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PICS: Top 12 life-changing travel destinations

Last updated on: November 23, 2011 16:39 IST

PICS: Top 12 life-changing travel destinations

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Lonely Planet magazine asked its followers on Twitter and Facebook to vote for the one travel destination that changed their lives the most. Here are some of them.

According to a poll that was conducted by Lonely Planet on Facebook and Twitter, India led the list of travel destinations that changed the lives of people the most.

"It seems, Mark Broadhead wrote on the Lonely Planet blog, that if you want to increase your chances of a life-changing experience then you should head to India... With its heady combination of beauty, cultural diversity and an air filled with spices, it's hardly surprising that wonderful India is a change maker for many."

Cambodia was at number two while Australia and Thailand almost tied at number three.

Here are the rest of the destinations that changed the lives of travellers the most... in no particular order.

Have you been to a destination that has changed your life? Tell us about it! Share with us your experience. Simply write in to getahead@rediff.co.in (subject line: 'Destination that changed my life') preferably with a picture to go and we will publish the best responses right here on rediff.com!


Image: Travel destinations that changed your life the most

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Egypt

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The Pyramids in Egypt deserved 'notable mention' in the list of travel destinations that changed the lives of travellers the most.

Sole survivors of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids in Giza date back to over 4,000 years.

And while we all are aware that these pyramids were in fact tombs of the pharaohs, speculation about these huge structures being built by aliens persist even to this day.

Continuing excavations however seem to point the construction not to an army of slaves as it is generally believed but rather to a workforce of immaculately organised farmers.

The complete answer to how these superstructures were conceived and built though continues to evade us.


Image: A tourist poses for a picture with the Sphinx at the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt
Photographs: Jamal Saidi/Reuters
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Peru

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The thing with Peru is that it offers such a wide variety of experiences it'll probably take a lifetime to cover it all in the first place.

From pilgrimages and party scenes to serene lakes and forests and bustling cities, Peru is one country that really does have something for everyone.


Image: eople sit at an observation point, as they waits to see condors, in the Colca canyon at the Colca valley in Arequipa, south of Lima.
Photographs: Pilar Olivares/Reuters
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Vietnam

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For a country that has been ravaged by wars, Vietnam can be surprisingly welcoming and warm towards it guests.

Vietnam offers idyllic views of rice fields with peasant women in conical hats tending to their fields as well as buzzing cities of millions of motorbikes.

A country of natural beauty where majestic mountains meet pristine beaches Vietnam has withstood colonialism and communism and continues to be fiercely independent.

An adventure or a holiday, Vietnam seems to offer everything you could ask for.


Image: Tourist boats cruise in Vietnam's scenic Halong Bay.
Photographs: Pablo Sanchez/Reuters
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Nepal

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Despite being one of the poorest peoples in the world, the Nepalese are known to be extremely warm and hospitable.

As a country, Nepal can be quite overwhelming what with the mountains towering over you wherever you look.

The ultimate abode for mountaineers, trekkers and adventure sports enthusiasts, Nepal offers you an experience that isn't just worth cherishing but also life altering.

Also read: How Nepal changed the life of an American lady


Image: Upper Lantang
Photographs: Jamal Saidi/Reuters
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New Zealand

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The country where Peter Jackson chose to shoot the epic Lord of the Rings, New Zealand is on the other end of the spectrum when you compare it with most others in the list.

Unlike, let's say Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia or even India for that matter, New Zealand tends to offer a far more sophisticated and sanitised experience.

With its breathtaking natural beauty, amazing festivals and great food and wine experiences, New Zealand is bound to change you in a way that none of the other countries here would; it changed the life of a hobbit why wouldn't it change yours and mine?


Image: A view of Lake Hawea in Wanaka, New Zealand.
Photographs: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
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France

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Love it or hate it, France is one country everyone wants to visit, secretly or otherwise. And why not -- the country is known for its fashion and art world and one that offers a glamorous peek into history through its architecture.

The stunning chateaus, idyllic scenes that you grew up watching in the movies and the food and wine that (the French believe) is the best in the world certainly can be life changing, won't it?


Image: Swiss model Julia Saner walks near the Eiffel tower as she arrives for a fashion show.
Photographs: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters
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New York City

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What can you say about 'the greatest city in the world' except that New York can change you in ways you can never dream of.

The city that is so alive that it seems to evolve with each passing minute has moved on from its dark 9/11 past in a way that the rest of America hasn't -- probably one of the many reasons why so many people continue to land at its doorsteps, dreams in their eyes and hope in their hearts.

New York, as Lonely Planet tells us, can be anything you want it to be.


Image: Rockerfeller centre in Manhattan
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
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London

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Among the many things London has been called the title 'World in one city' is what suits it the best.

A melting pot of various cultures, London as a city can affect you in ways you've never imagined.

The old world charm and the quiet elegance of the British culture offer an experience that is unparalleled.

Over the years London has opened its doors and heart to people from across the world and has managed to blend the old with the new in a way that few cities ever can.


Image: An aerial view of the Thames river in London from the air with Tower Bridge in the foreground in London, England
Photographs: Tom Shaw/Getty Images
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Thailand

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Thailand almost tied with Australia at number three in the list of destinations that changed the lives of the people that visited it the most.

Often called 'a golden land', Thailand offers you sandy beaches, bustling cities and stupa-studded mountains as well as glittering shopping centres and a bohemian culture that make it so unique.


Image: People walk around the Buddha statue at sunset holding candles for prayers at Buddhist Park on Visakha Puja Day in Nakhon Pathom
Photographs: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
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Australia

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The only country that is also a continent is a quirky mix of the culturally rich, the wild and the adventurous.

Lonely Planet describes Australia as 'a country as big as your imagination'. There are never-ending beaches, stunning hundreds of years old giant trees, an unending list of adventure sports option and a bunch of people with an insatiable hunger for it/

Go biking, trekking surfing or kayaking; travel through the national parts and canyons or simply go pub hopping or opera watching in the cities. It's a great place that can touch you in a good way... unless of course you insist on talking about how Australians suck at cricket!


Image: Australians are known for their hedonistic lifestyle
Photographs: Stoofstraat/Creative Commons
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Cambodia

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Lonely Planet calls Cambodia 'a country with a history both inspiring and depressing'. It is perhaps this very dichotomy that makes Cambodia a place that has changed the lives of people who've visited it.

Confounding, charming, chaotic are just some of the words that are used to describe this beautiful country.

You probably just have to visit it to know how it can change your life!


Image: The ruins and temples around Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Photographs: Ijiwara Jimbo/Creative Commons
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India

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What can you say about a country that seems to have one of its legs firmly in the past and the other leaping and bounding towards the future?

India, as many people will tell you, isn't just one country but a multitude of cultures living and thriving together as a single whole.

Those in search of 'the real India' can be in for a rude shock not so much because of what they find but rather because of how many 'Indias' they discover.

With each passing day this country reveals a little more of itself to the wandering soul.


Image: Taj Mahal, Agra
Photographs: Seema Pant/Rediff.com
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