There are a staggering 179 UNESCO World Heritage sites peppered across Asia and the Pacific, with China topping the list for the most number of sites. Naturally, it’s near impossible to visit all UNESCO sites across Asia. So, we’ve whittled it down to 10 that you should definitely put on your travel bucket list.

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Stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia

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1) Borobudur – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Why its a Must-See: Built in the 8th and 9th century AD, Borobudur was a centre of Buddhist worship until it was abandoned sometime between the 10th and 15th centuries.

Made from two million block stones, this relic in Yogyakarta stands on a solid 118 metre x 118 metre base, with terraces leading to intricately carved gateways, stupas and shrines. Having been rediscovered in the 19th century, Borobudur now draws more tourists than pilgrims.

Borobudur was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991.

Borobudur, Yogyakarta CC 2.0 / alex hanoko

Best Time to Go
When To Go:  The dry season, from July to September.
Tickets
Admission cost (US$): Foreigners pay $20 (adult) and $10 (child) to visit the main Borobudur complex.
Where to Stay
Where To Stay: Five-star luxury can be found at the Royal Ambarrukmo Yogyakarta, one of the finest properties in the city.

Find hotels near Borobudur, Yogyakarta

Let’s Go!
How To Get There:  AirAsia is the sole carrier with flights to Yogyakarta.  It takes 60 to 90 minutes to reach Borobudur by car from Yogyakarta depending on traffic conditions. Travel agents in Yogyakarta sell door-to-door minibus tour packages for around US$6.

 

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2) Komodo National Park – East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Why Its a Must-See: Gigantic monitor lizards two to three metres long inhabit Komodo National Park spread over three volcanic islands – Komodo, Rinca and Padar. There are close to 6000 Komodo Dragons residing in this nature reserve, as well as other indigenous fauna, including the endangered Timor Deer. Komodo dragons are the world’s largest living lizards, unique to the area and considered a species vulnerable to extinction.

Komodo National Park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and biosphere reserve in 1991.

Komodo National Park, Indonesia CC 2.0 / Jon Chia

Best Time to Go

When To Go: The dry season from April to October, to avoid monsoon rains.

Tickets
Admission cost (US$): Foreigners pay $2 to enter the reserve and a further $4 in tax. They are also charged $4 to take pictures and $11 for videos.
Where to Stay
Where To Stay: There are several budget and mid-tier establishments at Labuan Bojo, the nearest base to Komodo National Park.

Find hotels near Himeji Castle

Let’s Go!
How To Get There: Fly to Bali first. A flight from Denpasar will take you to Labuan Bajo Airport, which is a short taxi ride to the pier where you can take boat trips to Komodo Island.

 

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3) Angkor Wat – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Why Its a Must-See: Angkor Wat is a massive ancient architecture. It is one of the last vestiges of the Khmer kingdom, who ruled a large swath of Indochina from the 7th to the 12th century. During its Golden Age, Angkor Wat reigned as the largest city in the world, with an estimated one million inhabitants.

Angkor Wat, UNESCO World Heritage Site  CC by 2.0 / Scott Oves

Best Time to Go

When To Go: The best time to visit Angkor Wat is in December, when the weather in Cambodia is not unbearably hot

Tickets
 Admission (US$): Passes are sold in one-day ($20), three-day ($40) and seven-day ($60) blocks.
Where to Stay

Where To Stay in Angkor Wat: Unwind in colonial French splendour at Raffles D’Grand Angkor  or if you prefer something more family-friendly, try the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa.

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Let’s Go!

How To Get There: Jetstar and SilkAir offer direct flights to Siam Reap (REP), the gateway to Angkor Wat. Hire a private van or car and reach Angkor Wat in 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your pick-up point in the city.

Read More: Travel Guide

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4) Vigan – Luzon, Philippines

Why Its a Must-See: Founded in 1572, Vigan was once an epicentre of trade for Spanish colonialists. It is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a European trading post and its main highlight is its historical cobbled streets laid out in a chequerboard fashion.

Here, Hispanic influences are tempered by strong Chinese, Ilocano and Filipino architectural touches to create a truly unique living museum. Other prominent sights include the old Bantay Church and its bell tower and the Pagburnayan (stone jar-making factories).

Luzon CC 2.0 / fitri agung

 

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5) Halong Bay – Hanoi, Vietnam

Why Its a Must-See: World Heritage site Halong Bay is peppered with majestic limestone pillars and tiny towering forest-tipped islets in the middle of the emerald-blue waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.  A vision of ethereal beauty shaped by the forces of nature over thousands of years, its caves, pillars and arches have been virtually untouched and most of its islands remain uninhabited. Halong Bay, Vietnam

Best Time to Go
When To Go:  November – the dry season – with its characteristic sunny days, coupled with the lack of tourist hordes.

Where to Stay
Where To Stay: Junk cruise prices vary considerably based on the class of vessel. For instance, the luxurious Bhaya Cruises costs about US$350 to $700 a night compared to the basic boats favoured by budget travellers with rates of US$50 to $200 a night. 

Find Halong Bay Hotels

Let’s Go!
How To Get There: Hanoi has the closest international airport to Halong Bay. Most quality cruises will arrange for private car or mini-bus transfers (check for extra costs) between Hanoi and Halong Bay – a journey that takes around three hours.
Read More: Travel Guide

Stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China

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6) The Forbidden City (Imperial Palace) – Beijing, China

Why Its a Must-See: The Forbidden City was the seat of imperial power in China for 500 years, spanning the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Enclosed by a 52-metre moat in the centre of Beijing, the Forbidden City houses China’s biggest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings, and it is the largest palace complex in the world.

