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10 Must See Destinations

... Gayot:

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China, the world's largest cultural relic, is featured in GAYOT.com's Top 10 Must-See Travel Destinations
 
 

CHINA
Great Wall of China

Thousands of miles long, passing through 156 counties, with 7,062 lookout towers, the Great Wall of China is the largest cultural relic humans have ever built. It snakes through China ever so majestically, around undulating hills and through a vast countryside, stretching from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Lake in the west. Wall construction began more than 2,000 years ago in an attempt to keep out the tribes from the north. The most colorful (and less costly) times to go are spring and autumn — pink cherry blossoms blanket the landscape outside of Beijing in late-March and in mid-October red leaves abound near Badaling National Forest Park.

 

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, a 22-year labor of love from Mugal emperor Shah Jahan to his third wife, is featured in GAYOT.com's Top 10 Must-See Travel Destinations

UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA
Taj Mahal

An architectural love letter, this massive marble temple in northern India is one of the most recognizable structures on the planet. It was built in the first half of the seventeenth century by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to hold the body of his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal (the building is now a mausoleum for both). The construction took more than 22 years to complete, requiring as many as 20,000 workers. Some skilled artisans came from as far as Constantinople (today, Istanbul), and about 1,000 elephants were used to transport materials. Today, vehicles that emit pollution are not allowed within a mile of the structure, so be prepared to walk or hire a battery-powered vehicle called a tuk tuk.

 

 

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, a Peruvian secret until 1911, is featured in GAYOT.com's Top 10 Must-See Travel Destinations
 
 

 

CUSCO REGION, PERU
Machu Picchu

Eight thousand feet above sea level, this five-century-old pre-Columbian site was once the home to the Incas. Until American historian Hiram Bingham publicized his findings of the area in a 1911 book called "Across South America," the mountain-top ruins were widely unknown to anyone living outside of the Urubamba Valley and nearby Cusco. Since Spanish colonialists had no idea of Machu Picchu's existence, its Incan architecture and design were preserved. There are two ways up to the "old peak," by train or on foot. Unless you're wildly adventurous — and don't mind a two-to four-day massive hike up the Inca Trail — we recommend you go by rail, stay overnight in Aguas Calientes and take an early bus to the ruins to beat the crowds (and in the sweltering summer months, the sun).

 

Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos giant tortoise is one of many species that are unique to the Galapagos Islands
 
 
 
 

ECUADOR
Gálapagos Islands

Located some 600 miles off the South American coast, this Ecuadorian archipelago has been drawing nature-lovers to its remote shores ever since an unknown geologist named Charles Darwin explored the islands in 1835. A onetime outpost of pirates and prisoners, the Gálapagos Islands are also home to an incredibly diverse collection of flora and fauna, including many species — such as the Gálapagos giant tortoise and marine iguana — that can be found nowhere else on Earth. Today, 97 percent of the archipelago's land area is protected by a national park. Visitors can get up-close-and-personal with wildlife on guided boat tours, scuba expeditions and hikes, where curious creatures often approach sightseers without hesitation.

 

Pyramids of Giza

Pyramids of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is featured in GAYOT.com's Top 10 Must-See Travel Destinations

GIZA, EGYPT
Pyramids of Giza

Like Stonehenge, many mysteries surround the construction of these three pyramids which are part of a mausoleum complex. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the best-known of the group standing outside of Cairo, is the only one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World that also graces our list. Finished around 2,560 BC, the 481-foot creation (now shorter due to erosion) was the tallest man-made structure in the world for 38 centuries until the completion of Lincoln Cathedral in 14th century England. How were these made? Were space aliens needed to cut, move and stack the millions of stones, some weighing 88 tons? Does some powerful force emanate from them today? Go visit and judge for yourself, by bus, taxi or camel.

 

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, home to 1,500-year-old Mayan pyramids, is featured in GAYOT.com's Top 10 Must-See Travel Destinations

QUINTANA ROO, MEXICO
Chichen Itza

The 1,500-year-old pyramids, located just 75 miles from the town of Merida, may be less popular than their counterparts in Egypt, but they're just as striking. The main attraction at this Mayan site is El Castillo, the 78-foot, 91-step central pyramid. For those visiting this part of the world during the summer months, it's wise to arrive in the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler. But the absolute best time to travel to "the mouth of the well of Itza" is at sunset during the spring or autumn equinoxes when shadows give the illusion that a large serpent is slithering down the pyramid. Other site structures include the Temple of the Warriors, the Ball Court and Tzompantli, the Wall of Skulls.

 

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls in Argentina is one of the world's most striking waterfalls. Photo by Argentinean Tourist Office

ARGENTINA
Iguazu Falls

Iguazú National Park, situated on the international border of Argentina and Brazil, features one of the world’s most striking natural wonders. Iguazu Falls offers a misty and majestic realm of rushing, roaring water with rainbows adorning the cascades, which stretch for nearly two miles. Experience this marvel up close from one of the wooden walkways that stretch out over the river, and be sure to take in the spectacular vista from the giant balcony of the "Devil's Throat." According to ancient myths, a jealous god slashed the Iguazu River (meaning “great water”) in two, creating falls as high as 269 feet. The UNESCO site is bordered by its sister park Iguaçu in Brazil, and the falls are surrounded by the lush Misiones rainforest, so don’t be surprised to see tropical birds flitting about as they search for fish in quieter waters.

 

Petra

The tombs at Petra in Jordan. The ancient pink sandstone city was carved more than 2,000 years�ago�by a nomadic Arab tribe

JORDAN
Petra

Chiseled out of pale pink sandstone, the ancient metropolis of Petra in Jordan's Jebel al-Madhbah mountains is an architectural and engineering marvel nonpareil. Carved more than 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab tribe, the breathtaking megalith boasts an abundance of awe-inspiring rock facades, formations, tombs and temples. You enter the UNESCO World Heritage Site through the "Siq," a narrow, winding gorge so steep you must crane your neck to see the sky. After about a kilometer, the gorge opens to reveal the massive "Treasury," one of Petra's most famous ruins. Rose-red Petra is stunning at night, when both the Siq and city are lined by thousands of candles, as well as during the golden glow of the late afternoon.
 

 

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the world's largest temple complex


 

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Angkor Wat

Built by Khmer King Suryavarman II in the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat was one of the most significant architectural achievements of ancient times, and remains the world's largest religious monument today. The sprawling Cambodian temple complex is a source of national pride and international renown thanks to its distinctive sandstone spires, intricate artistry and massive moat that encloses the grounds in a three-and-a-half-mile perimeter. First dedicated to Vishnu as a Hindu temple and later a center of Theravada Buddhism, the well-preserved site is one of over 1,000 temples in the Angkor area, many of which are easily accessible from nearby Siem Reap.

 

 

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is widely considered North America's greatest natural wonder

ARIZONA, USA
Grand Canyon

If North America's greatest natural wonder — a red-hued canyon 277 river miles long, eighteen miles wide, and one mile deep — doesn't make your mouth drop in awe, then you might not be human. While the north rim attracts fewer visitors, you'll most likely appreciate the epic vistas of the south rim. There are plenty of spots to pull the car over and have a look from the top, but we recommend trekking along the rim on foot. You can also descend into the canyon's depths via mules or guided hiking excursions, experience "The Heart of the Canyon" by raft on the Colorado River, and even spend the night at a lodge below the rim.

 

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