Latest Community Reviews
Travel Addicts USA - 10-Jan-19
The mountains of the Balkans contain a world treasure: Lake Ohrid. As it happens, the lake is halfway between Tirana and Skopje, which made it a perfect break on our Balkans road trip. As we learned, this lake is more than the border between Albania and the Republic of Macedonia: it is one of the world’s most important lakes...and is Europe’s oldest geologically since it dates from the pre-glacial era.
Lake Ohrid is home to over 200 endemic species and is a critical habitat for migratory birds. As such, this is considered the most biologically diverse lake on earth. For this reason, Lake Ohrid was recognized as one of the first one hundred UNESCO World Heritage SitesRead On
Zoë Sheng Chinese-Canadian in NZ - 09-Jan-19
*Hums Indiana Jones theme* I was so looking forward to seeing the entrance to the cave to the holy grail! Imagine when I found out that it was all fake - Hollywood you got me again!! Honestly I didn't but I also didn't know that the treasury was off limits and didn't even go far or had anything special inside. The wall is still highly impressive after what was an amazing walk through the canyon, excited to reach it at any moment. The water flow system in the canyon is ingenious. The souvenir stands didn't even offer any Indiana Jones dress up anymore - I guess that time has gone - you can still buy a camel magnet though! Great!Read On
Le site de Koh Ker (T)
Nan Germany - 08-Jan-19
Normally I try to stipulate the full itinerary of a day trip with a driver before I go. This time I didn’t and my driver notified me in Preah Vihear that Koh Ker wasn’t part of the trip. I was left somewhat annoyed, but couldn’t really complain as all I asked for was Preah Vihear. Koh Ker was just mentioned as an alternative when my driver was pitching me potential day trips back in Siem Reap.
Coming down the mountain after my visit of Preah Vihear I had already prepared myself for major haggling. But this being Cambodia my driver asked for less than 20 USD as a starting bid. It was kind of cute and I just had to smile and said yes. Going to Koh Ker is at least a 1h detour and adds some kilometers to the tab.Read On
Matejicek Czechia - 05-Jan-19
Visited in May 2014. I spent half a day in the historic center of Syracuse located on Isola di Ortigia, so, I have not seen other parts of this WHS that might be more interesting and more important in respect to OUV than Ortigia.
It was pleasent day strolling in the narrow streets and enjoying views to Ionian sea... However, I must say I prefer other towns in Sicily, especially those located on the top of hills or in the deep valleys such as nearby Ragusa Ibla, Modica and Scicli (also WHS) and many many others.Read On
The Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene (T)
Nan Germany - 08-Jan-19
One of the charms (or challenges) of visiting tentative sites is that the usual tourist infrastructure is missing. No visitor center, no heritage trails, little to no sign posting, no official website ... And worse, as it’s still a nomination neither the boundaries nor locations are finalized. So I was left wondering what the proposed site "Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene" entailed and what to visit. I found the nomination to be rather unhelpful in that respect.
One site that is mentioned and that can be visited easily is the Convitto Scuola Enologica in Conegliano. It is based in a 19th century manor on the outskirts of town and supports to this day the local vineyards in growing the Glera grape.Read On
Venetian Works of Defence
Ilya Burlak USA - 07-Jan-19
I visited Bergamo in November of 2018, focusing on the city as a whole, which afforded me the opportunity to take a look at the fortifications that are part of this serial site. I frequently profess my admiration for the feats of human ingenuity, but walls around a sizable city are hard to get really excited about. In the back of my head I can acknowledge their scale and impact in the context of the times that they were built in. Visually, it’s just really thick and old walls, with an occasional portal livening up the scene.Read On
Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries
Frederik Dawson Netherlands - 05-Jan-19
I was a bit skeptical for this site before I visited since I already have been to Haeinsa and Bulguksa temples, so I was curious on the outstanding universal value on “Sansa”, which derived from Chinese word “Shan-si” or the mountain temple. From all inscribed components, I only visited two temples, Beopjusa and Seonamsa. These two temples were located in protected forests, the pathways from car parking areas were scenic with beautiful steams, light forests, pavilions, very nice surrounding but these kind of environment and setting are similar to Haeinsa, so while I was really enjoyed, I could not find uniqueness of the mountain temples that similar to many mountain or forest Buddhist temples in other part of Asia or other religious monasteries around the world.Read On
Matejicek Czechia - 05-Jan-19
I was not planning to reach the Etna summit during my trip to Sicily in May 2014. However, it was impossible not to spot the mount Etna (always covered by cloud on the top) when travelling from Val di Notto towards Catania, and then from Nebrodi and Madonie mountains. We went via Bronte, which is famous for pistachio - it is grown almost everywhere around Bronte, and I was pretty surprised how pistachio tree really looks...
