DesignCrowd reveals what famous landmarks look like minus the crowds

Imagine bright lights and big screens blinking down on no one – empty, Times Square is an unsettling prospect.

From comedians touting shows to tourists, buskers that wander the streets in superhero costumes to breakdancers, it's the people who make the New York landmark feel like the centre of the world.

As travellers we often want to venture into the unknown. 

It's fun to go off the beaten track and the world still has gems undiscovered by the average Australian backpacker. 

But some destinations are actually enhanced by their popularity, just as some that are made less interesting for it. 

When I recently returned to Halong Bay in Vietnam after 12 years, I was prepared for the place to be overrun by tourists.

It had grown in popularity, sure, but the sightseers were mostly confined to junks and cruise ships, and by night they were pretty, lit up against majestic limestone pillars and jet-black ocean.

The Taj Mahal in India is even more beautiful than they tell you, and if you can put your cynicism aside, watching couples taking selfies in front of the great monument can add to the romance.

I could spend hours people-watching in Bryant Park in New York, but conversely, would love to have a day in the Met all alone with their extraordinary collection.

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And who wouldn't enjoy a solo visit to the Louvre, to linger in front of the Mona Lisa and decide whether her eyes really do follow you around the room?

DesignCrowd, an online business where designers compete to win work from members of the public, recently ran a photoshopping competition for its members, asking them to remove the people from photos of famous landmarks.

With a $500 prize-pool up for grabs, it was an attempt to keep the designers engaged with the business model.

But their work gives viewers a taste of what it would really be like to have some of the most beautiful places in the world all to themselves.

Which destination would you like to visit without anyone else around, and why? Post your comments below.

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