Easter Island is an isolated Polynesian island located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Politically, Easter Island is a special territory of Chile. Easter Island is famous for the almost 900 stone statues, called moai, that are in the shape of human heads and simple bodies. These moai statues were created by the Rapanui people hundreds of years ago. It is believed that the Rapanui people’s numbers dwindled due to the overexploitation of their tiny, isolated island. Others claim diseases from Europe are to blame for the decline. The island’s name was given in 1722 by a Dutch explorer, who landed on the island on Easter Sunday. The Polynesian name for the island is Rapa Nui, meaning “Big Rapa” in reference to a similar looking Polynesian island called Rapa. Today, Easter Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and destination for history loving tourists.
Peru is home to one of the most visited ancient ruins today, Machu Picchu. Literally meaning “Old Mountain”, Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Inca site that was built around 1400 CE. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that sees around half a million visitors each year. In January 2010 Machu Piccu was in the news worldwide when heavy rains washed away access roads to the site, trapping over 2,000 tourists and 2,000 locals who then had to be evacuated. Machu Piccu reopened to the public on April 1st, 2010. Most visitors to Machu Piccu stay in the nearby town of Cusco where all manner of accommodation can be found.
Built between 802 CE and 1220 CE, the stunning Angkor Wat temple complex includes hundreds of temples stretching over an area of 400 square kilometers (249 square miles). The most popular temples are Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Phrom (setting of the Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider movie). Recommended activites include exploring the temples, watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat, watching the sunset at one of the west-facing temples, and for those more adventurous types: getting in a hot air balloon or a helicopter for a breathtaking view of Angkor Wat from above. Visitors to the temples are required to buy a 1 day ($20), 3 day ($40), or 7 day ($60) temple pass. In the last decade Angkor Wat has exploded onto the tourist scene. 15 years ago the nearby town of Siem Reap had only 1 hotel, now there are hundreds.