Once known as the “Paris of the Middle East”, Beirut has a long and colourful history as the cosmopolitan heart of the region. International travellers flock to the ancient metropolis for food, fashion and fun on the shores of the Mediterranean. Despite a turbulent recent past, Beirut is slowly re-establishing itself as a tourism hotspot, where sophisticated glamour meets traditional culture.
Travel back in time to the Spanish-era Philippines with a trip to Vigan. Just a short plane ride from Manila, Vigan is the perfect mini-break from the manic country capital, or a destination in its own right. Vigan is a romantic’s paradise; horse-drawn carriages pull you down streets lined with Spanish colonial architecture, while haciendas and mansions offer travellers a glimpse into the city’s sumptuous Spanish history.
Welcome to the eclectic, contradictory and captivating Havana, Cuba, where the streets pulse with the rumble of classic car engines and sensual salsa beats, cigar smoke wafts from windows and rum runs in rivers down the streets. Ok, there aren’t actual rivers of rum, but the spirit does flow freely at the bars around town.
Welcome to the 7 urban wonders of the world as identified by new7wonders.
Here you will find the tourist information you need for your best possible trip.
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A city like no other, La Paz, Bolivia, will (quite literally) take your breath away. Of course, the scenery is spectacular with cityscape hewn out of the hills at the base of towering snow-capped mountains – but it’s the altitude that will leave you truly breathless.
Surrounded by the glittering waters of the Persian Gulf, Doha is a modern city with deep historic roots. A jewel at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the tiny nation of Qatar is quickly capturing the attention of savvy world travellers with its enticing blend of history, culture and modernity.
Immerse yourself in the sites and sounds of the city as you amble down Gemmayzeh Street (the “Greenwich Village” of Beirut). Shop ‘til you drop at Beirut Souk and enjoy the best street food in the city on Bliss Street. Saifi Village is the heart of the city’s burgeoning art scene with dozens of antique shops and art galleries which line the narrow streets.
Also known as Rauouche Rocks, the Pigeon Rocks are towering stone sentinels that stand off the Western tip of Beirut in the Mediterranean Sea. Beirut is densely urbanised and, not withstanding some delightful beaches, the Pigeon Rocks are the best natural features of the city.
Nejme Square (also known as Place d’Etoile) is the centre of downtown Beirut. Wonderfully restored Art Deco buildings surround the square and house some of Beirut’s key attractions, like the Lebanese Parliament, St George Orthodox Cathedral and Crypt Museum.
For a day trip outside the city, head to Abraham River.
Located 32 kilometres from Beirut, the river, also known as the Adonis River, snakes its way down the Mount Lebanon mountain range and empties into the Mediterranean.
The real spirit of Havana is not its local beverage but it’s colourful fusion of old-world charm, Latin sensuality and Communist restraint. While communism has done little to buoy the Cuban economy, the arts flourish in Cuba.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, the streets of Old Havana are lined with the crumbling facades of Spanish Colonial buildings. Even now, with decay worn into every crevice, the careworn buildings still stand as a glorious testament to Havana’s former wealth.
After days of sightseeing, take a break and stretch out on your own patch of sandy paradise at Playas de Este, 18-kilometres outside of Havana, where the city comes to play during the summer months. Playas de Este is laidback, sunbaked luxury at its finest.
Qatar is the richest country (per capita) in the world and nowhere is that wealth reflected better than in the capital city of Doha. Museums, cultural centres and art galleries abound – check out: Museum of Islamic Art, National Museum of Qatar, MATHAF, Alriwaq, Katara Art Centre, Anima Gallery and Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum.
Used by the Qatari Coast Guard until the 1980s, the Fort is now a historic site open to visitors; several rooms on the ground floor have been converted into an exhibition space to house archaeological artifacts unearthed from nearby Al Zubarah town.
Built along several kilometres of reclaimed land skirting Doha Bay, Doha Corniche is a waterfront promenade in the West Bay district. The promenade is perfect for cyclists, runners or those looking for the a stunning photograph of the Doha city skyline.
