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- Anatomy of a Shoestring Adventure
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PlanetHop! Top 100Written by David Camp
PlanetHop! has scoured the world in search of the world's most amazing travel destinations. This is our list of the world's Top 100 and includes everything from ... world famous icons, rockin' festivals, golden beaches, natural wonders, adrenaline thrills, cool museums, classic journeys ... to a good old fashion dash of history. All of these (and many more – thousands in fact) are waiting for you at PlanetHop! We've taken all of the world's top destinations and transformed them into eStamps that you can claim in your very own PlanetHop! Passport. So, if you've done some traveling or are in the process of planning that dream trip of a lifetime, come to PlanetHop! for all the inspiration you could possibly need. Let the journey begin... but never end!
#1 The Great Wall (China) - Take a walk along one of the many remaining sections of perhaps the world's most recognizable monument. Universally considered to be one of the 7 wonders of modern world, it stretches for nearly 9,000km (5,500 miles) and is easily one of the most awesome structures ever conceived of by man. The fact that it is also one of the few man-made structures that is visible from space clearly cements its unique place on any traveler's resume.
#2 Angkor Wat (Cambodia) - Watch the sunset from the top of Angkor Wat and you will quickly understand why this unique place lives at the very heart and soul of all things Cambodian. As the shadows lengthen it's easy to image this massive complex as the immortal capital of the mighty Khmer Empire who ruled much of Southeast Asia for centuries. Today it has transcended its early history and become one of those "must see" places on every traveler's list.
#3 Pyramids of Giza (Egypt) - Gawk in wonder at the mighty Pyramids of Giza, the only remaining Ancient Wonder of the World that has survived largely intact to the present. While without a doubt one of the world's most recognizable landmarks, the intriguing question remains how the ancients ever managed to build something that modern man would struggle to achieve with all of its technology? It is a mystery that we may never solve and something to wonder about when you visit this majestic destination.
#4 Machu Picchu (Peru) - Follow in the tracks of the ancients, as you walk through the gates of Machu Picchu, the "Lost City of the Incas". Originally built as an estate for the Inca rulers, it was abandoned when the Spanish Conquistadores arrived in South America. For many centuries its very existence was lost to the rest of the world until it was "rediscovered" in the early twentieth century. Since then, it has become an iconic destination for travelers from all over the world.
#5 Stonehenge (UK) - Prowl among the monolithic pillars of Stonehenge, one of the world's oldest landmarks. To this very day, no one can say for certain what the true purpose of these solitary rocks perched in the middle of the windswept English countryside actually is. Were they a place of pagan worship, or perhaps the site of much darker rites? While we may never solve this mystery, there is no denying the fact that it continues to draw travelers from around the world.
# 6 Statue of Liberty (USA) - Gaze upon the Statue of Liberty and imagine the generations of immigrants who sailed into New York City in search of a better life. Follow the computerized histories of the millions who entered the United States through the Ellis Island Immigration Center in hope of finding the fabled "streets paved in gold". To many this will always be the gateway to America and no trip to the United States of America could ever be complete without a visit to Lady Liberty.
#7 Ayers Rock (Australia) - Time your visit for sunset as the entire rock seemingly shifts from the deepest red to the palest gold. Situated virtually in the geographic center of Australia, it is considered to be a sacred site by the local Aborigines, who believe that Uluru (local dialect) is where the earth itself rose in grief following a titanic battle among the gods. Today, it is a place where the very elements seem to bend to its will and is a must for any traveler "Down Under".
#8 Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) - Lace up your hiking boots for the ultimate assault on Africa's highest mountain. Each year thousands begin the grueling 5-day climb in the hope of reaching the summit at Uhuru Peak @ 5,947 meters (19,866 ft). While it is considered to be a non-technical climb, it still takes a massive amount of guts, stamina and willpower to make it all the way to the top. But for those who do, it is guaranteed to be one of the greatest travel experiences you will ever have.
#9 Taj Mahal (India) - Follow the waves of people who descend upon the fabled Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Built in the 17th century by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. Walk through the main gateway onto the grounds and you will see the elaborately laid out garden and reflecting pool in front of the great Taj. Arrive at dawn or wait till dusk to see the marble edifice glowing pink and sometimes golden; you are guaranteed to become awestruck.
#10 Eiffel Tower (France) - Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and gain a commanding view over the city of Paris. Originally build for the 1890 World's Fair, the tower has now become one of the most recognizable landmarks in Europe and is ascended each year by millions of tourists and locals alike. Following the Fair, the city originally planned to tear the structure down, but overwhelming support changed this, allowing it to become a monument to the ages and one that no traveler should miss.
#11 Christ the Redeemer (Brazil) - Stand in the shadow of the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer as it gazes down upon the city of Rio de Jeneiro like an omnipotent guardian. Visible from virtually every part of the city, it provides a backdrop that is virtually incomparable. So, no matter what may bring you to Rio, whether it's to party your ass off at Carnival or watch some of the greatest futball (soccer) on the Planet, the statue awaits you with open arms.
