Everyone loves to put out their list of “Top Places to See Before You Die” but it seems after a while the same destinations get regurgitated like a bad curry… over and over again. The goal of this post was to introduce you to a few places that you have hopefully never heard of.
Before you start venting in the comments, I do realize that some in the list that are relatively touristic by today’s standards. The question is – even if you may have heard of the place, have you been?
Let’s get started, in no particular order as usual. Oh, and in case you were wondering…. I've only been to Bagan on this list.
Geiranger is a small tourist village in the western part of Norway. Geiranger is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and has been named the best travel destination in Scandinavia by Lonely Planet.
Since 2005, the Geirangerfjord area has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Samarkand (“Stone Fort” or “Rock Town”) is the second-largest city in Uzbekistan and the capital of Samarqand Province. The city is most noted for its central position on the Silk Road between China and the West, and for being an Islamic center for scholarly study.
Sigiriya (also known as Lion Rock) is located in the central Matale District of the Central Province, Sri Lanka in an area dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high.
Bonito is a municipality located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Bonito is in the middle of a region that is being discovered as “Caribe do Centro-Oeste” (the Caribbean of the Central-West) due to the unbelievable blue color of its waters.
Owing to the enormous quantity of limestone in the ground, the water of these rivers passes through a real natural filter where impurities are deposited at the bottom of the river bed, leaving the rivers to be some of the clearest and most transparent in the world.
Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. The name “Sossusvlei” is often used with an extended meaning to refer to the surrounding area, which is one of the major visitor attractions of Namibia.
The name “Sossusvlei” is of ed origin and roughly means “dead-end marsh”.
Batad is a village of fewer than 1500 people, situated among the Ifugao rice terraces. It is perhaps the best place to view this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Svaneti is a historic province in Georgia, in the northwestern part of the country. The famous Svanetian towers erected mainly in the 9th-12th centuries, make the region’s villages attractive.
In the province are dozens of Georgian orthodox churches and various fortified buildings. Architectural monuments of Upper Svanetia are included in a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma (Myanmar). From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar.
During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.
Socotra Island is a very isolated island that is part of the Republic of Yemen. Through the process of speciation, a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet.
It has been described as the most alien-looking place on Earth. The island was recognized by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site.
The Bamiyan Valley marked the most westerly point of Buddhist expansion and was a crucial hub of trade for much of the second millennium CE. It was a place where East met West and its archaeology reveals a blend of Greek, Turkish, Persian, Chinese, and Indian influences.
On the cliff face of a mountain nearby, three colossal statues were carved 4,000 feet apart. One of them was 175 feet (53 m) high standing statue of Buddha, the world’s tallest. The ancient statue was carved during the Kushan period in the fifth century. The statues were destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001.
Located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo, and the smaller island of Kofiau.
It encompasses more than 40,000 km² of land and sea, which also contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest marine national park in Indonesia.
Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel, on top of an isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BC.
The Hunza is a mountainous valley in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan. The Hunza is situated north/west of the Hunza River, at an elevation of around 2,500 meters (8,200 ft).
Aliabad is the main town is while Altit is a popular tourist destination because of the spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains.
The Avenue or Alley of the Baobabs is a prominent group of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar. Its striking landscape draws travelers from around the world, making it one of the most visited locations in the region.
Along the Avenue, in some 260 m long segment is remaining some 20 – 25 trees about 30 meters in height, of the species Adansonia grandidierite, endemic to Madagascar.
Grey Glacier is a glacier in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, just west of the Cordillera del Paine, Chile.
The surface of the lake can be seen when following the big circuit of Paine Mountain Range at John Garner Pass. There is another view of the glacier from the south shore of the lake where the glacier can be seen in the background, with fragments of ice floating close to the shore.
The Metéora (“middle of the sky”) is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.
The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and the Pindus Mountains in central Greece. The Metéora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is located in Maranhão state, in northeastern Brazil. It is an area of low, flat, occasionally flooded land, overlaid with large, discrete sand dunes. It encompasses roughly 1500 square kilometers, and despite the abundant rain, supports almost no vegetation.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a 243-square mile park is full of stunning karst pillars of sandstone, covered with sub-tropical rainforest. The park is often covered in fog, adding to the mystery but obscuring views.
So there you have it……. Hopefully, a few more places to add to your bucket list. I know that these are all on my list of places to visit. If you have been to any of these places already I would really love to hear about it. Tell me your story in the comments section below.
Finally, if there are any places you know of that haven’t been mentioned you feel need a shout-out, add those using the form below.