From Bronte we did short trip to Rifugio Piano Dei Grilli, which is already in the buffer zone of WHS; (photo: View from Rifugio towards Etna). However, the road from Bronte crossed the lava flow that already belonged to the core zone. From the Rifugio, there are quite a lot of marked trails going inside the national parkRead On
Travel Addicts USA - 06-Jan-19
What can you say about the Galápagos Islands that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? They are beautiful. They are important and historic. And, as the world's first UNESCO World Heritage Site, they should be at the top of nearly all travelers bucket list - they were for us.
We'd spent over 10 years hoping to visit and a some incredibly cheap last minute airfare deals made it possible. We spent a week on the Ecuador mainland visiting Quito and the volcanoes, but the islands were our real destination. We were incredible lucky to find a good deal on a one-week cruise of the northwest of the Galapagos (itinerary B), including Baltra, Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Santiago, Isabela and Fernandina.Read On
Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River
Zoë Sheng Chinese-Canadian in NZ - 05-Jan-19
I am probably going to make “enemies” with this review but it has been in my head ever since visiting back in 2015. This is one of the worst tourist traps in the world! The reason why one has to be careful about saying that is because in the Philippines the world heritage underground river is almost holy. It is the #1 tourist destination for Filipinos, it is printed proudly on their currency, it was upvoted into the 7Wonder poll and it is a “must see” item on every visitor's list. So why am I so cynical to call it one of the worst places to visit?Read On
Group of Monuments at Mandu, Madhya Pradesh (T)
Zoë Sheng Chinese-Canadian in NZ - 04-Jan-19
Mandu is one of the few sites lingering on the tentative list since 1998. I couldn't tell you if there is an internal problem or if this was attempted and got early bad feedback for any reason, but since it “survived” for so long I figured I should add it to my trip sandwiched between Bhopal's WHS and Western India, i.e. Ahmedabad.
Visiting all three parts actually costs more than any WHS in India which seem on a standard price (currently 600), so I find it a bit ridiculous that they can't offer a group ticket for this price but instead 300 x 3. Saying this, if one is not interested to spend 900 they should just focus on the group of monuments. This is the best and biggest part.Read On
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Ilya Burlak USA - 03-Jan-19
The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is a curious specimen on the World Heritage list. It is not altogether unremarkable, but also not in any sense surpassing to warrant special recognition. And although its name is fully spelled out in the WH property title, the inscription is entirely devoted to the famous painting that adorns one of the walls of the adjoining convent’s refectory. I first stopped by the church more than five years ago but that visit did not include viewing of Leonardo’s The Last Supper. That was too significant an omission to be able to count the site as visited. In November of 2018 I made an extra effort to see the painting.Read On
Minoan Palatial Centres (Knossos, Phaistos, Malia, Zakros, Kydonia) (T)
Solivagant UK - 03-Jan-19
In Nov 2015 I reviewed our visit to Knossos (below). In Dec 2018 we “found ourselves” in Crete yet again and visited a further 3 of the 5 “Palatial Centres” (as well as re-visiting Knossos and the fabulous Heraklion Archaeological Museum) - perhaps a bit of “overkill” on the Minoan front, but providing an opportunity to compare and contrast the 4 locations and, potentially, to reassess the chances of any nomination and its likely success.
