18 Jaw-Dropping Places You’ve Probably Never Been

Everyone loves to put out their list of “Top Places to See Before You Die” but it seems after a while the same destinations get regurgitated like a bad curry… over and over again. The goal of this post was to introduce you to a few places that you have hopefully never heard of.

Before you start venting in the comments, I do realize that some in the list that are relatively touristic by today’s standards. The question is – even if you may have heard of the place, have you been?

Let’s get started, in no particular order as usual. Oh and in case you were wondering…. I haven’t been to any of these destinations yet either.

1. Geiranger

Norway

Geiranger is a small tourist village in the western part of Norway. Geiranger is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and has been named the best travel destination in Scandinavia by Lonely Planet.

Since 2005, the Geirangerfjord area has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2. Samarkand

Uzbekistan

Samarkand (“Stone Fort” or “Rock Town” ) is the second-largest city in Uzbekistan and the capital of Samarqand Province. The city is most noted for its central position on the Silk Road between China and the West, and for being an Islamic center for scholarly study.

3. Sigiriya

Sri Lanka

Sigiriya (also known as Lion Rock) is located in the central Matale District of the Central Province, Sri Lanka in an area dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high.

4. Bonito

Brazil

Bonito is a municipality located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Bonito is in the middle of a region which is being discovered as “Caribe do Centro-Oeste” (the Caribbean of the Central-West) due to the unbelievable blue color of its waters.

Owing to the enormous quantity of limestone in the ground, the water of these rivers passes through a real natural filter where impurities are deposited at the bottom of the river bed, leaving the rivers to be some of the clearest and most transparent in the world.

5. Sossusvlei

Namibia

Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia. The name “Sossusvlei” is often used in an extended meaning to refer to the surrounding area, which is one of the major visitor attractions of Namibia.

The name “Sossusvlei” is of ed origin and roughly means “dead-end marsh”.

6. Batad

Philippines

Batad is a village of fewer than 1500 people, situated among the Ifugao rice terraces. It is perhaps the best place to view this UNESCO World Heritage site.

7. Svaneti

Georgia

Svaneti is a historic province in Georgia, in the northwestern part of the country. The famous Svanetian towers erected mainly in the 9th-12th centuries, make the region’s villages attractive.

In the province are dozens of Georgian orthodox churches and various fortified buildings. Architectural monuments of Upper Svanetia are included in a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

8. Bagan

Myanmar

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Burma (Myanmar). 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 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

9. Socotra Island

Yemen

Socotra Island is a very isolated island which is part of the Republic of Yemen. Through the process of speciation, a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet.

It has been described as the most alien-loing place on Earth. The island was recognized by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site.

10. Bamiyan Valley

Afghanistan

The Bamiyan Valley marked the most westerly point of Buddhist expansion and was a crucial hub of trade for much of the second millennium CE. It was a place where East met West and its archaeology reveals a blend of Greek, Turkish, Persian, Chinese and Indian influence.

On the cliff face of a mountain nearby, three colossal statues were carved 4,000 feet apart. One of them was 175 feet (53 m) high standing statue of Buddha, the world’s tallest. The ancient statue was carved during the Kushan period in the fifth century. The statues were destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001.

11. Raja Ampat Islands

Indonesia

Located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo, and the smaller island of Kofiau.

It encompasses than 40,000 km² of land and sea, which also contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest marine national park in Indonesia.

12. Masada

Israel

Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel, on top of an isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overloing the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BC.

13. Hunza Valley

Pakistan

The Hunza is a mountainous valley in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan. The Hunza is situated north/west of the Hunza River, at an elevation of around 2,500 meters (8,200 ft).

Aliabad is the main town is while Altit is a popular tourist destination because of the spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains.

14. Avenue of the Baobabs

Madagascar

The Avenue or Alley of the Baobabs is a prominent group of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar. Its striking landscape draws travelers from around the world, making it one of the most visited locations in the region.

Along the Avenue in some 260 m long segment are remaining some 20 – 25 trees about 30 meters in height, of the species Adansonia grandidierite, endemic to Madagascar.

15. Grey Glacier

Chile

Grey Glacier is a glacier in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, just west of the Cordillera Paine, Chile.

The surface of the lake can be seen when following the big circuit of Paine Mountain Range at John Garner Pass. There is another view of the glacier from the south shore of the lake where the glacier can be seen in the background, with fragments of ice floating close to the shore.

16. Metéora

Greece

The Metéora (“middle of the sky”) is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.

The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the eios river and the dus Mountains in central Greece. The Metéora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

17. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park

Brazil

The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is located in Maranhão state, in northeastern Brazil. It is an area of low, flat, occasionally flooded land, overlaid with large, discrete sand dunes. It encompasses roughly 1500 square kilometers, and despite the abundant rain, supports almost no vegetation.

18. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

China

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a 243 square mile park is full of stunning karst pillars of sandstone, covered with sub-tropical rainforest. The park is often covered in fog, adding to the mystery but obscuring views.

So there you have it……. Hopefully a few more places to add to your bucket list. I know that these are all on my list of places to visit. If you have been to any of these places already I would really love to hear about it. Tell me your story in the comments section below.

Finally if there are any places you know of that haven’t been mentioned you feel need a shout out, add those in the comments too.

More from the Wanderlist

23 thoughts on “18 Jaw-Dropping Places You’ve Probably Never Been

  1. This is one of the best lists I have seen. Pleased to see that some places that are truly draw dropping are included even if they are not at the moment on the main tourist trail. Looking forward to seeing Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

    • Thanks Greg! You guys were a huge inspiration in creating this list. That photo of the Hunza Valley really motivated me to find more “off the beaten path” places.

      How many of the 18 have you and Emma been to now and are there any here that you plan on visiting?

  2. That is a great list. I have been to Sossusvlei and was able to see the sunrise from there. The dune in the photo is called Dune 45, Sossusvlei is still a little distance further down the road. Dune 45 is beautiful, however arriving at Sossusvlei will be absolutely amazing to experience.

  3. What a great list! Thank you for sharing. I´ve been to Batad, Philippines. Really spectacular scenery and beautiful people! Lencóis Maranhenses National Park and Bonito in Brazil are both on my list. And of course Geiranger, I am a bit ashamed of the fact that Im Norwegian and haven’t been there yet… So many places, too little time (and money;). Have a great week!

    • Thanks for the comment Maren. You know what, I was on the same island in the Philippines as Batad but we missed out on going there…next time.

      As for Geiranger, I expect you to get a picture there and send it to me now 🙂

      • Too bad! Next time you´re in the area, you definitely have to go to Batad 🙂 But, as they say… You always have to leave something out for next time, right?

        Yes. I will send you the picture of Geiranger. Soon. But first, Geneva. No jaw-dropping pictures from here I think. Oh well!

        PS! Great blog, by the way. Im visiting for the first time today. Will def put it on my list 🙂

      • Exactly! Glad you have been enjoying the blog so far. If you don’t want to miss a post you can subscribe at the bottom of this page (the blue box). Also feel free to join our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/backpackertravel

  4. What an incredible list! Great to see someone finally put a list together that isn’t tailored to an American audience. I would love to say that I have been to any of these places, alas not yet.

    I need to get my ass to Madagascar, that places looks like a lost world or something.

  5. That’s an awesome list BUT… because of this blog post my bucket list is growing even more 😉 Ouch… I think one life is not enough to see all of our beautiful planet earth. At least we’ve seen 3 out of the 18 already. And Raja Ampat is on top of the list.

    • Hey Reni, well at least you are trying to pack in the most to the life you have. Much better than sitting around doing nothing right 🙂

  6. Great list! Certainly some beauties to add to my wish list. I’ve been to Sigiriya in 2006 – Sri Lanka has some fascinating history & historical sites, and this is the cream of the crop. There’s been excavations at the base showing the ‘winter palace’ (including the world’s first known water fountain) and they built a ‘summer palace’ on top of the rock, complete with dancing hall and swimming pool! There was a narrow, treacherous path carved along the vertical rock face (now relatively tourist-friendly) to get to the top and the magnificent view is well worth it!

  7. I enjoy your website immensely! Love this list! I can say I’ve been to any of them. Went to Indonesia, but went straight to Bali, which I didn’t like that much. It also was the first experience in a Muslim country and I was a young woman traveling alone, so I didn’t feel very comfortable there. Flew to Thailand from there and went to Koh Samui, based on someone’s recommendation. That was in ’86 and Koh Samui was heaven. But I do want to get back to Indonesia, so much cultural and natural beauty.

    I always enjoy hearing about places off the beaten path. My bucket list is getting pretty long and I’m becoming aware that I might not get to see everything. Oh well.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing and connecting me with what’s out there!

  8. Kanika Bhardwaj

    Amazingly beautiful places!! i would be more than lucky to actually see even a few them.. Amazing!!
    God take me.. ___/\___

  9. This list is just awesome. Now I have another 16 places to go visit.

  10. An amazing list! Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia and Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China might take the lead for me.

    I worked in Geiranger in the summer of 2010 and it’s a truly amazing place. It offers a wide range of walking, and there’s more spectacular views than the stunning fjord. The downside of Geiranger/Norway is that the weather can turn the view into a grey mess, so I recommend the possibility to be there for a few days, just in case of some bad luck!

  11. I have been to the metéora in Greece and it truly is one of the most beautiful sceneries i have seen. The view at the very top near the monestarys you can visit are just spectacular! Totally worth it!

    • The contrast of those enormous rock formations with the beautiful little monastery and village is what really attracted me to this place and why it made the list. Truly a marvel in construction to put that thing up there.

      Are there any others on this list that you think you would want to visit?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.