this South Korean Island, as do the sandy beaches that encompass the island. A four-and-a-half-hour ferry ride is the only way to get to Jeju, but the vast array of beautiful scenery and one-of-a-kind plant and animal life make it well worth the trip. Once there, guests routinely spend three or more days exploring Jeju’s beauty and are often still left wishing for more time.

Related: How To Plan A Vacation On South Korea’s Stunning Volcanic Island Of Jeju

7 Seoul, South Korea

Sunset Autumn at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea
Via Shutterstock

Sunset Autumn at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

With traditional architecture and an actual secret garden, there’s no doubt Seoul is filled with some of East Asia’s most beautiful sites. The capital of South Korea, this major East Asian city offers views of architectural feats like the Lotte World Tower, which can be viewed by wandering the Seokchon Lake shoreline. Brave visitors can also enjoy Seoul’s stunning views from the glass bottom (or even on top of!) of the 1,774-foot-tall Seoul Sky Observatory. Another unique beauty of Seoul is the Changdeokgung Palace. The beauty of the building itself is outdone only by the Secret Garden behind the Palace. The abundant natural beauty, once off limits to all but the royal family, today, only a restricted number of tour groups are allowed Entry, preserving this beautiful destination in the heart of Seoul.

Related: Book These 11 Budget-Friendly (But Still Nice) Hotels In Seoul

6 Mount Fuji, Japan

A sunset view of Mount Fuji in Autumn

Where Kyoto is full of beautiful buildings and architecture, Mount Fuji and the surrounding area highlight the natural beauty of Japan. At 12,388 feet above sea level, this active volcano stands out sharply against the Japanese landscape. While adventurous hikers begin their hike toward the summit, those looking for a more relaxed walk through the scenery can enjoy one of the numerous trails around the foothills of Mt. Fuji. While climbing the mountain does not require a permit, a $10 climbing pass is required, with the funds collected used to preserve the natural beauty and hiking trails for future Mt. Fuji visitors.

5 Taipei, Taiwan

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei
Photo by Kaizer Bienes on Unsplash

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei

The ultra-modern capital city of Taiwan, Taipei, is a collection of modern architecture, including the bamboo-shaped Taipei 101 skyscraper that stands nearly 1670 feet and towers above the city skyline. Other, more historical landmarks, like the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Longshan Temple, display different, equally beautiful architecture. Outdoor sites like Yangmingshan National Park and Daan Forest Park highlight the natural beauty of Taipei. Meanwhile, the cultural mash-up of Jiufen, which has often been compared to the picturesque Greek island of Santorini, offers beautiful city views inspired by both its original Japanese settlers and current Taiwanese residents.

4 Chiang Rai, Thailand

Wat Rong Khun The White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Wat Rong Khun The White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Rai is the perfect place to enjoy the natural beauty of Thailand in a more relaxed atmosphere than many nearby cities. Even with the abundance of temples to visit in Eastern Asia, those found in Chiang Rai are a sight all their own. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring of them all, Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, is a one-of-a-kind art exhibit whose design is patterned after that of Buddhist temples. The building itself is a truly beautiful piece of art, and will eventually have art galleries and relics, as well as multiple buildings, all designed to pay homage to Lord Buddha.

Related: Bang For Your Buck: 10 Affordable China Spring Destinations You Should Visit

3 Palawan, Philippines

Tropical luxury holidays in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Tropical luxury holidays in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

Often ranked as one of the best places to visit in the Philippines, Palawan is a truly idyllic beauty. With white sandy beaches and clear waters teaming with aquatic life, Palawan is a beautiful island paradise. Visitors can simply lounge on the beach, taking in the beauty of the ocean, or participate in one of many guided tours offered on the islands that make up the Palawan archipelago. On the interior of the island, explorers can find lagoons, lakes, and fishing villages. Palawan is a haven for natural beauty, with multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the islands and highlights like El Nido, considered some of the most unspoiled natural landscapes in the world.

2 Bali, Indonesia

Boats in the bay in Bali, Indonesia
IzzetNoyan via Adobe Stock

Boats in the bay in Bali, Indonesia

Another beautiful island paradise, Bali, Indonesia, is a hugely popular vacation spot for tourists around the world thanks to its clear waters and sandy beaches. From the coastline to the center of the island, Bali is a beautiful place in every respect. Guests can soak up the views on the sandy beaches and coral reefs or venture inland to enjoy the volcanic mountains, rice paddies, and Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. The natural beauty of Bali is so expansive many guests recommend at least five and as many as 10 days to truly take it all in.

1 Hunan Province, China

Zhangjiajie cliff mountain at Wulingyuan Hunan China

Zhangjiajie cliff mountain at Wulingyuan Hunan China

It’s clear that East Asia is full of natural wonders and beautiful destinations, but only one is so uniquely beautiful that it became the setting for an alien planet. Hunan province in China covers a vast area of natural beauty, including the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, which includes four of China’s national parks. Perhaps the most famous is Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, home of the famous floating peaks and real-world site of the movie Avatar. With so many natural wonders, as well as beautiful historical and cultural landmarks, within its borders, exploring this East Asian province in all its glory could take as much as week, but the region promises to leave guests with a lifetime of views.