Buddhist Heritage sites in Southeast Asia protected by UNESCO

There are many famous Buddhist Heritage sites in Southeast Asia that are recognized and protected by UNESCO. Here is a list of the most famous World Heritage Sites in the region.

Angkor Wat (Photo credits: Commons Wikipedia)
Angkor Wat (Photo credits: Commons Wikipedia)

Angkor, Cambodia

One of the most prominent and famous sites in Asia, Angkor stretches over 40,000 hectares. This was the last remaining stronghold of the Khmer Empire and today the ruins are visited by thousands each year. The most prominent sites are the Bayon Temple with its detailed sculptures, and Angkor Thon together with Angkor Wat.

 

 

Borobudur Temple (Photo credit: Commons Wikimedia)
Borobudur Temple (Photo credit: Commons Wikimedia)

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Explanation of the Main Branches of Buddhism

Although the roots of Buddhism go back to India, over the centuries the religion spread across the whole of Asia. It’s really easy to get lost between the many different schools and sub-branches of Buddhism, but most commonly it is divided into two main branches: Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism.

Golden Buddha photo by Dragan Maksimovic via Photopedia
Golden Buddha photo by Dragan Maksimovic via Photopedia

Theravāda Buddhism

Years after the death of the Buddha, the Buddhist Sangha, the monastic community split into two mainstream schools called Sthavira and Mahāsanghika, mainly due to some differences in the religious practice and the interpretation of the teaching.

The Theravāda tradition is said to be the continuation of the more orthodox Sthavira school.

The ‘Theravada’ is a Sanskrit expression which means the ‘Doctrine of the Elders’.

The Theravāda is a conservatist current in the sense that the theravādins put great emphasis on the preservation of the doctrine and the tradition in its original and most authentic form.

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What to Read Before Visiting Borobudur?

Borobudur: Majestic Mysterious Magnificent

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Author: John N. Miksic, Noerhadi Magetsari, Jan Fontein, Timbul Haryono
Pages: 272
Published: BAB Publishing Indonesia (2011)
ISBN: 978-6029827903

Borobudur

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Author: Louis Frederic
Photographer: Jean-Louis Nou
Pages: 347
Published: Abbeville Press; First Edition edition (1996)
ISBN: 978-0789201348

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The Shwedagon Pagoda – Myanmar’s World-Famous Landmark

The most sacred and impressive destination for travellers, pilgrims, and residents, Shwedagon Pagoda stands witness to the history and importance of Buddhism in Myanmar (Burma). Almost 110 meters in height, covered with hundreds of gold plates – and the top of stupa coated with diamonds, the structure of the pagoda is truly amazing. The current structure is accepted by historians to originate from the 10th century AD.

The lit-up gold of the Shwedagon Pagoda can be seen across the city of Yangon at night The Shwedagon Pagoda at night (photo by Grace, one of our writers)
The lit-up gold of the Shwedagon Pagoda can be seen across the city of Yangon at night The Shwedagon Pagoda at night (photo by Grace, one of our writers)


The pagoda is located on Singuttara Hill which is west of the Royal Kandawgyi Lake. The pagoda contains important Buddhist relics including hairs of Gautama Buddha himself. There are a lot of legends about this pagoda as well as academic history, and visitors can learn more detail within the pagoda compound and photo gallery on the platform.

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Top Buddhist Gardens and Temples in Bangkok

Wat Pho by commons wikipedia
Wat Pho via Wikipedia Commons

One of the busiest cities in Asia, Bangkok has some beautiful places to see. Some of the most incredible sights in Bangkok are the temples and gardens. Here are some of those highlights…

Wat Pho via Wikipedia commons
Wat Pho via Wikipedia commons

Wat Pho

One of the major temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is a prominent Buddhist site. This gigantic Buddha measures 46 metres in length and is close to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Buddha’s feet are 5 metres in length and covered in mother of pearl depictions from Buddhist taksanas or characteristics. This is a must see sight for visitors to the capital.

 

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Slideshow: Introduction to Visiting Borobudur

We’ve put together a short slideshow introducing Borobudur to help you start planning your trip (or pilgrimage!) there…

More from our info about visiting Borobudur:

10 Historical and Trade Route Maps of Southeast Asia

The need for good maps in Asia began early in history thanks to extensive overland and maritime trading between the many states and kingdoms… and when looking at more modern maps of the Far East and Southeast Asia you will soon run into the history of the East India Companies in the region.

Here are some cartographic resources which reveal the companies’ and Western colonial powers’ own cartography as well as a selection of other useful maps and illustrations of trade routes.

The link to the information is given under each image. Where a high resolution version of the map is available online publicly I’ve linked from our smaller image here to the main file.

1. Dutch East India Company trade network in the 18th Century

Regional trade and indications of main export/import products

VOC i.e. Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-indische Compagnie) trade routes map by Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, Dept. of Global Studies & Geography, Hofstra University

2. 1783 Bonne Map of India, Southeast Asia, and East Indies

The map below includes extensive inland detail: it was drawn by Rigobert Bonne for Lattre’s Atlas Moderne.

Rigobert Bonne’s 1783 map of India, Southeast Asia and the east Indies. – See more at: http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/IndiaSoutheastAsia-bonne-1783#sthash.Y4LUKjyd.dpuf

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Siem Reap for the Cultured Traveller: Recommended 1st-Day Schedule

Buddhist monks in front of Angkor Wat (Wikipedia creative commons)

No other city around Thailand (or hardly anywhere similar in the world) has such a tactful name – “Defeat of Siam”; given that actually Thailand defeated Cambodia and reigned over Siem Reap from 1794 to 1907.

Siem Reap started blooming for the first time during the Golden 1920’s when the legendary Grand Hotel d’Angkor was built and high-profile guests like Charlie Chaplin started visiting the city and Angkor Wat.

But the recovery should not last long – the Khmer Rouge led Siem Reap and its people again into decades of darkness until the mid-1990’s.

Fast forward 2014, Siem Reap has turned into a bustling city with plenty of hotels and restaurants and transformed the city into the heartbeat of Cambodia’s tourism, mainly due to its proximity to the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat.

08:30 – Angkor National Museum

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The first ever art historical survey focusing comprehensively on the Architecture of the Buddhist World