Asia dominates popular UNESCO heritage site list

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the main temple in the historical region of Angkor. Source: Unsplash/Cristian Moscoso.

ASIA’S significant historical and cultural landmarks Angkor Wat, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China dominate the list of the best UNESCO world heritage sites among tourists. 

They occupy the top three spots when it comes to the TripAdvisor’s list of UNESCO cultural and natural heritage sites.

First overall was the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia – one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Angkor Wat’s immense intricate detail includes more than 300 individually carved Celestial nymphs, as well as carvings that depict stories and myths for by-gone times. “The best views are at dawn or dusk when the crowds have gone, and the lighting reveals its true majesty,” TripAdvisor said.

In second was the Taj Mahal in India. In 1632 the reigning Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan, commissioned the majestic white marble mausoleum in Agra to commemorate his late wife after she died giving birth to their 14th child.

The Taj Mahal is the centerpiece of the 42-acre complex, which includes a guest house and mosque. The recognized landmark is estimated to have cost approximately 52.8 billion rupees in today’s money, the equivalent of US$827 million.

“You can find hundreds of tours and experiences to visit this mesmerizing site, from a private tour with a guide and visit at sunset or sunrise, to a visit including a home cooked meal at a local home in Agra,” TripAdvisor said.

The Great Wall of China, constructed by Xu Da of Northern Qi Dynasty in 1368, also made it into the top three. The wall stretches for 21,196 kilometers and can be seen from space. The wall was originally built to protect the silk road trade and ward off invasions; it is now one of the world’s leading tourist attractions with more than 80,000 visitors walking parts of the wall every day.

Unless you are a local or a seasoned Great Wall walker, the best way to explore the extraordinary structure in its full glory is by embarking on a hiking tour. China Highlights offer Essence of Beijing tours which include exploring the inner-city hutongs and hiking up the wall. They also offer bespoke tours so you can choose exactly what you want to see.

Peru’s Machu Picchu was awarded the fourth spot on the list. The 15thcentury Inca settlement stands 2,430 meters above sea level and travelers are recommended to book guided hike tours up to the summit to gain the fullest experience.

You may spot a few llamas and alpacas along the way as these furry friends are known for living at high altitudes as well as being adorable.

TripAdvisor’s top 10 UNESCO cultural and natural heritage sites:

1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

2. Taj Mahal, India

3. The Great Wall of China

4. Machu Picchu, Peru

5. Iguazu National Park, Brazil/Argentina

6. Sassi di Matera, Italy

7. Auschwitz Birkenau, Poland

8. Old City of Jerusalem, Israel

9. Historic areas of Istanbul, Turkey

10. Historic Krakow, Poland