The Seven Wonders of Yonder
It’s the postmodernist era, so I thought that I would rip up the rule book and reformulate one of the most familiar phrases in travel: The Seven Wonders of the World. The Seven Wonders of Yonder is right up my street. So what Yonder luxury holiday destinations have made it onto the list?
A colossal rock outcrop that arises out of the lush green plains, Sigiriya is unquestionably Sri Lanka’s most extraordinary natural phenomenon. It’s one of those places that leaves me in awe every time I visit (in truth, I can’t get enough of the place!). Also known as the Lion Rock, due to its trademark lion claw stepped entrance, Sigiriya is the seat of the kingdom of King Kasyapa dating from around 480BC. From the ancient irrigation system to the buxom maidens frescoed high up on the walls, Sigiriya is a site that will leave you staggered.
Bagan has to be one of the most remarkable places on earth. It can comfortably compete with stiff competition like Angkor Wat in Cambodia. With over 2,000 temples dating from as early as the 9th Century in a 104 square kilometre archaeological zone, it is a cultural holiday that will take your breath away. At ground level the temples appear to have been built on a try arid plain but climb up a few steep flights of stairs to the upper tiers of one of the great pagodas and you’ll see the temple-studded horizon stretching out towards the serpentine like shape of the mighty Irrawaddy river which flows from from legendary Mandalay. You can even voyage to Bagan along the Irrawaddy aboard a luxury cruise boat; The Strand Cruise is a personal favourite of mine. And while there, you can even take a breathtaking hot air balloon over the spectacular temples. Astonishing!
3: Galle Fort
Galle Fort has achieved legendary status in Yonder circles. Arriving within the thick ramparts brings a sense of warmth and familiarity. Galle (pronounced Gawl in English) is a time capsule of beauty. It’s the place where east meets west. Where old trading routes converged on a small fortified city originally built by the Portuguese, enhanced by the Dutch and refined by the British. The network of narrow streets in Galle fort is home to luxury hotels such as the stunning Amangalla, trendy boutiques and local artisans, not to mention an eclectic selection of restaurants. But it the stunning history, architecture and engineering that will linger in your thoughts for being extraordinary.
4: Nagaur Fort
India, and Rajasthan in particular, is dotted with magnificent hilltop forts. Many have been beautifully preserved by forward thinking modern Maharajas who still call cities such as Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur home. However, there is something captivating about those forts that have been all but abandoned. Some, such as Fatehpur Sikri just outside Agra in Uttar Pradesh are firmly on the tourist trail. It is the others such as Nagaur Fort which are the most intriguing. Colonnaded walkways, ornate cantilevered balconies, frescoed ceilings and fine carvings are just a tiny taste of what is in store for the inquisitive traveller longing for a cultural holiday.
5: Khao Sok
You quite possibly have never heard of Khao Sok. Despite its location bang in the centre of Thailand and just a short drive from the easily accessible islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, it remains one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets. The rainforest, some dating back 160 million years, is broken by looming sandstone cliffs rising dramatically to 600m. With Cheow Lan lake at its heart, percolating out into the the creeks and gullies, it is a place that will leave you in awe. And that’s before you discover the seemingly endless list of wildlife, from tigers to elephants. Safari holidays eat your heart out. And if you’ve never heard the song of the gibbons, you’ve never lived!
To the west of the Malaysian mainland lies the island of Penang. Her capital is Georgetown, with grand colonial architecture, a maze-like inner quarter thronging with an eclectic mix of people going about their daily life and an evolving art scene that never fails to entertain. There is so much going on; so much to see; so much to do that for the intelligent traveller it is richly rewarding. Penang has a warmth (and I’m not just talking about the relentless heat) and vibrancy like few other places in Malaysia.
7: Beach No 7, Havelock Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
If ever there was a beach holiday to die for this is it. Voted by Time magazine as the best beach in Asia, it is the the ultimate castaway experience. Like much of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, it feels like the back of beyond. So much so that rather than use its full name of Radhanagar, Beach number 7 on Havelock Island is simply named after the tiny village number 7 which sits at its centre. So, if like me, your endorphins run wild from sitting on fine white powdery sand with your back to an ancient rainforest looking out over a deserted beach and a cobalt coloured sea knowing that you are in one of the most special places on this planet, you’ll agree this is undoubtedly one of the Seven Wonders of Yonder!
Yonder offers luxury holidays to Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Burma, India and Thailand. Within each country, many thousands of miles have been travelled to unearth interesting and unique experiences, many of which have a wildlife or cultural significance.
Yonder has also painstakingly sampled hotels, visiting, eating and sleeping in them, to select the very best for inclusion in its portfolio. The locations mentioned in this article include Sigiriya within Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, Bagan, Galle Fort, Nagaur, Khao Sok, Penang and Beach No. 7 on Havelock Island.
All Yonder hotels and destinations have been visited and recommended by Yonder executives confident they have selected the most exquisite experiences available.
All Yonder itineraries are crafted on a tailor-made, one-off basis, so you can be sure that your holiday will be as individual as you are.