Sometimes when we travel, we only see the main tourist attractions and end up missing the lesser-known parts which are just as incredible. Let's face it - we all want to see Cambodia's grand Angkor Wat and Peru's mind-blowing Machu Picchu, but what about the smaller ruins, the ones a little less accessible, or less known that are just as wonderful? Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat aside, here are some of our favourite ancient ruins in Latin America and Asia!
Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary - Vietnam
Photo by Bernard Gagnon
Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary is wonderfully picturesque, surrounded by mountains on all four sides made. Over 70 towers of Hindu influenced architecture were build at the site, however, unfortunately not all have survived the test of time, with many damaged during the Vietnam War.
Tikal – Guatemala
Photo by chensiyuan
Located in northern Guatemala near the Belizean border, Tikal is one of the major sites of Mayan civilization. These beautiful ancient sites were inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th Century A.D. From a distance you can admire the peaks of several temples protruding from the dense surrounding rainforest. In the past, over 100,000 people populated this Mayan city.
Chichen itza – Mexico
Photo by Carlos Delgado
As the most important capital city of the Maya area, Chichen Itza holds invaluable information on the countries pre-Hispanic past. The UNESCO World Heritage area stretches over 125 kilomteres, packed with soaring pyramids, temples and stunningly calved columns. Each year, more than 1 million visitors visit the Chichen Itza and it’s monumental buildings.
Altun Ha - Belize
Photo by Daniel Foster
Just north of the city of Belize you will find the ancient Mayan ruins of Altun Ha. Surrounded by rich wildlife, Altun Ha is well preserved, featuring two large central plazas surrounded by smaller constructions; it was once a ceremonial centre for the wealthy. A short trip from the Caribbean Sea, this culture zone architecturally beautiful and packed with wildlife.
Monte Alban - Mexico
Photo by Bo-deh
Monte Alban is a collection of terraces, dams, canals and pyramids, located just out of Oaxaca in Mexico. The grand Zapotec capital flourished for thirteen centuries, from the year 500BC to 850AD and believed to have supported up to 35,000 people in its heyday.
Ayutthaya - Thailand
Photo by PlusMinus
Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya flourished from the 14th to the 18th century. During this time became one of the world’s largest cosmopolitan areas and a centre of global diplomacy and commerce. The city was destroyed by the Burmese towards the end of the 18th century and never rebuilt.
Fortaleza de Kuélap – Peru
Photo by Elemaki
The fortress of Kuelap, stretches over 600meters and reaches 19metres in height. Within the wall are over 450 stone houses and cyndrical buildings. It is located on a mountain much higher than Machu Picchu and is much older than the Inca Empire. Ostracized from other Peruvian ruins, it is often covered in Amazonian forest cloud.
Tierradentro – Colombia
Photo by inyucho
The National Archeological Park of Tierradentro contains a number of statues and underground tombs carved into hilltops and mountain ridges between the 6th to 10th centuries. To reach the tombs, there is a bit of a hike involved but once you arrive, you’ll forget about the trek and be in awe of the elaborately decorated caves.
Sukhothai Historical Park - Thailand
Photo by Ahoerstemeier
Sukhothai (which translates to “Dawn of Happiness”) was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam from the 13th to the 14th century. The park displays superb temples and monuments that have been recently restored. The kingdom was overthrown in the mid 14th century due to the rising power of the south. It’s a must see when in Thailand.
Tulum – Mexico
Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
Not far from Cancun is an archaeological treasure. The Tulum ruins are situated along an impressive Cliffside, facing the pristine Carribbean waters. The sea views are breathtaking and the perfect backdrop for the fascinating Mayan ruins. It’s almost like a scene from Game of Thrones!