We all do have our favorite travel destination; perhaps there’s even more than one, but you know by heart that there is that one particular town, city or country which you would never forget all because of its beauty and as well the memories you made with that one special place, either it is for budget backpacking or for luxury traveling.
Personally, my favorite destination varies with the memories I had, whether it be good or bad. However, if you truly cornered me, tie my hands behind my back and ask me at knifepoint, I would say to you that my favorite travel destination would not entirely include ‘traveling’ mainly because I live in that one special place – Helsinki, Finland. Why did I choose my current hometown? Simple, I’ve made so many memories with this place that it will forever be in my heart.
However, these fellow travelers, who kindly shared their favorite travel destination, you’ll find out why a particular place became their favorites. These fellow travelers shared their fond memory from a particular place with Pretty Wild World and now, to you.
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What are Amanda of Another Travel in Song thoughts? During my 10 days in New Zealand, my friend and I traveled from Christchurch to Fox Glacier to Queenstown and then took a plane to Auckland.
To put it all into perspective, the combined total of hours that we drove was probably 15+ hours. And I know that sounds kind of terrible… but that’s because you’ve probably never driven in New Zealand.
BECAUSE EVERYTHING ABOUT NEW ZEALAND IS BEAUTIFUL. Just like everything in Australia was created to destroy you, everything in New Zealand was created to be beautiful.
In nerdy, designer/editor explanation, it’s like the saturation in Photoshop is boosted by at least 15%. The greens are ridiculous. And water… the water is blue. Like, really blue. Sometimes pale, beautiful blue that complements the grey stone it’s trickling through. And sometimes deep blue that gets muddled by the reflection of the mountain and almost makes you resent that there is a sight that beautiful.
The main reason we had to do so much travel was that we had so many great things on the agenda. There are endless amounts of adventurous things to do in New Zealand- bungee jumping, sky diving, hiking, kayaking, etc. to name a few. And while we wanted to do all of the above, we knew our time (and money) was limited, so we narrowed it down to a select few: hiking a glacier, sight-seeing at the Milford Sound, zorbing, and kayaking in the ocean.
Tenby, South of Wales
What are Lisa of Lisaldn’s thoughts? One of my all-time favorite travel destinations is Tenby in the South of Wales. It is where I was lucky enough to spend a year of my life studying abroad as an exchange student, and where I learned so many important lessons that I have taken with me into my twenties.
Tenby is a coastal town, and very popular among fishermen and tourists. When you look at photos, it is not hard to imagine why!
With beautiful beaches on all sides, adorable cobbled streets and brightly colored houses, it is clear to see why Tenby is such a popular destination. But still, not a lot of people have heard of the town or of its history. The ruins of the old castle gates are still prominent along the main streets and show signs of a rather strategically placed stronghold once upon a time.
Caldey Island, one of the Holy Islands of Britain is located merely 1 kilometer from the town, and it is possible to go by boat from Tenby to Caldey Island if you wish to visit the monastery.
If you are interested in British history you may also wish to know that Henry VII was sheltered within the city walls of Tenby during the War of the Roses. He was born in Pembroke Castle, which is a mere 20-minute drive away.
Tenby is obviously important to me since I spent a year of my life there, but the town is also a favorite of mine because of its beautiful beaches, its stunning architecture, and its history.
There is so much to discover there, and it is perfect for a quiet holiday by the sea. Make sure you have some real fish ’n’ chips before you leave as well – the ’chippy’ on Upper Park Road was always my favorite!
What are Dave of Silver Backpacker‘s thoughts? Bangkok always has something new to offer whenever I visit. This is one of the most vibrant non-stop cities in the world and the center of Asia and one of my favorite places.
When in Bangkok, Thailand, I like to get off the tourist trail and get lost in the maze of the city’s streets. One of my favorite ways to see the city is to buy a Skytrain day ticket for 120 Baht and randomly ride, getting off at various stations and exploring the area around it. You will be surprised at how friendly the locals can be.
