The prestigious British travel magazine Wanderlust has recently compiled a list of the most impressive heritage sites among the over 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia. Vietnam has three representatives on this list.
Honored to claim the top position is Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh. Wanderlust states, “Although not Vietnam’s only limestone karst structure at sea, nowhere else in the world boasts a more impressive scale than Ha Long Bay. With approximately 1,600 limestone karsts jutting out of the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay resembles a convergence of thousands of islands, hosting the native seabirds.”
Ha Long Bay was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1994. Photo: Wanderlust
Ha Long Bay was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. Twenty years later, apart from an increasing number of tourists visiting, the site remains largely unchanged. The slow erosion process has created hidden caves and impressive arches. Wanderlust suggests that visitors can kayak to truly experience and easily admire the magnificent natural scenery here.
The second representative from Vietnam on the list is Hoi An (Quang Nam). UNESCO recognized Hoi An partly due to its ability to preserve tranquility amidst the bustling urban life of today.
Hoi An was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999. Photo: Wanderlust
In the past, Hoi An was a prosperous trading port and home to merchants from all over Asia until the Thu Bon River was silted up about 200 years ago, prompting the merchants to relocate.
Memories of Hoi An’s multicultural past can be found in numerous French-style buildings, the Chinese quarter, and the elegant Japanese-style covered bridge. The influence of China is particularly evident in the assembly halls in the ancient town area.
Lastly, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park makes the list. With 885 square kilometers of primeval forests and some of the oldest limestone mountains in Asia, it is no surprise that Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park appears on this list.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2003. Photo: Wanderlust
This site was recognized by UNESCO long before Son Doong, a 5-kilometer-long cave large enough to fit an entire skyscraper inside, gained worldwide fame.
More and more caves have been discovered here, including the recently opened Va Cave, which is now open to tourists. Visitors can also explore Paradise Cave or kayak upstream to reach the Dark Cave.
Additionally, the Wanderlust list includes other destinations such as Singapore Botanic Gardens, Plain of Jars (Laos), Gunung Mulu National Park (Malaysia), Sukhothai (Thailand), Preah Vihear Temple (Cambodia), Komodo National Park (Indonesia), and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Philippines).