Capsized ships and buried treasure sound like tales plucked straight from an adventure film; but if rumors and myths are to be believed, these legendary riches are still out there! It’s time to pack up your gear, check your map, don your best Indiana Jones outfit, and venture to these lands (or waters) where priceless and precious objects are said to be hidden. You might just be the one to uncover the untold fortunes that centuries of explorers have tried to find!
Kampung Sungai Ara, Malaysia • Recommendation •
A fortune of USD2.6 Billion is believed to be lying at the bottom of the Malacca Strait. The Flor de la Mar, or Flower of the Sea, was a glorious ship in its heyday. Over 100 feet in length and three masts of wind power made this carrack an impressive vessel for Portugal’s India expeditions. Despite its damages through the years, the allure of Malacca’s wealthy trade routes were too strong to resist. The Portuguese fleet, led by General Alfonse de Albuquerque, conquered the city and its riches. The hoard of diamonds and other gemstones was loaded onto Flor de la Mar, never to see land again. The ship never survived the seas and turbulent storms. A replica of the vessel exists at the Maritime Museum, but the Flower of the Sea and its precious loot have yet to be found.
Andaman Sea-Karimata Strait
Baguio, Philippines • Recommendation •
The search for the Yamashita treasure—the alleged loot stolen by Japanese forces from Southeast Asian countries during World War II—has brought hunters and seekers from tunnels burrowed into the mountainside to underground networks hidden in plain sight. The Baguio Convention Center is nestled in the mountain city of Baguio in the Philippines, far from the mysterious caves reported to hold General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s wealth. However, rumours suggest that Japanese troops buried the treasure somewhere here, the location of the general’s headquarters and his eventual surrender. Some experts are pointing to the land underneath the convention center as the location of the buried treasure. Mystery still clouds the fortune of General Yamashita, drawing people from all over the world to chase after the legendary riches allegedly waiting underneath the surface of the Philippine Islands.
Governor Center Road, Baguio City, Benguet, Philippines
Taichung, China • Recommendation •
In the heat of the Second World War, a priceless piece of history was lost in the waters of the Taiwan Strait. Among the billions in gold and diamonds believed to be aboard the Japanese naval ship, Awa Maru, the Peking Man skull was by far the most valuable. To place a price on this surviving piece of the homo erectus was—and remains—inconceivable. The Queenfish, an American submarine, shot down Awa Maru and irreplaceable fortunes. The ship was found, but no amount of recovery operations could uncover the lost Awa Maru treasure to this day.
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand • Recommendation •
World War II yielded many lost treasures around Asia, from the Yamashita lootings to the Awa Maru capsize. Another one that has inspired a gold rush lies along the Burma Railway. At the tail-end of the war, the Japanese troops said to have buried their gold and gems here. Some say it was removed a long time ago; some say that it still dwells within a sealed cave near the River Kwai, waiting to be found.
Kwaiyai Rd, Ban Tai, Amphoe Mueang Kanchanaburi, Chang Wat Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Muzaffarnagar, India • Recommendation •
Even the humblest of villages can host immeasurable wealth if you think to look. Unknown to the residents of this humble village in Uttar Pradesh, India, an extraordinary fortune dating 5,000 years into the past lay buried underneath their homes. All it took to change the course of Mandi Village’s history was an accidental discovery. As a farmer leveled the fertile soil to yield next season’s harvest, he stumbled upon two copper containers. Inside, jewelry made of gold, onyx, and other gems were traced back to the Indus Valley civilization. The treasure was found, but people still look to Mandi Village for more.
Mandi, Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh, India
Ulan Bator, Mongolia • Recommendation •
The very name of Genghis Khan stirs up gruesome thoughts among those who know of his life, exploits, and legacy. Historians peg the number of people who perished in his conquests to be about 40 million. His death has left much of a mystery, from how he died to his final resting place. Now, people look to Burkhan Khaldun in Mongolia where a tomb perhaps contains the fearsome leader and his great wealth of gold.
Khan Khentii, Mongolia
Sometimes, the pursuit of what seems impossible can lead us to find out that the world still yields many mysteries to uncover. In the case of the Min River in the Sichuan province of China, what began as a legend led to a treasure trove embedded into the muddy river banks. It all started with silver bullions. Then came the precious gold, silverware, and bronze in surprisingly good condition. Many believe there may be more, just waiting under the ancient river trail.
Pengshan District, Sichuan, China
Aktau, Kazakhstan • Recommendation •
Medieval Gold coins dating back to the 12th century were unearthed in this part of Kazakhstan. A total of 22 were found, the rest still hidden. In its crude etchings on the surface of the coins, archaeologists and other scholars are attempting to understand more of the civilization that it was created to serve. From the Mankyshlak Peninsula to the Great Silk Road, these glinting medallions are valuable not just for their weight in gold, but the stories they hold in history.