Another enjoyment is to find your way to Saphan Taksin BTS station, walk down to the Chao Phraya and take a river taxi up to Nontaburi for B10. The trip takes two hours and you get to see all the life along the river. Explore Nontaburi’s market and streets then make your way back downriver.
Bangkok has many markets too. In fact, Bangkok is itself one big market. Make sure you check out the Amulet Market, Train Night Market, and the Famous but touristy Weekend Market just to name a few.
If the city gets too much for you, hop on a train and go visit Ayutthaya, the Ancient Capital and enjoy some peace and quiet wandering around this historical site.
If you are hungry, there is no shortage of options from the hundreds of street food sellers that are seen everywhere. Even restaurants take over the pavements with their tables and chairs after dark. Night markets are also a good place to sample all the different dishes.
Now with the opening of the Bangkok to Delhi, India route through Myanmar, I can see Bangkok taking on more of its role as Gateway to Asia and becoming even more vibrant.”
Puerto Galera, The Philippines
What are Jesma’s thoughts? Wow! The first word I uttered the very first time I set my feet on the mushy sand of Puerto Galera in the Philippines. Yes, the sand was so soft it felt like I was walking on massive tofu.
The place looked nothing like my city the sea air, the breeze it felt so refreshing! I have never smelt anything like it in a long time. I fell in love instantly.
Why? Because I love everything about it. I love the cold crystal water I even asked to be photographed while I was underwater because it felt surreal that the water was naturally clear that way. I love the fresh air, the atmosphere the whole island.
The whole place was paradise. It was a relaxing three-day vacation. We swam in the sea, the sun was shining on top of our heads but we did not care. We walked for 4 hours along the shore for adventure.
It was one of the most exhausting walks I’ve ever done in my life. We climbed some big rocks just to cross and trekked high places. We saw old buildings that looked scary, I saw a dead snake floating in the sea, crabs, snails and other seaborne animals.
We walked with nothing but the moonlight, had a relaxing massage, saw the most beautiful sunset ever, we slept on the sand and we played like there was no tomorrow. I love everything about my experience.
What are Me-an of Yogo and Cream‘s thoughts? Seeing photos of me in a desert never fails to remind me of my awesome Dubai desert safari tour experience. Our tour initially started with dune bashing – a high-speed skillful driving in the wilderness that offers the spectacular sight of sand dune after sand dune with the adrenaline rush feeling of a roller coaster ride.
We were then taken to a base camp to both discover more of the beauty that the desert has to offer and be connected with the Emirati culture. I did not let the opportunity pass by, of course, without having photos taken of me in the place (see photos).
Afterward, I did all the fun stuff such as trying sandboarding, riding a camel, getting a henna tattoo, wearing the traditional Arabic attire, watching Arabian shows, and, my most favorite part of it all, enjoying an authentic Emirati meal under the beautiful, unadulterated desert night sky.
Truly, no visit to Dubai would be complete without a trip into the desert.
What are Michelle of And Off We Went‘s thoughts? of Cusco, the ancient capital of Peru is a fascinating and inspirational city. We should know, we came for three months and ended up staying for two years – that is quite an achievement in itself.
There are so many amazing ruins in and around Cusco including Sacsayhuaman and Tipon, not to mention many great trails and hikes; it would take you a long while before you got bored. And of course, it is located next to the Sacred Valley, a beautiful destination for travelers, which provides many fascinating places to visit including the unmissable UNESCO world heritage site Machu Picchu or a day trip to Pisac, Ollantaytambo or Chinchero, all which bring a unique charm of their own.
From the restaurants and the markets to sitting in the Plaza de Armas watching the people go by, spending time in Cusco is a rewarding experience. You can view the mummies at Museo Inka, enjoy chocolate fondue at ChocoMuseo, enroll in a cooking class, feed the llamas at Awana Kancha, get up close and personal with the condors at Cochahuasi, hang out in San Blas, take a salsa class, explore the caves at Llanlacuyoq or enjoy a double-decker bus ride around the city. And of course, trying at least one Pisco sour is a must!
