Giza Pyramids, Egypt

Giza Pyramids, Egypt

Credit: SAsqrd

On the edges of Cairo, Egypt lie the three ancient Pyramids of Giza. The largest of the three, the Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu, or Pyramid of Cheops) is the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For over 3,800 years the Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest structure in the world. It was built over a period of 20 years starting in 2551 BCE from over 2.3 million limestone blocks, and its original purpose was to be the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Khufu. The two smaller pyramids are the Pyramid of Khafre (or Chephren), and the Pyramid of Menkaure. The alignment of the three pyramids is very similar to that of the constellation Orion. The Great Sphinx is also nearby. Visitors to the pyramids can choose from a variety of accommodations in Cairo.

Giza Pyramids, Egypt

Giza Pyramids, Egypt

Giza Pyramids, Egypt

Giza Pyramids, Egypt

Credit: Gary Ku

Giza Pyramids, Egypt

Credit: fito_fuente

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala - Temple 1

Credit: Quasebart

The ancient Mayan city of Tikal, located in present-day Guatemala, has structures that date as far back as 400 BCE, though most of the structures were built in the Late Classic Period (600 – 900 CE). One of the largest urban centers of the pre-Colombian Mayan civilization, the city was at its peak at around 700 CE. Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the ruins include five large pyramid temples, a large palace, small pyramids, tombs, and numerous other buildings with a grand total of 3,000 structures. The University of Pennsylvania and the government of Guatemala have contributed to the restorations done on the site in recent years. Travelers can find a variety of accommodations in the nearby cities of Flores and Guatemala City. Fans of the original Star Wars films may know Tikal as the “Massassi Outpost on the fourth moon of Yavin” from Episode IV: A New Hope.

Tikal, Guatemala

Credit: Marc Devens

Tikal, Guatemala - Temple 2

Credit: Yogi

Tikal Guatemala - Temple 1

Credit: saricie.com

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala - Temple 2

Tikal, Guatemala - Map of the Ancient City

Tikal, Guatemala - Stela 31

Credit: Greg Willis

Tikal, Guatemala - Jade Statue

Tikal, Guatemala - Map

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

The city of Bagan (previously spelled “Pagan”) in Myanmar (previously called Burma) is an ancient city that is home to over 2,000 temples and pagodas. Many ancient kingdoms have claimed Bagan as their capital city throughout its history. The majority of Bagan’s 67 square kilometers (26 square miles) worth of buildings were constructed between 1000 CE and 1300 CE. Bagan became a thriving center for Theravada Buddhism under King Anawrahta’s rule in the early 1000s. Visitors to Bagan can enjoy a variety of accommodations, cuisine, and activities, including touring the city by car, bike, or horse-cart, enjoying local art, and taking a boat trip on the Ayeyarwady River.

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Credit: Hartfried Schmid

Bagan, Myanmar

Credit: Gusjer

Bagan, Myanmar

Credit: Hartfried Schmid

Shwezigon Paya, Bagan, Myanmar

Gawdawpalin Temple, Bagan, Myanmar

Credit: Jialiang Gao

Monte Popa, Bagan, Myanmar

Myazedi Pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar

Credit: Jialiang Gao

Mount Hua, China

Mount Hua, China

China’s Hua Shan is one of the Five Sacred Daoist Mountains located in the country. Hua Shan has five main peaks, with the 2160m (7086ft) tall South Peak being the highest. Hua Shan, literally Splendid Mountain, has been home to Daoist temples as far back as the second century BCE. Today, it is popular with monks and tourists alike, though tourists have only been visiting the mountain for a few decades.  Traditionally, a journey up Hua Shan’s dangerous steep and narrow pathways was reserved only for the most determined monks. But in the 1990s cable cars, pictured above, and handrails were installed to allow easier access for tourists. Hua Shan is located roughly 100km East of the city of Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi Province.

Stairs going up Hua Shan

Credit: NocturneNoir