Travel writer picks the most beautiful places on earth

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You have already seen the picture: the sky of the Eiffel Tower shines with brilliant colors. Taj Mahal without tourists. Lake with perfect mirrored mountain reflection.

Unfortunately, these photos are often tampered with. Many places fail to meet the expectations set by photography. These places have been filled, brushed, blurred and balanced to a flawless finish. When tourists see famous sights in real life, they will be disappointed.

But the splendor of some places cannot be fully captured in the photo-whether it has been edited or not. Here, the CNBC Travel contributors identified a destination that far exceeded their expectations.

The silence of Iceland and Siberia

Iceland is one of the few countries that looks better in real life than on postcards. Its beauty is otherworldly. Walking along any of its coastline is so picturesque, you want to start the soundtrack at any time.

Morgan Awyong is on the banks of Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia.

Courtesy of Morgan Awyong

Lake Baikal in Siberia is also jaw-dropping. The area is so isolated that it is almost impossible to think that it will become a tourist attraction. When you stand on the marble ice on the lake, time seems to slow down—or even stop.

——Morgan Ayong, Singapore

Paris lights

For centuries, artists have been trying to capture the light of Paris on canvas. Impressionism is the closest, but still no painter has achieved success.

The most iconic photos of Paris are black and white, which simply cannot reflect the rich cream color of the city.

—Christian Barker, Australia

The vastness of Chilean Patagonia

A road is located between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, a small port city in Patagonia. This is the road to Torres del Paine National Park-a place with indescribable beauty and magnificence.

The tower in “Torres” or English is three granite peaks surrounded by snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes and glaciers. There are few places like this on earth.

Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia.

Courtesy of Kevin Cox

The park occupies only a small part of Patagonia, most of which are only open to hikers, climbers and adventurers. It straddles Chile and Argentina in South America and is called the Southern Cone. It extends to the end of the road at the bottom of the continent.

It is unparalleled beauty.Seeing it makes me want to conquer it in a way I didn’t expect–maybe I Can Climbing mountains, boating or crossing glacier crevices.

Then a cold wind blew into my open jacket, and I rushed back to the shelter in the car.

——Kevin Cox, United States

Diversity in Slovenia

For a country as big as Massachusetts, I was struck by the diversity and magnificence of Slovenia’s landscape. The combination of the beauty and cuisine of the Balkans, the Mediterranean and the Alps makes it a truly unforgettable holiday destination.

Lake Bled in Slovenia.

Courtesy of Chris Dwyer

The rolling Italian border, vineyard-covered hills, the elegant and environmentally friendly capital Ljubljana, the perfectly tranquil Lake Bled, the snow-capped valleys of Triglav National Park, and the warm waters of the Adriatic coast ——This country is definitely worth a try far exceeding its weight.

——Chris Dwyer, UK

Sedona’s energy

For Sedona, there are no words or pictures to illustrate the problem. When I saw a picture of it for the first time, I wanted to go there. When I finally did this in 2019, it was surreal and otherworldly beauty.

Sheryl Nance-Nash is near the small town of Sedona in the Arizona desert.

Courtesy of Sheryl Nance-Nash

Hiking through Red Rock State Park, where there are gurgling creeks and woods, soothes my soul. The huge red rock is mysterious and majestic.

Even better is to visit a vortex in the area, which some people think is an energy field. When I got out of the car and approached the mountains, I felt a shock. The higher I climb, the strength and peace completely envelop me.

——Shirley Nance-Nash, United States

The calm of the Japanese countryside

In my case, the photos I took never fully captured anything! This is especially true on the east coast of Tohoku, Japan, which was hit hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In the past few years, I have been to several times, visiting markets in Hachinohe City, taking a boat trip in Yamada Bay, and walking parts of the Mutsu Coastal Trail. It has a lovely calm and rough beauty. A photo cannot convey the immersive feeling.

-Rob Goss, UK

Zamami Island is the second largest island in the Kerama Islands in Japan.

Offered by Duncan Forgan

In Thailand where I live, we are spoiled by paradise islands. But the short break to Zamami Island in Japan — a short ferry ride from Naha, the capital of Okinawa — exceeded my expectations.

After a few days of hiking on the island’s quiet mountain trails, enjoy seafood in a first-class izakaya in the evening. And the beach? The clear waters of Kozamami Beach and Sea Beach in Zamami are as magnificent as I have ever seen.

——Duncan Fogan, United Kingdom

Silence in southern africa

I have always had a soft spot for Africa. Canoeing along the Zambezi River reignited this love.

On numerous river islands, lush reeds sway in the breeze. Within a few hours, only the egrets flapped the wings of the canoe and the hippo’s symphony. The absence of cell phones, car horns or human arguing disrupts this experience-just silence, occasionally interrupted by the sounds of nature.

Petra Loho said the area around the Zambezi River is known for its large populations of hippos, crocodiles and elephants.

Courtesy of Petra Loho

Across the soft water, the sunlight reflects on the blue ripples of the Zambezi River, like dancing diamonds. At sunset, the river takes on a soft golden hue, then turns into a bright orange, and then deepens to a rich purple.

-Petra Lojo, Austria


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