So whether you are in Cusco for one day or five, make sure you take some time out to explore the city and embrace the culture. It is the only way to make sure your visit to Cusco is a fun and enjoyable one.
Baler, Aurora, The Philippines
What are Kira of Kira-Ramirez‘s thoughts? It’s interesting when people find out how I started surfing. They always think of me as that prissy girl who always needs to be surrounded by the luxuries in life in order to survive. But I always relish the part where I tell them that my love for the beach was reawakened when I was invited to surf and stay at (my first ever) hostel in La Union.
From that moment – the experience of flying when riding a surfboard – got me hooked! Eager to explore what other surf spots were available that was near Manila (my hometown), I ventured to Baler in Quezon which was 5 hours away via Joy Bus and was hooked!
Baler is the provincial capital of Aurora and though it is known for primarily for surfing at Sabang Beach and is visited by tourists year-round, it has a lot more to offer than just waves. A 20-minute drive via scooter (which you can rent for P400/6 hours) can take you to theRock Formations at Diguisit, to the mother Falls in Ditumabo (where you can swim in pristine ice-cold water), venture further and you can immerse yourself in Banawag Hot Springs, or inspect the 600-year old Balete Tree.
But let me tell you apart from the thrill of surfing and the numerous nature spots, I have discovered that it was the vibe of Baler itself that drew me in. I’ve been there numerous times this year, even did a solo sojourn recently and I’ve never felt more at home.
The locals are generous and unassuming, the food was affordable and fresh (it’s a fishing town so expect tuna sashimi to come dirt cheap), and the provincial vibe is exactly what I’d recommend if you prefer to disconnect from the world, even just for a couple of days.
Life here is simple but very meaningful. I’ve learned more from hanging out with the locals and biking around town, from conversing with numerous backpackers I encounter daily at The Circle Hostel, I’ve even learned so much about myself just by being here than all my years spent in the city. It’s a humbling experience to realize that you can truly live with less.
So, the next time you’re looking at exploring the Philippines, why not stop by Baler and say hi?
Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
What are Alannah’s thoughts? Phu Quoc, Vietnam is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and is truly an island paradise. It has stunning white beaches and abundant natural beauty. My favorite thing about it is that it has not yet been overdeveloped with resorts and overrun with tourists. It has a relaxed, laid back island feel that makes it a great change of pace from the bustling cities of Vietnam.
The hotel I stayed at was right on the beach, so every morning I would wake up, walk around the corner, and sit at a restaurant along the beach and enjoy a banana pancake and Vietnamese iced coffee. There were only ever a handful of other people on the beach so it was always peaceful and calm.
I rented a motorbike for two days and toured the island – one day I toured the north of the island and the second day the south. It was my first time on a motorbike so I was nervous but the roads are vastly less populated than they are in the cities so it’s much easier, and less stressful, to drive than it would be in many other areas of the country.
It’s a very affordable way to travel around the island and gives you the freedom to discover the island at your own pace. By travelling by motorbike you are able to see the countryside and stop off at beaches along the way for a swim and a bite of fresh local seafood.
For overflowing with natural beauty and stunning beaches, for the low prices, for the great seafood, and for the friendly locals – these are the reasons Phu Quoc is my favorite travel destination.
Cape Town, South Africa
What are Karla of Karla Around the World‘s thoughts? Mountains and beach, nature and more. ..these are things that I love. Capetown, in South Africa, has it all– just within arms reach. It offers a very vibrant city nestled in between a mountain and enveloped by bodies of water.
I was in Capetown for 3 weeks in 2014. I lived in an apartment by the beach in Blouberg, where everyday, I woke up to the magnificent sight of Table Mountain. The long stretch of beach, and the number of artsy restaurants along the promenade makes Capetown perfect for a stroll anytime of the day, or night.
