Beautiful Libraries in Asia to Visit; Here is the list

Timeless Proverb To truly measure a person, go to their library and you will learn more about their personality. Apply this simple maxim to your next Asian vacation, and you'll uncover architectural insights and historical masterpieces that perhaps a shopping street or sunrise trek won't offer. In this story, we find some of Asia's most beautiful libraries, which not only draw from the region's bygone years, but also foster a culture steeped in literature, community spirit and preservation of old-world charm.

Asia's Most Beautiful Libraries

Rotunda Library & Archives, Singapore

Image credit: National Gallery Singapore

Dive deep into the art and history of Singapore and Southeast Asia Rotunda Library & Archives At the Singapore National Gallery. Formerly the Law Library of the Supreme Court of Singapore, it has evolved into a research center for the region's art history, housing more than 20,000 physical and digital items, including exhibition catalogues, rare publications, digital archives and ephemera. The space fosters partnerships with artists, institutions, artist gardens and communities to digitize rare archival materials.

Nearby places: Sri Shiva Temple (6 km), Siloso Beach (10.4 km), Universal Studios (6.9 km), Singapore Zoo (25.4 km), Gardens by the Bay (3.5 km)
Place: Supreme Court Wing, Level 3, UOB Southeast Asia Gallery, Rotunda Library & Archive, National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrews Road, Singapore 178957
times: Monday to Friday 10.30 AM to 12.30 PM, 2 PM to 5 PM. The library is closed on weekends and public holidays.
contact: +65 6690 9446

National Library of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

Photo credit: Febrina Kori/Shutterstock

Take a day off at the world's tallest national library, home to 24 floors and 4,000 titles. With a heritage building, children's service room, dedicated audio-visual section, exhibition areas and plenty of seating with books, this reading haven delights. Explore rare books, antique maps, old newspapers and classic paintings. Indonesian cuisine such as bakso and nasi campur can be enjoyed at the in-house canteen, where books are allowed.

Nearby places: Merdeka Square (1.3 km), Jakarta Cathedral (2.8 km), National Museum of Indonesia (1 km), Dufan Ancol (8.4 km)
Place: Jl. Madan Merdeka Cell. No.11, Gambir, Gambir District, Central Jakarta City, Jakarta Special Capital Region 10110, Indonesia
Time: Weekdays 8am to 4pm; 8 am to 3.30 pm on weekends
contact: +62 857-1714-7303

Starfield Library, Seoul, South Korea

Image credit: Go to Seoul

Located in the underground Starfield COEX Mall, this two-floor library is a colossal repository of over 70,000 titles across various genres. Browse extensive sections dedicated to foreign books and famous authors, explore e-books on iPads or read one of 600 magazines at your leisure. Starfield Library engages its reader community in book concerts, lectures, book talks and author meet-ups at frequent intervals.

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Nearby places: State of Gangnam Style (140 m), Seolleung and Jeongneung (1.2 km), Seoul Sky Observatory (3.8 km)
Location: 06164 513, Yongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Time: 10.30 AM to 10 PM on all days
Contact: +82-2-6002-3031

Tianjin Binhai Library, Yancheng, China

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Futuristic design meets a goldmine of literature at Tianjin's Binhai Library. The mesmerizing floor-to-ceiling terraced bookcases house 1.2 million books. The focal point of the library is an illuminated sphere that serves as an auditorium for 110 people and is nicknamed 'The Eye' due to its eye-shaped appearance. With two rooftop patios, lounge areas and reading rooms, Tianjin Binhai Library offers a unique combination of architectural innovation and literary richness.

Nearby places: TEDA Aircraft Carrier Theme Park (31.5 km), Ancient Cultural Street (50 km), Tianjin Eye (51.4 km)
Place: 2R2V+687, Fudong Middle Rd, Binhai County, Yancheng, Jiangsu, China, 224500
Timing: Tuesday to Sunday 9.30 am to 8 pm; Monday 2 PM to 8 PM
Contact: +86 515 8422 3166

Nakajima Library, Akita, Japan

Image credit: Akita International University

Inspired by Rome's ancient Colosseum, the award-winning Nakajima Library in Japan has a beautiful semi-circular shape housing 75,000 titles. Built using ancient Akita-prefectural methods, the library has a ceiling made of local cedar wood, creating a parasol-like effect. The spacious interiors filter in plenty of sunlight, creating a comfortable setting for pocketing a reading session.

Nearby Places: Akita International Dahlia Garden (5.3 km), Akita City Folk Arts Center (21 km), Akarenga-kan Museum (15 km)
Location: Okutsubakidai-193-2 Yuwatsubakikawa, 010-1211 Akita
Time: 8.30 am to 10 pm on weekdays; 10 am to 6 pm on Saturdays and public holidays; 10 AM to 10 PM on Sundays. The library is open 24 hours for its students.
Contact: +81 18-886-5907

David Sassoon Library and Reading Room, Mumbai, India

Photo credit: Snehal Jeevan Pailkar/Shutterstock

Discover the charm of the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room in Mumbai, featuring floor-to-ceiling bookcases, soft interiors and 18th-century design. With more than 30,000 books in five Indian languages ​​(English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Kannada), the collection covers a variety of genres such as history, philosophy and science. Other notable architectural design highlights include arched windows, banker lamps, antique switches, century-old teak desks and gardener's chairs.