Forbidden City, Beijing

Best Time to Go
When To Go: May and June, as summer approaches and spring draws to a close.
Tickets
Admission (US$): Approximately $6-$10 depending on time of year.
Where to Stay
Where To Stay: A mere eight-minute walk to the Forbidden City is the four-star Hotel Kapok Beijing.

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Let’s Go!
How To Get There: Singapore Airlines and Air China operate direct flights to Beijing (PEK).
Read More: Travel Guide

 

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7) The Great Wall – Beijing, China

Why Its a Must-See: China’s greatest engineering feat, The Great Wall, began in the 3rd century on the orders of the first emperor of China, Qin Shihuang, who wanted to erect a defensive wall to keep Mongolian barbarians out.

Subsequent generations added to the wall, and today it runs from Liaoning province to Xinjiang, covering over 20,000 kilometres. The most intact ramparts are perched on the surrounding hills of Beijing municipality within the Mutianyu segment.

Great Wall of China in winter CC 2.0 / Max Talbot-Minkin

Best Time to Go
When To Go: May and June
Tickets
Admission (US$): $7 for adults and $4 for children.
Where to Stay
Where To Stay: Most visitors to The Mutianyu Great Wall stay in Beijing, which has a vast selection of hotels.

Find Beijing Hotels

Let’s Go!
How To Get There: Singapore Airlines and Air China operate direct flights to Beijing (PEK). For quick, fuss-free access to the attraction, why not join a full-day tour?
Read More: Travel Guide

 

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8) Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor – Xi-An, China

Why Its a Must-See: Qin Shihuang’s famous terracotta warriors are the star attraction at his mausoleum. Built in the 3rd century, it contains nearly 200 pits, with thousands of warriors who were buried to accompany China’s first emperor into the afterlife. The tomb complex, which contains more than 600 exhibits, showcases terracotta horses as well as bronze chariots and weapons. Terracotta Army, China

Best Time to Go
When To Go: May and June, when summer begins and rain is minimal.
Tickets
Admission (US$): $25 including the Terracotta Army Museum and the Mausoleum. Children under 1.2m tall enter free.
Where to Stay
Where To Stay: Angsana Xi’An Lintong offers fine facilities and is a mere 2.5km from the Huaqing Hot Springs and 15km from the Terracotta Army.

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Let’s Go!
How To Get There:  Xiamen Airlines and Tigerair operate flights to Xi’An (XIY), though Tigerair is the only one with a direct connection. The mausoleum lies 30km outside of Xi’An in the Lintong District. To get there more easily, join a Xi’an tour.
Read More: Travel Guide

 

UNESCO World Heritage Site in India

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9) Taj Mahal – Agra, India

Why It’s a Must-See: Shah Jahan’s living testament to his beloved third wife, the Taj Mahal, is undoubtedly India’s most romantic emblem. Rudyard Kipling once described it as “the embodiment of all things pure”.

This perfectly symmetrical white marble cenotaph, with its four minarets flanking the courtyard and central dome, is set at one end of an ornamental garden, with the sky as its backdrop.Taj-Mahal-Agra

Best Time to Go
When To Go: Between late October, after the monsoons subside, and mid-March, before the searing heat returns.
Tickets
Admission (US$): Foreign visitors pay $11 regardless of age.
Where to Stay
Where To Stay: Basic, but clean and affordable lodgings await at Hotel Deviram Palace, which is just 4.5km away from Taj Mahal. For something more befitting of royalty, stay at the Taj Palace Hotel in a quieter part of New Delhi.

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Let’s Go!
How To Get There:  Singapore Airlines, Air India and Jet Airways operate direct flights to New Delhi (DEL), the main base from which to visit the Taj Mahal. Agra can be reached from New Delhi by domestic flights, by train from New Delhi Railway Station, or by car via the Taj Express Highway.
Read More: Travel Guide

UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan

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10) Himeji Castle – Himeji, Japan

Why Its a Must-See: Himeji-Jo, also known as White Heron Castle, is widely recognised as the prettiest castle in Japan. Having recently reopened after a five-year restoration hiatus, Himeji-Jo is an exquisite original example of early 17th-century Japanese feudal architecture. A polished white plaster exterior conceals its wooden frame and the fortification is encircled by moats and walls punctuated with openings for firing guns and shooting arrows.

Himeji Castle, JapanCC 2.0 / Edward Dalmulder

Best Time to Go
When To Go: The cherry blossom season from Mid-March to early April.
Tickets
Admission cost (US$): Adults pay $5 while children aged five to 14 pay $1
Where to Stay
Where To Stay: For a touch of tradition, stay at the Tocen Goshoboh in Kobe, a luxury ryokan.

Find hotels near Himeji Castle

Let’s Go!
How To Get There:  Kobe is the nearest gateway to Himeji. ANA operates flights to Kobe (UKB) via Tokyo. Take a JR Shinkansen bullet train from Shin Kobe Station (16-minute ride) or a limited express train from the JR Sannomiya Station (42-minute ride) and get off at Himeji Station.

 

With so many historical sites in Asia, experiencing UNESCO listed world heritage sites is only a short trip away. Visit Expedia.com.my to plan weekend getaways and travel through time.

 

How many UNESCO World Heritage sites have you been to?