#12 Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda) - Trek through the lush Ugandan rain forest in search of the elusive and endangered Mountain Gorilla. These gentle giants of the highlands represent a stark contrast to the Big 5 that draw most travelers to the continent of Africa. Just the chance to witness these amazing creatures in their natural environment is something that will change your life forever and one of the things you will remember the most when your path finally leads you back home.
#13 Chichen Itza (Mexico) - Tour the grounds of perhaps Latin America's most recognizable landmark. The pyramid of El Castillo easily rivals anything found in Egypt and if you're fortunate enough to be present on either the spring or autumn equinox you can witness the distinct shadow of a plumed serpent cast by this imposing structure. But even if you can't make your visit at these times, the best preserved ruins of the mighty Aztec empire are a must on any traveler's "Bucket List".
#14 Roman Colosseum (Italy) - Stare in wonder at one mankind's greatest monuments to bloodlust - not to mention one of the world's immortal sporting arenas. As you walk through the labyrinth of tunnels that once lay covered beneath the blood drenched sands, you can imagine what it may have been like over 2000 years ago when men fought for their lives for the enjoyment of the Romans. Of all of Rome's wonders, it is this that draws the most visitors and shouldn't be missed.
#15 Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) - Take a detour from the Ecuadorian mainland to one of the world's most unique ecosystems. First studied by Charles Darwin during the famous journey of The Beagle, its amazing range of wildlife still has the power to strike even the most cynical traveler with awe. The fact that each year it is becoming easier and more affordable to visit, makes it one of those places you should get to sooner than later, while it still remains relatively untouched.
#16 Terracotta Army (China) - Observe the military precision of these immortal sentinels who have stood in eternal formation for thousands of years. Rediscovered in 1974 after being lost for thousands of years, the army is composed of over 8,000 soldiers, horses and chariots. Even though Xian may be out of the way for many travelers, it's well worth the effort as these silent stone figures are eerily compelling and not to be missed.
#17 Petra (Jordan) - Explore the ancient city that stands as Jordan's most recognizable symbol. Once referred to as "a rose red city half as old as time", it is cut right from the surrounding rock and is interlaced with tunnels that reach deep into the heart of the surrounding mountain. The place is so awesome that it even formed the backdrop for Indian Jones and the Last Crusade and let's be honest, if Indy loved it, surely it deserves a place on every traveler's hit list.
#18 Sydney Opera House (Australia) - Take a tour of arguably Australia's most iconic landmark. Perched on the shores of Sydney Harbor, its unique design is recognizable the world over and no trip "Down Under" could ever be complete without a visit. The fact that it is also a world class entertainment venue hosting international acts from around the world provides just one more reason to include it on any travel itinerary.
#19 Gir Forest National Park (India) - Go on safari in search of the last of a breed - the Asiatic Lion. This small reserve, located in a remote section of Western India, is the last remaining habitat of a species that once lived across the breadth of Asia. The Gir Forest is one of those special places that you sometimes find and provides a much more intimate experience that you will find in the enormous game reserves of Africa and is a must see for any traveler to India.
#20 Lemaire Channel (Antarctica) - Cruise through one of the most visited places in all of Antarctica. Commonly referred to as the "Kodak Crack", its sheer cliffs provide a truly awe-inspiring (not to mention claustrophobic) experience. Icebergs fill the 11km length of the canal and if you're lucky you'll see a wide array of wildlife from leopard seals to the occasional Orca whale during your transit. It may cost you a large portion of your pay packet to get here, but it's worth every cent.
#21 Grand Canyon (United States) - Make a visit to one of the world's ultimate natural wonders. Different views can be gained from both the North or South rims, with the North being by far the most crowded with a steady stream of day-trippers from Las Vegas. But for the ultimate experience, descent into the actual canyon to gain a clear perspective on just how enormous this natural landmark truly is. It's something you're guaranteed never to forget.
#22 Acropolis (Greece) - Make your way to the top of Athens where you'll find one of Europe's the most important cultural monuments - the Parthenon or Temple of Athens. If you have the energy, it is recommended that you make the journey by foot so as to enjoy the views down to the city below. If Greece is the center of modern civilization, then the Acropolis represents a monument to all of her achievements and is an icon not to be left off any traveler's resume.
#23 Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil) - Pull on a rain slicker and experience one of the world's great waterfalls. Iguazu offers both the chance to walk around the upper falls via a steel catwalk where you can witness the sheer power of millions of tons of water as it cascades over the falls and the option to take a boat trip into the mists to gain a different perspective on just how massive the falls actually are. After your visit you'll never question the power of mother nature again.
#24 Okavango Delta (Botswana) - Enter an isolated world where you'll have the bizarre chance to go in search of the Big 5 ON FOOT. From the moment you enter the Delta you'll instantly recognize how untouched it is by the outside world. This feeling continues as you set off across the open plains where you'll almost certainly spot lions, cheetah and elephant and if you're lucky perhaps even leopard. It is an experience that you can only have in this most amazing of African reserves.
