My passion to travel is rooted in the desire to learn about other people and countries – and that inevitably includes learning about their history to understand how they became who they are today! As you might have notices, there are a lot of history museums and photos of temples, churches, palaces or ruins – I have taken thousands of them. In a way, any destination has a history, making it difficult to pick just 5 of them, so I went with destinations that are all about history! It’s even more difficult to rank them, so feel free to disagree with my ranking!
1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
What? Where? Yes, Angkor Wat might be a surprise for many – but to me it is the most fascinating history destination on Earth! Even after three trips to Angkor Wat and multiple visits to the main temple on each trip, it is still breathtaking to walk across the causeway and start to see, really see the beauty of this gigantic, complex temple! And that is only the first of many fascinating temples to see in the area. Learning that the city of Angkor at its peak was many times the size of London and that it survived one of the most gruesome regimes in history to rise from the ashes (or more correctly the jungle) to welcome visitors from around the world, makes it even more important to add to your list!
2. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is considered the most sacred site of the Inka empire and to truly honor it, I recommend to take the Inka Trail, a pilgrimage at its time. It is a long and arduous hike, covering more than 40km and a 1,200m climb in a few hours, but learning about the history along the way, seeing many smaller sites, is a great preparation for the moment you see Machu Picchu at sunrise from the sun gate, rising from the mist! You just can’t match that experience when arriving on a bus with 50 other people, being herded through the ruins. It’s probably the single most awe-inspiring history moment I’ve had bar none!
3. Egypt of the Pharaohs
Seeing the pyramids, the tombs in the Valley of the Kings or the artifacts in the Egyptian museum for the first time is a stunning sight! But realizing that some of them are more than 5,000 years old is when it really hits you! This is one of the oldest, highly developed cultures on our planet, building humongous monuments when many cultures were still centuries or even millennia away from similar achievements. You might want to take a timeline of the Pharaohs with you to keep reminding you of the amazing achievements of mankind so long ago when you see them!
4. Bagan, Myanmar
If there is one historic sight that still holds as many secrets as it has sights to offer, it must be Bagan. Hundreds of temples are strewn across the landscape around Bagan, yet there are still many undiscovered or unexplained still to be opened up to visitors! After years of isolation induced by the military dictatorship, Myanmar has been opening up to the world over the last few years, making it easier to visit Bagan! And while many historic sights make you wish you’d come to visit before the crowds arrived, you can still avoid the crowds in Bagan and even see things the people who came before you couldn’t see! That puts Bagan onto my Top 5 list of places to explore mankind’s heritage!
5. Rome, Italy
Ok, so I had to break my rule of “history only” destinations for this Top 5 list for Rome. While it certainly offers plenty of reasons to visit other than its history, the pure number of historic buildings and artifacts from different eras over a span of more than 2,000 years justifies its spot. Add to that how easily all these sights blend into the modern city, and Rome is probably the most fun place you can go to discover history. If your family hates history than this is the one place you can still take them for everybody to have a great time!