For a certain type of traveler, hitting up every monument on the
UNESCO World Heritage List is their ultimate conquest. What better way to gain an understanding of the world than to experience the very best natural and manmade wonders it has to offer?
If you’re thinking of checking a few of these culturally significant spectacles off your list, why start with the touristy entries? Beyond the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat, there’s a wealth of mind-blowing spectacles that deserve a closer look — even if it means you’ll have to trek to the corners of the Earth to see them. Ahead, we’ve rounded up five such destinations that truly are bucket-list worthy.
Wudang Mountains, Shiyan, Hubei This mountain is steeped in history: The birthplace of Kung Fu, it has been the setting of countless Chinese literary classics and films. Perched on the slopes are Taoist temples and palaces dating back to the seventh century, where students still learn the secrets of martial arts to this day. The walk to the summit is steep — at 2,000 steps and counting — so the hike will be rough on your knees. However, you can hire someone to carry you uphill in a litter, a wheelless sedan used in ancient China. Photo: Getty Images.
Rapa Nui National Park, Easter Island, Chile The Moyai statues by ancient Polynesian settlers are so iconic that they have their very own emoji. These monolith structures are located on one of the most remote islands in the world, a five-hour flight from Santiago. There’s only one town on the island, Hanga Roa, and no public transportation. Your best bet is to drive on your own and view statues one by one. Photo: Getty Images.
The Old City Of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina Many of Mostar’s historic monuments were ravished by air strikes during the Yugoslav Wars, but the city has since made a remarkable come back. The Stari Most, an Ottoman-style bridge and a significant landmark, has been restored to its former glory in 2004, earning a UNESCO Heritage status in the process. There are many stunning lakes and buildings to check out in the area, including the Blagag Tekke, a six-centuries old monastery perched under a cliff. You can reach the quiet town by taking a short bus ride from Croatia, or by train from Sarajevo. Photo: Getty Images.
Okinoshima, Fukuoka, Japan The newest member in the UNESCO collection, this tiny island has been the site of religious rituals since the fourth century. With its historic shrines and vast collection of artifacts, the sacred island is well worth a visit. But female travelers may be disappointed: The island is not open to women, allegedly due to the belief that menstrual blood will spoil the “holiness” of the site. Photo: Getty Images.
Uluru National Park, Australia Rising above the desert plains, this spectacular red rock is considered a sacred monument by the Anangu people. Hiking up the rock is not recommended — nor is photography — since the Aboriginals see these activities as signs of disrespect. Be prepared to get a taste of the real Australian Outback on your way here: It will take about three to four days to drive to Uluru from Sydney or Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images.
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