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BlogTravel tips5 ancient ruins to visit where you can do more than just learn about history
stone buildings in the clouds in cuzco peru
Travel tips

5 ancient ruins to visit where you can do more than just learn about history

Sep 27, 2022 by Kara Kramer

What better way to celebrate World Tourism Day than by visiting ancient ruins around the world? Buckle up as we show you the exciting things to do at these famous archeological sites and ancient ruins from Peru to Cambodia. Think the only thing to do at ancient sites is to learn about history? Think again! Read on for new ways to explore more of these ancient places while on our tours.

siem reap cambodia angkor wat

5. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Get a blessing from a monk

Angkor Wat is a sprawling, 900-year-old Hindu temple complex—and the largest religious monument in the world. This relic of the Khmer empire is home to ancient structures, such as the Bayon Temple, which is filled with carved reliefs of ancient faces, and the Temple of Ta Prohm, a beautiful ancient ruin that’s covered in jungle growth.

Inside the sacred site, Buddhist monks sit quietly on its stone floors, offering blessings to visitors like staffer Lindsay. “Travelers visiting Angkor Wat can receive blessings from young monks inside the temple,” said staffer Lindsay. “Looking on as a monk silently and gently tied a red bracelet around my wrist was a peaceful moment and a nice way to feel more connected to the place.” Out of so many spectacular ancient places, Angkor Wat should make it to the top of your bucket list. Experience this special moment for yourself on our Vietnam & Angkor Wat tour.

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petra jordan treasury trail

4. Petra, Jordan

Hike the secret treasury trail for the best views

There’s an unmarked trail leading to some of the best views of Petra, one of the oldest ruins in the world. The fourth century B.C. city carved out of pink sandstone was once a bustling city with theaters, temples, and palaces embedded into the natural landscape.
It can take days to fully explore the ruins of Petra, nicknamed the Rose City.

But of all the ancient sites, one of the most impressive monuments in Petra is the Treasury. A quick left near the Royal Tombs landmark will lead you up an arduous path of over 500 stairs. The sweat will be worth it—the trail will reward you with a unique, unobstructed view of one of the most incredible ancient ruins in the world. Explore the famous ruins of Petra for yourself on our Israel, Jordan & Egypt: Petra to the Pyramids tour.

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cuzco peru machu picchu intihuatana stone

3. Machu Picchu, Peru

Feel the energy of the Intihuatana stone

“One of our local guides at Machu Picchu said that the Intihuatana Stone gives off a certain energy when you hover your open hands near it,” said staffer Jamie. The stone was used for sun-worshipping by Incan high priests at this famous ancient ruin, where they performed equinox ceremonies to mark the changing of seasons.

During the equinox, the sun is directly aligned with the equator, making it look like the sun is hovering right above the Intihuatana Stone. It’s earned its nickname at Machu Picchu as “the hitching post of the sun.” “One of my fellow travelers tried it and was amazed,” said staffer Jamie. “He said he closed his eyes and felt the energy go right up his arms. Whether you believe it’s real or not, it’s a fun thing to try while you explore the sacred site!” With so many ancient sites to visit, you need to feel the energy on our A Week in Peru: Lima, Cuzco & Machu Picchu tour.

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australia uluru at sunset

2. Uluru, Australia

Watch the sun set over a sacred site

In the heart of the Australian Outback, there’s a natural landmark that isn’t so much an ancient ruin as it is an ancient cathedral without walls. For the Aborigines of Australia, the monolithic Uluru is the source of their creation story, known as the Dreamtime. Rays of light from the sun beam onto the sandstone, making the prominent rock appear different colors depending on the time of day, from gray to purple as the sun rises, to a glowing red as the sun sets. See the sun set over this one-of-a-kind location for yourself on our Australia & New Zealand tour.

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mesa verde national park colorado

1. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Seize the opportunity to view petroglyphs

Explore ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs at this famous archaeological site. Mesa Verde was home to 26 tribes of the Pueblo people and has over 600 cliff dwellings, including the notable Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Spruce Tree House. You can view 800-year-old petroglyphs in a backcountry setting on a unique 2.8-mile hike. The rock art is linked to the Pueblo people’s observations of the night sky, with certain elements of the petroglyphs only illuminated by the sun during the winter solstice. Take the trek to see these dynamic petroglyphs on our Albuquerque Balloon Festival & U.S. National Parks tour.

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Check out more travel tips and join us on tour to experience these destinations for yourself!


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About the author | Kara Kramer
Growing up, Kara’s backyard was the Sonoran Desert where her love for exploration was ignited by dirt roads leading to petroglyphs and family road trips to sleepy Mexican fishing villages. Kara’s enjoyment for charting new territory continued with teaching abroad in Thailand, roaming wine cellar caves in Portugal, and swimming in the bioluminescent waters of the Caribbean. She’s always on the lookout for dive bars and a bowl of Vietnamese Pho (lime, basil, and jalapeño is the holy trinity).

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views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground
views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground views of the aegean sea from the greek islands with white buildings in the foreground
A Week in Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini
9 days | 12 days with Rome extension
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