As of July, The World Heritage Committee has produced 29 new additions to its listing, several of which we visit on Grasshopper Adventures tours. What makes a site UNESCO World Heritage-worthy? And which ones can you expect to see on which tours?
What UNESCO World Heritage is all about
The World Heritage Committee was founded in 1977, with the mission of recognizing and preserving cultural sites across the globe “considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.” Representatives on the committee hail from different corners of the Earth, and come together to designate these special places each year. Since 1977, a total of 878 have been added to the list. A visit to these sites is a visit to the precious heritage of our world, with an insight into the ways of people who came before us.
What’s new this year
Among the 29 new sites listed by the committee are 2 we visit on our tours, and of all the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Asia, you have the opportunity to see 30 with us.
Plain of Jars, Laos
These mysterious jars, assumed to be part of funeral rites, are located on a plain in central Laos and date back to the Iron Age between 500 BC and 500 AD. Explore these thousands of ancient relics with sweeping views of the verdant mountains that rise up from the horizon. You’ll have the chance to visit this incredibly site by foot on our Mountains of Laos tour that explores this stunning region of the country.
This ancient sacred city, located on arid plains in central Myanmar, features numerous Buddhist pagodas, stupas and temples from the 11th - 13th centuries AD. Cycling among these sacred structures is a special experience, so unique that we have included a visit to this UNESCO favorite in no less than six of our tours! Watching the sunrise over Bagan will undoubtedly take your breath away, but taking in the temples at sunset from a cruise down the Irrawaddy isn’t too bad either! An exploration of this special ancient city makes a great addition to any trip in Myanmar, whether you’re experiencing the land in between Mandalay and Bagan, getting off the beaten path on the way to Salay, or checking out Inle Lake.
Other notable World Heritage visits
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
No journey to Southeast Asia is complete without a visit to the sacred temples of Angkor Wat. This extensive temple complex features Hindu and Buddhist places of worship from the 12th century, and these impressive structures are hidden in the beautiful jungle. We offer many ways in which to see the temples, whether you are in town for a short time or are seeking a longer exploration.
Kumbhalgarh Fort, India
The Rajasthan State of India is so full of history that we have dedicated an entire tour to exploring it: Riding the Real Rajasthan. UNESCO has singled out the Hill Forts of Rajasthan as a World Heritage site, including the imposing Kumbhalgarh Fort. You’ll have the chance to reach this structure by bike as you discover the fort for yourself while enjoying dramatic views of the Aravalli Hills.
Ancient Kyoto, Japan
This former Imperial capital of Japan was built in 794 AD, and featured multiple examples of traditional Japanese architecture. Cycling is surely the most enjoyable way to visit Kyoto, with wide roads and fun alleyways along canals in addition to considerate drivers. Visit a few famous temples in the city, as well as the Bamboo Forest on a Japanese Heritage Cycle.
Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
This incredible valley in the foothills of the Himalayas features no less than seven groups of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Included among these are the Monkey Temple, the giant Buddhist Stupa of Boudhanath, and a sacred Hindu temple thought to be the birthplace of Shiva. You’ll have the chance to discover these sites for yourself before embarking on a cycling journey through the Kingdom of Lo in our Mighty Mustang tour.
Sinharaja Rainforest, Sri Lanka
This incredible rain forest reserve is one of the many UNESCO sites you can visit on a trip to Sri Lanka with us. Over 50% of Sri Lanka’s species of mammals and butterflies make their home among the trees of Sinharaja, as well as numerous birds, insects and reptiles. On our Bike Sri Lanka for Families tour, you and your family even have the chance to stay the night within this incredible site, surrounded by the sound and movement of the rainforest.
My Son Sanctuary, Vietnam
These tower temples are the remainders of a powerful kingdom of the Cham people, dating back to the 4th to the 13th centuries CE. Soon afterwards, the region was conquered by Khmer and Vietnamese civilizations. Discover these sacred ruins on a cycling tour that spans from the countryside outside of Hoi An to these ancient temples.
Historic Center of Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Step back in time-2,000 years back in time that is- to this city situated on the ancient Silk Road. Here you’ll find impressive Muslim monuments as well as madrasas that date back to the 17th century. Our Uz-biking-stan tour dedicates two days to this fascinating city, including visits to the Moon and Stars Palace and Bahauddin Naqshband complex.
Do you think these sites are worthy of UNESCO World Heritage status? Come visit these places and more on our tours and decide for yourself!