It is worth mentioning perhaps that there are a large number of archaeological sites on Crete which date back to the civilisation now called “Minoan”. They are signposted everywhere when one drives around! For instance we visited the site of a Minoan “town” now called Gournia. It was excavated around 1903 and contains what the archaeologists titled a “Palace complex”. It was important enough to have been called the “trading centre of the island in Minoan times” (Wiki) - but it is significantly smaller than the 3 largest and most famous “palace” sites on CreteRead On
Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) (T)
Zoë Sheng Chinese-Canadian in NZ - 30-Dec-18
When I reviewed Manas NP for India I wasn't even considering that Bhutan may have listed the Royal part in their northern section as a tentative inclusion to the world heritage program. *checks the map* Indeed, and unsure if they plan of an extension. The park stretches through the border and on the map one could not tell you they are different. Is this a Sundarbans phenomenon where both countries just decided to inscribe their parts? Probably not. Manas NP was a great park before the trouble with the Bodo tribe started. Bhutan wasn't even in the UNESCO program at the time. Nowadays the Indian side is very poor and has hardly recovered. It feels empty and encroachment, poaching are still a problem despite guards, fences and strict rules on visiting.Read On
Nan Germany - 31-Dec-18
What makes a truly great site? To me a truly great site is one where you could remove the best parts of the site and still have a great site. E.g. Rome is great even if you were to ignore the Colosseum and the Pantheon. You still have the Forum Romanum, the Roman Walls, the Circus Maximus, ... The same applies to Angkor. Angkor is not just about Angkor Wat or Bayon. Its a huge area with a host of great temples, some smaller, some bigger, but all unique and incredible.
In total I spend 3 nights in Siem Reap and two days visiting the sites of nearby Angkor. I did not have the time to venture further outside to Banteay Srei as recommended by others. My personal highlights were Angkor Wat, South Gate of Angkor Thom plus bridge, Bayon (amazing stonework), Preah Khan and Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider temple)Read On
Monuments and Forts of the Deccan Sultanate (T)
Zoë Sheng Chinese-Canadian in NZ - 30-Dec-18
Of the 4 nominations I visited the "easy one", the Qutb Shahi tombs in Hyderabad, and with Hyderabad being on the tentative list at the same time there are more things to see than the mosques all over town, but the Golconda fort being nearby makes this an easy morning tour of the western part of the city. The other 3 nominations are in smaller towns but not unreachable, but unfortunately I found nothing else to combine it with over there so one location will do. Perhaps on a future trip when it is inscribed.Read On
Al Bidya Mosque (T)
Zoë Sheng Chinese-Canadian in NZ - 29-Dec-18
I only like religious buildings for the architecture and Al Bidya is cute. It's a bit far off from Dubai but I drove a large circle around the country and the extra hours plus beach time was all right. Shoes off, head scarf on, here we go. Most of the tourists are Indian do they prefer selfies out front but people do come in to pray - I waited for them to finish (both the prayers and the “selfie-ers”). First thing you will notice the 4 domes on the roof. If that's not unique enough then the pillar holding this all together, that's some fancy design. The decorations on the walls gives the interior enough light. It's really tiny so don't expect much time inside, maybe 5 minutes tops to see it from all anglesRead On
Primeval Beech Forests
Matejicek Czechia - 28-Dec-18
I really love this WHS and spent quite a lot of days&nights in beech forests mostly of Slovakia components. Paradoxically, I am not surprised by low ratings of other travellers, since it is not easy to recognize qualities of this WHS. Though this huge transnational property looks a bit odd and quality of individual comonents is hardly comparable, if it results in better protection of beech forest it makes me very happy. In my case it was love at first sight, and as true love it has its ups and downs. To be clear: the entire ecosystem of primeval beech forests is simply amazing and fascinating, sadly, this is not definitely true for several state parties and even their NGOs (ego of NGO) that should take care about WHS...Read On
Jay T USA - 30-Dec-18
Thingvellir National Park has to be one of the most geologically fascinating sites I have visited, sitting atop the rift between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. It isn't the geology on its own which got this park inscribed as a World Heritage Site, though it provides a stunning backdrop, particularly in winter as the black basalt cliffs stand in stark contrast to the snowy plains. But the geology is what made this an ideal site for the founding of the Althing, the oldest parliament in the world, which met at Thingvellir annually. At the base of the cliff formed by the edge of the North American plate is a rock outcropping the Icelandic people call the Lögberg, or Law Rock, which is now marked by an Icelandic flagRead On
Margravial Opera House
Klaus Freisinger Austria - 30-Dec-18
With the restoration works finally complete after a long six years, the Margravial Opera House again shines in all its glory, and it is really a fascinating site to visit. Granted, from the outside, it looks rather inconspicuous - I actually walked right past it the first time. Inside, however, it is exceptionally beautiful, and you can really imagine what it must have been like to watch a performance in the 18th century. As stated below, you buy your ticket and wait for a time slot (I visited in November first thing in the morning and there were only a few people there, but when I left, it was completely crowded), then you can walk around freely. There is a short film, and a lady also went to the stage to give a little talk about the history and renovationRead On