skip to main content

Top UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

by Winnie Wong | June 11, 2019

You may have heard about the world-famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Halong Bay in Vietnam, you may even put these UNESCO World Heritage to your travel bucket list that you have to visit at least once in your lifetime and there are many more UNESCO World Heritage you should visit in the French Indochina: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Cambodia: Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the largest religious complex on Earth covering 1.6km2 (four times larger than the Vatican City) and is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. The temple complex features the largest collection of religious monuments in the world. It was constructed by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century and is the purest example of the Khmer architecture. The temple was dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu God of Protection. After the Thai takeover, the temple was consecrated to Theravada Buddhism in 14-15th Century C.E., as the Khmer Empire fell and the city of Angkor was abandoned. The Khmer King fleed to build a new city in Phnom Penh and is the current capital city of Cambodia.

One of the most famous temples in the Angkor Wat complex is Ta Phrom. It is known for the vast tree roots that ensnare it and its appearance in the Hollywood film Tomb Raider.

The groundbreaking confirmation of the hidden medieval city of Mahendraparvata beneath the ground close to Angkor Wat is very exciting! It is believed that there are multiple cities beneath the tropical forest floor from the latest findings and its scale can match the size of the capital city, Phnom Penh! Cambodia awaits for us humans to uncover its mystery.

Laos: Luang Prabang

The old town of Luang Prabang is the heart of Laotian culture, where you can see traditional wooden houses, royal structures, colonial architecture and over 30 Buddhist shrines. Its unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape display the mix of the traditional Laos architecture and European influenced architecture.

Luang Prabang was the capital of the first Lao kingdom from 1353, located at the heart of the mountainous region in  Northern Laos on a peninsula along Mekong and Nam Khan River. It’s one of the most charming city in Southeast Asia. It’s very nice to walk up to the viewpoint on Mount Phousi for the view of the ancient town of Luang Prabang.

Laos: Vat Phou

Vat Phou stands at the base of Phou Kao Mountain overlooking the Mekong River and the Champasak Province. This ancient Khmer temple ruin was built between the 5th and 15th centuries. The locals believes that the natural spring in the mountain is sacred. To this date, the temple is still active with Buddhist religious ceremonies. The second most important Buddish Festival,  Makha Bucha takes place here from the full moon of the 3rd lunar month each year for 3 days. It is to honor the Buddha gave his first sermon after reaching enlightenment (found the truth about life in Buddhism).

Vietnam: Halong Bay

Halong Bay is obviously one of the most famous attraction in South East Asia! The UNESCO World Heritage site with the dramatic limestone pillars landscape and turquoise water has over than 1,600 islets in the bay, you can take guided tours to enjoy the surreal scenery and explore the majestic caves with a kayak.

Vietnam: Hue

Hue was established as the capital of Viet Nam in 1802. The Complex of Hue Monuments was the Imperial City of Vietnam Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries setting on banks of the Perfume River.

Thien Mu Pagoda is one beautiful pagoda overlooking the Perfume River. The mythical origin of the pagoda is when Nguyen Hoang Lord was looking for a suitable place to build the capital of his kingdom. He met a silver hair old lady when he walked up to the hill next to the perfume river. She gave him advises building capital for the Nguyen Dynasty. The dynasty lasted more than 200 years with 13 reins. Nguyen built this pagoda to thank the women who helped him.


Vietnam: Hoi An

The well preserved UNESCO Hoi An Ancient Town used to be a trading port dates back to the 15th century. More than 800 preserved historic buildings including Chinese temples, iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, pagodas, wooden shop-houses, and French colonial houses all stand along the old canals, the Hoai River where lanterns are being released on full moon nights every month. Hoi An Riverside is lit by colourful and traditional Vietnamese lanterns at night, an atmospheric and beautiful ambiance across the town. Hoi An ancient town is also known for its delicious food, interesting market and skilled tailors in this picturesque town.

Vietnam: My Son Ruins

My Son Ruins is an abandoned Hindu temple ruins built between the 4th century and the 14th century, about an hour drive from Hoi An. My Son Sanctuary was constructed by the Champa Kingdom with ruled the Central and Southern part of Vietnam from 3rd century till 1832. 17 structures have survived the bombing in the Vietnam War but many religious statues and artifacts were stolen. The amazing structures were built with soft bricks that had been baked at a low temperature and were placed on top of each other and moulded together. The whole building was set on fire to harden the bricks and lock them into place without mortar.

Suggested Tours

If you've been inspired...

  • Wat Xieng Thong Luang Prabang Laos
    Cambodia Group Tour Culture

    Grand Indochina

    A 19-day tour visiting the sights and attractions of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam

    View this package
  • Water lily season Mekong Vietnam
    Vietnam Group Tour Culture

    Classic Vietnam

    A 12-day tour exploring the best of Classic Vietnam.

    View this package
  • Bayon Siem Reap Cambodia
    Vietnam Group Tour Culture

    Essential Vietnam and Cambodia

    Visit the UNESCO sites and vibrant cities of Vietnam and Cambodia

    View this package
  • Laos Tailor Made Culture

    Laos and Cambodia

    A scenic tour of Laos and Cambodia

    View this package
  • Luang Prabang Wat Xieng Thong Laos
    Laos Tailor Made City

    Discover Laos

    Discover Laos with this fascinating itinerary

    View this package
  • Monks Walking together Cambodia
    Cambodia Tailor Made Culture

    Authentic Cambodia

    A 9-day tailor-made journey through authentic Cambodia

    View this package
  • boats river sunset Hoi An Vietnam
    Vietnam Tailor Made City

    Vietnam Explorer

    Explore Vietnam at your own pace, with transport and accommodation included

    View this package
  • Ta Prohm Siem Reap cambodia
    Cambodia Tailor Made Culture

    Discover Cambodia

    Spot Irrawaddy Dolphins, visit temples and experience the culture in a 10-day tour

    View this package

We’re here to listen to your needs so if you need to chat, then why not email us or pick up the phone, we will be happy to help.