Just when you thought you have seen it all with our list of Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Asia, the World Heritage Committee has announced 22 new additions to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites for 2017 and our beloved neighbouring countries in Asia racked up 4 of those 22 which include the historic city of Ahmedabad in India, the temple zone of Sambor Prei Kuk in Cambodia, the historic international settlement of Kulangsu in China and the Hoh Xil Plateau in Qinghai, China.

To save you the trouble of planning a visit from scratch, Expedia has done the ground work to help you make your escapade to these stunning sites. Don’t forget to check out these tips before you jet set to these destinations:

1. Historic city of Ahmedabad – India’s first world heritage city

Though India has a total of 36 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the historic city of Ahmedabad is like no other. The first Indian city to get a UNESCO World Heritage tag was founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century and prides itself on over six centuries of unbroken history.

The Bhadra citadel, walls and gates of the Fort city, numerous mosques and tombs, as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods present a rich cultural heritage from the sultanate period.


Must-See Attractions in Ahmedabad:

(i) Sabarmati Ashram

No trip to Ahmedabad is complete without a visit to the headquarters of Gandhi from 1917 to 1930, during India’s struggle for independence. Come during sunset and enjoy the beautiful serenity as you explore Gandhi’s ashram and the Sabarmati river.

(ii) Jama Masjid

One of India’s most beautiful mosques, Jama Masjid was built by Ahmed Shah in 1423. Evenings are the best time to visit the mosque to walk around the enormous courtyard and soak in the grand architecture.

Take me to Ahmedabad!

Best Time to Visit

Best Time to Visit Ahmedabad:

Winter (November to February) is most ideal for a trip here. The weather is mild and pleasant, making it an enjoyable time for you to enjoy the sights of the city.

Food

Recommended Food when in Ahmedabad:

Ahmedabad boasts a variety of mouth-watering street food for those who do not wish to burn a hole in their pockets. The famous Manek Chowk is a grocery and vegetable market by day, jewellery market past noon and a street food hub after sunset, while Balan Dosa Centre is best known as THE place to get your dosa (savory pancake) fix in Ahmedabad.

Tips

Additional Points to Note when Travelling to Ahmedabad

Safety
Take safety measures to protect yourself from pickpockets. Avoid wearing lots jewellery while travelling to ensure you do not draw unwanted attention and carry a just enough cash when going around. Note that not all places accept credit/debit cards.

Culture
Be respectful of local culture and note that most monuments in Ahmedabad require an entrance fee, so make sure you obtain your tickets prior to entering.

2. Temple zone of Sambor Prei Kuk – Cambodia’s ancient city without the crowds of Angkor Wat

There is no other pre-Ankorian excavation area in Southeast Asia more exceptional than this. Sambor Prei Kuk, which means “the temple in the richness of the forest” in the Khmer language, is an archaeological site that has been identified as the ancient royal center of Ishanapura, the capital of the Chenla Empire, which flourished in the late 6th and 7th centuries. The ruins include a walled city centre and numerous temples,10 of which are uniquely octagonal. Decorated sandstone elements in the site are also characteristic of the pre-Angkor decorative idiom, known as the Sambor Prei Kuk Style, providing a good look at pre-Angkorian styles of art and architecture.

Revel in the serenity of the forest, with Sambor Prei Kuk’s forest-shrouded temples and vegetation-draped stonework, all of which create a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere.

Must-See Attractions in Sambor Prei Kuk:

There are three main complexes waiting for you to check out at Sambor Prei Kuk:

(i) Preah Sambor – North Group
Enter from the north side of the North Group. The majority of prasats (temples) of the North Group are square and rectangular and are in varying states of ruin.

(ii) Preah Tor (“Lion Temple”) – Central Group
Proceed through the North Group to the Central Group and visit the “Lion Temple”, a large prasat named for the lion statues guarding the east door. This is the only standing temple that tourists can visit.

(iii) Preah Yeay Poun – South Group
Loop through the South Group, which houses several interesting structures in excellent condition, extensive bas-reliefs and carvings. This temple group is made up of a main central tower, many sub-towers and unusual octagonal shrines surrounding the central tower. These shrines are made of brick and keep a lookout for an unusual “flying palace” motif carved from the brick!

