The 10 best places to experience culture in Asia

MUSEUM OF THE TERRACOTTA ARMY, CHINA

In 1974, farmers unearthed the first fragment of what would become one of the 20th century's most extraordinary finds: an entire army of terracotta warriors and steeds entombed with First Emperor Qin for more than 2000 years. See the life-like army at the museum built around the excavation site near Xian in central China. See bmy.com.cn.

MORNING ALMS, LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

World Heritage-listed Luang Prabang, fronting the Mekong River in Laos, is one of Asia's most serene towns. Rise at dawn to see hundreds of saffron-swathed monks filing through the streets receiving alms from the faithful. See tourismlaos.org.

SAPPORO SNOW FESTIVAL, JAPAN

In 1950, Sapporo high school students made six snow sculptures – and more than 50,000 people flocked to admire them. Today, the annual snow festival (February 1-12, 2017), with its large-scale, illuminated snow and ice sculptures, attracts millions to the city in northerly Hokkaido. See snowfes.com/english.

ART BASEL, HONG KONG

Tune in to what's hot in the world of Asian art at the international art fair (Art Basel's annual shows take place in Hong Kong, Basel and Miami). At this year's edition in Hong Kong, half the participating galleries had exhibitions spaces in the Asia Pacific region. Exhibitors are already lining up for 2017's extravaganza (March 23-25). See artbasel.com/hong-kong.

CHINGAY PARADE, SINGAPORE

In 1972 when Singapore banned firecrackers – a Chinese New Year custom to repel evil spirits - a parade was suggested as an alternative. Today the Chingay Parade, with its dancing dragons, stilt-walkers and razzle-dazzle floats, is Asia's largest street performance and float parade (February 10-11, 2017). See chingay.org.sg.

WORLD'S LARGEST BOOK, MYANMAR

The world's largest book, in Mandalay in central Myanmar, comprises 729 upright stone tablets painstakingly chiselled with Buddhist scriptures. Each "page" is housed within its own glittering white shrine at Kuthodaw pagoda. See unesco.org.

NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM'S SOUTHERN BRANCH, TAIWAN

After 15 years in the making, a branch of Taipei's renowned National Palace Museum has opened near Chiayi, 260 kilometres south-west of the capital. The Southern Branch features calligraphy-inspired architecture and a pan-Asian focus. See south.npm.gov.tw.

RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL, SARAWAK, MALAYSIAN BORNEO

Modelled on Canadian folk music festivals, the annual Rainforest World Music Festival celebrates indigenous music. Three days (July 14-16, 2017) of workshops and concerts take place in and around traditional longhouses in a cultural village near Kuching. See rwmf.net.

SONGKRAN FESTIVAL, THAILAND

Dress appropriately – and bring a sense of humour – for what's billed as the world's largest water fight. Songkran (April 13-15) celebrates the Thai New Year; expect to get soaked with buckets of water or caught in the crossfire of water-pistol wars. See tourismthailand.org.

MOCA YINCHUAN, CHINA

The nearby Yellow River's shifting layers of sedimentation inspired the futuristic facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan in north-western China. Since its 2015 opening the museum has made headlines, uninviting outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei from its biennale (running until December 18). See moca-yinchuan.com.

The story The 10 best places to experience culture in Asia first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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