Let us look at the below list of Top 10 Most Amazing Places on Planet Earth in 2016-2017. When I set out to write this I thought it would be easy. However, it was soon clear that there are so many amazing places on Earth that it would be very hard to be totally objective and many places that deserved recognition would be overlooked. I have endeavoured to list places that will be appealing in terms of culture, tranquillity, visual impact, and plain awesomeness. In many of these places there are other things to look at that are nearby, and foods, people or cultures that are worth getting to know and enjoy.
List of Top 10 Most Amazing Places on Planet Earth 2016-2017
#10: The Plitvice Lakes National Park – Croatia
Perhaps Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction. It was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979. Located approximately halfway between the capital city of Zagreb and Zadar on the coast, the beauty of the National Park lies in its sixteen lakes, inter-connected by a series of waterfalls, and set in deep woodland. This is populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars and rare bird species.
The National Park covers a total area of 300 square kilometres, whilst the lakes join together over a distance of eight kilometres. There’s also quite an altitude difference across the park – the highest point is at 1,280m, the lowest at 380m – although the total height difference between the lakes themselves is only 135m. Veliki Slap, the largest waterfall, is 70m tall.There is accommodation available within the Park. There is also a wide selection of private accommodation (rooms, apartments in guest-houses and similar) in the region. There are some options very close to the park entrances, but also plenty of choice in a number of the towns and villages (such as Slunj) on the way to the Park. A hire car is recommended if staying close to, but not at, the Park itself. There is much to explore in the environs of the Park as well. For the photographer the Park offers an immense number of photographic opportunities and limitless scope for creativity.
#9: Montana Magica Lodge – Chile
To a certain extent this is somewhat artificial, but well worth the visit and experience. Deep in southern Chile lies the Montana Magica Lodge – an extraordinary hotel hidden away in the centre of a 300,000-acre private nature reserve. A strange volcano-like building that spews water instead of lava; its hospitable windows adorned with moss and vines, complementing the surrounding trees and fauna.
Each of the cozy suites is named after a local species of bird, and all feature a selection of modern comforts that rival even the top rated hotels in less remote parts of the country. If the curiousness and appearance of the hotel itself fails to impress, there are a number of other attractions on offer. Among these are hot tubs made out of huge trunks of trees. There is a mini golf course built into the forest itself, using the natural world as the obstacles, and there are assorted outdoor activities such as horseback riding, rafting, and hiking.This venue may take some getting to, but it is well worth the effort.
#8: The Zhangye Danxia Landscape — China
Zhangye’s Danxia has lots of craggy red cliffs, most of which are several hundred meters high, and multicolored ridges of weathered rock formations, sometimes stretching to the horizon. These formations, sometimes smooth and sometimes acute, stand out against the greens or grays of the plains, looking grand and magnificent. Across the Danxia landscape zone, a pattern of red rocky outcrops resemble weird and wonderful shapes like castles, cones, towers; as well as humans, creatures, birds and animals. Their peaks looking through the clouds and mist can produce a mirage-like scenery of fantastic mountains and pavilions.
It is best to visit in the morning and at dusk, especially at sunset, when the colors change continuously, showing yellow and red layers covered by a light gray layer. The rocky bands are well defined with colorful stripes, and, if it rains the day before, this color will be more than beautiful.
There are other attractions nearby. The Great Buddha Temple is from the Western Xia Dynasty, over 1,000 years ago. It has China’s largest indoor reclining Buddha. The Great Buddha’s finger alone can accommodate a sleeping person. The statue’s ears are 2 meters long and big enough to carry eight people. It is made of soil and wood. It measures 34.5 meters long and 7.5 meters wide.
Words alone cannot do this justice, it definitely has to be seen.
#7: Taj Mahal – Agra, India
This had to go in the list. The Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally loved masterpieces of the world’s heritage. It is truly impressive in all ways.
The existence of various historical and Quaranic inscriptions in Arabic have expedited setting of the chronology of Taj Mahal. Its construction workers, masons, stone-cutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from Central Asia and Iran. Ustad-Ahmad Lahori was the main architect of the Taj Mahal.