The cuisine? The seafood is fantastic; absolutely lots of choices. For a meat eater like me, I love that they serve good steak at an affordable price. Their traditional “braii” is wonderful– to enjoy barbeque for hours on end over an indoor fire grill, or an outdoor bonfire, where one can have good conversations, enjoy a couple of drinks, and simply sit and enjoy the company.
I’ve seen some of my best sunsets in Capetown, including the day we climbed the glorious mountain itself. The exploding mix of pink, blue, red and orange just makes everything so much more romantic.
If I could live in Camps Bay or Sea Point, that would be a dream, but this was already paradise to me. With everything a romantic, cheesy, hopeful, yet adventurous girl in me could want, if I were to choose where to live, Capetown would be a difficult choice to beat.
Related read: Top 20 Places to Visit in Africa
Hoi An, Vietnam
However, it wasn’t until I went to Hoi An that I truly fell in love with this country. Coming straight from Saigon, I found myself in Hoi An on a Valentines Day, alone, for the first time in six years.
As I walked around the ancient town, I knew it was love at first sight. The quaint, lovely charm transcended me back in a time where I rarely know anything about, yet there I was, in a dreamy state, learning new things as I go. It was as picturesque as I’ve imagined, and it was even more beautiful than I ever saw in the pictures. It was quite easy to understand why this place is dubbed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The locals were absolutely delightful and I have never experienced sincere kindness like that in all of Vietnam. There were even a few lovely ladies in their bikes that would pull over just to greet me and drop some really flattering compliments. Everyone would smile at me as I passed by. I even met the sweetest old man nearing his 90’s who spoke only a few words of English, yet it was the best conversation I’ve ever had with a stranger.
At nighttime, the town is even more luminous as numbers of colorful lanterns shine beautifully. The river lights up too with floating lanterns beaming in the water.
My time in Hoi An was absolutely not enough and I do plan to come back. But for now, Hoi An remains to be my favorite city who not only transported me back in time but also fed me the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had.
What are Mar of Once in a lifetime journey‘s thoughts? I started traveling to Sudan in 2007, for work. At first, I was fascinated by the destination. My colleagues had already been working there on assignment for the largest mobile company and their tales of a country so closed off from the outside world, embargoed and with so few, if any, travelers, was intriguing and I just couldn’t help but feel drawn to the magic of the desert and its people.
In May, I was assigned to a project there to replace a colleague needed in Saudi Arabia and my adventures started. I subsequently spent five months then an additional nine a year later, working on the ground, flying every week from Dubai where I was living.
At that time, talk about Darfur was hot and, during my second trip, discussions about South Sudan’s independence became more commonplace. The country eventually split off and became the youngest but, during my time there, it was all one and the same country.
Sudan was a very peculiar place. Oil-rich but poor and isolated by the US embargo ATMs didn’t work and we had to bring cash into the country every week. There was no way of getting additional money while on the ground. The security situation on the border with the south and the humanitarian tragedy in Darfur meant that the country was on high alert. Leaving Khartoum, largely a safe place, was hard and road permits were required for the multitude of checkpoints. Although there were barely any travelers, there was a large amount of NGO personnel and Westerners part of UN groups and other agencies, concerned with the refugees in Darfur.
Khartoum changed a lot while I was there. New hotels sprung up to replace the old Hilton, still branded as belonging to the American chain despite the embargo had forced all American businesses out. New restaurants opened too, giving us a chance to have a meal outside of the Rotana’s buffet restaurant. Lebanese businessmen saw the opportunity as the country developed thanks to Chinese and Middle Eastern funds. Emirates flights were joined by low-cost airlines, Qatar and Gulf Air. The lack of music, entertainment of any kind and alcohol made for very peaceful evenings spent having a watermelon juice at the Lebanese restaurants. Everyday life was simple in a country so battered by oppression, conflict, and war.
Despite all of this, I hold warm memories of my time there. The pyramids in Meroe and the various other temples from the Nubian people were stunning if abandoned and unknown to the outside world. Getting there was a cross-dessert adventure of GPS coordinates and road checkpoints requiring several police permits. The people, so accustomed to foreigners and progress pre-Sharia Law, were warm and hospitable.
