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  • Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaeo (Bangkok, Thailand): These two places are number one on every travel itinerary to Bangkok, and rightly so. The palace is indeed grand, with mixtures of traditional Thai and European Victorian architecture. Wat Phra Kaeo, the royal temple that houses Thailand's revered and mysterious Emerald Buddha, is a small city in itself.

  • Ayutthaya (north of Bangkok, Thailand): This was the thriving capital of Siam that the first Europeans saw when they visited amazing Thailand. Ruling a rich and powerful kingdom of more than a million inhabitants, the monarchy supported the arts, especially literature. As the city grew, international trade was encouraged. Today, all that remains are brick remnants of a grand palace and many temples that were sacked during the Burmese invasion. It's best to hire a guide who can walk you through.

  • Sukhothai (central Thailand): Founded in the 13th century, Sukhothai ("Dawn of Happiness") was the capital of the first unified state in what is today Thailand. Its borders grew to include parts of Burma to the west and extended as far as Luang Prabang to the east. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sukhothai Historical Park encompasses the ruins of the former royal palace as well as more than 20 temples. Best enjoyed from the seat of a bicycle and in combination with a trip to nearby Sri Satchanalai.

  • Wat Xieng Thong (Luang Prabang, Laos): The glittering Xieng Thong, built in 1560, sits grandly on a peninsula jutting into the Mekong River. The facades of two of its buildings are covered by glittering glass mosaics; another building contains an ornate chariot with the heads of seven dragons and the remains of a king. About a dozen English-speaking monks roam the premises; all are excellent conversationalists.

  • Plain of Jars (Xieng Khouang, Laos): How did hundreds of huge stone urns, some measuring 2.7m tall (9 ft.), come to be placed on a few meadows in northern Laos? No one really knows, and that's what's fun here. The most prevalent explanation is that the urns were made by prehistoric folks in the area about 2,000 years ago to be used as sarcophagi, but there's lots of room for conjecture.

  • Tomb of Khai Dinh (Hue, Vietnam): Khai Dinh was an egotistical, eccentric emperor who was bad for the people of Vietnam but great for the tomb he left behind. A gaudy mix of Gothic, baroque, and classical Chinese architecture, the exterior is remarkable. The stunning interior is completely covered with intricate glass and ceramic mosaic work.

  • Cao Dai Holy See Temple (Tay Ninh, north of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam): This is the spiritual home base of the Cao Dai religion, a faith characterized by philosophical inclusion and influence gathered from all beliefs, including the world's great scientists and humanitarians. Its headquarters is like a fantasyland of colored mosaic and elaborate painting. Followers are dressed in colorful robes during the picturesque daily procession. It's quite unique.

  • Angkor Wat (Cambodia): One of the world's man-made wonders, Angkor Wat is the Disneyland of temples in Asia. This ancient city was known to the Western world only in myth until it was rediscovered and hacked free of jungle overgrowth in the late 1800s. The magnificent temples are arrayed over a 97-sq.-km (37-sq.-mile) compound that dates from the rise and fall of the mighty Angkor civilization (A.D. 802-1295).

  • Thian Hock Keng Temple (Singapore): One of Singapore's oldest Chinese temples, it is a fascinating testimony to Chinese Buddhism combined with traditional Confucian beliefs and natural Taoist principles.

  • Jame Mosque (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia): Built at the central point of the city, this is one of the oldest mosques in Kuala Lumpur. It is the heart of Malay Islam.

  • Jalan Tokong (Melaka, Malaysia): This street, in the historic heart of the city, has a Malay mosque, a Chinese temple, and a Hindu temple living peacefully side by side -- the perfect example of how the many foreign religions that came to Southeast Asia shaped its communities and learned to coexist in harmony.

  • Uluwatu (Bali): This dramatic cliff-side temple overlooks the crashing waves of Bali's southern beaches.

  • Basakih Temple (Bali): Built in homage of Gunung Agung, the island's feisty, smoke-belching creator, the Basakih Temple does justice to the awe and grandeur of the Balinese creation myths surrounding the volcano. The spires of individual family shrines and temples are something like Chinese pagodas, and the place is always abuzz with local worshipers. You're likely to get pulled into a ceremony here.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.