The World's 50 Greatest Travel Experiences
Published 21 October 2016
'Collect moments not things' is a saying that's very close to the heart of Round the World Experts. As we specialise in tailor-made holidays, our favourite type of trips go beyond the resort pools and to some of the greatest destinations in the world.
With this experience, we're incredibly familiar with the world's best experiences, from natural wonders to inspiring cultures. To offer you plenty of inspiration, our Experts have collated their 50 favourite travel experiences to have around the world.
View the infographic below or expand it here.
50. Cruise down the Mississippi from New Orleans, USA
There are few things more quintessentially American than taking a paddlewheel steamboat cruise down the sleepy waters of the Mississippi as she snakes through New Orleans. This is the Deep South, home of jazz, Creole and amazing architecture. Kick back and relax for a cruise back in time through this historic and colourful region.
49. Tour the wineries of South Australia, Australia
South Australia boasts some of the oldest vines in the world. With 44% of Australia’s vineyards, the signature grape here is Shiraz, but the diverse, rich region and terroir also produce some unmistakable names such as Penfolds Grange, Henschke Hill of Grace, Torbreck the Laird and d’Arenberg The Dead Arm.
48. Spy a tiger in the wild in Ranthambore, India
Few have seen one of nature’s most majestic animals in the wild – and you could join them. Famed for its tiger sightings, Ranthambore National Park is one of the largest national parks in Northern India and part of India’s Golden Triangle. It’s also home to leopard and sloth bear, offering an idyllic Jungle Book encounter.
47. Stay at a ranch in Texas, USA
Just the thought of Texas conjures up images of the Wild West, Dallas, Fort Worth and cowboys (and girls!). And a stay at the Wildcatter Ranch offers the chance to enjoy the all-American horseback adventure of your Western fantasies. Wagon rides and trail riding are all part of discovering this distinctly Texan corner of the world.
46. Visit Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion, Japan
Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion is one of 17 sites making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, all of which are World Heritage sites. The golden Buddhist temple of Kinkaku-ji – as it is also known – is three storeys high and surrounded by beautifullymanicured gardens. Dating back to 1397, the temple is a designated place of scenic beauty and showcases three magnificent architectural styles.
45. Do a bungee jump in Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is the birthplace of the bungee jump. With three bungee sites, you can drop from 396m above the city, choosing between jumping or swinging, and taking on the challenge at day or night. Given its history with the bungee, it’s no surprise that this adventure capital is also home to the world’s highest swing, perfect for those seeking additional thrills.
44. Drive the Icefields Parkway, Canada
Described as one of the most beautiful journeys on the planet and the gateway to Canada’s soul, the Icefields Parkway – also known as Highway 93 – is 144 miles of outstanding beauty. Forging a path through the heart of the Rocky Mountains, passing innumerable glaciers, lakes and two national parks, it’s a trip you’ll never forget.
43. Enjoy wine tasting in Stellenbosch, South Africa
This old European settlement in the Western Cape Province, on the banks of the River Eerste, is at the heart of South Africa’s main wine-producing region. With 150 vineyards and estates to discover, not to mention award-winning wines, take to the wine trail to sample their Sauvignon, Shiraz and Chenin Blanc.
42. Tour the streets of Havana in an open-top muscle car, Cuba
The streets of Havana pulsate with a fifties style, rhythm and colour that’s unique. Its historic Old Quarter is a World Heritage site and there’s no better way to soak up the vibrant architecture, flavours and vibe of this flamboyant city than with the wind in your hair in the back of an open-top classic car.
41. See the Outback by train, Australia
One of the last great train journeys of the world, The Ghan runs for 1,851 miles from Adelaide to Darwin, via Alice Springs and through Australia’s spectacular Red Centre. From immense Outback vistas to the lush tropics of Darwin’s surrounding national parks, try the platinum service for a journey of unforgettable style.
40. Cruise around the Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Thailand’s crowning glory, the Phi Phi islands are like a tropical fortress. Sheer limestone cliffs and beachfronted jungles, white sands and transparent waters are the big draws for this slice of paradise. Want more than beach? The snorkelling and diving here is second to none, or you can just drift around the six islands in a cruise boat, feeling like a pioneer as you discover hidden cove after hidden cove.
39. Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, Australia
One of, if not the most thrilling experiences of your life! These gentle giants, harmless to humans, can grow up to 18 metres in length and are the biggest fish in the world. Swimming alongside these magnificent creatures, with a rainbow of other tropical fish and the coral of Ningaloo Reef, is something you will never forget.
38. Explore New England in autumn, USA
A unique climate and terrain make New England the epitome of everything that you love about autumn. Photographs can’t do justice to the dazzling hues of the maples, sumacs and sorells as they shimmer in gold, crimsons and a thousand autumn shades. With painted red barns and old farms peppering the landscape, it’s a place where the season inspires.
37. Visit ancient Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, Mexico
A hugely important archaeological site, this legendary ruin from the great Mayan Empire, covers six square miles and includes the world-famous pyramid of Kukulkan, the mystical cenoté and the Temple of the Warriors. Dating from approximately 600 AD, Chichen Itza is a mysterious must see and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
36. Cruise under Niagara Falls, Canada
With a vertical drop of 50m, Niagara Falls has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, so imagine the three thundering cascades of Horseshoe, America and Bridal Veil by cruise. Get as close as possible to the mist and the might of the water; you can even enjoy the magic of the falls by starlight.
35. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
Sydney Harbour Bridge is iconic, but a climb to the top is where the experience gets really special. Not for the fainted hearted, you’re exposed to the elements on the ladders and catwalks of an ascent that features 1,332 steps in total. Spectacular panoramic views are your reward, of the city, the Opera House and the Blue Mountains beyond.
34. See the Terracotta Army in Xi’an, China
One of the greatest archaeological sites and most significant discoveries of the 20th century, visiting the 2,000-year-old Terracotta Army is a hauntingly memorable experience. 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses greet you in magnificent silence in memory of China’s first emperor.
33. Take in the views from Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa
Another of the world’s most iconic landmarks, Table Mountain is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and, aside from its jaw dropping views, has a rare biodiversity while also being one of the richest floral regions on earth. Nearly three quarters of a mile high, watch the sunset over Table Bay and the National Park from this remarkable spot.
It’s easy to forget that Key West is a tropical island with more than just a hint of the Caribbean. Sunset at the historic docks of Mallory Square, as the pinks and golds sink into the Gulf of Mexico, is part of the culture here. Expect hours of celebration and street performers, making it one of the best spots in the world to catch sunset.
31. Tour the floating markets of Bangkok, Thailand
Once named the ‘Venice of Asia’, there are a number of floating markets in Bangkok where you’ll find a taste of original Krung Thep traditions and lifestyle. The markets are a heady, sensual experience, with a riot of colour, smells, sounds and flavours. Enjoy the markets by boat if you can.
30. Trek the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand
Lava flows, active craters, steam vents, bright green lagoons and amazing views make this challenging 11-mile trek one of New Zealand’s most magnificent. Embark on a steep climb from Mangatepopo Valley, past the oasis at Soda Springs, and onto the highest point at the active Red Crater before descending into the cool of the forest.
29. Watch bears in British Columbia, Canada
Alberta and the Arctic North, Canada’s great untamed lands are home to large populations of grizzly, black and even polar bears. And for something really unique, visit Klemtu for a chance to see the exceptionally rare spirit bear, a colour-morphed sub species of black bear with a white coat that you’ll only find in this small region.
28. Take part in a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Learn to cook the authentic dishes of Thailand and Chiang Mai’s hill tribes. Taste dishes handed down from generation to generation and learn about culture, tradition and ancient techniques as you work with local ingredients.
27. Watch wild Orangutans in Borneo, Malaysia
There are few people privileged enough to have seen the endangered orangutan. Stay at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge on the Danum River for your best chance to see these compelling primates in the wild; the canopied walkways give you treetop views of the forest.