#25 Temple Mount (Israel) - Visit one of the world's most important religious juxtapositions. As the location of the Western Wall (holy to the Jews) and the Dome of the Rock (holy to the Muslims) it's easy to see why this place lies directly at the heart of religious tensions. But regardless of denomination, it holds a very special place in the hearts of millions of the faithful from around the world. So, walk with respect as you witness mankind's varying faiths in action.
#26 Great Barrier Reef (Australia) - Spend the day enjoying the underwater wonders of the largest living structure in the world. The reef stretches for over 2,500km (1,500 miles) and is home to an enormous variety of underwater life. Regardless of whether you dive or snorkel, the reef is the perfect place to experience the amazing colors of this diverse environment. After even the briefest of visits it's easy to see why this is considered to be one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.
#27 Everest Base Camp Trek (Nepal) - Learn the true meaning of "the slow road" as you hit the trail to Everest. Along the way you'll travel side-by-side with local Sherpas who use the trail like a highway to the top of the world. If not looking to summit, it's possible to climb Kala Pattar, a rise overlooking the base camp that provides 360° views of the Himalayan Range. It's also a great way to test both your mental, as well as physical stamina and is quite a feather in any traveler's hat.
#28 Panama Canal (Panama) - Admire the view of perhaps mankind's greatest feat of engineering prowess. The canal took nearly 25 years to complete and reduced the journey from New York to San Francisco by over 13,000 km (8,078 miles). Watch as a seemingly endless array of cargo ships slowly make their way through the interconnecting lockes. It's an awesome experience that highlights the courage and perseverance that mankind can display when they set their minds to a task - no matter how great.
#29 Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italy) - Join the flocks of tourist who descend on Pisa each day to see perhaps the world's most famous monument. Unfortunately, even though the tower can't be climb, it's still a mandatory stop on any travel itinerary to Italy. Come on, can any traveler's photo album ever really be complete without a snap trying to hold up the leaning tower? I think not!
#30 Carnival (Brazil) - Join in the fun of the world's most awesome party. Held each year in the days leading up to lent, it's a time when even the most reserved traveler can let their hair down and go wild. If you're really adventurous, you can join one of the many Samba schools that prepare elaborate costumes to help celebrate the event. If nothing else, it'll change your benchmark for a good party and is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lives.
#31 Zanzibar (Tanzania) - Visit East Africa's "Spice Island", a place that has been focal point of African trade for centuries. Today its very name brings to mind all things exotic and mysterious. One of the best introductions to the island is to walk through the winding streets of Stone Town, where elaborately carved doorways seem to adorn every building. It'll make you feel like you've been transported back to another era and is a place that all travelers to Africa are invariably drawn.
#32 Burj Khalifa (UAE) - Get a crick in the neck as you stare up at the world's tallest skyscraper. Dominating the Dubai skyline, this mammoth skyscraper soars to a height of 828m (2,717 feet) and can be seen for miles around. A climb to the observation deck on the 120th floor takes you to a place where vertigo is a constant companion and will make you wonder how large buildings can possibly get as man's ambition pushes him higher and higher into the sky.
#33 Milford Sound (New Zealand) - Explore its misty confines where towering cliffs plunge hundreds of meters into the sea. Located on NZ's South Island, Rudyard Kipling once proclaimed it the "8th wonder of the world" and even the producers of The Lord of the Rings movies couldn't resist featuring it as the backdrop for their Oscar winning movies. To gain the full impact, take a journey by boat through the sound's maze-like corridors. It gives the beauty of nature a whole new meaning.
#34 Sigiriya (Sri Lanka) - Put on your artist's cap as you enter "Lion's Rock", a place once described as "the largest picture gallery in the world" due to the brilliant frescoes that decorate much of the fortress' rock face. Surrounding the central rock is a series of landscaped gardens that are amongst the oldest in the world. All-in-all, it is a place of peace and tranquility that is as stunning today as it must have been a thousand years ago.
#35 Château Frontenac (Canada) - Imagine how the other half must have lived during a by-gone era of luxury and opulence. First opened for business in 1893, the Château has transformed itself from a haven for the wealthy into one of old town Quebec's greatest icons where you could easily be forgiven for imagining you've been transported to the streets of Paris. It is one of Canada's and the world's true gems.
#36 Red Square (Russia) - Soak up the atmosphere of what is undeniably Moscow's heart and soul and one of the most visited attractions in all of Russia. Separating the Kremlin from the official residence of the Russian president, the distinctive onion domes of St Basil's Cathedral are a sight that most travelers immediately recognize. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Square retains a special place in the hearts of the Russian people, as well as those travelers who visit it.
