The 37 World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia

World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is a culturally rich and diverse region counting numerous sites classified by the UNESCO in the World Heritage of Humanity. With some of the world’s most famous sites like Angkor Wat in Cambodia or Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Southeast Asia is home to 37 wonderful sites that stand out for their natural or cultural value.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural OrganizationUNESCO – has listed more than 1000 historical and natural sites in the world. With 37 sites already listed in Southeast Asia and many more submitted for review, culture, histories and landscapes have been recognized for their unique value for mankind.

For the curious, tourists and the tourism industry professionals, together with media, artistic, cultural or scientific organizations and businesses of Southeast Asia to name a few, the UNESCO World Heritage Sites represent the common, symbolic importance of the cultural relevance of Southeast Asia.

As a handy list to keep for the use of these professionals and the viewing pleasure of all, here is the complete list of World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia together with some beautiful pictures.


You can quickly jump to your favorite country’s sites with the following links.

List of the 37 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia

Note: there are currently no World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO in Brunei and Timor Leste.


 

2 World Heritage Sites in Cambodia

Angkor

Angkor is a major Southeast Asian archaeological site. It is composed of the remains of the capital of the Khmer Empire, dating from the 9th to the 15th century. The Angkor site especially includes the famous temple of Angkor Wat, the Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom, and the jungle-invaded Ta Phrom temple.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Temple

© Photo: jh_tan84

Bayon temple

Bayon Sunrise

© Photo: colin grubbs

Ta Prohm temple

Ta Prohm HDR

© Photo: David Hogan

  • Location: Siem Reap Province, Cambodia
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 40,000 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1992

Note: Google created a special website as a part of its Google Maps “Street View” to enable people to explore the Angkor temples at home on their computers.

Temple of Preah Vihear

Preah Vihear:Ruin in the Sky

© Photo: Osakabe Yasuo

The temple of Preah Vihear is composed of series of sanctuaries dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Its isolation has permitted to preserve its exceptional architecture from the 11th century.

  • Location: Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 155 ha with 2,643 ha buffer zone
  • Year of inscription: 2008

 

8 World Heritage Sites in Indonesia

Borobudur Temple Compounds

Borobudur Temple

© Photo: regent zakaryya satriandhana

The Borobudur temple is a large Buddhist temple from the 8th and 9th centuries. Situated in central Java, it is famous for its pyramidal shape and numerous stupas arranged in concentric circles, surrounded by finely carved outer walls with numerous statues of Buddha.

  • Location: Megalang Regency, Central Java, Indonesia
  • Site type: cultural
  • Year of inscription: 1991

Komodo National Park

Komodo Dragon Photo

© Photo: Richard Susanto

The Komodo National Park is a natural site made up of volcanic islands that are home to a unique species of giant lizard: the Komodo dragon. The natural landscape and vegetation of the islands add up the zoological interest of this endemic species.

  • Location: East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 219,322 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1991

Prambanan Temple Compounds

Prambanan

© Photo: zsoolt

The Prambanan temple is a large hindu temple built in the 10th century in central Java. The three main temples in the center of the complex are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, and decorated with depictions of the Ramayana.

  • Location: Central Java, Indonesia
  • Site type: cultural
  • Year of inscription: 1991

Ujung Kulon National Park

Eruption at Anak Krakatau in June 2009

© Photo: Tom Pfeiffer

Located at the South-Western tip of Java, this beautiful natural site is one of the last shelters for several endangered animal species. Composed of the Ujung Kulon peninsula and surrounding islands, it is home to the famous Krakatoa volcano.

  • Location: Banten and Lampung, Indonesia
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 78,525 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1991

Sangiran Early Man Site

Hominid_Skull-Homo_Erectus-Sangiran_17_033.jpg

© Photo: NCSSM

The Sangiran site is the source of half of all hominids fossils found. Inhabited for one and half million years, its importance to the knowledge of the evolution of man make it a unique place for scientific interest.

  • Location: Central Java, Indonesia
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 5,600 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1996

Lorentz National Park

Papuan rainforest

© Photo: Michael Thirnbeck

Located in the Papua province, the Lorentz National Park is Southeast Asia’s largest protected natural area. With a great diversity of geography, fauna and flora, the Lorentz national park is a haven for biodiversity.

  • Location: Papua, Indonesia
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 2,350,000 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1999

Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra

Empcompassing three national parks, Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra is an endangered site of primary forest and endemic species under threat of destruction.

