The ultimate travel list: our top sights

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From the mysterious Machu Picchu to the mesmirising Great Barrier Reef, the world is full of unforgettable wonders. Many will amaze you, some will humble you and others will surprise you. But when it comes down to it, can you rank the world’s best sights?

It’s a pretty tall order, but we asked our well-travelled Lonely Planet staff to shortlist the most remarkable sights that they have ever come across. The result? Our brand new Ultimate Travel book which ranks the top 500 ultimate sights in the world!

While the Temples of Angkor pipped everywhere else to the post, it wasn’t the only sight that captured our hearts. Here five LP staffers share their personal favourite and why it got their vote.

Dan Lack

Head of Digital Product
Ultimate sight: Antarctica

‘After trekking through all seven continents and 50+ countries, it’s easy to say that Antarctica is the most amazing place I’ve ever been. It’s the last frontier, so pristine, so beautiful, with hundreds of thousands of penguins running around on an endless playground. The glaciers are incredible, the endless daylight allows for countless hours of exploring, and you’ll never find another place so remote and unique. It’s truly breathtaking.’

Angela Tinson

Associate Product Director
Ultimate sight: Kōya-san, Japan.

‘I overnighted at Kōya-san on my first trip to Japan, and after a few days in frenetic Tokyo, it mesmerised me. The cemetery of Buddhist temple Oku-no-in – filled with beautiful, old, moss-covered tombstones in an eerily misty cedar forest – is so serene; and staying in temple lodgings and attending a morning prayer service, I really felt like I was a welcome observer witnessing a very old, traditional way of religious life in Japan.’

Gemma Graham

Northern Europe Destination Editor
Ultimate sight: Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam.

‘Everything about Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was so entirely unexpected. From the moment we arrived, we just couldn’t understand why no one else we’d met on our travels had made the effort to visit; it only took a tiny bit of organisation to visit independently, rather than via an expensive tour. It’s the kind of place that photos can never do justice – from taking in the stunning views over the oldest karst mountains in Asia, to being motioned off a boat within the depths of a vast cave system (international sign language for ‘go and explore, I’ll wait here’), it was astonishingly beautiful. It was truly the highlight of my travels in Vietnam.’ Follow Gemma @gglpde.

Alexander Howard

Western USA & Canada Destination Editor
Ultimate sight: Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

‘A few years ago, while exploring the teardrop domes and marble minarets of the Taj Mahal, I quickly realised why it would become my ultimate sight. It was the story: besieged with grief after the death of his wife, Shah Jahan commissioned the building as her mausoleum. Later, Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son and imprisoned in a nearby fort, from which he could only look upon his creation. When he died, Shah Jahan …read more


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