The AbsoluteVisit Blog

The Top 100 Places in the World...And So Much More

Swimming with Sea Lions – Galapagos Islands

Back in February 2012 I took a trip to the Galapagos Islands to discover what some consider to be the top place on earth to interact with animals. The highlight of the trip was definitely the several times we got to swim out in the wild ocean with rafts of sea lions. Spending time underwater playing with these massive mammals was a surreal experience and unlike anything I had ever done before in my life.

Here is a quick video I put together of the shaky footage I captured with my new whiskered friends.

Do you have any unique animal encounters from your travels?

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Tijuca Sunrise – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


AV Travel Photo – Tijuca Sunrise – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Everything in Rio always appears to be perfect – especially the simple things can often go wrong back at home. Every morning this week I have awoken to the same beautiful sun rising outside of my apartment window here in the local neighborhood of Tijuca. What a difference it makes to have a warm sun accompany you through the always challenging morning “wake-up” process.

A lot of locals will tell you winter is not a good time to visit Rio de Janeiro. I couldn’t disagree more.

The high temperature floats comfortably throughout the low eighties (high twenties celsius) and it drops just below seventy each night (twenty celsius). The majority of the days are sunny, as the winter doesn’t bring much rain and of course it never snows.

I think the Cariocas (local Rio people) are just used to much warmer weather and so crazily their bodies think you can’t go to the beach unless the temperature is in the nineties (thirties celsius). I’ve been to the beach twice this week and both times is was plenty hot outside and the sun was definitely toasting my skin.

Best of all, it is not popular to travel to Rio in the winter, which means all of your travel costs are much lower if you make a visit this time of the year. Flights, hotels and tours are all significantly cheaper.

If you have a little extra vacation time, why not book a last minute trip to my favorite city in the world this winter? The endless beaches, beautiful people and delicious caipirinhas will surely be very distracting, but make sure not to forget to cross the Rio Panoramic View AV off of your list!

Tijuca Sunrise - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Açúcar Reality – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


AV Travel Photo – Açúcar Reality – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The original AV Trip plans had me flying to Madrid in a few days, but with our new changes I found myself landing in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. Different continents, similar (and very different) languages, and both places that I really love. No complaints with the swap here :)

I’ll be in Rio for the next two-weeks. The plan is to split time between working on AbsoluteVisit and exploring my favorite city in the world from more of a local perspective. I’m staying with a local friend (Paloma), in a very local neighborhood (Tijuca) and trying my best to do very local things (like attempt to speak Portuguese…attempt).

Today I took my local host Paloma on a several hour afternoon street walk through the historic neighborhood of Santa Teresa. The narrow, cobblestone streets are dotted primarily with old school colonial buildings from when the Portuguese ran the place. The walk can be tough at times, but you are handsomely rewarded for traversing the steep hills with some of the best views I have found in Rio, including the view of Pão de Açúcar from Parque Das Ruinas shown in the photo below.

Since I planned out the tour and dragged my Carioca (Rio de Janeiro inhabitant) friend with me, I’m not sure this was really a “local” thing to do, but it was far away from the sun-soaked beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema – good enough in my book!

Açúcar Reality - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

AV Trip Blog – Borobudur – AbsoluteVisit #25


Borobudur, AV #25

Borobudur - AbsoluteVisit - Travel

Brad, Will and the Stupas

Two weeks ago we visited AbsoluteVisit #25, Borobudur! This was our 8th AbsoluteVisit of the trip and was one that we had never seen before, but were both very curious to explore and compare to the other incredible temples we had seen in the region.

Unfortunately the weather gods delivered us clouds for our entire visit, but we were still able to enjoy a decent sunrise and sunset from the top of the temple. All in all we had a great time and really enjoyed spending hours trying to take the perfect photos of the bell-shaped stupas from the top!

[Don't miss our favorite PHOTOS and a VIDEO from our trip to Borobudur!]

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The Most Incredible Pool in the World – Marina Bay Sands SkyPark


A quick layover in Singapore and one EPIC view of the city

Our path taking us from the Philippines and the Banaue Rice Terraces to Indonesia and Borobudur left us with a several hour layover in Singapore. Even though the Singapore airport is known for offering one of the most comfortable layovers on the planet, the two of us were eager to get out and have a quick look at Singapore.

The Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool
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Two Wheel Circus – Jakarta, Indonesia


AV Trip Photo – Two Wheel Circus – Jakarta, Indonesia

Everyone is overwhelmed on their first trip to Asia by the number of scooters found zooming through the streets. These daredevil drivers often perform maneuvers reserved for video games back where we come from. The normally boring daily commute turns into something you could watch for hours.

I’ve witnessed lots of crowded streets throughout my travels in Asia, but never before have I seen such madness as I did this week in Jakarta. These are the most complicated and crazy streets that I have ever seen. Crossing the road turns into a game of Frogger cranked up to level 10+. I’m convinced that my odds of dying while traveling have never been greater than when I spend the day criss crossing the Jakarta streets.

Here is what one of the less crowded roads looked like from where I stood as the two wheel circus flew by!

Two Wheel Circus - Jakarta, Indonesia

The Future Riders – Jakarta, Indonesia


AV Trip Photo – The Future Riders – Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta often is knocked as a tourist destination because of having a real lack of anything “touristy” to do here. Additionally the city is incredibly crowded and very intimidating to navigate.