Women covered their head with colorful wrap-around in all patterns, their hair peeking through the edges. During Ramadan, we used to order take away food delivered to the office and eaten without worry. The locals encouraged us to carry on with our traditions as we respected theirs. I only experienced this openness in Sudan, of all the Muslim countries I worked in.
Years after the project ended, I have not been able to return. Visas are hard to get if not for business. However, the friendships that I made prevail and Sudan continues to be fascinating if contradictory and unique country. People are people everywhere, even in the Axis of Evil countries.
What are Liz of Lizzie meet the World‘s thoughts? Hallstatt is a charming city in Austria, about an hour’s drive east from Salzburg, and is one of my favorites in the whole world. Being a nature lover, I immediately fell in love with this lovely place tucked between a mountain and a lake, especially as I caught it during the beginning of fall when the leaves were starting to turn. I have met the most wonderful people – both locals and travelers alike – while staying here, and have vowed from the first moment I set eyes on it to come back as much as I can.
Hallstatt is both intimate and intriguing: you could walk from one end to the other in under half an hour – or easily spend a day or two looking at the mesmerizing lake with its graceful ducks and swans, go from one fascinating lakeside store to the next, or take on the salt mines and hiking trails.
It has everything: a museum, a church, a cemetery, a funicular, food stalls, bauble stores, a clinic, luxury hotels, family-owned inns, boat rides – and yet it has maintained its quiet simplicity. It is definitely a gem for slow travelers or those seeking a break from the bigger cities of Vienna and Salzburg.
Lately, it has grown quite popular among day tourists, so for photographers who want the place to their own, start at dawn and take in as much of its beauty as possible.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
What are Sarah of Passport Bites‘ thoughts? During the Vietnam War, children were killed, women were raped and men were massacred. Generation after generation, many children were still affected by Agent Orange; a powerful mixture of chemical defoliants that was used by the U.S army against the Vietnamese.
When I traveled to Ho Chi Minh this September, I was scared, I had goosebumps and I felt so negative. Heck, I couldn’t even cross the street! There were just too many motorbikes coming from every direction. But, I thought, I want to get to know this place better.
Visiting the War Remnants Museum opened my eyes to the real Vietnam. In every photo, you could see how these people suffered, and are still suffering, from their past. What broke my heart was seeing photos of children affected by the Agent Orange.
But you know what? These didn’t stop them from reaching their dreams. Nguyen Minh Phu was born in 1990, with no arms. Guess what he is now? He received the first prize of his district for clean notebook and beautiful words. Nguyen Minh Phu is now a member of best students team district. Imagine that.
I read about more and more of these children and they freakin’ amaze me! Honestly, the Vietnamese are more than what you think they are. Yes, they may not have the best answer to your questions, may most probably not laugh at your jokes, and may stare at you while you make your way to their city, but these people are the bravest I have ever seen so far.
4 days in Ho Chi Minh was not enough. It touched my heart like no other city has, and it definitely taught me another lesson: Do not judge anyone, or anything, without first taking time to get to know where it came from. This is why Ho Chi Minh is my favorite travel destination. It is a hidden gem behind its tough exterior.
What are Alicia of Pen Roads’ thoughts? The Nagano Prefecture has got to be my favorite place to be in Japan. After traveling various parts of Japan, Nagano prefecture contains the 3 tiny towns that I adore. Yamanouchi, Matsumoto, and Obuse. A blanket of snow covered the streets as the town transformed into a winter wonderland with every snowfall.
Walking down the streets of these small quaint towns, it was such a dream. The calm, quiet streets of these tiny towns was a pleasant change from the usual hustle and bustle from my usual city life.
Each town had something unique to offer, something you could not find anywhere else.
In Yamanouchi, the monkey park where wild monkeys soaked in outdoor Onsens was the main attraction. These little fellas were definitely living the life, soaking in the hot springs during the dead of winter.
