the top 5 that did not disappoint

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So we’ve written a post about the top 5 places that underwhelmed us, then we wrote about the top 5 unexpected places and now is our top 5 that was everything plus more than we expected. We should also qualify that we have had lots of “overwhelming” moments on our travel but we narrowed it down to our top 5 for this post – which wasn’t easy.

5. Galapagos Islands


The place where Charles Darwin came up with his evolution theory.

The place where there is abundance and diversity.

The place where animals and humans can swim together and walk together.

The place we would recommend to everyone in a heartbeat!

4. Uluru


In the centre of our home country lies the monolith that is ever so famous. It wasn’t only seeing Uluru itself that made this the most jaw-dropping memory we have in Australia, but it was the entire experience itself; seeing Uluru during the day, seeing Uluru changing colours, watching the sunset, being under the stars in the red centre, understanding more about the Indigenous Australian culture and beliefs.

We published a photo essay recently on Uluru if you want to see more photos.

3. Yellowstone National Park 


Being the first National Park in the world and with 9000 square kilometres to explore, one cannot really not pass up the opportunity to visit here. We visited in October and we had snow – lots of it. And it only made the scenery so romantically magical.

We were able to catch glimpses of different wildlife, we visited Ol’ Faithful Geyser and we were mesmerised by the sweeping landscapes and colours.

This is one of the first places we ever visited that as soon as we left, we said, “We’re coming back here again!”

2. Lake Titicaca


Floating reed islands? The minute we heard about these many years ago, we knew we had to visit it one day. And when we finally did, we fell in love. It didn’t matter that we were 3000+ metres above sea level and that every few steps we felt out of breath. Because as we stepped on the reeds and realised that we were actually walking on a floating island, the moment was ingrained in our memories forever. Looking around us, we saw the local residents waving to us in their colourful sweaters – welcoming us to their home. On this planet, there are plenty of unique places to see and this is one of them.

1. The Hanging Monastery


In the side of the cliff, 50 metres above the ground, there stands the monastery/temple that conjures up images of ancient China immediately.

This is the first place that we have visited in the world that brought tears to our eyes. We were so overwhelmed with emotion, peering upwards at it that we did pinch ourselves to see that we were really awake. Then walking through it was another thing altogether – held by what look like only wooden logs – we prayed that it was still architecturally sound. We held our breath when we saw it and we held our breath when we walked through it.

There you have it – our TOP 5 places that met and exceeded our expectations. Any surprises?

There were a few others that were close contenders such as Machu Picchu, Neuschwanstein Castle, Carcassonne, New York City…… plus many more!

Where have you been that you had high expectations of and it delivered? 

Leave us a comment.


42 thoughts on “the top 5 that did not disappoint

    lovetotrav said:
    May 14, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    I love this post too. Things that didn’t disappoint… the dunes in Namibia, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, MP in Peru, the Taj, Angkor Wat and of course, since you have mentionned it, Prince Edward Island where I lived for 14 years.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      May 14, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      Awwww…. we have only been able to tick MP off that list … all the others, we too want to see! They are all on the list for one day 🙂

    yprior1 said:
    March 26, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    I am getting caught up on some posts here – and well, the hanging monastery is my fav of this post – but all are gorgeous and give such a feel for these places that gave you “more than expected” – oh and the blue feet of the ducks – such a cool details 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 29, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      We know what you mean about catching up on posts. We have had no wifi and have had it only fixed today so now playing catch ups. Hate doing things on the mobile network as it is harder on the devices…

      Anyway, thank you for your comment! The Hanging Monastery will be our favourite for a long while 🙂

        yprior1 said:
        March 30, 2015 at 2:43 am

        Oh I know what you mean about mobile devices and pads… – so grateful for them in many ways, but still prefer most things a nice computer – hope u have a nice rest of your weekend 🙂

    Ayla said:
    March 21, 2015 at 4:58 am

    Oh Lake Titicaca looks gorgeous! I so wish we had had time to go there during out time in South America last year. I guess it just gives us an excuse to go back 😉 The Galapagos Islands sounds amazing – this is definitely on the bucket list. For me, the Taj Mahal has to be one of the places that met my expectations. Actually it completely exceeded them. I never thought a building could be so amazing but it was truly majestic seeing it in person. So much more awesome than in photos!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 21, 2015 at 9:07 am

      There are ALWAYS excuses to go to any place 😉 We have no doubt that you will have to go back to South America.
      Isn’t it just incredible when you look at something in a photo and then when you see it in person, it is more breath-taking?! When we travel, we find that sometimes we do pinch ourselves and ask each other, “Are we REALLY here?” Such an awesome feeling as you would know!

    […] But when I stumbled upon co-traveller’s Wise Monkeys Abroad  post on places that were their favourites, I was convinced that it was time to share my views on some of the stunning landscapes  that left […]

    Taylor Hearts Travel said:
    March 10, 2015 at 7:01 am

    I’ve travelled the east coast of Australia, but didn’t make it to Uluru – would love to go back and see this wonder for myself. Amazing choices.

    Machu Picchu exceeded my expectations, as did the pyramids in Cairo – it’s crazy to imagine such amazing architecture being built so long ago.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 10, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Yes, Machu Picchu was definitely mind-blowing and we are yet to see the Pyramids of Giza… one day we will 🙂

      There is much to see in Australia so delighted to hear that it is on the cards for you to come back to!

      Have a great week ahead.

