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With over 1,000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, choosing which ones to visit can be a tricky task. To help you out, we’ve chosen six incredible sites that all offer something a little different. Whether you are seeking raw natural beauty, ancient ruins or a fascinating history, our chosen sites will offer something to suit. Question is, how many have you ticked off your travel list?
Set high in the Andes mountains at 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level, this ancient Inca Citadel lives up to expectations. Enveloped in mist and surrounded by lush greenery, the spectacular location and rich history led to Machu Picchu being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Visiting this 15-century site is a must for travellers on a tour of Peru and lucky visitors can explore three main structures: Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. Unbelievably, this iconic ancient city was not made known to the conquering Spaniards, and as such was practically forgotten until the early 20th century.
Spanning over 13,000 miles and meandering through 15 Chinese provinces, The Great Wall is a beautiful example of the grandeur of China’s history. Best visited from China’s fascinating capital Beijing, Badaling and Mutianyu are the two most visited sections of the Great Wall, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Surrounded by lush hilltop scenery, the wall boasts sections back over 2,000 years and most of the remains are from the Ming dynasty (1386 – 1644). It’s little surprise that this incredible slice of history attracts over 10 million visitors every year.
Easily accessible from India’s capital Delhi, and located in the city of Agra, this iconic palace is a firm fixture on may tourist’s travel list. Widely considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal’s romantic history only adds to the experience. The palace was built by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Mumtaz’s death was said to have left the Mughal emperor so devastated that his hair turned grey almost overnight. A must-see for visitors to India, the Taj Mahal is one of the famous sights on a Golden Triangle tour and attracts around 3 million tourists annually.
Located in an exotic jungle setting and part of a vast ancient complex, Angkor Wat temple is one of the world’s largest religious sites and dates back to the Khmer civilisation (9th – 15th century). Widely considered one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia, Angkor Wat is one of the best-preserved temples on the complex and covers a huge area of around 500 acres. The incredible architecture and sheer scale of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples puts it firmly on the tourist radar and it is a firm fixture on many Cambodia tour.
The last remaining wonder of the ancient world, these iconic tombs of the Pharaohs date back 4,500 years. With each individual pyramid stone weighing around 5-10 tonnes per piece, to this day it remains a mystery as to how the Egyptians erected the structures without any modern machinery. Inside the pyramids there are an intricate web of tunnels that go through and even under the pyramids, and lucky visitors (who don’t suffer from claustrophobia) can enter the internal tunnels at the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure. These three pyramids are Egypt’s most famous, alongside the iconic Sphinx, however tourists who want to explore further will find an array of smaller pyramids, ancient ruins and tombs in the surrounding desert.
The magical Halong Bay is one of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam and with its incredible natural beauty, is one of the country’s top attractions. A popular excursion for tourists on a tour of Vietnam, Halong Bay is a collection of up to 1600 Islands and inlets that jut out of the emerald green waters in the Gulf of Tonkin. The islands are topped with lush greenery and there are also an array of grottoes that can be explored by boats. Many visitors opt for an overnight cruise within the National Park, so they have plenty of time to soak up the beauty of the Bay. Visitors will also find a collection of charming fishing villages within the bay.