While in Matsumoto, it was the wasabi farm where it was wasabi madness. From Wasabi ice cream to Wasabi flavored crackers, nothing was spared. It was almost the same situation in Obuse just that everything was replaced with Chestnuts instead. But I ain’t complaining cause they all tasted OISHIIII~
If you are looking for a great place to get away from the noise and bustle of city life, why not head over to Nagano where peace and great food is abundant! Sounds like my kind of wonderland.
What are Aileen of I am Aileen‘s thoughts? Called as the ‘Home of the Winds’, the islands of Batanes would have to be my favorite destination of all! Now, this may come off as a bit of a biased opinion since this is my hometown, but after traveling through various places around the world for over 2 years… I still find the beauty of Batanes as unrivaled. Even if it weren’t my hometown in the first place, I bet that I would have still declared this as my favorite place.
Besides, this northern group of islands in the Philippines is an unknown serene hidden paradise that can instantly capture your heart. With is dramatic coastline, white sandy beaches, lush forests, and picturesque hills, there will surely be ‘something’ for every traveler here!
Well, of course, it’s surely a rural area, but that’s part of its huge charm. As we are, we often need the time to disconnect, so if you are looking for a change of scenery in order to re-experience some simplicity and tranquility in life, Batanes is a great destination to bring you back to the basics.
Though apart from its amazing landscapes, another reason as to why I love Batanes the most is because of its people. I swear to you that you will find the warmest, kindest, and friendliest individuals in your life here. You’ll see it for yourself when you set foot in this northern paradise!
What are Ami of Thrilling Travel‘s thoughts? History, History, and History all around. Hampi, India – a UNESCO heritage site, a ghost town in South India and the erstwhile thriving capital of the Vijayanagara Kingdom in the 16th Century. If there is any city or place that I could compare it to, it would be Rome. Quite like Rome, whether you head right or left, all you will see are amazing buildings and treasures of the past. Each monument has some amazing facet to it.
Take the Vittala temple itself, where you not just admire the amazing artistic sculptures but also, stand awestruck when one taps on the musical pillars of the temple and you hear melodious notes. It is not just the artistic splendor but the science that went into making these wonderful monuments that amaze you. To cite an example – the musical pillars don’t just make random sounds but the sound of the instrument or animal that is sculpted on the pillars.
The chariot temple, the Hawa mahal and the Virupaksha temple are examples of exemplary artistry that prevailed during these times. I felt like an explorer as I discovered the underground temples and passages, along with their secret meeting rooms – all still open for the public to explore and re-discover. Walking through the Queen’s bath and her zenana gives you a sense of how lavish was the lifestyle of the royalty.
Hampi is great for foodies too. You get a variety of food options – from Israeli to Indian, Chinese and more – all along the banks of the River Tungabhadra that flows through Hampi. And after you have added those calories on, you can opt for long trekking trails to explore the ruins of Hampi or cycle your way through them, trying to imagine what it would have been in its glory days.
George Town, Malaysia
What are Darlene of Point and Shoot Wanderlust‘s thoughts? Best known for being one of Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, George Town in Malaysia lured me in with the promise of great food, history, culture, and street art. This capital of Penang was once a trading hub back in the days. Its diverse architecture consisting of British colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses and different places of worship makes it one of the most colorful and culturally diverse city.
I’m not a morning person so to discover that most of the shops don’t open until near around noon was a pleasant surprise. The city gives off that relaxing vibe that makes you want to stay there longer. At night, the hawkers are definitely something worth waiting for. When I was in Penang, it felt like I gained so much because I was constantly eating. It’s hard to get tired of Georgetown cuisine because of how varied and appetizing it is. Don’t leave Penang without having your fill of Char Kway Teow, Wan Tan Mee, Lok Lok, Chicken Rice, Nasi Kandar, Curry Mee and Ais Kacang.
Being an art enthusiast, looking for and stumbling on the myriad street art around the city was like a treasure hunt for me. It is easy to get around via the free CAT bus, but it is also easy to walk around Georgetown’s core.
