5 Awe-Inspiring Travel Destinations For Your 2017 Vacation

You'll have to see it to believe it

Dec 8, 2016

Some places on Earth are so awe-inducing, it is hard to believe they are actually real and not actually a scene manufactured in Hollywood. For those consumed by wanderlust, here are five places that have to be seen with your own eyes to be believed.

1. MENDENHALL GARDENS IN JUNEAU, ALASKA

Otherwise known as the "Upside Down Forest," the Mendenhall Gardens in Juneau, Alaska seem like a quirky fairy tale with a twist - something straight out of a Tim Burton film. Throughout the gardens, over 20 massive Spruce and Hemlock trees have been inverted and turned upside down. Known as "Flower Towers", their tops are buried in the ground and their roots rise suspended in the air, forming beds for baskets of brilliant flowers from blooming petunias to begonias. The garden is also home to Japanese Maples, Rhododendrons, and Azaleas. 

2. MU CANG CHAI RICE TERRACES, VIETNAM

If ever there were a place to truly feel the rush of the outdoors and be inspired by what the Earth has created, Mu Cang Chai is one of the prime examples. As if Mother Earth built her very own open-air amphitheater with sweeping, lush views of the region's deep valleys, this spot is composed of layer upon layer of perfectly manicured grassy steps, ideal for sitting back and enjoying the panoramic vision. For those seeking a quiet outdoor room with a view to sit and read, or just contemplate life's wonders, this is it.

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3. HITACHI SEASIDE PARK, JAPAN 

It very well may be that the otherworldly lands found in Dr Seuss' tales were inspired by places like Japan's Hitachi Seaside Park, especially with frothy balls of kocia spread across the grounds as far as the eye can see. From tulips to poppies and sunflowers, this outdoor wonderland is fit with flowering species of all kinds and even boasts a 'flower calendar' throughout the year - definitely making it worth several visits just to update your Instagram with eye-popping pics.

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4. ATLANTIC OCEAN ROAD, NORWAY

"Taking the scenic route" is given a whole new meaning while travelling Norway's Atlantic Ocean Road, an 8.3-kilometer stretch that passes through an archipelago, various small islands and peninsulas and even runs through local villages and over a total of eight bridges. Preserved as a cultural heritage site, the path has been dubbed "the world's best road trip" and is one of Norway's most visited natural tourist attractions. With various resting places and view points, visitors can take the road most traveled just for the fun of it, or pop off into any of the adjacent connecting coastal towns, rife with dining options, water sports and special sites.

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5. PAMUKKALE, TURKEY

Dating back to the ancient Greek-Roman times, this southwestern Turkish city is home to mineral springs and hot springs that have attracted visitors for thousands of years. The World Heritage Site gives way to 17 thermal pools cascading down travertine terraced cliffs with sunset views and scenic landscapes. What makes these pools so unique is their bright white foundation, naturally created from concentrated limestone deposits, giving the hot springs a supernatural vision. After a therapeutic dip in the calming waters, history buffs will also want to visit the nearby ancient ruins of Hierapolis.

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ELIANNA BAR-EL, CONTRIBUTOR
Elianna has a background in English literature and psychology and works as an editor and freelance wardrobe stylist. She writes on travel, fashion, food and inspiring people.