We live in a world full of wonder – we all know that already. And, even though there is an ‘official’ list of the New 7 Wonders of the World, I have decided to create my own personal Seven Wonders of the World list, which includes places that have left a lasting impression on me. And maybe, hopefully, I’ll inspire you to add them to your list of places that you must visit before you…. [insert personal self-imposed deadline here].
Table of Contents
1. Ha Giang, Vietnam
The northernmost province in Vietnam, Ha Giang borders with China and it’s totally off the tourist trail. Or at least it was a few years ago when I was there.
I hired a motorbike to explore the area following a three-day loop, now well known amongst intrepid travellers. The spectacular scenery is certainly one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and I could not stop saying ‘Wow!’ in my head every time I turned a corner. The landscape changed dramatically at every turn and it was full of unexpected surprises – from bamboo-lined river valleys, to barren karstic landscapes, to green conical outcrops coming out of nowhere, to endless layers of mountains in the distance.
And it wasn’t just the scenery. Locals weren’t used to seeing foreigners so everyone just run out on the road to say hello. It was amazing to see how quickly the voice spread in the villages – one minute you’re swimming in the river with your friends, and the next about forty children and teenagers have joined in!
2. Torres del Paine, Chile
Torres del Paine is possibly the most remote place I have ever been to. A truly breathtaking place, this Chilean National Park was my introduction to adventure travel. Here I discovered my intrepid spirit, and I would even go as far as to say it made me the traveller I am today.
As I hiker, I chose to visit Torres del Paine to complete the W Circuit, a three day long trek through one of the most spectacular places I have ever been to. The combination of the imposing mountains, the rivers and glacial lakes with their milky blue and green waters, and the impossibly blue glaciers make visiting this park a truly unforgettable experience. And if you’re lucky, you may even see a puma. I was incredibly fortunate to come across a mummy puma with two grown up cubs. It frightened the life out of me but what an incredible moment!
3. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
The Perito Moreno Glacier is located near the small town of El Calafate and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Argentinian Patagonia. What’s different about this glacier is that it is easily accessible compared to other glaciers throughout the world. But not only that, the Perito Moreno is advancing, unlike most of the glaciers in the world, which are retreating instead.
It was on my birthday that I did the Big Ice trekking over the imposing Perito Moreno Glacier. During the trek, you could hear the rivers of melt water trickle below the ice. We came across rivers of crystal clear water, bright blue lakes and we even ventured inside an ice cave. The glacier advances about 2 metres a day – it’s the fastest flowing glacier in the world – so you can hear the creaking and groaning of the ice moving while you’re top of it. And when you view it from the platform, it’s very common to see it calve a big chunk of ice!
4. Camino de Santiago, Spain
The Camino de Santiago is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes that start at different points in Europe and end in the city of Santiago de Compostela, in Spain. There is an endless number of routes, but the most popular one is the Camino Francés (French Way) that starts in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and takes approximately 33 days to walk.
This was another travel experience that changed me as a traveller and also as a person. I am not a religious or spiritual person by any means, but doing the Camino taught me a lot. I learnt so much about human nature, seeing the good in people and in yourself, and also, and possibly most importantly, that things always work out in the end. It is a true spiritual journey even if you don’t intend it to be. I’m actually planning to do another Camino soon, but this time from Lisbon, all the way up along the coast to Santiago, and I can’t wait!
5. Bagan, Myanmar
The ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar is one of the greatest archeological sites in the world with more than 2,000 Buddhist monuments spread over green plains. It once had over 10,000! So you can imagine the sight of such an incredible place – spiritually charged and incredibly breathtaking!
I spent a few days here exploring the area a couple of years ago. The archeological site is so vast, that you need some sort of vehicle to move around, and the best way to get lost among the temples is by electric scooter.
Some of the temples are easily accessible and on some of them you can get to the roof to take in the impressive view of hundreds of stupas rising from the plains. You can do this any time of the day, but the best time is sunrise and sunset. It’s truly spectacular!
6. Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal is not just my personal wonder of the world, but it’s also one of the official New 7 Wonders of the World.
I’d always wanted to see it ‘in the flesh’, and when I finally managed to do it I have to admit that I couldn’t believe my eyes. I even felt a bit emotional looking at it and listening to the tour guide tell the story of how it was built. I’m sure everyone knows that the Taj Mahal is the world’s most famous monument to love. I may not look it, but I’m a big softy deep down.
In all seriousness, the perfection of this architectural marvel is such that I kept staring at it and pinching myself to remind me that I wasn’t dreaming.
7. Petra, Jordan
Ok, I am cheating a little bit with this one because I haven’t been to Petra yet. It is, however, right at the top of my list and I’m hoping I can go and experience this historical site next year. There is so much about Petra that most of us don’t know about. The whole archeological complex is four times the size of Manhattan, but you can hike between the highlights. I’d love to do this with one of the local guides and try to discover some of the secret tombs and hidden details you’d never find on your own. And I’d also want to experience the ‘Petra by Night’ show, of course.
Right… With all this talking about Petra and wonders of the world my wanderlust has kicked in, so I’m off to plan my next trip now!
Disclosure: This post has been created as a paid partnership with Exodus Travels. As always, all views are my own.
Teresa is an award-winning travel blogger based in London. She’s on a mission to explore the world through responsible cultural and adventure travel, and through deeper, more meaningful local experiences. She’s a lover of adventure, the outdoors and everything food related, and she’s always looking for ways to make a positive impact through sustainable travel.