    Gypsy Bev said:
    March 6, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I will just give you one that struck me as awesome, more so than expected. That was the Redwood National Forest. No picture could ever convey the feeling of standing or driving among those giants.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:19 am

      Ahhhh… Redwood NP! We would love to see that one day – had hoped to get there when we are in the USA several years ago but just never got there. Next time 😉

    Curt Mekemson said:
    March 6, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Great choices, guys. Mine, too hard to pin down. But some favorites: boating up the Amazon, Greek Islands, South Island New Zealand, backpacking the John Muir Trail (several times), wilderness Alaska all times of the year, Bali… and the list just goes on. Whoops, didn’t mention Burning Man or driving through East Africa game parks in a VW Bug. 🙂 –Curt

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:21 am

      Oooh some very good ones that we must try to see if they can trump our Top 5! We are keen to do South Island NZ this year 🙂

    Sha said:
    March 6, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Oh, I love that hanging monastery! Where is this located?

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:22 am

      That is located outside of Datong (west of Beijing). It remains the BEST thing we have ever seen, so far.

        Sha said:
        March 11, 2015 at 12:57 pm

        Pretty interesting. …shall keep this in mind…thanks! 😄

    kayrpea61 said:
    March 5, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    What a challenge! At the risk of sounding like an old fella, my 5 in no particular order — the Hardangerfiord, Norway; Saint Petersburg; Prague; East Coast Tasmania; Queenstown/Wanaka/Arrowtown NZ

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:32 am

      Hahaaha! Never old… always young in heart 🙂

      It was definitely a challenge to narrow down but we didn’t think a post about all top 50 favourite things would’ve cut it as a short and snappy post 😉 Guess we could’ve done it in a “series” style – hmmm NOW we think of it 😉

    Heather @ TravelingSaurus said:
    March 5, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Yellowstone is close to my heart as I am from Wyoming…and I am hoping to go to the Galapagos in 2016! I’d include Yellowstone in my list, and also Bhutan, definitely Namibia (as someone else already mentioned!), Ngorongoro Crater, and….I don’t know! Maybe Prince Edward Island? I can’t believe you narrowed it down, this is hard!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Great list you got there. Prince Edward Island is very high on our visit list for Canada – Anne of Green Gables put it on the map for us (well for Le at least) 🙂
      All the places you listed are where we WOULD love to visit too. Maybe they will trump our top 5 when we experience them ourselves.
      Have a great weekend!

    quirkywanderer said:
    March 5, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    The hanging monastery left me in awe! Unbelievable!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:29 am

      It is just mind-boggling how they build it and even more unreal to look at it and walk through it 🙂 Hands-down favourite to this day!

    CrazyChineseFamily said:
    March 5, 2015 at 4:02 am

    Those are all the places I have also on my to-do list for many many years 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Well, no time like NOW to get visiting 😉 But we know you already have plans for 2015 so maybe 2016?? 🙂

        CrazyChineseFamily said:
        March 7, 2015 at 8:55 am

        2016 sounds good and I hope we will manage at least few parts of our big plan 🙂

          wisemonkeysabroad responded:
          March 8, 2015 at 1:31 am

          Make sure you include Australia in your plans 😉

    Kamila Pala said:
    March 5, 2015 at 2:23 am

    It looks fantastic!!! I have not been to any of these…so thanks you taking me there! Big surprise was Hanging Monastery…never heard about. And for me was maybe nice surprise destination – The Langkawi island…pure exotic nature. Bye. Kamila

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Thanks Kamila. We are so glad to hear that you enjoyed being whisked away in our post 🙂 They are all worth a visit so add them to you list 😉
      We’ve never been to Langkawi but would LOVE to one day!

    Elizabeth said:
    March 5, 2015 at 12:11 am

    I love the blue feet ducks, so cute! Great photos!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:27 am

      Thanks! Those blue-footed boobies were great to watch, especially when they were flying and feeding. Their blue feet become brighter during mating season (or so we were told). And we were able to walk right past them and they didn’t bat an eyelid at us.

    Mabel Kwong said:
    March 4, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I’ve always had high expectations of Uluru. But have always put off going there 😀 It really isn’t that far and not too hard to get there, i really just am lazy!

    I’ve never seen birds with blue webbed feet before :O

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 7, 2015 at 7:24 am

      Those birds are called “Blue-footed boobies” … very unique and the feet become more blue during mating season.

      And before going to Uluru – lower your expectations. You know, the higher the expectation, the bigger the disappointment 😉

    the eternal traveller said:
    March 4, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I haven’t been to any of these so I enjoyed reading your list. It would be fun to see what other travellers rate as their top 5.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 4, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      Are you going to share with us your top 5?? It was very hard to choose …. but we just thought it someone said, name your top 5… these would generally come into it. We do look forward to seeing what other people say too!

        the eternal traveller said:
        March 4, 2015 at 10:15 pm

        I would have to give it some serious consideration because it would be difficult to choose. For absolute wow factor I can’t go past Mt Fuji and Mont St Michel. I’ll get back to you with the others…

          wisemonkeysabroad responded:
          March 7, 2015 at 7:25 am

          Yes, Mont St Michel… and Mt Fuji! Both very good choices. It was difficult to narrow down to just 5 but we aren’t saying they are our only 5 🙂

    Deepika said:
    March 4, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Wow, I was just thinking about a similar idea for my own blog. Honestly, there’s so much diversity in the world. It is hard to believe that we could have similar experiences. 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 4, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      Well then, we will be interested to see what your favourites would be 🙂 Great minds think alike!

    Laura // said:
    March 4, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    My list: Machu Picchu, Easter Island, the Amazon jungle in Peru, Greece, and Namibia! On your list, I’ve only been to Yellowstone.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      March 4, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      Ahhh… the Amazon is a memory in itself for us. And we have never been to Easter Island or Namibia but it is on our list and maybe one day we will have to revise our list 😉

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