The Southeast Asian region is comprised of 11 independent countries. But when it comes to heritage sites, only 5 have stood out the test of time and garnered immense popular inquiry. States such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos have a proud heritage that stretches for a thousand years. Each of these top 5 historical locations is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site.
There are two important UNESCO heritage sites located in Java, Indonesia. The fascinating thing about Borobodur and Prambanan is that they stand relatively near to each other and they both have a remarkable resemblance. The Buddhist temple complex of Borobudur dates back as early as 825 AD but was only rediscovered by British excavators in the early 1800's. The Hindu temple compound of Prambanan was also built during the 9th Century, honoring Hinduism's chief trinity pantheon - Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
Considered as the ancient capital of the Siamese people, the city of Ayutthaya was once a reminder of how Thailand used to be the region's commercial mecca. Although Thailand proudly carries the moniker of 'Land of the Free,' the successful invasion of the rival Burmese in 1767 left the proud royal capital to ruins that are now the Ayutthaya Historical Park.
Cambodia's best UNESCO heritage site, the Angkor Wat temple complex, is considered the largest religious monument in the world. It topped the Great Hypostyle Hall in Ancient Egypt's holy city of Karnak in terms of land area and structural height. The Angkor Wat was the seat of the ancient Khmer Empire.
The Hoi An merchant town was the busiest trade center in Vietnam during the 16th century. Although it was predominantly settled by the Chinese, the ancient town's overall architecture suggests that the Japanese had the principal influence in this multi-cultural melting pot. Even until today, this UNESCO heritage site continues to sell various goods.
Luang Prabang was (and still is) considered to be the most sacred town in Laos. This UNESCO heritage site houses the treasures of the ancient Lan Xang kingdom in its Royal Palace - now considered the National Museum. Now it is the country's most vibrant tourist center.
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