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Six World Heritage sites for intrepid explorers

The latest additions to UNESCO’s list of cultural and natural treasures will stir your heart and mind

Looking for destinations with extra wow factor? In July, UNESCO announced additions to its coveted World Heritage List, providing travellers with fresh inspiration. This year’s 25 newly inscribed or expanded sites bring the list to 1,073 properties. These six deserve a spot on your travel wish list.

Kulangsu, China

Kulangsu, China

This tiny island is just a short ferry ride from Xiamen, a sophisticated city on China’s southeast coast, but Kulangsu is a throwback to another era. It has no cars. Colonial architecture is prominent. The island has only 4,000 households, yet it has 13 foreign consulates and hundreds of heritage buildings – a testament to its history as one of China’s first major trading harbours. Kulangsu is also known as Piano Island because of its musical prodigies and long love affair with the instrument. Don’t miss the piano museum, the largest of its kind in the world.

Taputapuātea, French Polynesia

Taputapātea, French Polynesia

To visit this fascinating site, head to Ra’iatea, a volcanic island in French Polynesia (check Air Tahiti for flights). Taputapuātea has a marae, an ancient complex used for ceremonial purposes, and it was once a cultural and religious centre. UNESCO describes Taputapuātea as “an exceptional testimony to 1,000 years of mā'ohi civilization.” Explore the island’s artifacts and natural wonders, and enjoy watersports, horseback riding and other activities.

The English Lake District, United Kingdom

The English Lake District, UK

The Lake District – locally known as Lakeland – is England’s biggest national park, covering nearly 2,400 square kilometres. Millions of visitors explore this beautiful area each year, drawn to its mountains, lakes and woodlands. You’ll find loads of family-friendly activities, including guided walks, cycling, Treetop Nets – a playground suspended in the trees – and animal attractions, plus restaurants and all sorts of accommodations.

Aphrodisias, Turkey

Aphrodisias, Turkey

This Roman-period city in southwestern Turkey has been under excavation for more than a century, but archaeologists are still discovering its secrets (most recently, a super-sized swimming pool). The ruins provide a glimpse into how the Aphrodisians worked, played and worshipped 2,100 years ago – it’s believed that 10,000 people lived here. Highlights for visitors include well-preserved marble sculptures and monuments, including a 7,000-seat theatre and the Temple of Aphrodite, goddess of love. To get here, book a day tour from Istanbul.

Historic City of Ahmadabad, India

Ahmadabad, India

This beguiling site – the first city in India named to the World Heritage List – dates back to the 15th century. Named for the shah who founded it, Ahmadabad’s old quarter is notable for its sultanate architecture and blend of Hindu, Muslim and Jain influences. It’s also where Mahatma Gandhi started his first ashram, after returning to India from South Africa in 1915. The ashram, his residence and a museum are open to visitors.

Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk, Archaeological Site of Ancient Ishanapura, Cambodia

Ishanapura, Cambodia

This incredible site has been identified as Ishanapura, lost capital of the kingdom of Chenla, which dates back to the sixth century A.D. and was the predecessor of the Khmer Empire. Sambor Prei Kuk means “temple in the richness of the forest” in Khmer. UNESCO notes that the city’s art and architecture “became models for other parts of the region and lay the ground for the unique Khmer style of the Angkor period.” Explore the zone’s walled centre and more than 100 brick temples, many swathed in the roots of ancient trees.

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