Asia and the Pacific Photos

Click on any of the thumbnails below.

Central Asia

Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Nisa, one of the first capitals of the Parthians, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

The national game of Afghanistan is Buzkashi. The game involves lots of men on horseback … and one dead goat. To score a point, you must grab the dead goat on your horse and carry it into the other team’s territory. Drawing thousands of fans, the games are like nothing else, with their fierce and electric atmosphere. It’s like glorified polo combined with Capture-the-Flag: very intense and easily one of the toughest games on earth.

Kabul-Jalalabad Highway, Afghanistan

near Ulan Bator, Mongolia


Nomadic Asian Yurt

Astana is the capital city of Kazakhstan, straddling the Ishim River in the north of the country. Along the left bank, the ultramodern, 97m-tall Bayterek tower offers panoramic views from its observation deck. The Ak Orda Presidential Palace is topped with a massive blue-and-gold dome. The giant, tentlike Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center houses a shopping mall and indoor beach resort.

The Dukha people of Mongolia have lived in the same region for centuries. During that time, they developed a special relationship with the region's wild animals.

the region of Guba in the northeast of Azerbaijan and the stunning landscape around the village of Khinalig, highest village in Azerbaijan

Situated between China and Russia, the Mongolian steppe remains mostly intact, and its nomadic way of life has been largely unchanged for generations.

Darul Aman Palace, in Kabul, Afghanistan: First built in the 1920s by King Amanullah Khan, the palace has been destroyed (by fire and warfare) and rebuilt many times. Its re-reconstruction is currently in the planning and fundraising stage.


Kyrgyzstan Mountains

73.7% of Tajikistan’s population lives in rural areas, with poor transportation and communication infrastructure.

Dungan women sell local fast food in Dordoi market’s main alley in Bishkek, the capital and largest city of the Kyrgyz Republic. (Dungan is a term used in territories of the former Soviet Union to refer to a Muslim people of Chinese origin.)

Patrons have lunch at a cafeteria in the older part of Andijan, Uzbekistan.

A Kyrgyz mountain tunnel is shut down for an hour as shepherds move their flocks to summer pastures.

Women wander through the ancient streets of Nokhur, Turkmenistan, located in an unmarked valley of the Kopet Dag Mountains, which make up the border of Iran and southern Turkmenistan. Nohurli consider themselves descendants of Alexander the Great.


Turkmen women walk on a sidewalk in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.

Sardoba, Uzbekistan, a village on the Tashkent-to-Samarkand highway, in Syrdarya Province

Male archers warm up for the first round of the men's national archery tournament during Naadam in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital and largest city. Naadam is a traditional Mongolia festival, also called the three games of men - Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery.

An Afghan woman gathers water at the village's central stream in Ishkashim, Afghanistan.

At a site dated to around 5000 - 8000 BCE, in Gobustan Azerbaijan, there are paintings or etchings (petroglyphs) of what appear to be long boats in the style of the Viking ships of more recent times. One theory is that people from the area went to Scandinavia with their boat building skills in about 100 CE and built the Viking boats we know from digs in Northern Europe.

Baku Azerbaijan


Laghman, Afghanistan, March 2020: Two children walked past members of a Taliban unit in an area the group controlled. In February, the US signed a deal with Taliban leaders, setting the stage to end America’s longest war.







East Asia

Seoul (서울), the capital of South Korea, is a sprawling metropolis where hyper-modern skyscrapers, high-tech subways and pop culture meet Buddhist temples, palaces and street markets. With a municipal population of over 11.8 million and a metropolitan population totaling over 25.6 million, Seoul is by far South Korea's largest city and one of East Asia's financial and cultural epicenters. A fascinating blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge digital technology, home to endless street food vendors and vast nightlife districts, an extraordinarily high-pressure educational system and serene Buddhist temples, a trend-setting youth culture and often crushing conformism, extraordinary architecture and endless monotonous rows of grey apartment buildings, Seoul is a city filled with stark contrasts.