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Nearby Places: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (150 m), Jahangir Gallery (170 m), National Gallery of Modern Art (650 m), St. Thomas Cathedral (1.7 m)
Location: 152, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Off David Sassoon, Library Marg, Opposite Jahangir Art Gallery, Kala Koda, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
Time: 8 AM to 9 PM on all days
Contact: 022 2281 5189

Bhutan, Thimphu, Bhutan National Library and Archives

Image credit: National Library of Bhutan

Blooming in a Zen environment, the National Library and Archives of Bhutan in Thimphu engages its visitors with socio-political information about the region, its history, cultural relics and Tibetan and Bhutanese texts and manuscripts. As a Vedic repository, it contains literature covering Bhutanese history, religion, medicine, art and culture.

Nearby Places: Bhutan Postal Museum (1.6 km), Folk Heritage Museum Khawazhangsa (190 m), Buddha Dortenma Statue (6.5 km), Techen Potrang Monastery (2.1 km)
Location: PO Box 185, Betso Lam, Thimbu, Bhutan
Time: Weekdays 9am to 5pm; Closed on weekends
Contact: +975 2 322 693

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Bishan Public Library, Singapore

Image credit: LOOK Architects

Designed by Look Architects, the Bishan Public Library in Singapore is decorated with stained glass panels that filter light and create a treehouse-like atmosphere. This four-story library with basement and roof terrace redefines the reading experience. Sophisticated design, the 'pods' outside the building create the illusion of a suspended alcove, setting the stage for a cozy reading nook.

Nearby Places: Singapore Flyer (9 km), Marina Bay Sands Singapore (12.1 km), National Gallery Singapore (11 km), ArtScience Museum (11.7 km)
Location: 5 Bishan Pl, #01-01, Singapore 579841
Time: Monday to Saturday 10 AM to 9 PM
Contact: 6332 3255

Taipei Public Library, Beidou Branch, Taipei, Taiwan

Photo credit: Camille San Vicente/Unsplash

For a reading session immersed in the desert, look no further than the Taipei Public Library. As Taiwan's first green library, the building features roofs with solar panels that generate electricity, a sloping floor to drain water into tanks for irrigation, and a soil-covered roof for thermal regulation. In addition, visitors can enjoy beautifully tree-lined walkways, al fresco reading areas with wooden benches, a babbling stream and the chirping of birds.

Nearby Places: Yangmingshan National Park (1.9 km), National Palace Museum (8.8 km), Bangla Longshan Temple (13.3 km), Taipei Zoo (24.7 km)
Location: No. 251, Guangming Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112
Time: Tuesday to Saturday 8.30 am to 9 pm; Sunday Monday 8.30 am to 5 pm
Contact: +886 2 2897 7682

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Raja Tun Uda Library, Shah Alam, Malaysia

Image credit: LimLim/Shutterstock

The Raja Tun Uda Library in Malaysia offers an extensive collection of books for all ages making it a wonderful escape for the whole family. Beyond books, it has a 3D theater, a multisensory 6D theater, an open-air cafeteria with refreshing views of the surrounding lake and the Blue Mosque, a virtual reality unit and an On Reporter to enjoy what's on TV. The floors have unique themes such as space, earth, ocean and humans. In addition, the children's zone inspires joy with its massive reading tree.

Nearby Places: National Botanical Garden Shah Alam (9.1 km), Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque (6.6 km), Sunway Lagoon (13.8 km), Setia City Mall (17.9 km)
Location: Jln Kelab Golf 13/6, Section 13, 40100 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
Time: Monday 10am to 7pm, Tuesday to Friday 9.30am to 7pm, Weekends (Saturday and Sunday) 9.30am to 9pm. Please note, on weekends, the children's department closes at 7pm.
Contact: +60 3-5519 7667

(Featured Image Credit: Josip Ivankovic/Unsplash)

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– Which is the largest library in Asia?
The National Library of China is the largest in Asia, containing over 33.78 million items.

– Which are the oldest libraries in Asia?
Some of the oldest libraries in Asia are the Saraswati Mahal Library (Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu), established in the 16th century, and the Tianyi Ji (Zhejiang, China), established in 1561.

– What are the best public libraries in Asia?
Among the best public libraries in Asia are Taipei Public Library in Taiwan, Anna Centenary Library in Tamil Nadu, Chenggong Public Library in Singapore and Kanazawa Umimirai Library in Kanazawa, Japan.

– Which libraries have the best architectural styles?
Taipei Public Library, Beitou Branch in Taiwan, Nakajima Library in Japan, Starfield Library in South Korea, and National Library of Indonesia are some of the libraries with great architectural styles.

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