We’ve all got our own version of the 100 places to see before we die, and there are certainly locations that fall onto pretty much everyone’s lists. Iconic sites such the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, and the Grand Canyon are universally accepted as absolute must visits for any intrepid traveller. However, the globe is littered with absolutely spectacular sites that are perhaps less well known but just as worthwhile. Let’s look at a few mind-blowing places that you might want to consider adding to your personal bucket list:
Phang Nga Bay – Thailand
Rising vertically out of the pristine waters of the bay, the sheer limestone cliffs and karsts of Phang Nga cast eerie shadows over the otherwise sun-drenched seascape. Paddling around these rock formations and mangroves can make you feel like you are in a movie until you realise that nearby James Bond Island was, in fact, one of the primary settings for the “The Man With The Golden Gun”. You can also drop in for lunch and a spot of shopping at Koh Panyee, a village built almost entirely on stilts that rise out of the water. Take note, Phang Nga is not readily accessible to the regular traveller, however, companies such as Travezl offer outstanding tours that will allow you to experience this incredible spot at a reasonable price.
Zion National Park – Utah, USA
While it’s “Grander” cousin in Arizona garners the vast majority of the attention, Zion is truly one of the most breathtaking natural wonders on the planet. The Grand Canton’s vastness makes it a little difficult to fully grasp, even when you are inside it. By contrast, the magnificent sandstone walls of Zion are far more up-close and personal, and will leave you with a feeling of genuine inspiration. It’s worth spending a day there so that you can experience the changing colours of the cliffs as the sun rises and falls.
Blyde River Canyon – South Africa
There is a reason why they call it “G-d’s Window”. The sublime vistas of Blyde will literally leave you breathless. If you ever were to find G-d, this would be the place. If you can tear your eyes away from the the views for long enough, there is some seriously amazing white water rafting for the thrill seekers, as well as more sedate river cruises for the mellow traveller. World-class fishing, hiking, abseiling, horse riding, mountain biking, this little-known diamond of Africa has it all.
Sapporo Ice Festival – Hokkaido, Japan
This annual event in Japan’s northernmost island is an unbelievable spectacle. Every winter, teams from around the world descend on the frigid outpost to create snow and ice sculptures, unlike anything you have ever seen. Typically, there are over 400 individual sculptures to view at 3 main sites. The incredible detail will absolutely blow you away. While in Sapporo, you can feast on the famous and absolutely delicious local version of Ramen noodles, finished off with some of the region’s exceptional ice creams that come in bizarre flavours, such as beer and garlic. They may sound gross, but take it from me, they are beyond divine.
Tikal – Guatemala
The ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal rise out of the lush, green jungle are so beautifully preserved you can almost close your eyes and imagine that they are still populated. Whether due to the relatively remote location, or the political instability, Tikal has never had the high profile of other Mayan archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza, however, it is just as breathtaking, and the smaller number of tourists give it a far more personal, relaxed feeling of tranquility.
Whatever your travel priorities, our world has a wealth of surprises waiting to be discovered. Travel hard and enjoy!
Photo Credit: Giggs Huang