Taipei, officially known as Taipei City, is the capital city of Taiwan. Most of the city is located on the Taipei Basin, an ancient lakebed bounded by the two relatively narrow valleys of the Keelung and Xindian Rivers. Taipei is the political, economic, educational and cultural center of Taiwan, and one of the major hubs of the Chinese-speaking world. Considered to be a global city, Taipei is part of a major high-tech industrial area. Railways, high-speed rail, highways, airports and bus lines connect Taipei with all parts of the island.

Hani Rice Terraces, Yuanyang County, China

Hong Kong

Guilin, China

South and North Korea: At night, North Korea is pitch black.


Throughout China, there are hundreds of cities that have everything needed for a modern, urban lifestyle: high-rise apartment complexes, developed waterfronts, skyscrapers and public art. Everything, that is, except one thing: the people,

These mysterious — and almost completely empty — cities are a part of China's larger plan to move 250 million citizens currently living in rural

 areas into urban locations by 2026.

Unlike the US, where cities often begin as small developments and grow in accordance with local industries, these new Chinese cities are built to the point of near completion before introducing people, a completely new type of urban development.

11 photos from photographer Kai Caemmerer’s series Unborn Cities, 2015

Unborn City#1

Unborn City#2

Unborn City#3

Unborn City#4


Unborn City#5

Unborn City#6

Unborn City#7

Unborn City#8

Unborn City#9

Unborn City#10

Unborn City#11


The Danxia Landform in Zhangye, China gets its color from red sandstone and mineral deposits.

National Palace Museum in Taiwan

The National Museum of China in Beijing

Hong Kong

Three Gorges Dam, Hubei province, China

Yantai encompasses a port city and its surrounding area in eastern China's Shandong province. In the north is Penglai Pavilion, a centuries-old clifftop pagoda overlooking the Bohai Strait. Farther east, connected to the mainland, Zhifu Island is the site of Neolithic artifacts.


Pyongyang North Korea

This picture of the Korean peninsula does a pretty good job of capturing the legacy of Kim Jong Il by comparing electricity usage at night between North and South Korea.

Taklamakan Desert, China: A vast alluvial fan blossoms across the desolate landscape between the Kunlun and Altun mountain ranges that form the southern border of the Taklimakan Desert in China’s XinJiang Province.

Xuan Kong Si (The Hanging Temple), Datong, China, has managed to cling to its rock face for over 1,400 years. Long wooden beams extend from the outer edge of the Xuan Kong Si buildings down to holes chiseled into the rock. The temple’s unlikely location was chosen by its Taoist builders for one main reason: It is quiet.

We love Taiwan -- anindependent country, not a part of China. And we need your friendship and understanding. Jeju-do is South Korea's largest island.


Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong

Akebono Kodomo-no-mori Park, Saitama, Japan

Between the 1950s and mid-1990s, tens of thousands of immigrants constructed a towering community 12 stories high across a 6.4-acre lot in Hong Kong. It was called the Kowloon Walled City. With a population of 33,000 squeezed into a tiny lot, the city at its peak was 119 times as dense as present-day New York City. Although it faced rampant crime and poor sanitation, the city was impressively self-sustainable until its demolition began in 1993.

Kyoto, Japan

Miyajima island, Japan

Tokyo Japan


Kawachi Fuji Gardens wisteria tunnel, Japan

Hong Kong, China, 2010, photo by Marcus Lyon

Pudong Shanghai, China, 2010, photo by Marcus Lyon

Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong

When North Korean children turn 7, they become indoctrinated into the North Korean Children’s Union. In a huge ceremony, the children are given red scarves, which are tied around their shoulders by retired military personnel and then make a pledge to their Supreme Leader.

This massive structure is a quite typical North Korean apartment building in the capital city. As depressing at it looks, the people living here are actually the lucky ones, as they do not face the abhorrent conditions of living in the countryside.


North Korea has a specified list of 28 hairstyles for men and women that one can choose from. You must keep your hair styled in one of the regulated options at all times. Men must keep their hair shorter than 5cm (about 2 inches), but elderly men are allowed 7cm.