#37 Easter Island (Chile) - Follow the gaze of one of the 881 moai statues that stand like lonely sentinels against the raging Pacific winds. Claimed to be the most remote inhabited island in the world, its history is chronicles by years of violent internal struggle. However, today it provides travelers with one of those special, off the beaten track gems that are becoming more and more rare. A visit here takes some special planning, but it's more than worth the effort.
#38 Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania) - Exploring the wonders of this large, volcanic crater that is a world unto itself where season after season, generations of animals go through the life and death struggle that has no beginning and no end. Within its confines you can see all of Africa's most popular cast members, from the Big 5 to an amazing population of pink flamingos that fill the waterholes with color. If there's one place in all of East Africa to view wildlife, it's surely here.
#39 Borobudur (Indonesia) - Sample the tranquility of the world's ultimate monument to Buddhism. Decorated with over 500 statues of Buddha, it is one of Indonesia's most popular pilgrimage sites. However, it also provides an amazing opportunity for the average traveler to gain a better understanding of one of the world's more peaceful religions. It is an experience that is unique and will strike a chord with all travelers, regardless of personal beliefs.
#40 South Georgia Island (Antarctica) - Witness perhaps the most amazing collection of Antarctic wildlife to be found anywhere in the world. With no native population, the island offers the perfect backdrop for viewing the penguins, seals and whales that call it home. While this is without a doubt a remote, cold and inhospitable place, it has recently become an intermittent stop on the Antarctic tourist route. So get in before the crowds hit!
#41 Varanasi Ghats (India) - Take a cruise along the banks of the Ganges River as thousands of Hindu faithful cleanse their souls in the river's holy waters. These Ghats play host to literally millions of pilgrims each year, with still other Ghats dedicated to the cremation rite, which is believed to release the soul of the faithful into its next cycle of life. For the traveler, these practices provide a rare glimpse into the beliefs shared by nearly a quarter of the earth's inhabitants.
#42 Yellowstone National Park (USA) - Take in the breathtaking scenery of one of the US's premier national parks. Central to its popularity is Old Faithful, a thermal geyser that has been going off like clockwork for thousands of years. Oh, and don't miss the bison, elk and occasional bear (from a distance) that populate one of North America's most amazing natural habitats.
#43 Berlin Wall (Germany) - Stand before one of the remaining sections of the wall, which for many years lived as a symbol of the Cold War and political oppression. Today, this self same wall has been transformed into the ultimate symbol of freedom. But even with its renewed status, it only takes a visit to the small portal that was once known as Checkpoint Charlie to recall how many were denied their freedom for so long.
#44 Amazon Riverboat Journey (Brazil) - When it comes to classic journeys, there is none greater than a riverboat down the mighty Amazon River. Just make sure to spend at least one night on the river to experience the sounds of the river at night, which are uniquely different to anything you will have heard before. It's guaranteed to change you forever as you mingle amongst the hearty people that live along the mightiest river in the world and make it their home.
#45 Abu Simbel (Egypt) - Turn back the pages of history with a visit to one of the most impressive monuments in all of Egypt. Originally carved from the rock mountainside to honor Ramses II and his wife, Nefertiti, it was amazingly lost to the desert sands for nearly 2,000 years before being "rediscovered" in the early 1800's. Today, it ranks as one of the most popular and enchanting of all Egypt's many tourist hot spots.
#46 Jemaa el-Fnaa (Morocco) - Wander through Marrakesh's central market place and be utterly entranced by the fairy tale image of a middle eastern bazaar. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the market is the fact that after the stalls have packed up for the day, it transforms itself into one of the largest open air theaters in the middle east. When darkness sets in, the story-tellers come out to entertain all comers as they have been doing each night for thousands of years.
#47 Venice Canals (Italy) - Sit back and relax as a professional gondolier takes you on a leisurely tour (ideally with someone you love). This is one of those lifetime bucket list items that everyone should experience before they pack it in. As the childhood home of Marco Polo, who pioneered the art of travel, it's easily one of the most exciting and unique cities in the entire world. It's something that you will quickly come to appreciate and will sorely miss when you leave.
#48 Cave of the Crystals (Mexico) - Descend into the utter darkness where you can lose yourself in one of the world's most unique subterranean experiences. As the result of a series of unique geological conditions, enormous crystals have formed - some reaching to over 10m (33feet) in length. However, if you're planning a visit you need to hurry as there's plans to reseal the cave system to preserve the crystal structures. So, the clock's ticking!
#49 Potala Palace (China) - Feel the good karma flow with a visit to the historic home of Tibetan Buddhism. This was the home of the Dalai Lama until he was forced to flee to India in 1959 following a failed Tibetan uprising. With over 10,000 shines and 200,000 statues it is virtually unrivaled in the world as a place of worship and exudes a sense of welcome to all travelers without prejudice.
#50 Oktoberfest (Germany) - For anyone who likes beer, this is the granddaddy of all parties. Originally held in 1810, the festival has taken on a life of its own with visitors coming from all corners of the globe for the annual 2+ week festival starting in September. As you can imagine, the steins of beer flow in a continual cascade of golden nectar. The only advise that PlanetHop! can give is to drink responsibly and make sure to have some aspirin handy for the inevitable hangover.
