Unesco officials recently added 29 sites to the burgeoning collection of World Heritage Sites. Some of the newcomers look compelling.

Hyrcanian Forests (Iran)

Iran isn't all dusty deserts and atmospheric cities. There's forest, too. "This ancient forest contains its full original complement of wild plants and animals, much of which has been lost from other adjoining areas," says Unesco. "It also contains superlative natural phenomena, exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance."

Plain of Jars (Laos)


A vast collection of stone urns, some up to 3m high, fill the landscapes around the Laos town of Phonsavon. The purpose of these tilted vessels is still unknown — unless you believe local legend. The first relates that the jars were fashioned from buffalo skin, sugar cane and water and built to contain whiskey in celebration of a military victory. More plausible is the second legend: that they were water containers used to capture rain in this, the driest province in Laos.

Plain of Jars, Laos. Photo / Getty Images
Plain of Jars, Laos. Photo / Getty Images

Bagan (Myanmar)

The pre-eminent attraction in the country formerly known as Burma has finally made the cut. It is one of the world's greatest archaeological wonders, a sight to rival Machu Picchu. Rising from a verdant plain are hundreds of temples, beautiful, other-worldly silhouettes that were built by the kings of Bagan between 1057 and 1287.

Bom Jesus do Monte (Portugal)

About 45 minutes from the coast, on the forested slopes east of Braga, is Portugal's most impressive religious sanctuary. The giant Baroque stairway built of granite with whitewashed walls was devised in its zigzag form in 1722 as a meditative way of approaching an existing small shrine.

Prosecco (Italy)

The prosecco hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene have also become a World Heritage Site. Sales of Veneto's sparkling wine now exceed even those of champagne, but unlike the Champagne region, the area remains undiscovered, despite its castles and bell towers, restaurants and sunny climate.

Jaipur (India)


Jaipur is India in a nutshell. Dirty, dusty, noisy and magical, with camel carts vying for road space with vast trucks, 4WD vehicles, bicycles, elephants and ambling cows. It has more palaces than any city has a right to — some small, some magnificent, some barely standing.

Vatnajokull National Park (Iceland)

This is pure Game of Thrones, a wild and exposed land of ice and fire. In summer, visitors can clamber through tunnels to reach natural cathedrals of blue ice, bathed in surreal light.

Telegraph Group Ltd