Along the miles of North Korean farmland, shanty construction and unfinished roads can be seen. Most likely the country, which is unbelievably poor, ran out of money for the road and simply stopped building it.

North Korea’s second-largest city, Hamhung

This is Kijong-dong or Peace City, situated on the North Korean side of the border of North and South Korea in the Demilitarized Zone. It is home to a 200-family collective farm, complete with a child care center, schools for all grades, and a hospital. That all sounds well and good, except for the fact that South Koreans have been observing this city and have come to realize it is completely uninhabited. Residential buildings have no glass in their windows. Electric lights operate on an automatic timer. There are only maintenance people to give the impression of ongoing activity.

a North Korean store for locals (forbidden to tourists): You can see how empty the shop is, devoid of most items and with almost completely bare shelves.

Malnutrition is an enormous problem in North Korea. In 2014, North Korea’s GDP per person was $1,800. For some perspective, South Korea’s GDP per person that year was $37,900.


The city of Wuhan, China, home to the first documented coronavirus cases, became one of the first cities to shut down. To contain the coronavirus outbreak, the government banned most public transportation and private cars from its streets.

Hong Kong, January, 2020: After weeks of relative calm, pro-democracy protesters took to the streets, resuming mass demonstrations that had begun the previous June.

A gap between towers in Hong Kong’s Kingsford Terrace residential complex frames the city’s imposing mountainous backdrop.





South Asia

Varanasi India

The Maldives

Nepalese terraces about 3,281 feet high  

The Maldives, North Atoll

Lahore is the second largest city in Pakistan and one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Colombo, Sri Lanka


the India-Pakistan Himalayan border

Paro Taktshang, Bhutan: Legend has it that the area that is today in western Bhutan was once haunted by evil spirits. These spirits lived in a cave with an entrance on a cliff side inaccessible to regular humans. In the year 747, a great Buddhist teacher meditated on the cliff in such a way that he was able to assume a wrathful form and fly to the cave on the back of a tiger and defeat these spirits. A monastery was built on the spot of his victory; today the monastery represents the victory of good over evil. The seven separate temples that comprise the complex, the name of which translates to Tiger’s Nest, cling improbably to a small outcropping in the cliff.

Off the western coast of India is Elephanta Island, which harbors a major archaeological site — the Elephanta Caves. The sculptures and carvings, thought to be around 1,500 years old, are among “the most perfect expressions” of Indian art. The main cave holds a 23-foot-tall representation of the Hindu god Shiva in three aspects — Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.

Himalayan snow leopard

Kathmandu Nepal

Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the central Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka.


In the shelter of the Himalaya mountains, lies one of the most isolated nations in the world – Bhutan, a balance between modernization and  the retention of ancient culture.

Rice field north of Pokhara, Nepal: The Himalayan mountain chain runs north of Nepal, separating it from its giant neighbor, China. The mountains crown Nepal with a string of 8 peaks (out of a world total of 14) higher than 26,232 feet. The economy is based on agriculture, which employs 80% of the working population and accounts for 41% of the GDP of one of the world's poorest countries. Generations of farmers have tamed the mountainsides and prevented erosion by cutting terraces. Rice paddies thus rise in tiers as high as 9,800 feet above sea level, covering 45% of Nepal's cultivated land.

the Bhenwa family in the city of Jodhpur, Rajasthan,India

A Nepalese woman pours milk as she offers prayers to the setting Sun on the banks of the Bagmati River during the Chhath Puja festival in Kathmandu, Nepal. During Chhath, an ancient Hindu festival, rituals are performed to thank the Sun God for sustaining life on earth.

Kingdom of Bhutan on the edge of the Himalayas

Thar Desert, India: The Indian city of Bikaner is visible in the lower part of the image. Vegetation appears red.


After more than 25 years of violence and conflict, the island nation of Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, has emerged from political strife and social upheaval to become one of South Asia’s most fascinating nations.