Gunung Leuser National Park

Sumatran Orang utan & infant

© Photo: Arddu

Kerinci Seblat National Park

Amorphophallus beccarii

© Photo: Arddu

Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park

Sumatran Tiger

© Photo: Sue Everett

  • Location: Sumatra, Indonesia
  • Site type: natural. This site has been listed as endangered since 2011 due to poaching, illegal logging and encroachments for agriculture and roads projects.
  • Size: 2,595,124 ha
  • Year of inscription: 2004

Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy

Composed of five rice terraces, water temples including the famous Pura Ulun Danu Batan temple and canals, the egalitarian Subak water management system originates from the 9th century. Proving very effective for rice farming, this water system is the manifestation of the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, that assembles the world of men, spirits and nature.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

The Jatiluwah Rice Terraces - Unesco's World Heritage Site, Bali, Indonesia

© Photo: Sivakumar Ramakrishnan

Pura Ulun Danu Batan temple in Bedugul

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

© Photo: balbo42

  • Location: Bali, Indonesia
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 19,520 ha
  • Year of inscription: 2012

 

2 World Heritage Sites in Laos

Town of Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

© Photo: Benedikt Saxler

The ancient capital of the old Kingdom of Laos, Luang Prabang is a town that gathers traditional Lao architecture and French colonial buildings from the 19th and 20th century in a remarkably well-preserved blend of European and Asian cultures.

  • Location: Luang Prabang Province, Laos
  • Site type: cultural
  • Year of inscription: 1995

Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape

Vat Phou Champasak

© Photo: Alessandra

The Champasak Cultural Landscape was built between the 5th and 15th century under the rule of the Khmer Empire. Various structures are organized in a geometric pattern that embodies the Hindu vision and relationship between man and nature, including two cities, the Vat Phou temple complex and other temples, shrines and waterworks.

  • Location: Champasak Province, Laos
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 39,000 ha
  • Year of inscription: 2001

 

4 World Heritage Sites in Malaysia

Gunung Mulu National Park

Pinnacles at Mulu, Gunung Mulu National Park, Borneo

© Photo: Paul White

With a very rich biodiversity, the Gunung Mulu National Park is located on the island of Borneo. The park is especially famous for its karstic features, and the resulting caves created by the dissolution of rocks in the humid climate.

  • Location: Northern Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 52,864 ha
  • Year of inscription: 2000

Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu park area

© Photo: jon jacob

Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain of Southeast Asia, reaching 4,095 meters at its highest point. The surrounding park is host to a beautiful natural landscape with diverse range of habitats and a very rich flora.

  • Location: Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 75,370 ha
  • Year of inscription: 2000

Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca

Developed in the past centuries as points of exchange between Western and Eastern civilizations, the historic cities of Malacca and Georgetown are beautiful remnants of multicultural heritage on the Straits of Malacca.

Malacca

Melaka - Red Square

© Photo: Stefan Klauke

Georgetown

Old town street sceen

© Photo: Fredrik Nyberg

  • Location: Malacca and Penang, Malay Peninsula, Malaysia
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 148 ha with 284 ha buffer zone
  • Year of inscription: 2008

In Malacca, as in many other places in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, the preservation of heritage sites needs to be integrated with modern life for the local communities and the interests of tourists. To learn more on how value is added to heritage sites, watch this video on how heritage is maintained and recycled in Malacca and Malaysia.

Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley

Perak Man

© Photo: eazytraveler

The Lenggong Valley regroups four archaeological sites with remains from the earliest continued human settlement outside of Africa. This lush area with several caves provides scientific clues on the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Metal ages.

  • Location: Perak, Malaysia
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 399 ha
  • Year of inscription: 2012

 

1 World Heritage Site in Myanmar

Pyu Ancient Cities

Bawbawgyi Paya, of the 5th-7th century Sri Ksetra kingdom, near Pyay, Myanmar 2014

© Photo: caz.vandevere

In the Irrawady basin, the three ancient cities of Halin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra are remains of the Pyu kingdoms that spanned eleven centuries from 200 BC to 900 AD. With various ruins from royal, religious and production buildings and remnants of an irrigation system, they exhibit a rich Buddhist culture.

  • Location: Mandalay, Magway and Bago, Myanmar
  • Site type: cultural
  • Year of inscription: 2014

 

6 World Heritage Sites in the Philippines

Baroque Churches of the Philippines

The four baroque Roman Catholic Churches were constructed under in the Philippines Spanish rule between the 16th and 18th century. These churches were built in Manila, Santa Maria, Paoay and Miag-ao but they collectively demonstrate a reinterpretation by Chinese and Filipino craftsmen of European Baroque architecture and decoration.

