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did you create Hillman Wonders?
What is your background & credentials?
How established is hillmanwonders.com?
When did you start ranking the wonders?
What's wrong with anyone-can-vote polls?
How do you rank the wonders?
Do you have strict voting guidelines?
Are your Top 100 & Top 1000 lists selective?
Why do you expect people to disagree?
Why is my favorite attraction missing?
Why do you keep updating the lists?
Will your website ever be finished?
Why did you
create Hillman Wonders?
I created my 2,000-page website to inspire you to see as much of our wonderful world as you can in your lifetime.
What is your
background and credentials?
Click to view: About me and my credentials
How established is
Widely read and trusted
I began my wonder list in 1968 and launched my website in 1996.
Today the website is viewed by over a million visitors from 217 countries (statistics are documented by Google Analytics.
The Hillman Wonders list s the world's most comprehensive, best-researched travel wonder listing. It now embraces the world's top 1000 wonders.
The 2,000-page website has been widely praised for its content, professionalism and editorial integrity.
Hillman Wonders is newsworthy. It is covered by the press around the globe. Stories about it have appeared in, for instance, USA Today, Aftonbladet (Scandinavia's largest newspaper), O Estado de Sao Paulo (a leading Brazilian newspaper), and on wire services (including AP).
When did you
start ranking the
wondersof the world?
I made my first list when I was a boy and dreamed of seeing the wonders of the world.
My list changed from a personal to a consensus list after I showed it to some seasoned travelers I had met in Machu Picchu in 1968. They had a great time comparing their personal choices with my top 100 list - and said that it inspired them to want to travel more.
Their reaction encouraged me to enrich my list by researching a consensus of knowledgeable travelers who could give unbiased, global-scoped opinions for the benefit of other travelers.
your wonder rankings based
on an anyone-can-vote poll?
No, I would never do that.
There is no way to determine accurately the qualifications and impartiality of online voters.
Most voters who participate in mass anyone-can-vote travel polls have not traveled sufficiently to make an informed global judgment. They tend to be regionally biased, which means that the countries with the most voters are going to have an unfair advantage. They also tend to be text-messaging teenagers with limited travel knowledge.
Tourism organizations can skew the results by submitting mass votes under assumed names. It happens.
Some governmental agencies wage "stuff the ballot box" campaigns to urge citizens to vote for local choices.
I am committed to giving you rankings and ratings you can trust. See my Voting Guidelines section later on this page for some of my criteria for being a qualified voter.
How do you
rank the wonders
It is not a one-person's opinion
Though I make the final decisions, I am influenced by the consensus of my International Board of Advisors (IBA).
IBA is composed of numerous globetrotters who have proven to me that they have extensively traveled and can make sound, impartial, world-view judgments on travel wonders.
Its members are of all races, sexes, age groups and walks of life. They live in nations around the world. Collectively, they have been virtually everywhere and have logged billions of travel miles.
My decisions also take into account the opinions of thousands of globetrotters I met and polled during my journeys over the past several decades.
My ratings and rankings are also influenced by travelers who email insightful comments to me (and who kindly point out my typos, misstatements and other embarrassing errors).
Do you have
strict voting guidelines?
Yes, very strict ones
Even a researched consensus is meaningless without common voting criteria. That's why I created these guidelines for my voters:
You (or any organization you are affiliated with) may not have a vested interest in promoting a specific travel destination. This means, for instance, you can vote if you are a general travel agent but not if you work for a government tourist board.
Keep politics out
With some 200 countries in the world, you are bound to disagree with the policies of some governments. Express your political views elsewhere, not here. This is not (nor should it be) a political forum. Hillman Wonders must remain free of politics (and other spins).
Use a global perspective
No doubt it's difficult for some people to avoid regional and nationalistic voting biases. I pray every voter will think in a global perspective.
with the tourist
By their very nature, most travel wonders attract tourists. Adventure travelers should not react to this fact with a knee-jerk reaction. Whether we admit it or not, all of us are tourists at some points in our journeys. Voting against a travel wonder simply because it's a tourist magnet smacks of snootiness. On the other side of the travel coin, those who vote for a wonder simply because it is world famous destroy the spirit of the Hillman Wonders of the World rankings.
Know the audience
The visitors to Hillman Wonders are neither unsophisticated tourists nor snobbish destination name droppers. Rather, they are intelligent and educated world travelers, an adventurous lot of all ages and backgrounds, from all corners of the globe.
is not an issue
Give full consideration to a travel wonder even if, say, monetary, religious, or governmental restrictions prevent you from personally visiting it. For instance, just because only Muslims may visit Mecca should not preclude non-Muslims from considering Mecca for a medal.
not let unrelated
bias your vote
Try not to let unfortunate isolated experiences that happened to you cloud your judgment. Let's suppose you had a marriage-ending argument with your spouse in Bali. I would understand why you might not want to return, given your remembrances. Please, however, base your choice on whether Bali is a must-see destination for sophisticated travelers collectively.
How selective are
your Top 100 and
Top 1000 rankings?
Our vast world has 100,000 legitimate travel attractions. Just 1% (1000) win a Hillman Wonders medal. The top 100 win my gold medal. The next 100 win my silver medal. The next 800 win my bronze medal.
Why do you expect
people to disagree
with some of your
It's natural to disagree
The odds against your opinion coinciding exactly with a compilation of this size (100 gold, 100 silver and 800 bronze medal wonders) are a billion to one.
Remember, a consensus is a collective rather than an individual opinion. Each person experiences wonders differently. Ask any two travelers their opinion and you get three answers.
Whatever your opinion, I respect it. I do not wish to change your views. Rather, I want to give you the opportunity to have fun comparing your personal opinion with a reliable, well-researched consensus.
Why is my
It's bound to happen
There is hardly a travel attraction on our planet that isn't someone's favorite. And, with over 100,000 travel attractions on earth, there are going to be a lot of pet choices that don't even make my Top 1000 list.
It's not that the missing favorites are unworthy but that — in the judgment of the researched consensus — there are wonders that are even more compelling on a global perspective. As widely traveled people know, the competition is vast and keen.
One of the essential criteria in ranking a travel wonder is how it compares with other wonders in its genre.
It's understandable for individuals who have visited Niagara Falls but have not seen Iguazu Falls and Victoria Falls to think that Niagara Falls should rank near the top of the top 100 list.
Although Niagara Falls is indeed a worthy gold medal winner, Iguazu Falls and Victoria Falls are significantly grander and mightier than Niagara Falls, to the point that they make Niagara Falls seem a bit pale in comparison. Consequently, from a global perspective, Niagara Falls ranks in the bottom half of the gold medal winners.
Why do you keep
A travel wonder's ranking
can shift, for a number
of reasons, including:
A travel wonder can change physically relatively quickly, as did the Floating Market in Bangkok. Urban sprawl reduced its size and appeal. It didn't take long for the consensus to move it from the Gold to the Bronze Medal list. Sometimes a wonder is destroyed, as was the case with the Buddha statues in Bamyia, Afghanistan. Sometimes a site physically remains the same but falls in the rankings. For example, when a building loses its "world's tallest" title.
A movie, book, news story, or social media can quickly increase the public's awareness of a wonder on a global scale.
Today's travelers are taking more distant and adventurous trips — and reading more travel-related articles and watching more TV travel documentaries. This gives travelers broader outlooks.
Will your website
ever be finished?
It will never be finished
because it's a big world
I will forever be adding new features and improving existing ones to better serve you. Hillman Wonders will eventually have more than 5,000 insightful web pages.
Plans are underway for a pictorial travel book and a TV documentary series on the wonders. And, my website will be translated into a dozen other languages including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.