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10 Cultural Gems You Need to Visit Before They Get Famous

Explore a few of the most extraordinary World Heritage Site nominees

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Flickr/Howard Ignatius

We’re willing to bet that you’ve heard of the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza. Perhaps these and a few other famous landmarks are items on your travel bucket list. The only problem, everyone else’s lists look just the same.

Click here for photos of cultural gems you need to visit before they get famous.

Not that you shouldn’t visit these popular places. Obviously they all have tremendous cultural and historic value that makes them worthwhile and meaningful destinations, but everyone knows that nowadays it’s so much cooler to opt for the unpopular. In fact, traveling at all is just way too mainstream, so maybe you should just stay home and soak up your own awesomeness.

We’re totally kidding. No matter what the status quo, you should never stop exploring the world. We just think it might be a little bit more fun to adventure into the lesser known corners. Maybe they’re not as well known, but there are plenty of less trendy travel spots out there that are just as culturally rich and remarkable as some of the more commonly celebrated places.

Each year the State Parties of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) gather in order to outline which natural and cultural sites around the world will be eligible for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

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All of the sites mentioned above (the Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon, Great Wall of China, Pyramids of Giza) are some of the list’s most popular tourist destinations in the world. However, the full list includes nearly 1,000 properties (981 to be exact) and it continues to grow each year as UNESCO considers new sites and adds them to the official list.

So naturally, there are a few (and by a few we mean many) exceptional sites out there that you’ve probably never heard of, but that definitely deserve a top spot on that travel bucket list of yours.

What’s more, beyond UNESCO’s official list, the organization also has a large collection of sites that have been nominated for inclusion but haven’t yet been deemed official World Heritage Sites.

In keeping with the trend to stray away from “the mainstream” (still totally kidding about that), we decided to sort through some of the nominees and create our own list of cultural gems that aren’t quite so well-known just yet. But one day they might be considered official World Heritage Sites, and who knows, even garner as much fame as the Great Wall or Grand Canyon.

So grab a pen, add these spots to your list and ask your inner hipster to plan a trip before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.  

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