The UNESCO classics have been done a million times. If you’re looking to really discover the undiscovered World Heritage Sites from around the world, consider trekking a little further afield to India, Philippines and as far as Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
Banaue Rice Terraces
These funny ridges in the hillsides are more than 2,000 years old. They were carved into the sides of the Ifugao Mountains in the Philippines to cultivate rice by the ancestors of the country’s indigenous people. Ask any Filipino and they’ll tell you these rice terraces are the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” It is thought that they were dug largely by hand… that’s a total of 4,000 square miles! The terraces are fed by water from the nearby rain forests and are certainly a sight to behold.
While you’re in the Philippines, why not dine at the famous waterfall restaurant?
India is home to dozens of ancient sites but if you’re after something truly spectacular, head to Maharashtra, to the Ajanta Caves. The stone temple is carved out of rock and dates back to the second century BC. At one point around AD 480 the caves were left abandoned and the jungle grew in around them until 1819 when they were discovered by a British officer, Captain Smith. He inscribed his name and the date into one of the walls which can still be seen today.
This ancient city in Burma has a number of names, the City of the Enemy Crusher, the Parched Land, the Land of Copper… It was once the capital of several of Burma’s ancient kingdoms and today is an incredible place to visit if you’re spending your holidays in Myanmar. This site isn’t actually on the UNESCO World Heritage sight, they say because modern materials have been used to restore some of the stupas and temples which don’t resemble the original constructions. Shame really, this place is incredible.
You’ll find this next Heritage site in Sri Lanka. Lion’s Rock is an ancient palace and fortress in the very middle of the Matale District surrounded by gardens and a stunning landscape. Sigiriya is well known for its ancient frescoes, similar to the ones that can also be found at India’s Ajanta Caves. If you only visit one of Sri Lanka’s seven World Heritage sites, make it this one!
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