For us, the crowds create a never ending web of people and places to explore. Yesterday we stumbled down some random back alley streets near our hostel and ran into a couple of kids who were truly enjoying life. They were riding around the alley on their little bikes, pretending to be like their parents who navigate the crowded streets of Jakarta on their scooters everyday.

Scenes like these bring a huge smile to my face. There is nothing that I enjoy more about traveling around the world than seeing people happily going about their normal lives. No tourist attraction in Jakarta or elsewhere can give you the same feeling.

The Future Riders - Jakarta, Indonesia

AV Trip Blog – Angkor Wat Visit – AbsoluteVisit #7


Angkor Wat Visit, AV #7

Looking up at the massive trees of Ta Prohm

Last week we visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia, marking our 6th AbsoluteVisit on our journey to see the top 100 places in the world! We spent three days exploring the temples, waking up at 4am every morning to beat the tourists and capture all of the magic at sunrise. The infamous Angkor heat and the early starts really wore us down towards the end, but I think we were able to capture some amazing stuff before our eventual collapse on the bus ride back to Bangkok.

[Don't miss a VIDEO of us attempting a jump squat in front of Angkor Wat!]

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Sleeping Stone Giant – Bayon Temple – Siem Reap, Cambodia


AV Trip Photo – Sleeping Stone Giant – Bayon Temple – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Why is Bayon our favorite temple to hang out at when visiting The Temples of Angkor? Easy. There are 216 of these massive stone faces, each taller than my six foot frame. Can you imagine hanging out in the 5am darkness with these guys looking over your shoulder? On our recent visit there were even bats precariously zooming past our heads as we set our tripods up awaiting the sun.

Do you agree that Bayon is the coolest temple to walk around at Angkor? If not, what temple moves you the most?

Sleeping Stone Giant - Bayon Temple - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat Stone Battle – Siem Reap, Cambodia


AV Trip Photo – Angkor Wat Stone Battle – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Yesterday I published a photo highlighting the incredible detail on the walls of Angkor Wat. In order to get across how cool these stone engravings are, I wanted to share another picture of inside Angkor Wat today.

This fighting scene is part of a massively long wall that contains a beautiful story of ancient times. The engravings are so detailed and numerous that I’d have to imagine a translation of the events to paper would fill hundreds of pages in a book!

Does anyone have any cool “detailed” pictures from their own Angkor Wat visit? You should be able to attach them to a comment. I’d love to see them :)

Angkor Wat Stone Battle - Siem Reap, Cambodia
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The Top 100 Places in the World
1 Great Wall of China
2 Pyramids of Egypt
3 Machu Picchu
4 Serengeti Migration
5 Galapagos Islands
6 Grand Canyon
7 Angkor Temples
8 Antarctica Cruise
9 Taj Mahal
10 Iguazu Falls
11 Amazon Rain Forest
12 Great Barrier Reef
13 Bora Bora
14 Victoria Falls
15 Bagan
16 Petra
17 Potala Palace
18 Karnak
19 Mt Everest
20 Cappadocia
21 St Peters Basilica
22 Fjords of Norway
23 Jerusalem Old City
24 Burj Khalifa
25 Borobudur
26 Forbidden City
27 Kashmir Valley
28 Li River Cruise
29 Ladakh
30 Alhambra
31 Louvre Museum
32 Perito Moreno Glac.
33 Banaue Terraces
34 Colosseum of Rome
35 Easter Island
36 Venice Canals/Alleys
37 Kathmandu Valley
38 Wat Phra Kaew
39 Yellowstone NP
40 Pompeii
41 Rio Panoramic View
42 Palace of Versailles
43 Dubrovnik
44 Golden Temple
45 St. Basils Cathedral
46 Vatican Museum
47 Florence Cityscape
48 Acropolis
49 Amalfi Coast Drive
50 Kremlin
51 Hong Kong View
52 TerraCotta Warriors
53 Mezquita Cordoba
54 Chichen Itza
55 Damascus Old City
56 Shwedagon Stupa
57 Sahara Desert
58 Mont St Michel
59 St. Marks Square
60 Egyptian Museum
61 Hagia Sophia
62 Angel Falls
63 Delphi
64 Teotihuacan
65 Baalbek
66 Banff NP
67 Santorini
68 Matterhorn
69 New York Skyline
70 Neuschwanstein
71 Chartres Cathedral
72 British Museum
73 Prague Old Town
74 Burj al Arab
75 Yangtze River Cruise
76 Yosemite NP
77 Hermitage Museum
78 Torres del Paine
79 Chambord Chateau
80 Lijiang
81 Portofino
82 Great Ocean Road
83 Tongariro Alpine
84 Las Vegas Strip
85 Tikal
86 Topkapi Palace
87 Sydney Opera House
88 Eiffel Tower
89 Luxor Temple
90 Kerala Backwaters
91 Golden Gate Bridge
92 Cinque Terre
93 Metropolitan Mus
94 Uffizi Gallery
95 Ayers Rock
96 Cliffs of Moher
97 Pacific Coast Hwy
98 Shanghai Skyline
99 Glacier Bay NP
100 Wulingyuan
Cappadocia  Cappadocia, Turkey
Top 100 by Name Top 100 on a Map
Top 100 by Country Top 100 by Continent