Most rankings of the most beautiful places to visit are based on the author’s subjective opinion. However, this one here is different. We carried out a large survey between 17th and 20th May 2019, with 581 people who’d done a long, multi-country trip. We asked them which places they liked best. We’ve ranked these places depending on how many times they were mentioned.
Full moonrise on the Salar de Uyuni
The Salar de Uyuni is located in the south-east of Bolivia at an altitude of 3,556 metres. It’s the largest salt flat in the world. It stretches over 11,000 km² and contains more than 10 billion tons of salt.
The bright white salt turns into a perfect mirror when covered with water during the rainy season (from December to January).
South of the Salar, the Sud Lípez is a region of high plateaus dotted with natural wonders: colourful lagoons, volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and intriguingly shaped rock formations.
Sunrise over the temples of Bagan
At the centre of Myanmar is Bagan, one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. It competes with Machu Picchu and Angkor, but for now there are fewer tourists. The setting is sublime: a 50 km² green plain, partly covered with palm trees and tamarinds, nestled in a meander of the Irrawaddy river and framed by distant misty mountains.
The plain is dotted with hundreds of remarkable temples built by the kings of Bagan between 1057 and 1287. Their kingdom was swept away by earthquakes and the Mongol hordes of Hublai Khan. Nonetheless, 2,230 of the original 4,450 Buddhist temples are still standing.
Most of the temples are excellently preserved and have been restored by UNESCO and other organisations. Many contain frescoes, sculptures and Buddha statues of all sizes.
The temples of Angkor overrun with vegetation
The Angkor temple complex is one of the largest religious structures in the world.
Dating back to the golden age of the Khmer civilisation, between 800 and 1300, Angkor was originally built as a Hindu temple, then gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple.
The surrounding jungle gives the impression of being in a lost and mysterious world. Some temples, like Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, are wrapped in roots, vines and giant trees.
The site is often mistakenly called Angkor Wat. In reality, this word only refers to the largest temple in this monumental complex.
By timing your visit well, you can avoid the crowds, find hidden spots and immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere that reigns at Angkor.
Moai statues on Easter Island
Isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is one of the most remote places in the world. The flight to get there from Santiago de Chile takes more than five hours.
Rapa Nui, as its inhabitants call it, was made famous by the mystery that surrounds its 1,000 giant stone statues, the Moai, which are up to 21 metres tall. Archaeologists from all over the world have flocked to the island since 1940 in an attempt to solve this mystery, but some pieces of the puzzle remain unknown today.
Lots of travellers are drawn to the mystery of the Moai, but soon realise that Easter Island has much more to offer than its history. The unique blend of Polynesian and Chilean cultures and the island’s secludedness make it one of the world’s most unique places.
The view on the site of Machu Picchu
Visiting Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience. The sense of awe you get when you’re on this site is partly due to the mystery that surrounds it. The ruins were discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, a young American archaeologist who inspired the character of Indiana Jones.
Historians can only speculate on the original use of the site. Most agree that it was probably built for the Inca emperor, Pachacútec, in the 15th century and may have served as a winter retreat to escape the cold Cusco. Its lack of military importance probably explains why it wasn’t destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors and remained unheard of for centuries.
Lots of photographers say that it’s impossible to take a bad picture of Machu Picchu, as the panorama of Inca buildings and the Huayna Picchu’s green peak are so beautiful.
Perito Moreno’s intense blue colour
You can’t fully appreciate Perito Moreno until you’re looking at it over Lago Argentino. No photo can capture the feeling you get when standing in front of the glacier.
Perito Moreno is part of Los Glaciares National Park. The glacier is 5 km wide and 30 km long. Even though the highest point of the glacier is 70 metres high, two thirds of it is still below the water level.
Although they’re impressive, none of these figures can prepare you for the incredible experience of gazing up at the huge glacier while listening to the deafening sound of ice blocks shattering and falling in the water.
Perito Moreno is also one of the only glaciers in the world that’s still advancing. As, due to global warming, almost all glaciers are rapidly retreating.
The Mount Fitz Roy hike from El Chaltén
Nestled at the base Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre is the charming village of El Chaltén. Its ideal location at the base of the emblematic peaks of Los Glaciares National Park has made it the Argentine capital of hiking and climbing.
El Chaltén is the Tehuelche name for Mount Fitz Roy. It means “smoking mountain” in this Native American language, as the high peaks of the mountain were often surrounded by clouds.
Hikes are the main attraction in El Chaltén. The most famous ones are Laguna de los Tres, Laguna Torre, El Mirador de los Cóndores and El Mirador de las Águilas. All the paths start in the village and are well marked.
Terraced paddy fields in Bali
Bali is a backpacker’s paradise. It’s the most popular destination in Indonesia, a focal point for travellers, yoga-lovers, honeymooners and digital nomads.
The island caters to backpackers’ needs, but also offers accommodation for travellers looking for a little more comfort.
Despite lots of people visiting Bali, it’s still beautiful, cheap and there’s a lot to see there. The countryside is amazing, the beaches (outside of Kuta) are untouched and you can do some great hiking there.
The key to travelling in Bali is to get out of Kuta and Ubud. Outside of these cities, you’ll discover a serene island without being bothered by a mass of tourists. We also strongly recommend getting out of the standard Java – Bali – Lombok route in Indonesia. Sulawesi, Sumatra, the Maluku Islands, West Papua and the Sunda Islands are definitely worth a visit!