26. Drive the scenic Garden Route, South Africa
Get behind the wheel from Mossel Bay in the west to the Eastern Cape and you’ll discover another side to Africa. This is 124 miles of hidden lagoons, the Tsitsikamma Mountains, Wilderness National Park and breathtaking coastal views. It’s also one of the best places on earth to watch dolphins and whales play from the shore.
25. Watch the sunset over Uluru, Australia
It’s not hard to see why Uluru (Ayers Rock) is sacred to the Aboriginals. 347m high, to walk round it takes 3.5 hours. And the award-winning Sounds of Silence Dinner experience, inspired by the bush, is an incredible way to watch the sunset as this giant monolith shifts through varying shades of terracotta and crimson.
24. See the Northern Nights from Yukon, Canada
Watching the mystical and elusive aurora borealis from the northern tip of Canada is an unforgettable moment that not even your camera can do justice. Visit the Northern Lights Centre to learn about some of the folklore and, if you can, be near the lake on a clear, dark night to watch the magical and rare phenomena as it’s reflected in the waters.
23. Go snorkelling or diving in the Philippines
The Philippines has some of the best diving experiences in the world. With 7,100 islands, abundant coral reefs, thousands of coral species, turtles, rays and the rare Thresher sharks, all alongside World War II wrecks, it’s a scuba experience you’ll never forget.
22. Kayak around Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
This national park, described as a coastal paradise, is one of New Zealand’s secret gems. Experience incredible ocean kayaking around some of the offshore islands, dip in and out of the emerald forests, discover an ancient Maori fortification at Te Pukatea Bay and camp overnight in lodges at the foot of vast granite formations.
21. Hike through Yosemite National Park, USA
People say they experience an inspiring sense of awe and reverence when they first set foot in Yosemite National Park. The jewel in California’s crown, this 1,170 square miles of American wilderness includes vast granite cliffs, giant redwoods, sequoia groves and waterfalls.
20. Drive the Great Ocean Road, Australia
Profoundly moving, the Great Ocean Road along the south-eastern coast of Australia is the world’s largest war memorial at 150 miles long, as well as being a journey of infinite beauty. The limestone stacks of the 12 Apostles salute you as you delve into a world of rainforests, waterfalls and Australian wildlife.
19. Take the cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The exhilaration of this epic cable car ride to the top of the 396m Sugarloaf Mountain is one you’ll never forget. 360-degree views of the coastline and backstreets of Rio stretch out beneath you, along with the famous Rio-Niterói Bridge and a canopy of tropical rainforests. The view from the top is simply awesome.
18. Walk the streets of New York, USA
A trip to New York City is the trip of a lifetime: think Times Square, the Empire State Building and five boroughs loaded with must-see attractions and cultural hotspots. Take a guided tour to get the full Big Apple experience and explore the vastly different streets of Greenwich Village, Midtown, Little Italy, Tribeca and more.
17. Cruise along the Mekong Delta, Vietnam
This extraordinary watery world offers a rare glimpse of life in Vietnam. Rice paddies in a thousand shades of green, floating markets, Khmer pagodas, temples and a patchwork of canals add to this colourful landscape.
16. See Whales in Kaikoura, New Zealand
Nothing can prepare you for the sheer scale and size of the sperm whale off the coast of Kaikoura. Up to 18 metres long and weighing up to 70 tonnes, they send up huge plumes of water as they swim alongside your vessel. With the Southern Alps as your backdrop, it’s a once in a lifetime experience to see these majestic cetaceans in the wild.
15. Explore Tokyo during Cherry Blossom Season, Japan
If you’re lucky enough to be in Tokyo when the cherry blossom is in full bloom, it’s truly extraordinary. For about a week from the end of March the city is shrouded in a springtime blanket of pink. Visit one of the city’s parks such as Ueno or Kitanomaru to experience thousands of different cherry trees bursting to life.
14. See Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada
Bear, elk and wolves make up some of the unique wildlife found in this untamed wilderness. The jadegreen lakes, vast canyons and gorges that you’ll find in front of the Rocky Mountains have been described as one of the most awe-inspiring destinations in the world and a perfect blend of heaven and earth.
13. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway, USA
An iconic road trip, if you choose just one spot for hitting the tarmac in your lifetime, it should be this one. Hire a convertible and take to the wide open roads of the sun-drenched Californian coast. From San Francisco’s Golden Gate and motoring south, lose yourself on this twisting, hill-hugging journey with coastal views, forests and elephant seals.
12. Visit the Great Wall of China
This giant of a wall is over 13,000 miles long and winds its way through desert, mountains, plateaus and flat grasslands across China. 2,300 years old, the wall is a magnificent feat of engineering by ancient civilisations. Standing in the shadow of its grandeur, above the panoramic countryside, is an experience you’ll never forget.
11. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru
Walk the mountainous passes of the Andes and one of the most beautiful and intriguing trails in the world. Discover the cloud forest, walk the Dead Woman’s Pass and explore the amazing ruins of Inca settlements. An epic trail of incredible views and mysterious tunnels brings you to the great Machu Picchu Mountain.
10. Cruise the Galapagos Islands
Barren, volcanic beauty and a showcase of rare marine wildlife make this cluster of islands in the Pacific an extraordinary adventure. Over 600 miles west of Ecuador, follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and explore this remote and exotic archipelago, home to giant tortoises, iguana, penguins and sea lions.
9. See the Taj Mahal, India
Majestic shimmering beauty puts this iconic jewel of India on any traveller’s must-see list. It’s an enduring symbol of love and a fitting representation of the great Mughal Empire. Time your visit to sunset and watch the shifting colours of golden light reflect off the pale white marble, encrusted with precious stones.
8. Cruise Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
1,600 limestone karsts, some 100 metres high, tower over the tranquil, tropical waters of Halong Bay or ’where the dragon descends’. One of the world’s great wonders, take to the skies in a seaplane to enjoy an ethereal and mystical seascape surrounded by rainforests and scattered with tiny islets and hidden coves.
7. See the Big Five in Kruger National Park, South Africa
As the sun sets over Limpopo and the African bush, some of nature’s most magnificent animals stroll into view. One of the country’s largest game reserves, Kruger National Park covers nearly 12,500 square miles. Home to the increasingly rare Big 5, it’s a chance to glimpse nature at its most wild and wonderful.
6. See the sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
This magnificent 12th-century temple is an oasis of calm as the sun slowly climbs over the forest beyond. As Cambodia breaks into life, the reflection of the elegant spires of this vast spiritual home shimmers in the moat, while the incredible and ancient architecture is slowly revealed, leaving you in silent awe.
5.Ride the Rocky Mountaineer train, Canada
One of the few great train rides of the world, the award-winning Rocky Mountaineer glides its way elegantly along the mountainous routes of the historic Gold Rush. Enjoy vast views of the majestic, snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies and jaw-dropping glimpses of river canyons, gorges and extraordinary wildlife.
4.Cruise through New Zealand’s Fiordland
The Fiordland is a rare glimpse of a dramatic landscape carved by glaciers over 100,000 years ago. A World Heritage site, ice fields, lakes and vast cascading waterfalls make it a region of outstanding natural beauty. Discover some of nature’s most inaccessible wonders by kayak or via fascinating mountain trails.
3. See elephants in the jungle in Thailand
Thailand may be famed for its beaches, but its Khao Sok National Park and more specifically the luxury jungle camp of Elephant Hills that is undoubtedly our favourite Thai experience. Here you can stay on a lake in a floating tent, help feed and bathe rescue elephants, and embrace Thailand’s luscious jungle while still enjoying life’s creature comforts.
2. Fly over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, USA
Spanning 277 miles long and more than a mile deep, there’s nothing like staring into the mesmerising abyss of the Grand Canyon to change your outlook on life. While there are plenty of ways to take this vast landscape in, the best point of view is undoubtedly from above in a helicopter. You can even fly there from Las Vegas and land inside the Canyon for lunch.
1. Visit the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
As the world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef has a secure spot on the Seven Natural Wonders of the World list, and in our opinion, is the most impressive. When it comes to experiencing it in all its glory (you don’t even need to get wet), choose by snorkel, scuba, cruise, submarine, helicopter, seaplane – you can even sleep on it!