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Intangible cultural heritage can't be touched, but it will ignite your other senses through music, song, food, arts, craft, drama and skills.

Did you know there are 584 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage elements throughout 131 countries? While these elements can’t be visited in the same way World Heritage Sites can, they all hold deep cultural significance that can enrich your next journey.

At Hayes & Jarvis, we have extensive experience building journeys of a lifetime around UNESCO sites. We believe cultural heritage is intrinsic to understanding the place you visit and should be experienced before it’s too late.

In 2020, UNESCO added 29 important new elements, reflecting the ability of intangible cultural heritage to bring people together and preserve history.

So let us take you on a journey to some of our favourite UNESCO travel destinations and learn about the unique arts, food, artistic practices and techniques that earned them UNESCO status in 2020.

UNESCO travel destinations: Singapore

Locals know that Singapore’s Hawker centres are the place to find the best food in the city. These lively open-air dining rooms draw crowds from diverse background to eat, chat, play chess, busk and meet friends. Many of the stalls have been kept in the same family for generations, and they specialise in one particular dish refined over many years. This UNESCO travel destination is a true foodie heaven!

Silver Discoverer

Singapore To Bali Cruise

  • 19 Days
The Silver Discoverer combines the Silversea luxury cruise experience with an Asian fusion for the senses. Unwind in five star…
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Cruise holidays
Traditional boat

Singapore Bali And Kuala Lumpur Holiday

  • 10 Days
  • Guide Price £2,299 PP
Kuala Lumpur is a diverse city teeming with soaring skyscrapers, including the famous Petronas Towers, sacred mosques and plentiful shopping…
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Cultural holidays
a bridge over a body of water with a city in the background

Singapore And Cambodia Holiday

  • 11 Days
  • Guide Price £2,699 PP
Singapore has something for everyone, from theme parks, golf courses and gardens to vibrant markets and enormous shopping malls, some…
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Cultural holidays
a group of palm trees on a sunny day

Singapore And Philippines Holiday

  • 13 Days
  • Guide Price £2,999 PP
Combine a city break to the ultra-modern and gleaming streets of Singapore with beach island bliss in The Philippines on…
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City holidays

UNESCO travel destinations: Namibia

The traditional music of the Nama people involves the use of specialized instruments to create a unique sound. This enchanting melody and rhythm is complemented by dances known as Nama-stap.

With only a few elders still practicing the tradition and, the aim is to protect this important musical ritual for the future.

Learn more about Namibian culture on a Highlights of Namibia journey from the dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean to the dusty plains of the Namib Desert.

Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia

You can’t go far in Northern Africa without eating a meal with couscous. But you may not know that the production and consumption of this humble carbohydrate is a deeply symbolic act. In fact, preparing couscous is a ceremonial process involving different operations and exclusive tools. The processed grain holds deep symbolism linked to solidarity, conviviality and the ritual of sharing a meal.

Speak to an African destination expert to plan your very own foodie tour of Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

Moroccan food makes it an incredible UNESCO travel destination. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

UNESCO travel destinations: Japan

Wooden architecture has been part of the Japanese landscape since ancient times, and the traditional skills, techniques and knowledge needed to build and restore these homes have received UNESCO heritage status. Master wood craftsmen learn important skills such as harvesting Japanese cypress bark, lacquer painting, production of tatami mats through preservation associations. This process of passing down these skills is believed to build cooperation, foster social cohesion and strengthen the cultural identity of communities.

In fact, this is just one of 24 Intangible Cultural elements and 23 World Heritage Sites in Japan. From splendid Buddhist temples to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go, famed for its thatched farmhouse-style houses, Japan is one of the most intriguing destinations in the world.

a statue in front of a building

Japan And Fiji Holiday

  • 13 Days
  • Guide Price £4,599 PP
Explore the fascinating city of Tokyo, and immerse yourself in the fast-paced, high fashion and high tech way of life….
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Diving holidays

Japan Tour Tokyo Kyoto Osaka

  • 13 Days
  • Guide Price £6,799 PP
With an unusual combination of ancient traditions and a new, very modern way of life, this diverse Asian country has…
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Escorted tours holidays
Architecture Japan

Luxury Guided Tour Japan

  • 9 Days
  • Guide Price £3,999 PP
Explore the unique culture of Japan on this nine day journey. Combine old and new, from bustling cities to authentic…
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City holidays
Snow monkeys Japan

Nagano Snow Monkey Tour

  • 2 Days
  • Guide Price £599 PP
This overnight excursion is an outstanding addition to your Japan itinerary. Witness Snow Monkeys bathing in the hot springs of…
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Cultural holidays

All Hayes & Jarvis travel experts know that experiencing the culture of a destination is the best way for travellers to connect to the people and pulse of a region. So get in touch with our experts and start planning your next journey to UNESCO travel destinations today.

Read more about our top tips for visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites on the blog.

Written by: Jas Bhela
Posted in: Culture vultures

Japan inspiration

For more exciting destination ideas, browse these Japan pages and start planning your next adventure.

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