Shangrila Resort, Skardu, North Pakistan.There's a reason Shangrila has been dubbed “Heaven on Earth” by the locals and it's not all down to its isolated beauty amid the mystical Kunlun Mountain range. Set amid a ring of some of the highest peaks on Earth, Shangrila Resort nestles beside a heart-shaped lake, with pine trees fringing its soft sandy shores. At 2,500m above sea level, the purpose-built resort affords spectacular vistas and climbing opportunities, along with luxurious Swiss cottages on the doorstep of Buddhist monk country.
Colorado River Route, Arizona, U.S.A.A combination of water erosion and volcanic activity over six million years has carved out the angular, rugged landscapes lining the Colorado River. The area more commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon comprises an area of over 277 sq. miles. Hitch a ride with a kayak tour at Vail Springs, Northwestern Colorado and explore the lower depths of the Canyon along the Colorado River, experiencing panoramic views of the soaring peaks that flank the tributary on either side.
Machu Picchu, PeruNestled upon the peak of a tableau mountain, the ancient Inca kingdom of Machu Picchu has long been a place of fascination for backpackers. Estimated to be over 600 years old, the town lies at an elevation of 2,430 metres above sea level, overlooking the jagged Urubamba Valley in South Central Peru.
Vienna, AustriaBeauty may be subjective, but few can deny that Austria's capital Vienna packs a punch as soon as you set foot amid the old city walls. Opulent palaces such as the Belvedere and Imperial command a majestic presence, dwarfed by the Gothic spires of St Peter's Church. St Stephen's Cathedral in the central district is one of the few places you can admire three-sixty panoramas of the entire cityscape - well worth the 500-step climb of the tower!
Bohinj Valley, SloveniaRarely featuring in the media’s top-ten lists, the Central European Republic of Slovenia hides more than its fair share of out-of-this-world vistas. Bohinj Valley in the North-Western quarter has been tagged “the most beautiful valley on Earth”, down to its peaceful setting and stunning periglacial lake. Mount Triglav – Slovenia's highest mountain, at 9,396 ft - sits to the north of the lake, giving way to a rugged topography of dramatic iced mountains and thick pine forests just waiting to be explored.
Petra, JordanTucked away in the foothills of Mount Hor in the south-western region of Ma'an, Jordan, lies one of UNESCO's most stunning cultural heritage sites. Thought to have been built around the sixth century B.C, the rock-cut palaces, temples and dwelling houses of Petra are a fascinating testament to man's engineering capabilities some 2,000 years ago. The huge, naturally formed gorge shaft al-Siq paves the entrance to Petra and remains one of the most photographed 'doorways' in the world.
Lake Bunyonyi Resort, Uganda, AfricaAfrica often appears upon must-see lists for its wilderness safari opportunities and Ancient Egyptian heritage, but rarely do the south-western overlands of Uganda get a mention. An oasis centrally located between the towns of Kabale and Kisoro, Lake Bunyonyi lures with the promise of deserted tranquil lake islands and thick brush landscapes, teeming with exotic wildlife.
Luang Prabang, Laos, South East AsiaSituated along a lush, narrow plateau between the Nam Kahn and Mekong Rivers in Laos lies a city so beautiful it has been added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. Ornate Buddhist temples dating back to the eighth century sit alongside quaint little cafes and grandiose central villas. The stark contrasts in architecture are one of the city's defining attractions!
Angkor Wat, CambodiaRising like beacons above the forest canopy of Siem Reap, the palatial turrets of Angkor Wat were once Cambodia's best kept secret. Formerly the base for the prolific Khmer Empire around the ninth century, the temple complex is one of the most stunning Asian monuments to have survived the test of time. Nestled beside the mirror-like man-made lake, the photogenic complex remains wholly intact and usually takes an entire afternoon to explore.
The Alhambra, Granada, SpainMany tourists now forgo the opportunity to explore Spain due to the plethora of party resorts that have emerged in recent years. If you have the chance to venture off the tourism trail, head to the heritage-rich province of Granada, home to the Moorish 14th-century city of Alhambra. Its terracotta palaces, Court of the Myrtles and Royal Complex are some of the finest surviving Muslim structures in Spain, hailing from the Nasrid Dynasty, the last Moorish and Muslim dynasty in Spain. Bounded by thick forests and rugged terrain, Alhambra's elevated walkways yield some truly breathtaking views.
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