India has many sites that are worthy of a visit, some very close by, but the Taj Mahal is possibly the most iconic of them all.
#6: Machu Picchu – Peru.
This is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is in the Cusco Region of Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District in Peru. It is situated above the Sacred Valley, which is 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Well worth a visit and you could reasonably spend 14 days exploring the location and environs.
Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, both cultural and natural. Since its discovery in 1911, growing numbers of tourists visit the site yearly. As Peru’s most visited tourist attraction and major revenue generator, it is continually exposed to economic and commercial forces. In the late 1990s, the Peruvian government granted concessions to allow the construction of a cable car and a luxury hotel, including a tourist complex with boutiques and restaurants and a bridge to the site.
As a result of the high altitude, temperatures at Machu Picchu can be cool, and it is useful to have a decent sweater as well as rainproof gear. There are sandflies around the site, so a good repellent is essential. Otherwise, as with any subtropical country, take a hat, sunglasses and high-factor sun protection.
A word of caution with this location. If you do suffer from any form of breathing difficulty (emphysema or asthma for example) you would be wise to consult a Medical Professional before considering a visit. At 8,000 feet above sea level the air is quite rare, it is fine for most people but could present difficulties to those with a medical precondition.
#5: Grand Canyon National Park – USA
The United States are blessed with many spectacular National Parks, of them all the Grand Canyon is perhaps the most impressive. It is a unique combination of geologic color and erosional forms contained in a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. The Grand Canyon overwhelms your senses through its immense size. The early morning or evening light is a Photographers dream. If you have the means then a helicopter or light aircraft tour is a must.
The Grand Canyon is considered one of the natural wonders of the world largely because of its natural features. The exposed geologic strata – rise over a mile above the river, representing one of the most complete records of geological history that can be seen anywhere in the world. Geologic formations such as gneiss and schist found at the bottom of the Canyon date back 1,800 million years.
There are many options for accommodation but the most popular is at the South Rim (Grand Canyon Village) Lodging must be booked well in advance, especially during the summer months. Reservations are handled by Xanterra Parks & Resorts and Delaware North. A visitor should be aware that Permits may be required for many activities in the interests of conservation and the services of a tour operator are recommended.
#6: Bagan – Myanmar
Bagan (formally Pagan) is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar (Burma). 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 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day. Bagan stands out for not only the sheer number of religious edifices of Myanmar but also the magnificent architecture of the buildings, and their contribution to Burmese temple design. The artistry of the architecture of pagodas in Bagan prove the achievement of Myanmar craftsmen in handicrafts. The Bagan temple falls into one of two broad categories: the stupa-style solid temple and the gu-style hollow temple.
Away from the towns, exploring off the beaten track can provide the most fun of all. The pagodas that can be found further east along the banks of the Irrawaddy from Nyaung U are just one example. Here you will find open temples with beautifully preserved interiors, from the top of which you will see fantastic views over Irrawaddy – and very few other tourists.
There are many options for accommodation and the food is superb. For those not inclined to local cuisine there are outlets serving Western and Chinese style food and drinks.
#3: Bora Bora – French Polynesia
If you love the Ocean, this is for you. Bora Bora is a 30 km2 (12 sq mile) island in the Leeward group in the western part of the Society Islands of French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean. The island is located about 230 kilometres (143 miles) Northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the centre of the island are the remainder of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 metres (2,385 feet). Bora Bora is a major international tourist destination, famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts. The major settlement, Vaitape, is on the western side of the main island, opposite the main channel into the lagoon. Produce of the island is mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and the plentiful coconut trees, which were historically of economic importance for copra.
The French influence is very strong. This is reflected in the excellent cuisine which, perhaps unsurprisingly, features the most wonderful seafood and fresh vegetable produce. In Bora Bora you can be as active or passive as you desire. If you decide to venture away from the resorts, you can visit the main village of Vaitape and shop at the local boutiques or dine at one of Bora Bora’s restaurants including Mai Kai Bora Bora, or the legendary Bloody Mary’s. You can also explore Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu on a guided hike or Jeep Safari tour.