#51 Raft the Zambezi River (Zambia / Zimbabwe) - Hold on tight as you plunge into the daunting Class 5 rapids of the most adrenaline pumping white water rafting to be found anywhere on the planet. As soon as the river waters flow over the mighty precipice of Victoria Falls, things start pumping with rapids such as the Knife's Edge and Widow Maker and you can begin to image what you're dealing with. But just one piece of advice, take a deep breath before you go under!
#52 Mount Fuji (Japan) - Stare in wonder at the awe-inspiring grandeur of a mountain that easily ranks up there with the world's best. But for those who choose to go beyond just admiring its almost perfect symmetry, it's also possible to climb to the summit at 3,776 m (12,389 ft). A well-known Japanese saying suggests that anybody would be a fool not to climb Mount Fuji once—but a greater fool to do so twice. So, if you don't want to be considered a fool, strap on the climbing shoes now!
#53 Rocky Mountaineer - (Canada) - As perhaps the most scenic railway journey in the world, its route winds through some of North America's most beautiful and pristine alpine scenery. With a series of glass carriages, the views are out of this world. So much so that it has been dubbed the "World's Leading Travel Experience by Train" for several years running. There's no other way to describe it than to say it's an absolute must on anyone's travel itinerary to "the great white north".
#54 Tierra del Fuego National Park (Argentina) - Follow the Pan American highway all the way to the end of the line. Here awaits Patagonia, the "Land of Fire", a place like nowhere else in the world. It ranks as one of the most stunningly beautiful places on the planet where you can view a range of wildlife from penguins to sea lions. But probably the coolest thing about Patagonia is just being able to say you've been here. Believe me, there won't be may others who can claim the same thing.
#55 Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary (Malaysia) - Walk through the dense rainforest in search of mankind's closest relative, the Orangutan. Located in a stretch of rainforest older than the Amazon, this unique sanctuary provides one of the last remaining homes for these timid primates who have been pushed to the brink of extinction. All you have to do is stare into their deep brown eyes for an instant to understand how special these creatures are and how important it is to protect their future.
#56 Running of the Bulls (Spain) - Hit the streets for a festival that's part celebration, part sporting event and all excitement. With origins going back to the 14th century, the original intent was to transport the bulls from their corrals to the bullring where they would be slaughtered. Today, the festival has evolved into more of a challenge to see if you can make the journey through the streets of Pamplona unscathed. If nothing else, it's definitely guaranteed to get the heart pumping!
#57 Jellyfish Lake (Palau) - Pull on the bathers for a close encounter with thousands of jellyfish. Not at the top of your travel wish list? Well, for those of you who visit this solitary lake, one of the most surreal wildlife experiences you'll ever have awaits! But don't worry, for these golden jellyfish are perfectly harmless to humans and are guaranteed to make you look at these often misunderstood creatures in a whole new light!
#58 Siwa Oasis (Egypt) - If you've ever dreamed of getting away from it all, then this is the perfect place for you. Located in the far western part of Egypt, it's best known as the ancient home of the mystical Oracle of Amon, who first confirmed Alexander the Great as Pharaoh of Egypt. Today, the ruins will make you feel as if you've been transported into the world of Aladdin and his magic lamp. It's an experience that will no doubt live with you for the remainder of your days.
#59 Ellora Caves (India) - If you ever get the feeling that members of different religions simply can't get along, then a visit here might help change your mind. This amazing complex of 34 separate caves contains shrines and monasteries to three different religions. It's a rare place that goes to show that if people were just a little more tolerant, the world might not be in quite the state it is today.
#60 CN Tower (Canada) - Climb to the very top of the tower and stare down at the streets of Toronto far below. While technically no longer the tallest structure in the world, it still packs quite a punch. One the tower's coolest features is the observation deck's glass floor at an altitude of 342 metres (1122 ft). It's bound to give even a sky diving fanatic a moment's pause. So if you want to experience some serious altitude without jumping out of a plane, this is your chance!
#61 Recoleta Cemetery (Argentina) - Pay your respects to Eva Perone, a woman who stole the hearts of a generation. While a cemetery isn't normally on your average travel itinerary, this is a little different. Evita, as she is known throughout the world, represents all the best of Argentina, from the sultry sounds of tango to the colorful neighborhood of La Boca. In many ways, all of Buenos Aires can be summed up in the life of the woman who has transcended time to become a legend.
#62 Giant's Causeway (Northern Ireland) - Watch your step as you traverse the interlocking basalt columns of Northern Ireland's most amazing natural wonders. As legend would have it, the Irish warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight his Scottish counterpart Benandonner. With a look very similar to a cobblestone road (of hexagonal shape) you can easily imagine a massive heard rising from the cold grey waters - coming directly at you!