Take me to Cambodia!

Best Time to Visit

Best Time to Visit Sambor Prei Kuk:

Anytime is a suitable time to visit this ancient relic. However, early mornings are recommended, just as the sun is rising, as most of the temples face East. So, get ready for an early morning if you want to capture shots of this stunning relic in its best light.

Food

Recommended Food at Sambor Prei Kuk:

There have been some community development improvements in Sambor Prei Kuk, with a small gift shop and a drink stand popping up. However, if you are looking for something more filling, do check out Kampong Thom, a village just 30 kilometres away, for a hearty bowl of noodles and a refreshing cup of Khmer Iced Coffee!

Tips

Additional Points to Note when travelling to Sambor Prei Kuk:

Guides
A minimal entrance fee of USD3 is required upon entrance to the Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk. A guide will cost approximately USD10 and is highly recommended as the local guides in the area will be able to give you a rundown on all the sanctuaries and their stories.

Clothing
The weather in Cambodia is either hot, or super hot no matter which time of the year you visit. Wear something airy and breathable, but do be mindful that you should wear something that covers your knees and shoulders to respect the temple’s sanctity.

Safety
Be sure to wear proper footwear when you are exploring the temples, as it is a 3 kilometre walk around the area and the pathways tend to be uneven.
Be respectful of local culture and note that most monuments in Ahmedabad require an entrance fee, so make sure you obtain your tickets prior to entering.

3. Kulangsu historic international settlement – A break from modern city life in Xiamen, China

With the opening of a commercial port at Xiamen in 1843, and the establishment of the island as an international settlement in 1903, this island off the southern coast of the Chinese empire suddenly became an important window for Sino-foreign exchanges. Kulangsu was home to foreign missionaries, diplomats and workers who worked in Xiamen from the 1840s and the interactions of these diverse groups led to a cultural fusion, which is epitomized in the island’s urban fabric.

The mixture of various architectural styles including the Traditional Southern Fujian Style, Western Classical Revival Style and Veranda Colonial Style, led to a new architectural movement, the Amoy Deco Style, which is a synthesis of the Modernist style of the early 20th century and Art Deco.

The most brilliant part of Kulangsu’s culture is its music. Stroll around the island and you will be mesmerized by the mellifluous music of the piano, violin, guitar and singing of the Trinity church choir wafting through the air.

Must-See Attractions in Kulangsu:

Kulangsu is famous for its natural beauty, colonial style architecture and myriad of interesting museums. Purchase a day-pass ticket for 100 yuan at the ferry terminal upon arrival to save on the cost of visiting multiple attractions.

(i) Shuzhuang Garden


The lush garden grounds are a visual feast and a must-see for horticulture enthusiasts. There is also a piano museum within the garden, which is worth a visit for an amazing collection of pianos. On most days, a pianist in one of the rooms periodically plays the island’s unofficial theme song, “Gulangyu Zhi Bo”, which adds to the serene atmosphere.

(ii) Sunlight Rock


These lofty rocks make up the most famous scenic spot in Xiamen. It is said that if you have yet to ascend Sunlight Rock, you have not really been to Xiamen. Accessible by cable car, visitors can admire a 360° jaw-dropping views of Xiamen with the sea and greenery dotted with western roofs on one side, and the skyscrapers of Xiamen on another. You will also find Sunlight Rock Temple, one of the four top Buddhist temples in Xiamen, in this area.

 

Take me to Xiamen!

Best Time to Visit

Best Time to Visit Kulangsu:

The best time to visit is in October or November when average daily temperatures range from 16°C to 23°C. The island’s sea breezes also make it extra comfortable for your break away from city life.

Food

Recommended Food when visiting Kulangsu:

Any seafood lover would be in love with Kulangsu’s local cuisine. Check out Blessed Paradise Restaurant, a charming Western-Chinese fusion diner that draws inspiration from the friendly owner Roger’s time spent in New Zealand. Give the kitchen’s masterful seafood mixed grill a shot if you are on the hunt for variety and novelty, as this dish is served at the table over a fire.