Val Fiscalina, Italy
What are Marta of Learning Escapes‘ thoughts? Nestled among the peaks of the Italian Dolomites, it’s a very special place to me: it’s where I spent most of my holidays as a child and I love it so much that over the years I went there over 20 times! Yes, you read that right: I never tire of it and keep going back.
The first thing that strikes about Val Fiscalina is its beauty. The words that come to mind are ‘picture perfect’ and with green lawns, pointy peaks and light-colored mountains walls, the valley for me embodies the quintessential mountain scenery.
It is also a place with lots to do. If you are into sports you can hike, climb, cycle, go kayaking or paragliding in the summer, while in the winter you can, of course, the sky. Hiking has always been my activity of choice and as a child, it was particularly fun. The local tourist board gives all children a small booklet to collect stamps: each mountain refuge you reach, you get a stamp and if you collect enough, they reward you with a medal. One year I worked my up to get a gold one: so proud of myself!
For more contemplative moods, I always loved sitting at a local bakerei with a slice of cake and a book. This area of Italy was for many years part of Austria and you can still very much feel the cultural influence in its architecture and food: at the end of the day outdoors, what can possibly beat sitting in a wooden chalet with a steaming hot Italian espresso and a slice of apfelstrudel? It’s my kind of heaven.
What are Carlo of Travelosyo‘s thoughts? If a place touches my heart and soul. Definitely, that place is an awesome destination! I went solo to Mountain Province after someone breaks my heart. I feel like going somewhere where I could release all the tears, talk to the universe and to realize what went wrong. Suddenly, the mountain up north whispers to my ears “Come here” so I packed my things and do an adventure.
After my trip from Sagada, I decided to visit Batad without any itinerary. I became hopeless when I found out that I don’t have enough cash and there was no available ATM at Banaue. Yet, that doesn’t stop me to visit this place. I went here like how the locals do it and befriend with everyone and gladly, I survived! This place restored my faith in Humanity.
Batad, Ifugao won’t be listed as one of the heritage sites in the world without a reason. The view of the amphitheater rice terraces from the top was jaw-dropping! This is indeed a paradise, of all the goodness I received from the locals and having this view up in front of me. I can’t stop the tears flowing from my eyes.
What are Isabel of Bel Around the World‘s thoughts? If anyone would fall in love with a commune-like Colmar, most of the credit would go to the colorful half-timbered houses. And that is exactly why Colmar won my heart.
I found myself being enamored by the half-timbered trimmings on buildings and little streets, which add to the town’s rustic charm. Once in a while, a canal will intersect your path, and the sight is beyond romantic. At that moment, I found myself lost in time as I pause by the riverbank and trail the flow of the waters.
I spotted creative adornments hanging from shop fronts that made me stop and imagine how much effort the shopkeepers must have put in to come up with such a beautiful mess, or maybe they didn’t at all.
Sao Miguel, the Azores
What are Lotte of Phenomenal Globe‘s thoughts? I knew nothing about the Azores in Portugal when I booked a 4-day last-minute trip in a desperate attempt to catch some of the last summer sun rays before giving in to the falling leaves of autumn and the freezing nights of winter.
Arriving at Sao Miguel, the largest island of the nine islands belonging to the Azores, I was completely blown away: it turned out to be one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen!
Sao Miguel is a volcanic island with the very fertile ground, explaining why it is also locally referred to as ‘The Green Island’. Because I only had a couple of days to explore the island, I crammed as much sightseeing into these days as possible.
The island is great for hiking (for example the 4-hour hike to Lagoa do Fogo) and checking out some geothermal activity (for example at the Calderas in Furnas). But what I enjoyed most was driving around the twisting and turning roads on a scooter, under a perfect blue sky while enjoying the stunning views over the wide ocean and beautiful bays.
