Pamukkale has been made eternally famous by the gleaming white calcite travertines (terraces) overrunning with warm, mineral-rich waters on the mountain above the village – the so-called ‘Cotton Castle' (pamukmeans 'cotton' in Turkish). Just above the travertines lies Hierapolis, once a Roman and Byzantine spa city, which has considerable ruins and a museum.
One of the world’s oldest geographical features (formed 25 to 30 million years ago), magnificent Lake Baikal (Озеро Байкал) is the highlight of Eastern Siberia. Summer travellers enjoy gobsmacking vistas across waters of the deepest blue to soaring mountain ranges on the opposite shore; rarer winter visitors marvel at its powder-white surface, frozen steel-hard and scored with ice roads. Whether they swim in it, drink its water, skirt its southern tip by train, cycle or dog sled over it in winter, or just admire it from 2000km of shoreline, most agree that Siberia doesn’t get better than this.