UNESCO World Heritage Sites around Southeast Asia worth a visit
Southeast Asia is home to a total of 37 locations classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites -- here are sites from each country definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in the region.
Southeast Asia has long enthralled visitors from all over the globe with its culturally and historically rich landscapes. From the 10 countries, UNESCO has identified a total of 37 World Heritage sites, ranging from ancient city ruins to magnificent underwater reef parks, each unique to its respective home country.
Here are some of the sites you definitely should not miss from each country if you happen to be in the region.
Cambodia: Angkor Wat
Cambodia is home to 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of them being the magnificent Angkor Wat, a temple ground spanning 5.5km squared built as far back as the 12th century. It served as the capital of the Khmer empire, the King Suryavarman II's state temple, and eventually his mausoleum. It is, as of today, the largest religious monument in the world, not to mention the most well-preserved, and is the symbol of Cambodia, appearing on their national flag.
Where to stay when visiting: Park Hyatt Siem Reap
Indonesia: Komodo National Park
Indonesia is the proud owner of 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites but for a stray away from the temples and rice plains abundantly found in Southeast Asia, do give its Komodo National Park a visit. The park located in the Lesser Sunda Islands was founded in 1980 to protect the world's largest lizards, the Komodo dragons. Listed as a World heritage Site in 1991, the park is also on the list of the New7Wonders of Nature Indonesia.
Where to stay when visiting: The Jayakarta Suites Komodo-Flores
Laos: Vat Phou Ancient Settlements
A visit to Vietnam would not be complete without a visit to the Vat Phou Ancient Settlements that also used to serve as a Khmer temple complex. The temple is unique in that it was built in a manner where the elements leading to the shrine of Lord Shiva constantly bathes the stone representation of the lord (the linga) with water from a mountain spring. Located on the West bank of the Mekong river, it is today the largest archeological site of Laos.
Where to stay when visiting: Vat Phou Cruises Floating Hotel
Malaysia: Straits Settlements of Malacca and Penang
The Straits Settlements of Malaysia refer to a group of British territories founded back in 1826 by the British East India Company. They were founded following the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 that divided the Malay Archipelago into British zones in the North and a Dutch Zone in the South. Resultantly, the cities today maintain a lot of the respective British and Dutch influences that can be observed in their respective architecture, food, culture, language and people.
Myanmar: Pyu Ancient Cities
The ancient city-states of Pyu is Myanmar's first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its existence which dates back to possibly the 2nd century BCE is said to have been heavily influenced by trade with India, importing Buddhism as well as other cultures, architectural and political concepts which continue to be seen in today's modern society of Myanmar. Within the pagodas, modern irrigation structures have been found, an impressive architecture progress of the era.
Where to stay when visiting: Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel
Philippines: Historic Town of Vigan
The capital of Ilocos Sur in the Philippines, Vigan is one of the few Hispanic town left in the country with structures that remain intact down to the cobblestone streets. It used to be an island, but due to silting of the Mestizo River, Vigan is now no longer separated from the mainland. The city is unique to the Philippines because it is one of many extensive surviving Phillipine historic cities with history that dates back to the 16th century.
Where to stay when visiting: Hotel Luna Museum Hotel
Singapore: Singapore Botanic Gardens
Founded in 1822, the gardens played a historic role in fostering agricultural development in Singapore and the region through collecting, growing, experimenting and distributing potentially useful plants. With more than 150 years of history spread across its 74 hectares, the Botanic Gardens holds a unique and significant place in the history of the country for being the only tropical garden on the list of UNESCO's sites.
Where to stay when visiting: St Regis Singapore
Thailand: Ayutthaya Historical Park
Founded in the 1300's, the park served as the capital of Thailand until its destruction by the Burmese army in the 1700's. It has seen the rule of 35 kings prior to its destruction and after being declared a World Heritage Site in 1991, has undergone countless renovations for preservation purposes.
Where to stay when visiting: Woraburi Ayothaya Convention Resort
Vietnam: Imperial Citadel of Thang Long
The citadel used to be the royal quarters of the Vietnam royal family during the Ly Dynasty, with structure heavily reminiscent of of the Hanoi Citadel of today. Most of the structures are in ruins now, with a big portion yet to be excavated. Archeological remains that have been excavated are now on display at the National Museum of Vietnam.
Where to stay when visiting: Hilton Hanoi Opera
(Photos: Getty Images)
New UNESCO World Heritage Sites announced: Japan and Turkey