Church of the Immaculate Conception of San Agustín, Intramuros, Manila

San Agustin

© Photo: Rafael Reyes

Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, Santa Maria

Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion (Santa Maria Church)

© Photo: Remar Lapastora

Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva, Miag-ao

_DSC0223

© Photo: interruptedz

Church of San Agustín, Paoay

Paoay Church

© Photo: Ferdinand Manuel

  • Location:
    • Manila, Philippines
    • Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur, Philippines
    • Miag-ao, Iloilo, Philippines
    • Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Philippines
  • Site type: cultural
  • Year of inscription: 1993

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

tubbataha- shark airport 2- black jacks and tomas

© Photo: q phia

The atoll reef of Tubbataha is a pristine coral reef hosting a very dense and varied marine wildlife. The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park covers more than 130,000 ha and includes two coral islands, several lagoons and an extensive coral reefs with a 100m perpendicular wall.

  • Location: Cagayancillo, Palawan, Philippines
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 130,028 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1993

Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

banaue rice terraces

© Photo: laz’andre

The terraced rice fields of Ifugao have been formed out of the mountain slopes for more than 2,000 years. This agricultural tradition has created an exceptional landscape, fruit of the harmonious human integration into its natural habitat.

  • Location: Ifugao, Cordillera Region, Philippines
  • Site type: cultural
  • Year of inscription: 1995

Historic Town of Vigan

Crisologo Street, Vigan City

© Photo: Kenneth Paige

The town of Vigan is the archetype of Spanish colonial urban planing and architecture in the Philippines. Founded in the 16th century, the Historic Town of Vigan hosts many of well preserved European-style buildings, making it an unequaled cultural jewel in Southeast Asia.

  • Location: Ilocos Sur, Philippines
  • Site type: cultural
  • Year of inscription: 1999

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

2420

© Photo: ryan descallar

The Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park is composed of a karstic landscape, with the particularity of having a underground river flowing under the limestone reliefs. It is a significant natural preservation site, with a “mountain-to-sea” ecosystem and dense forests with rich biodiversity.

  • Location: Palawan, Philippines
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 5,753 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1999

Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary

Hamiguitan Wildlife Sanctuary

© Photo: Peter Harlow

Ranging from 75 to 1,637m above sea level, the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary hosts several land and water eco-systems of different elevations. The sanctuary provides habitat for a diverse array of fauna and flora, including several endangered endemic plant and animal species.

  • Location: Davao Oriental, Philippines
  • Site type: natural
  • Year of inscription: 2014

 

1 World Heritage Site in Singapore

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore Botanic Garden

© Photo: Jonathan Garcia

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a European-style botanic garden of tropical plants, created under British rule in 1859. Since then, it has been a landmark for the Singaporean history and culture, with a significant importance for conservation, science and education.

  • Location: Singapore
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 49 ha, buffer zone: 137 ha
  • Year of inscription: 2015

 

5 World Heritage Sites in Thailand

Historic City of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Historical Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Thailand

© Photo: Oliver Davis

Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam from the mid 14th century until its destruction by the Burmese in the 18th century. The numerous remains of large religious and administrative buildings are as many clues to imagine how splendid the city must have been.

  • Location: Ayutthaya Province, Thailand
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 289 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1991

Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns

Wat Mahathat in Morning Light

© Photo: Takashi Mizoguchi

Sukhothai was the first capital of the Kingdom of Siam, in the 13th and 14th centuries. The remaining monuments present how various influences and traditions were assimilated in the “Sukhothai style” by the Siamese people to create a distinct culture.

  • Location: Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet Provinces, Thailand
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 11,852 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1991

Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries

Banteng, Bos javanicus & Sambar deer, Rusa unicolor in Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary

© Photo: tontantravel

The Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries encompass almost all kinds of forests from Southeast Asia. With more than 600,000 ha situated on the border with Myanmar, the wildlife sanctuaries are home to a vast array of fauna, including several endangered species.

  • Location: Kanchanaburi, Tak and Uthai Thani Provinces, Thailand
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 622,200 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1991

Ban Chiang Archaeological Site

Wat Pho Si Nai Pit

© Photo: Brian Hoffman

One of the most important prehistoric settlement, Ban Chiang gathers evidence of human evolution in Southeast Asia. With artifacts, human and building remains, it displays on of the earliest use of metals and agriculture in the region.