#63 The Dead Sea (Israel) - Float in the mineral rich waters at the lowest point on the face of the earth (423m/388ft below sea level). Due to the unique properties of the salty water it has been a popular health resort for thousands of years. But perhaps the coolest thing is that no matter how hard you try, you can't sink in the water due to its salt-induced buoyancy. So, in short, no traveler's photo album can ever be complete without a picture of you floating in the Dead Sea.
#64 Ko Pha Ngan (Thailand) - Join the thousands of party-goers who descend upon this monthly Full Moon Festival. For nearly a week prior to the full moon the party slowly builds up to a fever pitch, with music blaring from beachside bars, fire-twirlers performing their craft up and down the beach and an assortment of other, more nefarious goings on in the shadows. While it may not rival Carnival for sheer magnitude, it still easily ranks amongst the world's top parties.
#65 Sossusvlei (Namibia) - Follow in the footsteps of countless desert nomads as you climb the massive red dunes of the southern Namib Desert. With an aspect that screams "perfect desert image", these dunes are among the most photographed places in all of Sub-Saharan Africa. The largest of the dunes - Big Daddy - towers to a height of 380 meters (1330 ft) and is possible to climb, but be prepared for a struggle as for every three steps forward you're bound to slide one back in the soft sand!
#66 Ephesus (Turkey) - Wander through the ancient ruins of a city that spent it's entire existence in the shadow of Rome. However, this definitely isn't to imply that it wasn't a wonder in its own right. As home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the 7 ancient wonders, it was more than a powerhouse in its own right. But sadly, the only remnants of this once mighty structure is a single column amongst a field of grass. It's a clear testament to the fact that time catches us all in the end.
#67 Las Vegas Strip (USA) - Stroll through the neon glow of perhaps the world's ultimate entertainment mecca. To say that it's kind of bizarre, especially for those of us who have traveled the world, is an understatement as you can visit many of the world's most famous landmarks without ever leaving the Strip. Options include the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, the even the Canals of Venice! While it might not be everyone's cup of tea, it's hard to deny that it has a certain charm.
#68 Angel Falls (Venezuela) - Gaze in wonder at the massive drop of the world's tallest waterfall (979m/3,212 ft). First discovered by American aviator, Jimmie Angel in 1933, the falls still bear his name. The power of the falls is so great that the jungle literally vibrates for miles around from the millions of liters of water plunging over the enormous precipice. It's one of those humbling experiences where you realize how powerful mother nature is and how insignificant we are as humans..
#69 Rock of Gibraltar (UK) - Readjust your cultural radar with a visit to the enormous rock monolith perched at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. It can come as quite a surprise to find this small slice of the UK, located thousands of miles south of London. If you've been hankering for some Bangers and Mash or Steak and Kidney Pie, you're dreams are waiting to be answered in this small enclave where the Union Jack proudly flies overhead.
#70 Kakadu National Park (Australia) - Come face-to-face (well, maybe not that close) with a giant saltwater crocodile in the national park made famous in the movie "Crocodile Dundee". These living relics of the prehistoric era can grow to over 6m (20ft) and weigh 1,300 kgs (2,900 lbs) and are perhaps nature's ultimate killing machine. Witnessing these apex predators in their natural habitat is an encounter you will never forget.
#71 Serengeti National Park (Tanzania) - Get a front row seat for the annual migration of over one and a half million wildebeests at one of Africa's most famous game reserves. The park runs continuous with Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve, which continues north over the border and is home to the colorful Masai people. These tribal nomads have grazed their livestock on these open plains for thousands of years and easily rival the Big 5 for the title of Africa's ultimate poster child.
#72 Bali (Indonesia) - Immerse yourself in the easy-going, laid back atmosphere of Indonesia's Hindu community. The island has been a major tourist destination for decades and is without a doubt one of the best places on the planet to enjoy a resort/beach vacation. Then when you throw in the added flavor of the Balinese culture that features traditional art and dance with fantastic shopping and a great range of foods, there's bound to be something for everyone.
#73 Antigua (Guatemala) - Dedicate an entire day to lose yourself in the splendor of perhaps the finest example of Spanish colonial architecture to be found anywhere in Central America. Situated against the backdrop of three active volcanoes, the city's old town shines with colonial charm and exudes a pride in culture that you don't often encounter. The people of Antigua simply love the place - plain and simple - and it won't take long before you feel the same way too.
#74 Hagia Sophia (Turkey) - Tread quietly as you enter the haloed halls of perhaps Istanbul's most important religious buildings. Recognized by its unique dome, the structure has acted as both a church and mosque during its long lifetime. Today it plays the part of a museum and in many ways this is appropriate as you can feel the weight of history as soon as you enter its doors. There are few places in the world that are as important in the annals of both Christianity and Islam.
#75 The Vatican (Vatican City) - Spend a day touring the center of power for the entire Roman Catholic faith where tradition and history go hand-in-hand. You can easily eat up hours alone watching the comings and goings in Saint Peter's Square, but the real drawcard is inside the Vatican Museum where you can witness, firsthand, Michelangelo's ultimate masterpiece - the Sistine Chapel. All-in-all, if you're in Rome it can't be missed.
