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These Sites Helped Shape Civilization and will Transform Your Travels

It’s one of the most exclusive lists in the world. To be inscribed, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) mandates that each World Heritage Site on its esteemed list meet at least one of ten criteria. The treasured places in Part 2 of our “must-see” collection of UNESCO Sites in Asia each meet more than one of these, earning their clout with profound significance. Visits to these incredible places mean literally tracing the footsteps of history. They have each played momentous roles in the development of civilizations and the natural balance of the world and continue to do so. And they’re certain to leave a lasting impression on your travels.

In 2020 and 2021, you’ll find opportunities to explore these treasured sites with Crystal Cruises, as our land team has created opportunities to see them in educational and meaningful ways that showcase their significance while respecting their heritage.

  • Yakushima
    The primeval forest of Yakushima

Yakushima (from Kagoshima)

A hike through this subtropical rainforest island is an entrance into an ethereal place, where Japan’s oldest cedars tower overhead (the oldest said to be 7,000 years old), and mountain peaks over 6,500 feet tower even higher in the center of the island. Some locals claim that it “rains 35 days a month” on Yakushima, so wear rainboots and layers as you explore the remarkably lush world containing more than 1,900 subspecies of flora, 150 bird species and 16 mammal species.

Angkor Wat (Overland from Sihanoukville or Ho Chi Minh, depending on itinerary)

No one knows what became of the Khmer people of the empire that once ruled most of Southeast Asia. The thriving community of more than 2,000 years vanished in less than 200 years, leaving behind vestiges of architectural and engineering prowess and geopolitical influence that boggles the mind. Its UNESCO status hits four of the required criteria, as it comprises undisputable artistic masterpieces; chronicles the development of urban planning in the region with temples, hydraulic structures and communication routes.

Agra Fort (from Cochin)

Properly known as the Red Fort of Agra, this icon of power and influence sits near the gardens of the Taj Mahal (another remarkable UNESCO Site featured on this Crystal program). It’s built of red sandstone, a fortress and fairy tale all in one. Within its 70-foot walls is the imperial city of the Mughal Rulers, who resided there until the 17th century. Double ramparts, drawbridges, life-sized stone elephant gate guardians and bastions of military might are contrasted by scalloped arches and opulent palaces.

Mount Fuji (from Yokohama/Tokyo)

Like many mountains, Fujisan presents a daring physical challenge for nature lovers and hikers. But this is not its primary significance. Mount Fuji is acclaimed as a “sacred place and source of artistic inspiration” thanks to its solitary position against the Japanese sky. It towers more than 12,300 feet over villages, lakes and forests and was the center of training for ascetic Buddhism in the 12th century. Shrines and inscriptions can be found along its sides ascending to the peak, depicting the many pilgrimages taken by poets, artists and spiritual seekers over time.

Komodo Island

One of the three islands comprising Komodo National Park, Komodo Island is most famous for its dragons. The world’s largest lizards are the stuff of fantasy, loping along the sandy terrain in search of the other terrestrial wildlife there. Because of them, the island is fascinating and mysterious. Also because of them, Crystal hires additional park rangers to guide guests on their discoveries, which are only permitted with these trained escorts for the safety of travelers, and for the preservation of this delicate habitat.

Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity 2020 and 2021 voyages explore these and many other transformative sites through China, Japan and Southeast Asia. Book your journey today.

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