A rainbow in Iguazú Falls
One of the compelling reasons to travel is to contemplate the raw power of nature. When it comes to the power of nature, Iguazú Falls is where it’s at: around 1,500 cubic metres of water per second to be exact.
Igauzú means “great water” in Tupi-Guarani, the local Native American language. There are 270 falls over a length of 2.7 km, plunging twice the height of Niagara Falls. As you approach, you’ll hear the roar coming from inside the Garganta del Diablo long before you see them.
Take the time to admire the rainbows that form in the splashes, walk around the surrounding national park and learn about the animals that live near the falls. You can also take a boat on the rapids to get closer to the base of the “great water”.
A fisherman on Inle Lake
Inle Lake is the perfect place to decompress after a dusty trip through the rest of Myanmar. The country’s second largest lake is easily accessible from Nyaungshwe, in Shan state, bordering Laos, China and Thailand.
Most of the people who live near the lake are Intha people. They’re self-sufficient farmers and fishers who have a unique way of rowing with their feet. Nyaungshwe Township is a good place to relax for a few days.
On the lake, you’ll also see the locals elegantly gliding their longboats between villages on stilts, stopping at Buddhist temples, tending to their floating gardens and going to the market where members of other ethnic groups come to sell their goods.
Some countries are visited more often than others by RTW travellers. This influences the ranking. A site located in a country where lots of RTW travellers go through is therefore more likely to be well ranked.
|Place||Country||Number of mentions|
|Salar de Uyuni and Sud Lipez||Bolivia||70|
|Perito Moreno Glacier||Argentina||42|
|El Chalten and Fitz Roy||Argentina||40|
|Iguazu Falls||Argentina, Brazil||38|
|Tongariro National Park||New Zealand||25|
|Ha Giang Province||Vietnam||23|
|Terrestrial Halong Bay and Ninh Binh||Vietnam||20|
|Mount Cook||New Zealand||20|
|Lake Titicaca and Isla del Sol||Bolivia, Peru||19|
|Rio de Janeiro||Brazil||19|
|Cordillera Blanca and Huaraz||Peru||17|
|Torres del Paine National Park||Chile||17|
|Great Wall of China||China||15|
|Koh Rong Island||Cambodia||15|
|Kawah Ijen Volcano||Indonesia||14|
|Koh Tao Island||Thailand||13|
|Nusa Penida Island||Indonesia||13|
|Banaue and Batad rice fields||Philippines||13|
|Great Barrier Reef||Australia||12|
|Palawan Island and El Nido||Philippines||12|
|Isle of Pines||New Caledonia||12|
|Hpa An area||Burma||12|
|Mekong River||South East Asia||11|
|Hawaii Islands||United States||11|
|Muang Ngoi area||Laos||11|
|Uluru (Ayers Rock)||Australia||10|
|Milford Sound Fjord||New Zealand||9|
|Koh Lanta Island||Thailand||9|
|Yellowstone National Park||United States||9|
|Loop of Thakhek||Laos||8|
|Abel Tasman National Park||New Zealand||8|
|Pucon and Villarica Volcano||Chile||8|
|Cat Ba Island||Vietnam||7|
|Lake Wanaka||New Zealand||7|
|Kruger National Park||South Africa||7|
|Quebrada de Humahuaca and Tilcara||Argentina||7|
|Cocora Valley and Salento||Colombia||7|
|City of Petra||Jordan||6|
|City of Tikal||Guatemala||6|
|Gobi desert||Mongolia, China||6|
|Island of Borneo||Indonesia, Malaysia||6|
|Island of Siquijor||Philippines||6|
|Gili Trawangan, Air and Meno Islands||Indonesia||6|
|Coromandel Peninsula||New Zealand||6|
|San Cristobal de las Casas||Mexico||6|
|Kuang Si Waterfalls||Laos||5|
|Bora Bora Island||Polynesia||5|
|Island of Tahiti||Polynesia||5|
|Islands of Raja Ampat||Indonesia||5|
|Mount Huayna Potosi||Bolivia||5|
|Sajama National Park||Bolivia||5|
|Torotoro National Park||Bolivia||5|
|Bryce Canyon||United States||4|
|Bukit Lawang area||Indonesia||4|
|Great Ocean Road||Australia||4|
|Koh Pha Ngan||Thailand||4|
|Koh Rong Samloem Island||Cambodia||4|
|Lake Tekapo||New Zealand||4|
|Lencois Maranhenses National Park||Brazil||4|
|Nong Khiaw region||Laos||4|
|Karijini National Park||Australia||4|
|Zhangjiajie National Park||China||4|
|Peak Gokyo Ri||Nepal||4|
|Ouvea Atol||New Caledonia||3|
|City of Calakmul||Mexico||3|
|Wadi Rum desert||Jordan||3|
|Massif of the Dolomites||Italy||3|
|Koh Lipe Island||Thailand||3|
|Koh Phayam Island||Thailand||3|
|Koh Yao Noi Island||Thailand||3|
|Lake Pukaki||New Zealand||3|
|Etosha National Park||Namibia||3|
|Taroko National Park||Taiwan||3|
|san francisco||United States||3|