Pakistan’s Khyber Pass






Southeast Asia

Cambodian market seller, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Set in northwest Cambodia, Siem Reap is best known for being the gateway to the Angkor ruins, a sprawling complex of more than 400 ancient temples. It runs along the north shore of the Tonle Sap, Cambodia’s “Great Lake.” The Tonle Sap is a combined lake and river system of huge importance to Cambodia. The area is home to many ethnic Vietnamese and numerous Cham communities living in floating villages around the lake. The Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. For most of the year the lake is fairly small, around 3.3 feet deep and with an area of 1,042 mi2. During the monsoon season, however, the Tonlé Sap River, which connects the lake with the Mekong River, reverses its flow. Water is pushed up from the Mekong into the lake, increasing its area to 6,178 mi2 and its depth to up to 29.5 feet, flooding nearby fields and forests. The floodplain provides a perfect breeding ground for fish.

Wayag Island, Raja Ampat District, Indonesia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Bangkok, Thailand


Bromo volcano, Java, Indonesia

Bagan, Myanmar

Looking like something Dr. Seuss might have dreamed up, the Southeast Asia binturong has a face like a cat's and a body like a bear's, long, shaggy black hair, stiff white whiskers, and a prehensile tail that’s as long as its body. Binturongs are also called bearcats, but that name is rather misleading since these animals are not related to bears or cats. Binturongs are classed as carnivores but eat mostly fruit. Their long ear tufts and reddish-brown eyes give them an endearing appearance. Binturongs spend most of their time in the trees. Padded paws and long claws help them grasp branches. Their body is low to the ground, like a bear or a human. They walk flat-footed, and, when waddling on the ground, they tend to amble much like a bear does. Unlike a bear or human, though, binturongs can turn their ankles 180 degrees so their claws can still grip when climbing down a tree headfirst.  A binturong’s tail is very thick and muscular at the base, with the last third of it prehensile to be used like an extra hand when climbing around in the treetops. A leathery patch at the tip helps the tail grip the branches. Binturong youngsters have been seen hanging upside down while completely supported by their tail, but adults are a bit too heavy to do this without using a paw or two for an extra grip. Binturongs can swim fairly well and have good vision day or night, and so can be active at any hour they choose.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Asian tent city

Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Brunei.


Bagan, Myanmar: Built in 1057, horse carts still dot the streets, people wash their clothes in the river and there are Buddhist temples and pagodas as far as the eye can see.

Hang Son Doong, Vietnam, is home to the world’s largest cave. Collapses caused by erosion leave small and big holes through which sunlight penetrates and creates stunning views. The cave was created 2-5 million years ago by river water eroding away the limestone underneath the mountain.

Ancient Pyu kingdom cities, Myanmar: These brick, walled and moated cities (Halin, Beikthano, Sri Ksetra and others in the country’s Irrawaddy basin) flourished for over 1,000 years, between 200 BCE and 900 CE, before the first Burmese kingdom was founded in the 9th century. Pyu was one of the earliest known Buddhist kingdoms. The Pyu cities were heavily influenced by trade with India, as was the later Burmese kingdom.

The Popa Taungkalat Buddhist temple, Pagan, Myanmar, is home to a few dozen monkeys. It is also where the 37 spirits, or Nats, that are central to Burmese religious life reside. Each year thousands of pilgrims gather to make a communal trek to the shrine.

Village on stilts in Tongkil, Samales Islands, Philippines: The southern Philippines, and in particular the Sulu Archipelago that includes the Samales Islands, is home to the Badjaos. The Badjaos belong to a Muslim minority who make up 5% of the Philippine population and are concentrated mostly in the south of the country. Known as sea gypsies, they fish and harvest shellfish and pearl oysters, and they live in villages on stilts. A channel carved out of the coral reef allows them to reach the open sea. Town of Koh Pannyi, Phand Nga bay, Thailand: The southwestern coast of Thailand offers a series of beautiful bays lined with many islands. Phang-nga Bay's special formations were created after the thawing of ice 15,000 years ago. Rising waters then submerged arid calcareous mountains, leaving only their peaks visible to the eye. The village of Koh Panyi was built on piles two centuries ago by Muslim sailors coming from Malaysia. The inhabitants make a living via traditional fishing and tourism. Preserved by its configuration, the bay floor of Phang-nga Bay suffered much less from the tsunami of December 26, 2004 than nearby sites.


