Destined for greatness
There are times when a destination’s hype doesn’t match the reality. But despite the crowds and commercialisation, these destinations won’t let you down.
The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall attracts over 10 million tourists every year. But don’t let those numbers put you off. We vouch for its wow-factor. Not only a magnificent sight, but an engineering feat. The wall stretches and weaves haphazardly over the lush but rugged countryside and mountain tops. There’s two main spots to view the Great Wall. Badaling- the most touristy section of the wall. While it attracts lots of hawkers, it suits older travelers, young families or those short on time. The second is Simatai which is considered the most authentic and picturesque spot. But don’t let its good views fool you, this is one of the steepest points to travel to. So, pack sturdy shoes, plenty of snacks and be reasonably fit. No matter which route you choose, our hard and fast rule is to get there early. The time you save can be spent sipping Chinese tea while admiring all the crowd-free, stunning photos you just took.
The Grand Canyon
One of the U. S’s most iconic natural landscapes. You’ve grown up seeing it on blockbusters, learning about it during Natural History and on your best mate’s Facebook feed. But nothing prepares you for the dramatic experience of actually being there. Standing on the edge of the rim and taking in that expansive view; the immense depth of the canyons coupled with the light bouncing off the red and orange rocks. Ah the serenity. You take a snap, just as a tourist walks into your frame. Chances are you’re at the Southern Rim. This is a major tourist hot spot which experiences crowded conditions especially during peak periods. Sure, the views here are great, but there’s tonnes of different ways to experience the canyon. After-all there’s a reason the canyon is grand! For eager explorers after a more authentic experience, there’s many dusty trails lining the inner canyon, making them perfect for a hike. Or for those chasing a more intimate experience, pack your tent and camp under the stars inside the canyon. You won’t hear a single tourist camera click. Except maybe your own.
One of the most celebrated images of Japan. Inspiring artists and writers alike since the 8th century. Mount Fuji is situated on the boarder of Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures. On a clear day, it can be seen from both Tokyo and Yokohama. However, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy Japan’s highest peak. For easy views, jump on a train between Tokyo and Osaka and enjoy the ride. For those who enjoy a slower pace in a natural setting, Fuji Five Lake or Hakone (a nearby hot spring) might be for you. Both are extremely beautiful and less crowded. To get up close and personal and climb the mountain, you’ll need to plan ahead. And be prepared for the crowds. The traditional climbing season runs for a mere 2 months. Typically, from July through to August. Expect to be elbowing fellow climbers every step of the way. Why not embrace this chicken dance as part of your experience and make a new friend along the way? After all you’ll be climbing for 6 hours before you reach the top. Be prepared to be completely overcome with adrenalin and those breath-taking views. Maybe even do a chicken dance on the top to celebrate.
Our lesson here: expect the crowds. Expect the commercialization, but don’t let it take away from the actual experience of these destinations. They’re iconic for a reason.