If you enjoy looking for Chinese snacks, then you will definitely enjoy Long Tou Shark Balls (Long Tou Yu Wan Dian). Sink your teeth into the spongy shark-ball and you will be delighted with a burst of delicious ground shark meat in your mouth! Also, check out Kang Family Oyster Omelette (Kang Jia Long Tou Hai Li Jian), which serves up one of the island’s classic local specialties – the oyster omelette. Here, this delectable delight is turned out with speed and consistency while you stand by the sidewalk, and served with Xiamen’s trademark sweet-and spicy red sauce.

Tips

Additional Points to Note when Travelling to Kulangsu:

Clothing
Since cars, motorcycles and bicycles are banned here, ready yourself for a fair bit of walking on this island. Hence, comfortable footwear is a must! Don your favourite holiday outfit if you are looking to load up your camera with a ton of pictures of you with this picturesque island as a backdrop!

Getting Around
If you are not all for walking around the island, try hopping on one of the golf cart-buses for a tour and do not miss the cable car ride up to Sunlight Rock! However, save a bit of energy for exploring the maze of shopping streets that will lead you to many hidden treasures of Kulangsu.

4. Hoh Xil Plateau: The world’s third largest no-man land in Qinghai, China

Dotted with grass plains, volcanic cinder cones and framed by long ranges of snow-capped mountains, this place lies mostly undiscovered, as China has only recently allowed access. This extensive area of alpine mountains and steppe systems is situated more than 4,500 metres above sea level, where sub-zero average temperatures prevail all year-round.

Though it is extremely hard for people to survive in this barren land, it is a haven for more than 200 animal species, including the Tibetan antelope, wild yaks and bald eagles that glide freely in the sky. With clear blue skies, clouds moving slowly towards the horizon, fresh air and a high altitude, it almost feels like you just need to reach out to touch the sky.

Must-See Attractions at Hoh Xil Plateau:

(i) Tibetan Antelope Migration

Known as the pride of Hoh Xil, the Tibetan antelope is a native mammal at the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. Approximately 20,000 Tibetan antelopes migrate to the hinterland of Hoh Xil nature. Reserved to give birth in the summer (May to June) before returning to the western part of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, this is most definitely a once-in-a-lifetime sight not to be missed.

(ii) Yangtze River

The frigid climatic extremes here have earned the plateau’s many glaciers, rivers, streams and lakes. The Bukadavan Glacier is one of the many glaciers that feed one of the most important sources of freshwater on the planet – the Yangtze River.

 

 

Take me to Qinghai!

Best Time to Visit

Best Time to Visit Hoh Xil Plateau:

The best time to visit is between July and September, as this is when you can catch large groups of antelopes migrating over a long distance to more remote and safer places for propagation.

Food

Recommended Food when visiting Hoh Xil Plateau:

As this no-man land has no markets or restaurants, it is strongly advised that you bring sufficient food and water to keep yourself satiated throughout your trip. Do remember that it is vital that you do not leave any trash behind at this natural beauty.

Tips

Additional Points to Note when travelling to Hoh Xil Plateau:

Clothing
Qinghai’s climate is harsh and it can snow all year round here with temperatures regularly dipping below freezing temperatures at night in July. Pack plenty of layers to prevent the dry climate from sucking moisture away and invest in a proper waterproof jacket to keep warm! Don’t forget your gloves, scarves, hats and a sturdy pair of boots to keep your toes toasty and feet ready for conquering those plateaus!

Safety
As sub-zero temperatures prevail all year round, it is recommended that you acclimatize in Golmund City before heading to Hoh Xil. It is also recommended that you travel with experienced support, such as a mechanic, local guide or doctor.

Sunlight is intense here due to the cloudless days on this plateau and the lack of shade. Bring plenty of sun protection and wear a hat to avoid getting burnt from those scorching rays!

Lastly, keep a safe distance from wild animals like the wild yaks, Mongolian gazelle and Tibetan antelope to avoid any unwanted incidents.

Hope that has sparked off some interest for a trip to explore any of the latest Asian UNESCO World Heritage Sites! Read on for more tips on the best times to book your trip.

Scratch that itch and head on over to www.expedia.com.sg for some great hotel and flight deals!