#76 Mamalluca Observatory (Chile) - Gaze up at the stars and wondered at the many mysteries they might contain. This region of Chile is blessed with virtually cloudless skies, providing a view of the heavens that is unequaled anywhere in the world. When you look through the massive telescopes the moon appears close enough to touch and the planets are visible in vivid relief. It is as close to the stars as you can possibly get while still keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground.
#77 Nile River Journey (Egypt) - Take a felucca ride down the mighty Nile River on a journey that epitomizes the lust for adventure that compels travelers to take that first step away from home into the unknown. The standard trip involves following the course of the river from Luxor to Aswan and takes in the splendor of the Nile Delta in a way that you can never experience from more conventional modes of transport. As a traveler, what more could you possibly ask for?
#78 The Forbidden City (China) - Take in the regal atmosphere from the palace where China's imperial dynasties ruled for nearly 500 years. Surrounded by an 8m (27 ft) high wall and 52m (171 ft) wide moat, it is imposing to say the least. Today, it houses a museum that contains a collection of Chinese art that is unequaled anywhere in the world. It's an experience that utterly redefines the term ... Imperial.
#79 Tower of London (UK) - Follow in the footsteps of a long line of inmates who found themselves locked away for their supposed crimes. With a role call that includes such famous names as Anne Boleyn, William Wallace (Braveheart) and even Queen Elizabeth I, it will forever hold an important place in the annals of English history. Today, it is one of London's most popular tourist attracts and provides a unique insight into a time that seems more reminiscent of a fairytale than reality.
#80 Florida Keys (US) - Ease the seat back as you head south from Miami on the road to Margaritaville. With only one direction to go, US Route 1 takes you south through Key Largo and then across the awesome 7-mile bridge until you finally end up in Key West, where you can join in the carnival atmosphere at Mallory Square to celebrate the sunset to the sweet sounds of Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. It is an experience that will bring a smile to your face for the rest of your days.
#81 Kangaroo Island (Australia) - Take the ferry across Backstairs Passage to a place that has so many sights that it's hard to believe they're all found on one relatively small island. With activities including coastal hikes, wildlife viewing (seals & penguins), caves tours and even wine tasting - it's like a microcosm of everything travelers crave the most. So, if you're looking to fill every waking minute of the day with something to do, this is definitely the place.
#82 Lake Titicaca (Bolivia) - Pay a visit to the reclusive Uros people, who make their home on a series of artificial floating islands on this, the highest lake in the world. But this isn't the only sight as the lake also hosts a surprising network of natural islands that are all relatively easy to visit, including Isla del Sol, which the Incas believed was the birth place of their sun god. It's the perfect place to soak up the unique culture of the high Andes.
#83 Komodo Island (Indonesia) - Watch your step as you go in search of the fabled Komodo Dragon. As the last of their kind, they can grow up to 3m (10ft) in length and are without a doubt the island's apex predator. Today, the entire island has been designated as a national park and tourists are welcomed - even though it's more than a little out of the way for your average holiday. But for those who make the journey, you're guaranteed not to go away disappointed!
#84 Lamu Island (Kenya) - Step back in time to what Africa must have been like hundreds of years ago. Often overshadowed by its more famous island neighbors, this is easily the best preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa and has become a mecca for backpackers from around the world. It's the perfect place to kick back, relax and absorb the unique Swahili culture. Take the chance to visit soon, because the modern world is bound to catch up to this little gem soon.
#85 Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary (China) - While away the hours enjoying the playful antics of these amazing and unique denizens of the forest. The first thing that will strike you is the sheer size of the place, but then as home to over 30% of all remaining pandas, it has to be. Then when you add the fact that it's also home to a variety of other endangered species, such as the snow leopard, the entire experience becomes all the more special and one you'll cherish for the rest of your life.
#86 Utila (Honduras) - Sink below the waves for an encounter with a true leviathan of the deep. As the largest of the Bay Islands, this is one of the few places in the world where you can snorkel or dive with the mighty whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean. It's difficult to describe the feeling as one of these giants swims by and you're literally thrown through the water in its wake. It's something you have to experience for yourself to believe.
#87 Old Town Prague (Czech Republic) - Step out into a fairytale world where the worries of modern life fade to a distant memory. In some ways it's like entering a time warp, which is oddly ironic when you consider that one of the square's most popular attractions is the Astronomical Clock, the oldest functioning clock in the world. But in contrast, there's no doubt that the wider city is well entrenched in the 21st century and can perhaps be summed up simply as the best of both worlds.
#88 Citadel of Damascus (Syria) - Climb the massive stone walls that have guarded the city for nearly a 1,000 years. As the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Damascus offers a treasure trove of options for the travelers. But it's the citadel that draws all in the end and when you witness the terrible scars that span its walls, you can imagine what it might have been like to have a foreign army descend upon you, pent on your destruction. Ah, if only the walls could talk!
