Amazing Photos of Places You Need To Visit
Photo: VCG / Contributor/Getty Images
The Place: The Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park; Gansu, China
The Reason to Go: What looks like a DIY sand art project is in fact a naturally occurring technicolor mountain range in the northwest region of China. The various colored stripes that ripple through the peaks are a result of centuries of tectonic shifts, climate change and erosion of red sandstone.
Photo: Miles Ertman/Getty Images
The Place: Abraham Lake, Alberta, Canada
The Reason to Go: During the summer, the majestic blue lake looks similar to neighboring bodies of water in Alberta's Rocky Mountains, but come wintertime, Abraham Lake steals the spotlight when a rare natural phenomenon occurs beneath its glassy surface. What appear to be beautiful stacks of frozen bubbles are actually pockets of methane gas that were released from plants and got trapped beneath the lake's icy surface.
Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images
The Place: Petra, Jordan
The Reason to Go: This ancient city was built straight into the sandstone at the edge of the Arabian desert and was "lost" to the Western world until 1812. Today, still much of the city lies underground and has yet to be discovered. But for now, the rock-cut architecture, rose-colored cliffs and vast desert views are enough to be completely enamored by.
Photo: Soh Morishita/Moment/Getty Images
— Wendell Berry
The Place: Kyoto, Japan
The Reason to Go: It's rare that the words "peaceful" and "city" can be used to describe the same place. Kyoto, the winner Travel + Leisure's 2014 Best City Award, is home to Zen gardens, UNESCO World Heritage sites, traditional tea ceremonies, as well as, the bullet train, futuristic Kyoto Station and Nintendo's headquarters. An added bonus to this past-meets-present city: It also boasts the Sagano Bamboo Forest, where you can take in swaying sky-high bamboo stalks.
The Place: Maldives
The Reason to Go: While it may look like a scene from a sci-fi film, the luminescent beauty you'll find in the Maldives is not a product of CGI; just an (almost) out-of-this-world natural phenomenon caused by bioluminescent ostracod crustaceans. The glowing water—primarily found on the eastern islands of Mudhdhoo, Vaadhoo and Rangali—transforms a pristine turquoise beach into a magical sea by night.
Photo: Sigurður Stefnisson — stefnisson.com
The Place: Ice Caves; Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
The Reason to Go: Every winter, tour guides in the local area set out to find new trails and caves to explore with adventure seekers. Since the glacial ice is still active, the natural wonder changes shapes and locations throughout the year, which gives you the possibility of being the first and last person to visit that exact spot again.
Photo: Ryan Deboodt, Oxalis.com.vn
The Place: Son Doong Cave; Phong Nha-Kè Bàng National Park, Vietnam
The Reason to Go: Possibly the largest cave in the world, Son Doong can fit a flying Boeing 747 in its largest section and is home to a jungle filled with 100-foot-tall trees, massive 260-foot stalactites and even its own climate. But the trek to get there isn't for someone who circles a parking lot to find a spot close to the storefront. Son Doong Cave is part of a network of recently discovered monumental caverns in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, and it requires (among other things) roping across a river, climbing massive slick boulders and scaling up a 200-foot wall to reach it.
Photo: Peter Lundstrom, WDO — treehotel.se
The Place: Mirrorcube, part of the Treehotel; Harads, Sweden
The Reason to Go: The sounds of rustling leaves or falling snow will make you glad to unplug from your buzzing, beeping iEverything. Plus, if you're lucky you can end the night with a view of the aurora borealis, or "Northern Lights."
Photo: Jaap Hart/Getty Images
The Place: Tulip fields, Holland
The Reason to Go: From mid-March through mid-May, tulips in every color of the rainbow bloom in western Holland and make the fields look like a beautiful patchwork quilt. Take in the countryside (just outside Amsterdam) on a drive or bike ride or visit the famed Keukenhof, where 7 million bulbs are planted in a 79-acre garden.
Photo: The Power of Forever Photography/Getty Images
The Place: Antelope Canyon; Navajo Nation near Page, Arizona
The Reason to Go: A single ray of light has the ability to transform this already-majestic slot canyon. When the sun reaches its highest point of the day, beams pierce through the cracks of the ceiling and fill the space with an array of different colors that illuminate the wavelike texture of the sandstone.
Photo: Harald Mowinckel/Statens Vegvesen
— Cheryl Strayed
The Place: Atlantic Road (Atlanterhavsveien); Møre og Romsdal, Norway
The Reason to Go: A drive on this scenic 5.1-mile road along the Norwegian coastline may not be as courageous as Strayed's 1,100-mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, but this part-road/part–roller coaster is still an adventure. It bends, arches and dips over the sea to connect several small islands between Molde and Kristiansund. Waves crash along the pavement to dramatic effect (though you'll be wise to note that harsh winter storm conditions can occur with just a slight drop in temperature).
Photo: Justin Lambert/Getty Images
The Place: Salar de Uyuni; Southwest Bolivia
The Reason to Go: If you ever wished you could stroll through the clouds, the world's largest salt flat is the closest you'll get to making that wish come true. During the rainy season, a thin layer of water develops on the 4,633-square-mile flat and reflects the sky above—leaving you to enjoy your own optical-illusion-esque dreamland.
Photo: Luis Castaneda Inc./Getty Images
The Place: Hanging Monastery; Shanxi Province, China
The Reason to Go: For more than 1,500 years, the ancient shrine has supported itself on the west cliff of Mount Hengshan by only wooden beams and the mountain itself. The temple, which hangs 15 stories above the ground, has withstood centuries of damaging storms and is still able to hold thousands of visitors that walk through its doors every year.
Photo: Courtesy of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
The Place: Capilano Suspension Bridge; Vancouver, Canada
The Reason to Go: Gain a new perspective of the world when you walk across the 450-feet-long footbridge that's 230-feet above the Capilano River.
Photo: Pascal Boegli, from Flickr account pbOOg
The Place: Devil's Pool; Livingstone Island, Zambia
The Reason to Go: Because watching The Amazing Race doesn't count as "experiencing new things." Truly step outside your comfort zone—by stepping into the natural pool located on the edge of the 355-feet-high Victoria Falls.
Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images
The Place: Marble Caves; Patagonia, Chile
The Reason to Go: Located in the center of Lake General Carrera, the extraordinary blue caves are accessible only by boats that leave from a few remote Chilean towns. The unique landscape was formed by years of waves washing up against the marble and the swirling colors come from the reflection of the glacial water below. And the best part? You'll be able to take in the sights in peace and quiet.
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