5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Asia to Visit
Updated: Jul 6, 2022
If you want to witness grandeur that’s worth every second of your time, then make a visit to some UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Their selection of landmarks is made up of natural and architectural wonders that will make every trip worth it.
If you're planning a trip to Asia, then you're in luck. The continent is home to more than 200 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of which are well-known. From natural parks to ancient cities, Asia has a wide selection of places that you would want to put on your bucket list. So take the best trip of your lifetime by heading over to one of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Asia!
Borobudur Temple in Indonesia
The Borobudur Temple has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991. This structure is a Mahayana Buddhist temple that dates back to the Sailendra Dynasty (c. 650-1025 CE). Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and it is situated between two volcanoes and two rivers. There is a lot of mystery that surrounds this Buddhist temple, starting with its name. Though there is some debate, it is said that the name Borobudur comes from the Sanskrit phrase Vihara Buddha Urh. Its literal translation is 'Buddhist Monastery on the Hill'. There's also some mystery as to the motivation behind its construction, though historians are certain of its significance. More specifically, the edifice means a lot to Buddhists who accomplished pilgrimages and observed rituals in the temple until it was abandoned in 1400 CE. This gorgeous structure contains over 500 figures of Buddha, which depict the spiritual leader's teachings, experiences, and wisdom. It is also made up of three monuments that symbolize a person's path towards achieving Nirvana. If you want to visit this temple, then try to witness its beauty during sunrise or sunset.
Ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau
The ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau are remnants of one of the largest Catholic churches of its time. Poker.org lists the ruins as one of the most recognizable spots in Macau — and for good reason. This site is located at the top of a small hill, which has 68 stone steps that will lead you towards the towering formation. Originally built in the 17th century, this site was a complex that housed Roman Catholic institutions, such as the St. Paul’s College and the Church of St. Paul. These structures were originally made of wood, but that made them vulnerable to many dangers. Unfortunately, most of the buildings got destroyed in a fire when a typhoon occurred in 1835. The southern stone facade, which was hand-carved by Japanese and local craftsmen, was the only one that remained. When the ruins were excavated by the Instituto Cultural de Macao, numerous artifacts and relics were discovered. In fact, the relic of Father Alessandro Valignano, the founder of the Jesuit college in Macau, was also found at the site. The government made efforts to restore the ruins and to cover the facade with concrete and steel. In 2005, UNESCO recognized this historical wonder as a World Heritage Site.
Taj Mahal in India
The Taj Mahal is one of the most popular cultural sites in the world. This structure, which is named 'Crown of the Palace', is a mausoleum commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is recognized as the best archetype of Mughal architecture and was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1983. The mausoleum itself is made out of marble. The Taj Mahal’s exterior was constructed with materials that allow the marble to reflect the sky. Thus, the exterior reflects different hues, depending on the color of the sky. Inside, the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are laid next to each other, as a sign of their eternal love. The place is also decorated with an ornate outdoor garden, with ornamental trees and extensive fountains. To make the most out of your experience, visit from March to June. Avoid winter, especially since the fogs can obstruct the views.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China
The Zhangjiajie Park was hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. This National Park is great for adventurous travelers because it features several natural attractions that are best appreciated at the top of the rock formations. These have a total of 243 peaks as a result of physical erosion caused by the plants as well as the expansion of ice during winter. Our feature on the World’s Best Hikes recognizes the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park as one of the best hiking destinations, especially during the spring when you can witness a sea of clouds by the mountain tops. The most scenic spot in this national park, the Yuanjiajie, is also the most crowded. It contains the Avatar Hallelujah Mountains, which are quartz-sandstone pillars, that brought inspiration to the film direction and production designer of the movie Avatar. They can be viewed at the top of a steep mountain that stands next to several mountain pillars. You can reach the top by hiking through the steep trails or you can try alighting the Bailong Elevator, which will ascend 362 meters and bring you to the top of the Wulingyuan area.
Mount Fuji in Japan
Mount Fuji is an active volcano that stands 3776 meters tall. It serves as a frequent subject of Japanese art especially after 1600. In 2013, this beloved natural attraction was declared a World Heritage Site.
Mount Fuji has always been sacred to the Japanese people. It is considered as one of the Three Holy Mountains in Japan, along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku. National Geographic highlighted that Mount Fuji served as a sacred shrine for Shinto practitioners since the 7th century.
There are several ways to view this majestic volcano. It’s best to visit Mount Fuji during colder seasons for better visibility. You can participate in winter sports in one of the snow resorts located at its base. Adventurous travelers can also hike up during July and August.
If you are looking for more incredible destinations, make sure to download our free 100 bucket list destinations and start checking them off!
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