One man’s thrill is another man’shorror, especially when it comes to movie tastes … and heights. While some specificallyput “the highest”, “the tallest” and “the most exposed” on their travel radars,others can’t even think of an ascent without vertigo and nausea. If you don’t havea head for heights, stay away from these 11 stomach-churners.
Langkawi Cable Car, Malaysia
Oh my, the views are awe-inspiring, but whenyou’re cooped up in a metal box hanging ominously high above the bay, the onlything you may want to do is stick your head between your knees and beg for God’smercy. The total length of the line, which takes you from the bay to the peakof Gunung Machinchang, is 2.2 km (1.4 mi). On top, at about708 meters above sea level, you may enjoy adrink and a fabulous panorama of what’s officially known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah … if you dare to look around.
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
When coming to Dubai, one needs to realize that theyhave a thing for, well, size. At least when it comes to architecture andentertainment. The unrelenting ambition to be the largest, tallest and most grandiosehas turned Dubai into a bustling economic oasis with glitzy office blocks andhotels that virtually cut the sky, of which Burj Khalifa is a perfect example.
At 829.8 m (2,722 ft), the building is currently the tallest man-madestructure in the world, with 163 floors, world’s highest restaurant, and secondhighest outdoor observation deck. If you’re definitely not going up, you may chant your share of ahs and ohs in the world’s largest shoppingcenter, the Dubai Mall.
Aiguille du Midi, Mont Blanc Massif, France
Thisis the closest you can get to Mont Blanc without climbing, but it’s really hardto say which route is the worse devil. The Aiguille du Midi cable car leaves Chamonixat 1,035 m above sea level and drops you off at 3,777 m (plus the elevator to thetop terrace), which translates into an altitude gain of over 2,800 m and therecord of the world’s highest vertical ascent cable car. Once up in the clouds,you’ve got a choice of several viewing platforms, including a real cherry on top – a pedestrian bridge suspended between the two cliffs of the Aiguilledu Midi.
Kingda Ka Rollercoaster, New Jersey, USA
One doesn’t have to be acrophobic to feel their stomachs go queasy onthis! Kingda Ka may have given the speed laurels over to Abu Dhabi and its FormulaRossa, but it still holds the record of the world’stallest roller coaster. Withinmerely 30 seconds, riders are rocketed 139m (456 ft) up towards the sky, and thenplunge vertically into a 270-degree spiral at full speed, which, strictlyspeaking, boils down to the acceleration from 0 to 128 miles per hour (0 to206 km/h) in 3.5 seconds. Height and hell-bent speed may for some prove anunbearable combination.
Hanging Monastery, Mt. Hengshan, China
How has such a faint-looking structure survived over1400 years, withstandingwinds, storms, erosion and general wear, no one really knows. Clinging to a verticalcliff face in the Datong area and supported by oak crossbeams fitted into the rock,the Hanging Temple is an architectural wonder and a tourist attraction thatshould perhaps be avoided if heights are not your cup of (green) tea.
Grand Canyon Skywalk, Arizona, USA
The Skywalk is hanging over a cliff, some 3,600 feet above the Colorado RiverValley, which means it rises higher above the ground than theworld’s tallest skyscrapers. Its glass-bottomed, horseshoe-shaped walkwayextends 70 feet outover the West Rim of the Grand Canyon and offers a one-of-a-kind chance (barring the helicopter tour) to hover above and peek into the void through a crystal clear glass flooring 2 ½ inchesthick. Not for the faint-hearted!
Sidu River Bridge, Hubei, China
Spanninga 500 m (1,600 ft) deep valley, the Sidu River Bridge consumedapproximately US$100 million in construction and currently holds the record as theworld’s highest bridge. Architecturebuffs will be delighted at the opportunity to cross the unquestionableengineering marvel. For an acrophobe, it may be the longest 1,222 m(4,009 ft) ride ever.
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
At 451.9 m(1,483 ft), the landmark twin towers erected in Kuala Lumpur used to bethe tallest buildings in the world, until surpassed by the Taipei WorldFinancial Center (later intimidated by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai). However,unlike its grandiose rivals, the structure offers a one-of-a-kind chance tocross between the towers at the level of the 41st and 42nd floors.
The 58 m(190 ft) long double decker skybridge slides in and out of the towers 170 m(558 ft) above the ground and is officially regarded as the highest2-story bridge in the world. Oh, if you care to know, the towers sway a little duringhigh winds).
< h1>Meteora, Greece
Seekingretreat from the expanding Turkish occupation, the Eastern Orthodox monks founda perfect asylum on the inaccessible rock pillars. Out of over twentymonasteries that used to perch on the steep rocks, only six remain todayconstituting one of the most important complexes in the country. ‘Suspended inthe air’ as the name translates, the monasteries are accessible only by stepscut into the rock formations, so if you suffer for a severe case of acrophobia,just raise your head and enjoy the views from the bottom.
Trena las Nubes, Salta Province, Argentina
29 bridges,21 tunnels, 13 viaducts, 2 spirals, 2 zigzags and the status of the thirdhighest railway in the world – that’s Tren a las Nubes in numbers. Enough for aperson scared of heights to choose an alternative route, or to avoid lookingout the window. The latter makes littlepoint, though. The service, which connects the Argentine Northwest with the Chileanborder in the Andes, is primarily a tourist attraction, sought exactly for thescenic views and the thrill. Otherwise, it’s just a regular train ride. Thehighest point of the line is the 70 m (230 ft) high viaduct LaPolvorilla at 4,220 m (13,850 ft) above sea level. A round trip takes15 hours and covers a distance of 434 km (270 mi).
Caminito del Rey, El Chorro, Spain
El Caminito del Rey (the King’s little pathway)is probably the scariest and most challenging of the so-called via ferratas (iron roads), which is agroup of mountain walkways considered the world’s most dangerous hiking routes.Constructed in 1905 for the workers building the hydroelectric power plants,the passageway is glued to the steep walls of a narrow gorge and rises over 100meters (350 ft) above the river.
While in its heyday the walkway was fit even for King Alfonso XIII, ithas fallen into disrepair over years and today should be attempted only by thosewho value the intensity of life over its length. Some parts of the concrete pathhave collapsed, there is no handrail and the stability of the cable that runs alongthe length of the path is actually unknown.
Up we go?