  • Location: Udon Thani Province, Thailand
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 64 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1992

Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex

Sitting Elephant in Khao Yai national park

© Photo: tontantravel

The Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex is a large, protected tropical forest located on the border with Cambodia. Especially important for the preservation of fauna,  it is key to the long-term survival of several endangered animal species.

  • Location: Saraburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Nayok, Prachinburi, Sa Kaeo and Buriram Provinces, Thailand
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 615,000 ha
  • Year of inscription: 2005

 

8 World Heritage Sites in Vietnam

Complex of Hué Monuments

Approaching Forbidden City's gates, Hue, Vietnam

© Photo: Loboalpha

Hué was the capital unified Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, center of political, cultural and religious influence of the Nguyen dynasty.  With several buildings remaining along the Perfume River of the old Capital City, the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City and the Inner City, Hué is the landmark of the imperial Vietnamese history, arts and architecture.

  • Location: Thừa Thiên–Huế Province, Vietnam
  • Site type: cultural
  • Year of inscription: 1993

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay (Aug 2015)

© Photo: Horace Cimafranca

Gathering more than 1,600 limestone islets in the Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay is an iconic seascape of verticals cliffs and jungle spread across the sea. The site’s beauty is famous around the world, and it is also a haven for biodiversity.

  • Location: Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 150,000 ha
  • Year of inscription: 1994

Hoi An Ancient Town

Hoi An -9

© Photo: J Durok

The commercial activity of the port of Hoi An made it an important trade center from the 15th to the 19th century. Local and foreign traders have left their marks with numerous buildings that make up an exceptionally well-preserved ancient town with diverse influences.

  • Location: Hội An, Quảng Nam Province, Vietnam
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 30 ha with 280 ha buffer zone
  • Year of inscription: 1999

My Son Sanctuary

My Son - Danang, Vietnam

© Photo: James Tan

Developed from the 4th to 13th century, the My Son Sanctuary regroups the remains of several temples. This site used to be the political and religious capital of the Champa Kingdom, which was located on the coast of Vietnam and traced its cultural heritage from Indian Hinduism.

  • Location: Duy Phú, Duy Xuyên District, Quảng Nam Province, Vietnam
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 142 ha with 920 ha buffer zone
  • Year of inscription: 1999

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Paradise Cave - Động Thiên Đường

© Photo: lien

The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is the oldest karst formation in Southeast Asia. With 65 km of caves and underground river, the park hosts a very complex karst landscape with significant geomorphic features.

  • Location: Bố Trạch and Minh Hóa districts, Quảng Bình Province, Vietnam
  • Site type: natural
  • Size: 85,754 ha
  • Year of inscription: 2003

Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi

Imperial Citadel

© Photo: Eugene

When the Dai Viet kingdom got its independance from China under the Ly dynasty, it built the Thang Long Imperial Citadel which remained its political center for 13 centuries. The central sector of the Citadel embodies a unique culture from the Red River area, influenced from the North by China and from the Champa kingdom in the South.

  • Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 18 ha with 108 ha buffer zone
  • Year of inscription: 2010

Citadel of the Ho Dynasty

Ho dynasty's citadel, Vietnam

© Photo: Loi Nguyen Duc

The Citadel of the Ho Dynasty dates back to the 14th century. Reflecting the spread of Neo-Confucianism in that period, it was built according to the Feng Shui principles in a plain between the Ma and Buoi rivers along an axis between the Tuong Son and Don Son mountains.

  • Location: Tây Giai, Vĩnh Lộc District, Thanh Hóa Province, Vietnam
  • Site type: cultural
  • Size: 156 ha with 5,079 ha buffer zone
  • Year of inscription: 2011

Trang An Landscape Complex

Non nước Ninh Bình

© Photo: Đỗ Việt Cường

Situated in the south of the Red River delta, the Trang An Landscape Complex is a breathtaking area of karst limestone peaks piercing out of low cultivated valleys. Area of cultural significance as it has inhabited for more than 30,000 years, human traces in Trang An provide significant information on the Neolotic, Bronze Age, up to the historic era. It is also the site of Hao Lu, ancient capital of Vietnam from the 10th and 11th centuries.

  • Location: Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam
  • Site type: mixed, natural and cultural
  • Year of inscription: 2014

 

UNESCO logoSo here is the full list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia. For more information about them, other sites submitted for review or information on its activities, visit the website of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO.

 

What do you think of these World Heritage Sites? Which one do you prefer? Do you have some tips to make a better visit? Any other site you think should be added by UNESCO? Leave your comments below!

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