Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The UNESCO World Heritage List

UNESCO World Heritage Site of Suzhou
I read the blog World Flavor, by two travel bloggers currently teaching English in Korea. B and I considered doing the same at one point, but decided on Taiwan instead as we'd heard Koreans were extremely xenophobic, sexist and conservative. In the end I loved Taiwan so it was a good choice, even if I'm not sure on the accuracy of my information about Koreans.

They have similar travel interests to mine: eating lots of good food, cultural attractions, nature/hiking/outdoor activities, and my most beloved: historical sites. Rachel, the female blogger, even has a list of all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites she's visited. I love this idea and am copying it (as a new page, so I can look at it regularly).

UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dazu
There are too many World Heritage Sites for me to realistically visit (almost 1000). But if my money (and travel time) were unlimited, I would love to visit every one. Basically the world's most knowledgeable experts have selected Earth's most incredible places (either natural or human-made), all considered to have "outstanding universal value". Some are very famous (the Great Barrier Reef; the Statue of Liberty; the Pyramids at Giza); many almost no one has heard of (Albania's Butrint, for instance). But each one offers a unique, irreplaceable travel experience.

Since I found out about this list a few years ago, I try to plan all my trips around visiting Sites if at all possible. This has actually significantly improved my travel experiences, both because the Sites are superior attractions (being more beautiful or historically significant than anywhere else in the world) and because it's led me to places I wouldn't have otherwise visited (since so many Sites are relatively unknown).

For example, one of the highlights of our time in China was visiting the Dazu caves. These are truly spectacular Buddhist rock carvings dating from about 1000 years ago, and remarkably well preserved (especially compared to other rock carvings in China).
Buddha with original golf leaf and paint, hundreds of years old
Yet due to the location (near Chongqing, a large, unglamorous, industrial city: the Indianapolis of China?) and its resulting lack of fame, the site is not that visited. If you are a traveler who dislikes overly commercialized (yet still awesome) places, the UNESCO list can be a great resource.


  1. We try to hit up as many as possible as well! We had two slated for Northern Ireland, but unfortunately I sprained my ankle and we only got to one of them. I think the UNESCO list absolutely offers some of the better and more interesting travel locations to go to...I haven't traveled to one yet that I didn't think was worth it!

    1. Are you going to write posts about all your recent travel adventures? I hope so, I'd love to learn more!