IF you had $1.5 million and two years spare to visit all 962 UNESCO World Heritage locations would you do it? Well one Chinese traveller has signed up to what could be the most expensive holiday ever, offered by the luxury site VeryFirstTo.com. And according to news.com.au, an Italian industrialist might soon be joining him.
The idea of the holiday is to fly business or first class, stay in luxury hotels and visit sites such as Petra in Jordan, Machu Picchu in Peru and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The challenge is that you have to visit more than one a day and there could be more than 962 sites by the time you do it as UNESCO is adding sites to the list all the time (see our recent article on Mt Fuji in Japan)!
Of the current 962 locations, 177 are in Asia. While most people would be able to pick out Angkor Wat from that list without any trouble, they might be surprised by what else is inscribed. We’ve highlighted some below that you will know and others that might be new to you.
Angkor, Cambodia (UNESCO entry)
Well known and popular, the Angkor Archaeological Park contains numerous temples, monuments and remains from the Khmer Empire (9th – 15th century). Angkor Wat is the most famous of these, so much so that most travellers refer to the whole place as Angkor Wat when it actually is just one temple. The impressive architecture, incredible reservoirs, ancient temples, artistic handiwork and crumbling ruins are very popular with tourists. It’s a must stop on the UNESCO tour of Asia.
The other UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia is the Temple of Preah Vihear.
Mountain Railways of India (UNESCO entry)
Most people would rightly guess that the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri from Agra, and Humayun’s Tomb and the Qutb Minar of Delhi would be in this list. But they may know little of India’s historic railways. The three railways highlighted by UNESCO include the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (Darjeeling), the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (Tamil Nadu) and the Kalka Shimla Railway (Himachal Pradesh). While all quite short in length, the development of these railways in the late 19th Century was thanks to developments in technology and all were to have a profound impact on their part of the world. They are also in startlingly scenic locations.
India has numerous other UNESCO world heritage sites. These include the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, Nanda Devi and the Valley of Flowers National Parks and the Elephanta Caves.
Komodo National Park, Indonesia (UNESCO entry)
These volcanic islands in Indonesia are home to thousands of aggressive lizards known as Komodo dragons. And as some people have found, interaction with one of the three metre long lizards can be perilous. Open grass-woodland savannah covers most of the park while offshore are rich reef ecosystems with high species diversity.
Other Indonesian UNESCO sites include Borobodur Temple Compounds, Ujung Kulon National Park and Prambanan Temple Compounds.
Mount Fuji, Japan
While not inscribed by UNESCO yet, the famed Mount Fuji could be an addition to the list by the time the world’s most expensive holiday gets off and running. Formal approval could be as early as June so we’re taking a gamble and including it here. The 3776 metre high mountain was a volcano that erupted 300 years ago. It can be seen from Tokyo on a clear day. In the vicinity of the mountain are lakes, parks, temples and shrines. It remains an important cultural and religious landscape. Every year thousands climb its high peaks while others ski down its slopes.
Other Japanese UNESCO sites include Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
Gunung Mulu National Park, Malaysia (UNESCO entry)
You’ve probably heard of Mt Kinabalu, Melaka and Georgetown (all inscribed places), but the incredible Gunung Mulu National Park is worthy of mention from the list of Malaysian UNESCO sites. Located in Borneo in the state of Sarawak, the karst landscape here is incredible. Spectacular limestone pinnacles, cave passages and chambers, rainforest, rivers and canyons create an incredible landscape that is also home to various plant and animal species such as cave swiftlets and bats.
Other Malaysian UNESCO sites include Melaka, Georgetown, Kinabalu and the Lenggong Valley.