That’s right: Asia is home to plethora of sumptuous castles and palaces, rivalling the grandeur of European palaces. Maharajas, emperors and dynasties have ruled the region, so it is only natural that they have luxrious abodes. Constantly on the lookout for unique experiences, our favourite travel experts, Lightfoot Travel, let us in on their favourite castles and palaces in Asia. You’re in for a royal treat!
Himeji Castle, Japan
Also known as the White Heron Castle due to tts pearly-white hue and bird-like appearance, Himeji Castle, located in the on a hilltop in Himeji, is one of Japan’s most spectacular complexes. Unlike the others that were once ravaged by wars and earthquakes, Himeji Castle remains, for the most part, in its original form. Built in 1333, it was named one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country in 1993.
Head to Himeji Castle from Kyoto by train on a day trip from Kyoto by train. While in Kyoto, put up at Ritz Carlton the Kyoto, one of the newest properties that has recently opened in the last few years.
Matsumoto Castle, Japan
The Crow Castle, as it is also commonly known, is another of Japan’s premier historic castles. Erected in 1504 as a fort under the name of Fukashi Castle, the domain only took its current structure and was renamed Matsumoto Castle in 1593. Housed within the castle are countless displays of armor and weapons from the Sengoku period, and you’ll also be treated to amazing views of the Japanese Alps. In autumn, a Moon Viewing Party takes place in the castle’s moon viewing room, where you can admire the moon three times: in the sky, reflected in the water and in your cup of sake.
Matsumoto Castle can be accessed from Takayama on a day trip, and staying at the Takayama Green Hotel is a great option.
Mehrangarh Fort, India
Towering over the city of Jodhpur, the Mehrangarh Fort impresses with its imposing structure, intricate carvings and spacious courtyards. Even author Rudyard Kipling was fascinated with the place, describing it as “a palace that might have been built by the Titans and coloured by the morning sun”. Behind the fort, also India’s best preserved are some of the country’s finest palaces and museums that feature countless priceless relics of Indian court life.
If you just can’t enough of the Mehrangarh Fort, then you definitely need to stay at Raas. We love the views from the bedroom, especially at night when the Fort is lit up – stunning!
China Gate, Nanjing
One of the most sophisticated castle in the world, China Gate has finally opened up its doors fully to allow tourists through its impressive defensive structure. It’s arguably China’s most underrated tourist attractions, and was built between 1366 and 1386 to protect the founding capital of the Ming Dynasty. Originally 35km in length, only 25km of the circular city wall remains today.
Whiz through the Chinese countryside on a train from Shanghai for a unique day trip out to the China Gate. Return to the stately Waldorf Astoria on the Bund at the end of your day.
Amber Palace, India
Amber Palace (or Amer as you may sometimes hear), is located in the town of Amer, some 11km away from the stunning Jaipur. Perched high on a hill, Amber Palace is the city’s most popular tourist attraction, and understandably so – thanks to its magnificient architecture.
If you’re looking for a hotel fit for royalty, then check in at Rambagh Palace, once the home of a powerful maharaja. Strolling through the manicured gardens and watching the sun set is a perfect way to end a day of visiting.
Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand
The glistening gold and colourful gems that deck Bangkok’s Grand Palace is a must-see whilst in the Thai capital. Constructed in 1782, it served as the home of the Thai king, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government for 150 years. Today, in addition to housing the spectacular Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Grand Palace remains one of Bangkok’s most visited sites, mesmerising all those behold its intricate and dazzling details.
No one does a riverside abode as well as The Siam, a stunning art deco inspired urban resort tucked away on the banks of Chao Phraya River.
Royal Palace Phnom Penh
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh still serves as the residence for the country’s royal family. Built in 1860, it has been lived in by royals ever since, safe for a period of absence during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. The palace is a perfect example Khmer architecture, and most of the compound can be visited by tourists. The King’s living area, however, are off limits though.
Relax poolside at the Raffles Phnom Penh, after your day of sightseeing.
Imperial City Hue, Vietnam
Once the capital of Vietnam, Hue held much importance in the 19th century, and boasts the splendid Imperial City, a walled fortress and palace. Inspired by Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Hue Citadel gives an interesting insight into how the Vietnamese interpreted Chinese architecture and added their own twist to it.
La Residence Hue is a charming riverside location overlooking the Imperial Citadel. Once the home of the French Governor in the 1930s, this charming colonial structure now houses a stunning hotel.
Forbidden City / Summer Palace, Beijing
You can’t leave the Chinese capital without visiting the astounding Forbidden City, so named as it was off limits for 500 years. Another lesser known but equally fantastic palace you must visit whilst in Beijing is the Summer Palace, a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design and also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Staying at the Aman Summer Palace means you get private access to restricted sections of the Summer Palace before and after the main crowds.
Royal Palace, Luang Prabang
Built in 1904, the site of the Royal Palace was chosen so that official visitors to Luang Prabang could easily disembark directly in the premises from their river voyages. The royal Lao family lived there until the monarchy was overthrown in1975, and the palace was converted into a national museum thereafter. The interesting architecture of the mixes traditional Lao motifs and French Beaux Arts style – quite a sight to behold.
Amantaka is the perfect springboard from which to explore all that the historical and cultural town of Luang Prabang has to offer.
This article was brought to you by Lightfoot Travel, a Singapore-based luxury tour operator offering expert travel advice & inspiration, tailor-made itineraries & full booking services.