Due to its religious history, Bali (an Indonesian island) has an estimated 10,000 temples. Too, Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species. In this area alone over 500 reef-building coral species can be found. For comparison, this is about 7 times as many as in the entire Caribbean.

Langkawi archipelago (99 islands) Malaysia

Floating Market, South Borneo: A floating market is a market where goods are displayed and sold from boats. They are developed in places where water transportation plays an important role in everyday life.

Palawan, Philippines: an island that is virtually unnavigable, with steep cliffs and closed jungles … Lake Kayangan and Lake Barracuda seem to flow out of sheer mountain walls.

Luzon is big; the largest island in the Philippines and the 15th largest in the world. Its beaches and turquoise water encase Spanish colonial cities that are reminiscent of Caribbean Spanish strongholds, while the real highlights are its green rice terraces.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore


The Singapore Botanic Gardens is the first and only tropical botanic garden to be featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Ko Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

 Myanmar has long suffered from political strife and lived under the control of an incredibly repressive and corrupt military regime.

A small and relatively untouched country in Southeast Asia, Lao has a tragic past and still bears scars from the Vietnam War. Though there is no threat of war or bombs, Lao was a bombing target during the Vietnam war and much of the land is still a literal minefield — especially in the countryside — waiting to explode.

Talisay island, Philippines

Cebu island, Philippines


central Laos

Akha Girl, Muang Sing, North Laos

Nam Song River, South Laos

Paracel Islands (Vietnam)

At the southwest corner of Subi Reef, in the Spratly Islands, lies a complex of concrete multistory structures, including a large-domed radar station, a helipad and a dormitory.

Bangkok Thailand


Chiang Mai is a city in mountainous northern Thailand. Founded in 1296, it was capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom until 1558. Its Old City area still retains vestiges of walls and moats from its history as a cultural and religious center. It’s also home to hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples, including 14th-century Wat Phra Singh and 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, adorned with carved serpents.

The geography of Thailand’s interior is dominated by the Central Plains, the Rice Bowl of Asia, through which the Chao Phraya River feeds expansive rice fields and then enters the bustling capital of Bangkok before spilling into the Gulf of Thailand.

aerial view near Dili, capital of Timor-Leste

Atauro Island, Timor-Leste

Dili, Timor-Leste

Heeren Street, Malacca Malaysia


Australia and New Zealand

New Zealand

Sydney, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef

Australia at night

Like an iceberg, it's believed that only a third of Uluru - or Ayers Rock – in Australia lies above ground. What we can see measures 2.5 miles long and 1,141 feet tall, so Uluru is an awfully big rock. It is a site of spiritual significance for the Anangu people and is known for its fabulous colors at dawn and sunset, when the pitted rock surface turns from ocher brown to a rich burnished orange.

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. It’s also the largest Polynesian city in the world and the most multi-cultural, with over 180 different ethnic groups.


Birds of paradise outshine other birds with their beautiful plumage and spectacular courtship displays. No other bird group is so beautiful or so rich in variety of plumage and behavior as the birds of paradise. Their gorgeous colors and fantastical trailing plumes gave rise to incredible stories of their origins and habits, and the Malay phrase for the birds, manuq dewata, translates to birds of the gods. These birds are found in the rain forests and mid-montane forests of northeastern Australia, New Guinea and surrounding islands. Comfortable in the trees, birds of paradise generally stay in the upper ranges of the forest canopy. Some species do go a bit lower and may occasionally forage on the forest floor. The birds like to bathe using shallow forest ponds. Most female birds of paradise build a cup nest of vines, twigs, leaves and moss. When it comes to courtship, birds of paradise are truly amazing. Some species dance in trees; others create a stage of sorts on the forest floor by stripping away leaves to let sunlight shine down on them, spotlight fashion. Many males display in a common area known as a lek, where they compete to catch a female's interest. Displays can include charging and then posturing stiffly, hanging from limbs, or alternately freezing and spinning.

