Thailand is a good place to enjoy some light temple-visiting, which can easily be done as part of a beach holiday
Nepal is a good place to find remote temples and monasteries, and can be combined with a hiking holiday
Japan has some amazing temples and shrines, and those in Gion are particularly famous
The Philippines have the finest examples of Baroque churches in Asia, due to their Spanish-influenced past
Malaysia has numerous Buddhist and Hindu temples
Cambodia’s most famous attraction is Angkor Watt, which is situated in the Angkor Archeological Park. This is one of the most significant temples in Asia, and was initially a Hindu place of worship, and was designed to represent the home of the devas. It then became a Buddhist site sometime in the 13th century, and has remained so to this day. You’re likely to visit on a tour from Siep Riem, which has accommodation suitable for every budget and is a site for all sorts of activities of interest to tourists.
Indonesia has many temples of interest. The largest is at Borobudur. No-one knows exactly who built this enormous structure, with its statues, carvings and stupa, but it appears to have been constructed in the 8th century and then abandoned in the 14th because of the fall of Buddhism and the rise of Islam. Nearby Candi Mendat, Candi Ngawen and Candi Pawon have a smaller Buddhist temples, which may have attracted pilgrims on the way to Borobudur.
India has numerous temples, as well as shrines, churches, and just about any other spiritually significant buildings or areas that you can think of! If you’re interested in Hinduism, then try visiting somewhere along the Ganges – Varanasi is the centre for religious worship, but you also might consider Rishikesh. The river is cleaner and less crowded here than further downstream, and you can also visit the Trayambakeshwar Temple, which is thirteen stories high and has shrines devoted to various deities, so you can cover all your bases in one easy visit! However, you’ll find temples wherever you go in India.
Vietnam has some fantastic temples, both in use and in ruins. My Son is one of the latter destinations. Although the site is not as well preserved as Angkor Watt, it is still a UNESCO heritage site, an evocative place where an ancient temple has survived both the ravages of the jungle and the bombs of the US Air Force. The temple was built and added to between the 8th and 13th centuries, in honour of Shiva, one of the Hindu gods. You can also catch a traditional dancing display here. You’re likely to visit from Hoi An, which is a great place in itself to see, with numerous museums.
It’s always important to show respect in places of worship. Mosques have particular rules about removing shoes and areas that are reserved for each gender. Wherever you go, make sure you’re not inadvertently going to cause offence. You can ask your tour guide or hotel receptionist for advice you head off, and if in doubt, do what the locals do or ask someone at the site – the chances are, they’ll be perfectly friendly and keen to help you avoid any faux pas.