Is there anything money can’t buy? Not in Qatar. No visit to Doha would be complete without a stop at The Pearl, an artificial island that spans nearly four million square metres. The Pearl is a mixed-use residential and commercial district that has been under construction since 2004.
La Paz is the beating heart of Bolivian culture; colonial Spanish architecture lines the streets, and museums and other artistic centres thrive in La Paz, preserving and presenting traditional cultures to local and international tourists.
An hour and a half outside La Paz city sit the pre-Incan ruins of Tiwanaku. Although Bolivia is known for its strong Incan heritage, the site at Tiwanaku offers an important historical insight into the Tiwanaku civilization that inhabited Bolivia before the Incas.
The Witches’ market, also known as El Mercado de las Brujas, is a popular stop for tourists and locals alike. Local witch doctors, known as yatiri, sell potions, talismans and herbs used for local medicinal and ceremonial recipes.
No matter where you are in La Paz, there’s no escaping the stunning sentinel of the city – the snow capped peak of Illimani. Illimani means ‘water bearer’ in the Aymara language and is considered the queen of the mountain gods in the range.
Vigan is a UNESCO world heritage listed site for its preservation of Spanish European culture in South-east Asia. There are 187 preserved houses and buildings in the city
Time stands still on Calle Crisologo, an historic street in the heart of downtown Vigan. The 500-metre stretch was established as far back as the 16th century as the commercial hub of Vigan. Some of the most well-preserved Spanish colonial houses stand along Calle Crisologo.
A short ten-minute tricycle or taxi ride out of Vigan sits Bantay Bell Tower, one of the oldest, most historic sites in the region. Built in 1591, the Bell Tower attracts visitors from around the world. Although it’s popular, it does not host regular tours but caretakers will often open the locked gates.
Move over Bellagio, Las Vegas; say hello to the Dancing Fountains of Vigan. Sandwiched between the Vigan Cathedral and Plaza Salcedo sits Vigan’s newest attraction. The Dancing Fountains are a far cry from the historic, horsedrawn nostalgia of Calle Crisologo, which brings vibrancy to the city.
Durban’s culture is an eclectic mix of Zulu, Indian, and post-colonial influences, which are wonderfully represented by the city’s memorable food and striking architecture.
Developed in 1849 for the trial of agricultural crops, Durban Botanic Gardens is Africa’s oldest surviving botanical garden and Durban’s oldest public institution. The tranquil grounds sprawl for 15 hectares with gorgeous collections of indigenous plants as well as plants from all over the world.
You can’t miss the Suncoast Casino on Durban’s Golden Mile because it literally lights up the sky with 6km of neon lighting! It’s the biggest casino in South Africa with over 1330 slot machines, 50 gaming tables, and home to Durban’s only million Rand paying bank of slot machines.
Over 16 hectares, uShaka Marine World is the 5th largest aquarium in the world and the biggest in Africa. Located on Durban’s Golden Mile, it offers a world of family-friendly fun in its giant world-class water theme park, which is also home to a variety of other large attractions.
Malaysia – ‘Truly Asia’ - celebrates its unique multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual identity. Persian, Arab and European influences can been seen mixed with Malay, Chinese, Indian and indigenous elements in both architecture and food.
These towering glass twins dominate the KL skyline, reaching an impressive 451.9 metres into the sky – that’s nearly half a kilometre! Each tower has 94 floors, five subterranean levels and 88 above ground. The two Patronas towers are connected by a double decker sky bridge.
The Kuala Lumpur Tower is the seventh tallest telecommunications tower in the world; at an impressve 421 metres high, it also offers visitors the highest observation deck in Kuala Lumpur. The super-speed lift from the base to the top only takes 52 seconds!
The Aquaria KLCC is an immersive sealife experience. The best time to visit is during feeding times, which vary by exhibit. The Pirahna feeding at 4pm is definitely worth checking out. A walk through the 90-metre fish filled tunnel in the Oceanarium will bring you up close to the sharks.