Since water is a way of life on the island, popular lagoon excursions include snorkelling, diving, cruising, fishing, paddle boarding, kitesurfing, Jet Skiing, and of course, shark and ray feeding. You can also experience new heights with parasailing, skydiving, or touring the island by helicopter.
Bora Bora is becoming increasingly popular as a honeymoon destination. The small, private, resort accommodation offering a secluded and private venue for newly-wed couples.
#2: Ta Prohm Temples – Cambodia.
Ta Prohm is simply unbelievable. It is famous for the temples that are overgrown and covered by trees. Ta Prohm has been left as it was found, showing exactly what the jungle can do when it takes over control. The roots of the trees attach to the porous sandstone, extracting the water from the stones. The roots are firmly placed on the building itself, slowly crushing it but also holding it up at the same time.Built from 1186 and originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII. It is one of the few temples in the Angkor region where an inscription provides information about the temple’s dependents and inhabitants. Almost 80,000 people were required to maintain or attend at the temple, among them more than 2700 officials and 615 dancers.
This is real “Indiana Jones” territory, great for kids (young and old). The environs of Ta Prohm contain many other attractions and temples that are worth visiting. Cambodia is a very inexpensive location to visit. The last time I was there (2015) a good quality meal for 4 people, with drinks, set us back less than US $30, and the food was fantastic.
#1: Palawan – Philippines
Palawan Island is simply the most beautiful place that I have ever visited, by a long way. Officially it is the Province of Palawan, an island province that is located in the Mimaropa region. It is the largest province in the Philippines in terms of total area of jurisdiction. Its capital is Puerto Princesa City, but it is governed independently from the province.
In September 2016, Palawan Island was rated the “Most Beautiful Island in the World” as voted by the readers of rival travel publications Conde Nast Traveller and Travel+Leisure. It is the second year running that Palawan has won the Conde Nast Traveller award, as well as the second time in four years that it has occupied Travel+Leisure’s top spot. El Nido, located at the northern tip of the island, is also currently rated the “Most Beautiful Beach in the World” by Conde Nast Traveller readers.
Palawan has many endemic species such as the Palawan peacock-pheasant, Philippine mouse-deer, Philippine pangolin, Palawan bearded pig, and Palawan birdwing. In the forests and grasslands, the air vibrates with the songs of more than 200 kinds of birds. Over 600 species of butterflies flicker around the mountains and fields of Palawan, attracted to some 1500 host plants found here. Endangered sea turtles nest on white sand beaches. Dugong (sea cow) numbers have fallen severely, although Palawan still has a larger population than any other part of the country.
Incredible (and rare) wildlife can be found on the islands, from purple crabs and Philippine mouse-deer to Philippine pangolin and beautiful butterflies. Just be sure to avoid the alarming looking Palawan bearcat at night.Heading into the water and going below the surface you will find that Palawan has some of the best spots to scuba dive in the world — barracuda-filled shipwrecks line the bottom of Coron Bay for example.
The people of Palawan are fiercely guarded of their environment. They fully understand the ecosystems they rely on, and are at one with nature. They are also some of the most hospitable you could ever hope to meet. Do not be surprised if you are walking past a house when people are sitting outside if they invite you to join them for food and a drink (or two). That is the peoples way.
There is no language barrier to the English speaking tourist. The Filipino heritage is such that most people speak English as a second language, and many speak Spanish as well.The food is delightful, and always fresh. What is more, it is quite inexpensive. If you want the bright lights, head for the Capital, Puerto Princesa. There you will find clubs, bars and eating houses of a very high standard, and hotels that rate in a class along side the best in the World.
In compiling this I am aware that many people may not share my exact interpretation of amazing. I hope that within this article that the reader will find something to inspire them. Planet Earth is indeed an amazing place, if you have the opportunity to see more of it during our short time here, then grab it with both hands. I sincerely hope your adventures around the World bring you as much joy as they have to me. Many of these places have comprehensive details on the Internet, and most are listed on the UESCO World Heritage website: