In an exciting development for globetrotting fanatics all around the world, popular travel website Lonely Planet has released an Ultimate Travel List of the world’s top 500 sights. We’ve had a look at the list and there’s no denying - these places are truly impressive. But 500 different destinations is a little much to digest in one chunk, so we’ve skimmed the very best off the top and added a few handy travel tips for each location to help you get an idea of just what’s out there for you to discover.
1. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
These magnificent religious edifices once stood at the heart of the Khmer Kingdom and although the mighty empire that built such marvels crumbled 600 years ago, the temples still stand proud today - remarkably well preserved for the weight of history that now lies on them. A city of domes and spires in the north Cambodian jungle that draws almost two million visitors every year, it’s only minutes away from Siem Reap airport
. For those want to extend their stay in north Cambodia after basking in the ancient glories of Angkor, a three hour drive to the west will bring you to Battambang, an intriguing French colonial relic of a town. The odd fusion of European and Asian influences makes the place one of a kind - it’s also a valuable gateway for those wishing to experience authentic local village life.
2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The world’s largest coral reef system, this massive structure was built by billions of tiny coral polyps and harbours an incredibly abundant and colourful array of life. Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, many coastal cities in the state offer boat rides out to the Reef. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular ways to experience the life-rich beauty of Great Barrier - a great amount of work goes into preserving its integrity and your visit (thanks to eco-levies) could well contribute to the Reef’s ongoing health. Once you’ve seen Great Barrier, there’s no way you’re going to stop at that. The Aussie east coast is brimming with exciting travel destinations - many choose to pick up a Brisbane car rental
and take a road trip down the coast to see some of Australia’s brightest cosmopolitan cities and most colourful small towns.
3. Machu Picchu, Peru
High in the Peruvian Andes lies the centuries-old Inca site of Machu Picchu. Lost to outside knowledge for hundreds of years until American historian Hiram Bingham reintroduced this soaring haven to the world, it is now Peru’s most popular tourism site with annual visitor numbers in the hundreds of thousands. It’s unknown what exactly the site was originally used for, with theories ranging from royal retreat to a tribute to sacred landscape. It’s a 16 hour journey altogether from Lima
to Cusco, although some will opt to skip the road trip and fly to Cusco Airport - the nearest city to Machu Picchu. Picking up a car rental from Cusco
will allow you to explore the Sacred Valley and nearby Saksaywaman, another relic of the Incan empire.
4. Great Wall of China, China
Although much is made of the immense length of the Great Wall of China, you can’t appreciate just how vast it is until you’ve walked the Wall yourself. Build over the course of many centuries to ward off raids from the nomads of the Eurasian Steppes, an archeological survey determined that the entire wall with all of its branches stretches for a staggering 21,196 kilometres. The easiest way to see the Wall is head to Beijing and make your way to the Badaling portion of the Great Wall - it can get pretty crowded, but this is without a doubt the most famous and representative portion of the wall today. If you’d rather skip all the touristy nonsense of Badaling and find a purer experience, grab a Beijing car rental
and make the two hour trip northeast to Simatai. It takes a little more time and isn’t suitable for the elderly or infirm, but those who make the effort will be rewarded with a first class Great Wall journey.
5. Taj Mahal, India
Constructed by a 15th century Mughal emperor as a lavish tomb for his favourite wife, this beautifully symmetrical mausoleum lies in the city of Agra, around 3 and half hours drive south of New Delhi. The construction of the elaborate edifice was estimated to have cost around 32 million Indian rupees - which in today’s terms equates to about US$827 million. The site now attracts around 3 million visitors annually, with most choosing the cooler months of October, November and February to come and marvel at this architectural wonder. Getting a New Delhi car rental
will give you the freedom to make the most of your visit - India is so much more than just the Taj Mahal, amazing as it is, so you’ll want to have the choice to roam as you wish.
These only represent the top one percent of the Ultimate Travel List, but if you haven’t seen these travel classics, it’s time to break out the calendar and start planning!