Australian wheat harvest, 2015

Queenstown New Zealand

New Zealand's Milford Sound

Tasmania Australia

Gosse's Bluff meteor crater, Northern territory, Australia: Approximately 135 million years ago a meteorite fell on Australian soil, devastating more than 8 square miles  in what is now the Northern Territory. Today a crater 3 miles in diameter and 500 feet deep remains, called Gosse's Bluff and known as Tnorala to the Aboriginal people.


Icebergs and an Adelie penguin, Adelie Land, Antarctica: Antarctica is a unique observation point for atmospheric and climatic phenomena; its ancient ice, which trapped air when it was formed, contains evidence of the Earth's climate as it has changed and developed over the past millions of years.

Coober Pedy, a town situated in south Australia, is best known as the Opal Capital of the World. But what's even more impressive is that the local population of 1,500 move their life underground to escape the daily heat. The town's old mines have been refurbished and now feature everything locals need during the day, like shops, kitchens, bookstores and even two churches.

Most of Napier New Zealand was flattened by a devastating earthquake in 1931, after which it was rebuilt in art deco style.

The west coast of New Zealand’s South Island stretches 373 miles from Kahurangi Point to Awarua Point and is often called Mother Nature’s playground. This swath of land along the Great Coast Road is filled with mountains, glaciers, national parks and rain forests.

The pink color of Lake Hillier, Australia, comes from its high salt content and the organisms living inside of it: algae and halobacteria.




Fijians building a traditional bure home (Bure is the Fijian word for a wood-and-straw hut, sometimes similar to a cabin.)

traditional village in Fiji


Kiribati, an island republic in the Central Pacific, is comprised of 33 coral atolls stretching along the equator. The crowded capital, South Tarawa, made up of small islets, retains remnants of WWII battles fought on its shores.

Nauru is the smallest state in the South Pacific and third smallest in the world. Only the Vatican City and Monaco are smaller. Nauru has roughly 10,000 residents. Nauru enjoyed the highest per-capita income in the world during the 60s and 70s due to the country’s phosphate resources. When the phosphate reserves were exhausted, the country had to find new ways to earn money. Nauru briefly became a tax haven and illegal money laundering center. Since then, Nauru has been heavily dependent on Australian aid. The capital city is Yaren.

Niue is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand. Its land area is 100 mi2 and its population, predominantly Polynesian, is around 1,190. They commonly refer to their island as "The Rock.” Niue, whose capital is the village of Alofi, is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand, and New Zealand conducts most diplomatic relations on its behalf. 90-95% of Niuean people live in New Zealand.


The Pitcairn Islands, officially Pitcairn, are a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean that form the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. The four islands – Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno – are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and have a total land area of about 18 mi2. Only Pitcairn, the second largest island measuring about 2.2 miles from east to west, is inhabited. Adamstown is the capital.

Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea

Melekeok Capital Building, Palau

aerial view of Nukunonu Tokelau

Tonga is the only monarchy among South Pacific island nations.

NASA’S image of the day: The atoll of Wake Island, located in the central Pacific Ocean


To Sua (big hole) ocean trench is on Samoa’s main island of Upolu. It's a crystal clear, turquoise-blue 100-foot hole, accessed by a very steep wooden ladder, which leads down to a small wooden platform. The water flows through a lava-tube tunnel.

Solomon Islands

Gizo, Solomon Islands

Melanesian youth from the Solomon Islands

The Cook Islands are a group of fifteen small islands lying almost solely in the south of the Pacific Ocean. They were named for Captain Cook who saw the islands in the year 1770.

Aitutaki in the Cook Islands


A 20-mile road circles the whole of Rarotonga, the main island of the Cook Islands.

In the central north of Rarotonga Island, bustling downtown Avarua, the little capital city of the Cook Islands, offers 24-hour phone service, supermarkets, two banks, restaurants/bars and the Rarotonga International airport.







Copyright © 1996 Amy S Glenn
Last updated:   02/01/2022   0001

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