#89 Kilauea Volcano (United States) - Get to the heart of the action with a visit to Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano, which has been spewing forth molten lava in an eruption cycle that has lasted for over 25 years. As one of the most active volcanoes in the world, it clearly attests to the power of Mother Nature. The fact that it ranks as one of Hawaii's most visited attractions will make you question the term "playing it safe"!
#90 Bora Bora (French Polynesia) - Find a comfortable lounge chair and shift down a gear for some serious sun time in Bora Bora, a place synonymous with paradise. Only an hour's flight away from Tahiti, the island is surrounded by a turquoise lagoon that rises to an extinct volcano surrounded by lush vegetation, swaying palms and white sand beaches that are almost too perfect for words.
#91 Pantanal Wetlands (Brazil) - Paddle into the heart of the Pantanal Wetlands, an ecosystem that rivals (and possibly even exceeds) the mighty Amazon in diversity. Located primarily in Brazil, but spilling into parts of Bolivia and Paraguay, it represents an incredibly diverse habitat that offers visitors perhaps the best opportunity in all of South America to view wildlife such Capybaras, Anacondas and Cayman in their natural environment. Just make sure to keep your hands inside the boat!
#92 Ayutthaya (Thailand) - Explore the ultimate historic site in Thailand with a visit to Ayutthaya, the original capital of Siam. As the only country in Southeast Asia to never be conquered by a Colonial power, there is little doubt as to the strength of the country's culture and resolve. It will make you realize that there is much more to Thailand than just sun and sand.
#93 Saint Catherine's Monastery (Egypt) - Get up well before dawn and make the trek up Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise over one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. With a library and art collect rivaled only by the Vatican, it has been a center of religious learning for 1,500 years. This is where Moses is fabled to have seen the proverbial "burning bush" and some even claim that the bush growing in the monastery's central courtyard is the real deal!
#94 Jaisalmer Fort (India) - From the moment you catch sight of the sandstone fortress rising out of the surrounding desert, it seems to spring directly from the pages of a Middle Eastern fairy tale. But unlike many other ancient forts that lie in ruins, this is actually an integral part of the city and home to a quarter of the population. It is a place where you don't need a map or a guidebook to explore. Just start walking and see where your path may lead.
#95 Old Town Havana (Cuba) - Immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Cuba. Even though isolated from the rest of the world for much of the past 50 years, the open plazas and Spanish architecture retain a universal appeal. It doesn't matter if you've come for the Jazz or the Cigars, Habana Vieja will welcome you and before you know it you'll be swaying with everyone else to the cool beat of smoky jazz or the sultry sounds of samba. Once you're hooked, you'll never want to leave.
#96 Blue Lagoon (Iceland) - Allow the thermal waters to soak into your bones and ease away the aches and pains of the road. Sitting at a comfortable 38°C (101°F) year round, many claim that the lagoon's high mineral content has the power to rejuvenate the body and relieve a variety of skin afflictions ranging from athletes foot to psoriasis. But even if you're skins in good shape, it's still a great place to kick back and let the cares of the world drift away.
#97 Inside Passage Alaska (United States) - Travel by ship, canoe, kayak or any other type of sea-faring craft that suits your fancy. But regardless of the mode of transport you choose, keep your eyes peeled for whales, seals and some of the most amazing icebergs you could possible imagine. You're guaranteed to feel closer to nature than you probably ever have before as you enjoy one of the most awesome natural experiences to be found anywhere in the world today.
#98 Kaikoura (New Zealand) - Springing directly from the pages of Moby Dick, this is the place to come if you want a close encounter with a modern-day "white whale". As arguably the best place in the world for whale watching, this little hamlet has changed its focus from whaling to become one of the most successful examples of sustainable tourism in the world. It is a true example of what can be done when you put your mind to it.
#99 Jesuitical Ruins of Trinidad (Paraguay) -Follow in the footsteps of the devout men who braved the wilds to establish a sanctuary for the faithful. The old church with its elaborate depiction of an army of angels decorated directly onto the altar wall is a clear testament to why this is considered to be the best example of Jesuitical architecture on the continent. It is a place that will give you a new respect for the concept of faith.
#100 Khao San Road (Thailand) - Walk the length of the road and revel in the fact that you're amongst kindred spirits. This legendary road is something of a crossroads where everyone who visits Southeast Asia seems to end up at one point or another during their travels. The only way to really sum it up is to simply say it's a place you won't want to leave and when you're finally back home you'll dream about coming back to.
PlanetHop!'s Top 100 represents only the tip of the iceberg! At PlanetHop! you can claim destination stamps for hundreds of the world's top destinations and this list will continue to grow. So get your free PlanetHop! ePassport now and start claiming those stamps!
Dave is President and Co-Founder of PlanetHop! and has spent much of the past 15 years traveling the world for business and pleasure. His longest journey was a two year romp around the world!
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