Leh, Ladakh, India
What are Swati of Lost Maps‘ thoughts? I was in the dreamland, for the 1st time. In June 2014, I, along with my family (Mom, dad, and a younger sister) did a road trip in our country, India – from Srinagar to Leh. We had heard a lot about the place, seen the pictures but weren’t convinced that something can be so beautiful.
We spent around 21 hours on the road, with an overnight break in between at a tiny village, Sanko, near Kargil, where the India-Pakistan war was fought in 1999. During our journey, we met the lovely locals, stopped for capturing landscapes, tried out the chai (tea), Momos and Maggi at local stalls.
We visited Drass, a small village just outside Kashmir region which has been recorded as one of the coldest places in India. It is definitely the most scenic road in India. In fact, if you have been there and came back to the same person, you did it wrong! Already soaked in the beauty of natural landscapes, once we reached the destination, it kept on surprising us for the next 3 days.
We took day trips from Leh, found ourselves in the middle of a desert one day and witnessed the 1st snowfall of our lives the next afternoon. Fast forward 1 year, in July 2015, I left my cubicle job of 5 years to travel more and let’s just say that Ladakh was one of the inspirations to do it.
What are Criz of Crizzy Kriss‘ thoughts? Of all the 19 countries I visited, I must say Crete in Greece is one of my favorite, a fantastic fun summer getaway. I and my boyfriend just happened to book it last minute, a hastily chaotic last minute. With a little persistence and luck trolling travel sites for tickets, it turned out to be one of the best trips we’ve had to date.
What I didn’t know, until we were physically there, is that Crete is known for beautiful turquoise blue and green waters, clear down to 20 meters, numerous historical sites with unique simplistic beauty. Oh and olives – lots and lots of olives! However, it is not just the sites, sun, sea, sand or the simply succulent food that was amazing, but it was also the laid back warmth and humorous hospitality of the locals and their culture.
In Crete, the people there love to sing and dance, the tourists are friendly and the vacation atmosphere is perfect. Siesta’ or break times, is part of the laidback appeal so don’t be surprised if you can’t find some of the hotel personnel totally available from 12 noon to 02:00 pm (remember, here laid back means laid back). Greece is a favorites destination for many people, but the prices have remained reasonable, the hotels well kept and very clean, and at a good price.
To top this off it offers a nice variety of restaurants that are literally walking distance from, well everywhere! And if you’re a history buff you can even visit and see the remnants of Roman and Turkish historical monuments. Greece is definitely a place where you look forward to coming back.
What are Jess of Healthy Fit Traveler‘s thoughts? Beautiful sunsets, snorkeling and paddleboarding in a sub-tropical paradise are not usually things you associate with Japan. After my first visit to Japan in March 2011, just a week after the devastating earthquake and tsunami I had fallen in love with a gorgeous country filled with sleek modern cities and ancient towns with traditional customs. I just knew that I had to go back. I wanted to go back and experience the “real” Tokyo; the Tokyo with bright neon lights and buzzing streets, I wanted to go back in the summer and climb Mt Fuji and I wanted to snorkel in Okinawa. In June 2014 I FINALLY made my way back.
During my five-week trip, I stayed with a local family in Okinawa who were so friendly and inviting. Having experienced life as an Okinawan I realized how different this island is to mainland Japan. My host Tomomi-san invited family friends around for a barbeque in their garden. We ate fresh octopus and lots of vegetables while drinking beer and having a few laughs.
The Okinawan lifestyle reminded me of home, growing up in Perth, Australia my parents always had friends around for a BBQ and drinks especially in the summer. The highlight of my trip to Okinawa for me, however, was the snorkeling. There were LOADS of fish in the gorgeous clear waters.
I have never seen so many clownfish swimming in and out of anemones before. I could have watched these beauties all day! Another awesome highlight was the number of water sports on offer. Paddleboarding, jet skiing, banana boating, and jet packs are easily available at Nabee beach.
There is also some pretty good surf at Sunabe Seawall with half a dozen reef breaks. I can’t wait for my next trip to Japan and Okinawa in particular where I will hopefully swim with the whale sharks and do some diving in Yonaguni.
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