Travelers need no longer shun one of the world's best views.
With the November release from house arrest of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, activist groups have called an end to a 15-year tourism boycott of the military-ruled country.
That means tourists can seek out guilt-free one of the world's most impressive collections of temples, Bagan — but without the crowds of other notable Southeast Asian temples.
Comparable in scale to Cambodia's Angkor Wat, currently "you can get huge parts of it all to yourself," says 's USA editor, Robert Reid. "You can go in with a flashlight and find a stairway up to the top of a temple and pick your spot for sunset. There is a big plain dotted with these huge, ancient temples everywhere, and you all sit and watch the sunset — it's absolutely beautiful."
We looked for some of the world's most amazing views. Some are natural wonders; others are man-made. Other views are the product of gatherings of people or animals, transforming a space with the poetry of movement.
Few perches provide more dramatic vistas than that of the cockpit of an airplane. Patrick Smith, a pilot and , says the view of Greenland, with its creeping glaciers splintering into barren rock as you're coming in off the coast, is like no other. "It's perhaps the most stunning view of all," says Smith.
But if you don't have a cockpit view of an impressive stretch of land, you can still find a place closer to Earth that will provide an awe-inspiring experience.
An undulating series of verdant falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls almost puts Niagara to shame, though it has less water running over it. Split into more than 200 individual falls and islands, it provides a dizzying array of stunning vistas and perches from which to view the area.
Although it , China's Great Wall still amazes with its sheer size, and remains impressive as a testament to architectural will, and to the need to keep out the Mongol hordes. Stretching over more than 5,500 miles and consisting of many different sections of wall built and renovated from the 5th century B.C. to the 16th century, it provides an almost infinite array of perches and areas from which to take in some of the world's most breathtaking views.
Thailand's Phang Nga Bay resembles an alien seascape, where towering limestone cliffs in improbable shapes carve the view into unfamiliar patterns of land, sea and air. Boat trips are offered to many of the bay's caves and uninhabited islands, but among the most popular of the bay's 42 islands is James Bond Island, so named because it was prominently featured in two Bond films.
On a scale to which no photo or video can do justice, the Grand Canyon impresses with its size, span and color. Though it's not the deepest or the widest canyon in the world, it retains its popularity through sheer force of its beauty. At 277 miles long and more than a mile deep, its intricate formations are matched only by the stunning striation of the rock, and by the knowledge that the entire thing was carved out by the Colorado River on a 5-million-year mission.
John Giuffo writes the travel and food blog for Forbes.