Nothing makes you celebrate the majesty of the planet we live on quite like an immense sunset painted across the heavens. When travelling the world, you experience the most incredible sunsets you’ll ever see. From the flat plains of South America to the tropics of Southeast Asia, I’ve rounded up some of my favourites for you here:
15. Floating market, Bangkok, Thailand
Perhaps a slightly unlikely location for a sunset-watching opportunity, the floating markets surrounding Bangkok nevertheless offer a dynamic backdrop against which to watch the sun descend. The intense, bustling atmosphere of the markets relaxes a little as the day winds down, and you can capture the perfect vista from a bridge as traders row their goods back home on the river. Some floating markets also offer a sunset trip on the river, where a plethora of fireflies only add to the magic.
14. Budapest, Hungary
While the most stunning sunsets on the globe tend to be captured in rural areas, there’s definitely something to be said for dusk in big cities too. Bustling Budapest is stunning at this time of day, so watch the sun descend as the hip Hungarian capital lights up, and people flock to the ruin bars of the Jewish Quarter for a well-deserved pint.
13. The Nazca Lines, Peru
The flat plains of South America make for some particularly breathtaking views as the day draws to a close. We arrived late at the mysterious Nazca Lines, and while it made them a little difficult to pick out – it did mean we caught this stunning sunset. There are plenty of ramshackle vantage points around the Nazca Lines, ensuring you can get the perfect view – if you’re brave enough to climb them!
12. Koh Phangnan, Thailand
The Thai Island of Koh Phangnan has three features that make it perfect for sunset watching. Firstly, its stunning scenery and tropical vegetation make for a luscious setting. Secondly, the hilly island rises sharply up from the coast, and while this isn’t ideal for getting around, it does mean that you are easily able to access vantage points for a panoramic view. Last but not least, the luxury accommodation of the island often boast infinity pools, meaning you can kick back with a boozy sundowner as you watch the sun descend.
11. Brač, Croatia
On a quiet side of the Croatian island of Brač, we enjoyed dinner as the sun went down, casting the port into shadow and silhouetting sails against the sky. This wasn’t a sunset we’d gone out of our way to see, and it surprised us with its elegance and storybook beauty. Kick back with a frosty beer and some of Brač’s delicious bread and olive oil as you watch the scene unfold.
10. Ella, Sri Lanka
High in the Sri Lankan hill country sits Ella – a peaceful little village boasting plenty of opportunities for trekking and relaxing. Sri Lanka is famed for its dusky pink sunsets, and the iconic Ella Gap makes for the perfect setting. Whether you want to kick back in a hammock, or climb one of the surrounding mountains and embrace the dusk, the ethereal sunsets of Ella really are something special.
9. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of those vibrant cities where you can’t help but be caught up in the buzz. As night falls, head to one of the city’s numerous terrace bars to capture a fantastic view over the city as the sun goes down. This will by no means be a budget experience – but it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments and as such is definitely worth splashing the cash for.
8. The Pantanal Wetlands, Brazil
The Pantanal Wetlands are extremely marshy, humid and absolutely packed with swarming bugs. While there, I showered with some frogs and woke up to a bat flapping above my head. Visiting is an incredible – if pretty uncomfortable – experience. This firey sunset – captured while I was knee deep in a murky bog – made it all worth it. The sunsets of this area are reflected in the shallow water, which covers a vast expanse of the terrain, making them particularly spectacular. This is definitely one for intrepid travellers, but if you can find a way to embrace the wildlife and the dirt, it will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
7. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The award for the fiercest sunset I’ve ever seen has to go to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Phnom Penh is dangerous, intriguing and endlessly humbling: I’ve never seen poverty quite so intense anywhere else. This sunset was captured from a boat as hundreds of homeless people sat on the banks of the river and families sailed past in the rickety barges they had made into their homes. The otherworldly beauty of the sky, which tinged the city in a hellish glow, was in direct contrast to the suffering and the poverty all around us, and for that reason it’s one I’ll never forget.
6. Oia, Santorini, Greece
Santorini offers sunsets so spectacular that it’s difficult to actually see the view for the people! But if you get to Oia – the town famed for this view – early enough, you’ll be treated to this iconic vista, which is plastered across postcards and paintings on the island. This sunset has transcended ‘things to do’ in Oia and actually become synonymous with Santorini itself – so don’t miss it!
5. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
After spending the afternoon drinking Bia Ha Noi and swimming in the warm, turquoise waters of Vietnam’s iconic Ha Long Bay, watching this sunset from our boat was the perfect way to end an idyllic day. We watched the burning sun descend behind the mountains before our hosts put on a disco on our ramshackle boat. Taking a kayak out to watch the sunrise the next day was almost as good! Ha Long Bay should be on every traveller’s bucket list for a whole host of reasons, but the sunset is not to be missed.
4. The Uyuni Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni), Bolivia
The Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia are an incredible natural phenomenon that came to be when a prehistoric lake dried up. The area now boasts a blindingly white expanse of 11,000 square kilometers. On such uniquely flat terrain – the flat only varies 1 metre in height – we knew an incredible sunset was on its way. As we sped across the flats in our 4x4s, we watched as the indigo sky became painted with dramatic black, orange and red hues. The spiritual atmosphere was added to by the knowledge that we were the only people for miles and miles.
3. The Inca Trail, Peru
One of the best – and at times toughest – experiences of my life; on the 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu you’re constantly surrounded by beauty. Aside from the sheer awe of the ancient Incan city itself, this awe-inspiring sunset – seen from our campsite in the clouds on night 3 – was my favourite part. If you find yourself in the Peruvian highlands, make sure you stay up late for this immense view.
2. Seminyak Beach, Bali, Indonesia
Seminyak Beach is famed for its sunsets, and it’s easy to see why. The beach is lined with bars and clubs where revellers while away the day before gathering on the sands, cocktails in hand, to see this incredible spectacle. At this time the tide is out, and the wet sand reflects the burning sky above to dramatic effect. It’s easy to get caught up in the party atmosphere of Seminyak, but make sure you take the time to catch a sunset too.
1. The Sugar Loaf, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If you’re ever in Rio in the evening, catch a cable car up Sugar Loaf Mountain and prepare yourself for a sunset that will leave you feeling euphoric. All of Rio is spread out before you, and you can see Christ the Redeemer lit up on the peak opposite. There are bars and restaurants at the top, so you can settle in and enjoy the whole spectacle from beginning to end, as this incredible, unique city lights up in front of you. It was the perfect way to end the day in one of my favourite cities.