Visit 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia

“A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance”.


Komodo National Park (off Sumbawa Island – Indonesia)

Komodo National Park is a listed UNESCO Heritage Site and is in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago and located in-between (Flores and Sumbawa) – these volcanic islands are home to approx 6000 giant lizards. Komodo National Park, covers three major islands, namely Komodo, Rinca, and Padar. The Komodo lizards that live on this island are found nowhere else on earth. The area is popular for outdoor activities such as hiking, diving, snorkeling, and trekking. There is a famous pink beach or Pantai Merah on Komodo Island you can also visit. It is one of the 7 pink beaches on the planet – the sand gets its color from fragments of red coral mixed with the white sand. The sea surrounding the island is rich in marine life and the island has many other species living there such as the orange-footed scrub fowl, an endemic rat, and the Timor deer. The rich coral reefs of Komodo have various species, such as sea turtles, whales, and dolphins.

Angkor (Siem Reap – Cambodia)

Angkor is one of the most visited places in Cambodia, and one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. The park has over 300 temples and stretches some 400 km2, it has a thickly forested area and most of the temples are from the Khmer Empire which was between (9th to the 15th century). Angkor is located in Siem Reap, this site has many sculptures, art, and buildings showing the various cultural, religious, architectural elements from that era. The park is inhabited with many villages, the people who live in this area are mainly associated with the agricultural industry. Angkor is one of the largest archaeological sites in operation in the world. Angkor Wat, built during the early years of the 12th century by Suryavaram II, honors the Hindu god Vishnu and is a symbolic representation of Hindu cosmology. You will need a few days to fully explore this site.

Borobudur Temple (Java – Indonesia)

Surrounded by volcanoes, rice fields, and limestone cliffs – Borobudur temple is the largest Buddhist temple on earth, online sources state it is built from approx two million lave rocks. UNESCO helped in restoration work tot he site in 1970. The temple was discovered in 1815 and it was buried under volcanic ash. The site dates back tot he 8th and 9th century and it is located in Central Java in the Kedu Valley – (Indonesia).  Today the site is still used as a Buddhist pilgrimage site.

Pyu Ancient Cities (Sagaing Region – Burma) – Myanmar

The Pyu are over 1000 years old and existed around 200 BC and 900 AD, located in Myanmar. The three cities are archaeological sites today. The remains you can see today are (buried grounds, palaces, water irrigation systems, and many other old buildings). This site is of important historical significance as it provides us with an insight into how Buddhism started in South East Asia and the various cultural changes that occurred in that era. it is believed that these cities were formed  Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu people.

To date, archaeological surveys have unearthed 12 walled cities, including five large ones and several smaller non-fortified settlements. Of these cities, the three that are relatively more well-known are Halin (Hanlin), Beikthano, and Sri Ksetra.  These cities were inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014 and were the first sites in Myanmar/Burma to be added on that list.

These earliest Buddhist sites played a vital role in the process of sharing the literary, architectural, and ritual traditions of Pali-based Buddhism to other societies in the region where they are still practiced now.

Sukhothai and Historic Towns (Sukhothai Province – Thailand)

Sukhothai was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries. It has a number of stunning monuments, illustrating the beginnings of Thai architecture. Sukhothai is located in the northern part of Thailand. Sukhothai was the first capital of Thailand (Siam) in the 13th & 15th centuries. There were two important towns in the Sukhothai Kingdom,  Si Satchanalai to the North of the capital, and Kamphaeng Phet to the South played an important role in the empire. Sukhothai Historical Park covers an area of about 70 sq km and contains over 190 historical ruins. This area is a great place to base for a few days to be able to see the full site architectural wonders.

Historic City of Ayutthaya – Thailand

Founded c. 1350, Ayutthaya became the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. It was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century. Its remains, characterized by the prang and its enormous monasteries, will give you idea of its past grandeur. When Bangkok became the new kingdom’s capital – it was built to resemble Ayutthaya. Many of the architects and craftsmen that built Ayutthaya were brought to Bangkok to assist in building works. Ayutthaya Historical Park comprises four temples – Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana – the Royal Palace, and Wiharn Phra Mongkol Bophit. Outside of the historical park, the sites are spread along the west, south, and eastern parts of the city. you can also visit Chao Sam Phraya to see may archaeological finds from the historical site.

Luang PrabangLaos

Luang Prabang means “city of the Golden Buddha Phra Bang”, an 83cm statue of which is believed to be the source of the city’s protection since the 14th century.

Luang Prabang is located in northern Laos in a mountainous region. Luang Prabang is a fabulous place to visit to see it’s amazing architecture and it remains a well-preserved town. The majority of its buildings are wooden following ancient traditions and designs and you will find Manny temples and pagodas here. The natural landscapes here are breathtaking and it is such an interesting place to see and explore. The ancient city in the north of the country is a delightful mix of exquisite temples and French colonial buildings – and a great place for cafes, restaurants, bars and shops.

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