Lesser known UNESCO heritage sites in Asia

For the travelling culture and history enthusiast, visiting UNESCO Heritage Sites is a must, from ancient cities to temples, tombs to monuments, essentially anywhere that holds some form of cultural or physical evidence.

Places like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Taj Mahal in India, and the Great Wall of China are crowd favourites in Asia but there is more than meets the historical eye if you look hard enough.

Here are several lesser-known UNESCO heritage sites that you need to check out:

Preah Vihear, Cambodia


Predating Angkor Wat by 100 years, Preah Vihear is a Khmer temple located on the top of a hill in the Dangrek Mountains, 140 kilometres from Siem Reap. Dedicated to the god Shiva, this temple is different as it is constructed on a North-South axis, unlike the usual plan where the main gate faces the East.

Sangiran Early Man Site, Indonesia


Dubbed one of the most important sites for studying human fossils and human evolution, Sangiran Early Man Site is an excavation site located in Java. In total, almost half of the world’s hominid fossils have been found on the 52-kilometre square area. Also home to a museum, visitors can learn more about the pre-historic Homo Erectus as well as that of animal fossils.

Vigan Town, The Philippines


Located in Luzon, Vigan is a Spanish colonial town that was established in the 16th century. One of the few Hispanic towns with structures remained intact, it is well known for cobblestone footpaths and a fusion of Philippine, Oriental and European architecture. Once the capital of the Spanish conqueror Juan de Salcedo’s Ilocos, Vigan was part of the trade that linked Asia to Europe and the New World.

My Son Sanctuary, Vietnam


Constructed between the 4th and 14th century, My Son is a set of ruins that were left from the ancient Cham Empire before the Vietnamese took over in the 19th century. Located 40 km from Hoi An city, these temples are dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, known under a variety of local names such as ‘Bhadresvara.’

Ellora Caves, India


Locally known as Verul Leni, the Ellora Caves is a 2-km stretch of temples and one of the largest monastic-temple complexes in the world cut from rock and built between the 6th to 11th century in the western state of Maharashtra. This group of 34 temples are dedicated to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism which are main religions in India.

Wudang Mountains, China


A small mountain range located in the northwest part of Hubei, the Wudang Mountains are home to a complex of Taoist temples and monasteries dedicated to the god Xuan Wu. Known as the Taoist counterpart of the Shaolin Monastery, this area is known for the practice of Tai Chi and Taoism. Built during the Ming Dynasty between the 14th and 17th century, this complex represents the highest standards of Chinese architecture and arts in over 1000 years.


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