You are stuck under the mountains of papers in your office and you feel so stressed and exhausted. You try to entertain yourself by browsing your Facebook newsfeed. Turns out it is a bad idea. You see your friends enjoying themselves, tanning on the beach while you are still stuck in the office and it makes you feel worse. You should not. It is also time for you to grab that backpack and book your own trip. Do it while you are still young. Go and travel alone and find out what you may have missed. In discovering new and beautiful places, you might discover your own passion, too. You might think that traveling is expensive. Yes, it is, but it depends on your choices. There are a lot of budget places in the world that you can visit by spending around $30 to $50 a day. Here are the 15 must see places in no particular order.
This diverse Latin country is well-known for its ancient structures built by the Incas centuries ago. Its most famous attraction is the Machu Picchu. You can explore the Inca Trail in the Andes Mountain Range where the ancient ruins are located. The trail itself is an ordeal but every traveler will be rewarded by the captivating landscape in the mountain. There are also a lot of other Peruvian adventures that await every traveler. Peru has a lot of UNESCO Heritage sites such as the City of Cusco known to the Incas as the ‘Sacred Heart’. The city is full of impressive engineering works by Inca stonemasons. Another is the Qhapac Ñan, which means ‘The Great Road’, is a pre-Incans and Incans complex road system that allows Incas to govern territories located miles away. Budget Tips: There are organized tours to the Andes so make sure to book as early as possible to get a lower price. Stay in hostels and travel around the city like a local!
Cuba is a Caribbean nation with lots of pristine and beautiful beaches to boast. The country has also a lot UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Old Havana, Trinidad, and Castillo de San Pedro del Morro, all well-preserved cities, and structures from the Spanish Era. Old cities are still reminiscent of the old times, the pastel colored buildings, especially during the dusk, is striking. Vintage cars from the 50s and 60s are still running around the city, sometimes making you feel like you have traveled back in time. Tips: Everything should be booked (and printed!) in advance, from your accommodation to tourist coach services to avoid delays and frustrations.
Yes. Paris might be a cliché, one of the bucket list travel destinations, but who can’t resist the classic beauty of the Eiffel Tower? It is also the home of the world’s center of fashion, art, and gastronomy. Tour around the city and marvel at its amazing architectural buildings such as the Arc de Triomphe, Archives Nationales, Notre-Dame de Paris, and a lot more. Although this city is one of the most expensive cities in the world, you can shave off some of those expenses. Avoid the peak season and stay in hostels. There are also free admissions to the museums during every first Sunday of the month.
Italy’s Eternal City is also one of the must-see famous cities in the world. It has a very rich art and architectural heritage that is unique to the Roman culture. See the ancient structures that we have read about in our history books like the Coliseum, The Pantheon, and the city’s beautiful and ancient fountains. Tour the religious churches in the Vatican City, and visit the St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Check out the works of art by world famous artists such as Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Bernini. Fill up ‘til your stomach’s content with the world famous original Italian style pasta and pizzas.
Belgium is a small country famous for its frites, chocolates, and beer. Small as it is, it is rich in culture and history. It is also easy and very accessible to go to any of the 60 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Around the Flander towns are beautiful medieval architectures, castles and gabled houses. Go to the famed Waterloo where Napoleon was defeated and visit the WWII Memorial Sites. Tour around the museums in Brussels, Ghent, and Antwerp. It is also quite expensive in Belgium but if you enjoy couch surfing or staying in the hostels you can do it on a budget. You may also take advantage of the heavily discounted museum tickets, which will save you a lot of bucks.
Iceland is definitely one of those picturesque places in the world worthy to be on a postcard. Popular tall geysers (nature’s own fountain) Haukadalur are popular tourist destinations. It also boasts a lot of out-of-this-world multi-coloured mountains. This country has a lot of volcanoes, thus it also has a lot of hot springs. And if you are an LOTR fan, then the Kirkjufell Mountain is a must see. There are hidden waterfalls in the mountain and you can witness the magical Aurora borealis (Northern Lights) at night. There are a lot of other mystical natural wonders in this country such as the Blue Lagoon and the Skaftafell Ice Cave.
The home of the great Pharaohs and one of the first great civilizations of the world, Egypt has a lot to offer for the acquisitive eyes of both travelers and history lovers. Admire the Valley of the Kings in the Theban Hill where the tombs of the Pharaohs are located. Marvel at historic Alexandria. Gaze at the centuries old Pyramids of Giza, greet The Sphinx, and take a pilgrimage to the sacred Mount Sinai. Explore around the ancient Temple of Karnak in Luxor and the Al-Azhar Mosque. Sail down the River Nile and take a dive into the Red Sea.
The Holy City is the ultimate pilgrim destination for devout Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Go to the Old City of Jerusalem and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (sacred to the Christians), the “Wailing” Wall (revered by the Jews), and the Dome of the Rock (an Islamic shrine second only to Mecca’s Ka’ba). Explore the City of David and its Hezekiah’s Tunnels. See the archaeological sites in the Mount of Olive. Tour around the eight city gates (only seven are open) which includes Herod’s Gate and Damascus’ Gate. Check out Israel’s Museum where the Dead Sea scrolls are still kept.
This city of Turkey is home to the famous Byzantine Hagia Sophia. Historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium, it has been the eastern capital of Rome and later became the cultural and economic center of the world hundreds of centuries ago. Obelisks and Roman architecture, frescoes, and domes are still intact today. Istanbul is the link to Europe and Asia, this accounts for the city’s multicultural diversity.
Must see tourist attractions are the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue mosque, and the Basilica Cistern. Travel around the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum and wonder at the rich history.
India is home to two of the major religions of the world, Hinduism, and Buddhism and one of the most beloved pieces of architecture, the Taj Mahal. There are a lot of ancient and archaeological sites to visit in India but most visitors come in this country during the Holi Festival, the Festival of Colors. This Hindu Festival takes about three days highlighted by the throwing of colorful gulal (powder) or dyed water over each other in the streets. It is also important to note that this country inspired two of the most successful people in the modern world: Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Who knows, when you travel there, you might find your own inspirations, too.
Tokyo is one of the busiest and most crowded metropolitan cities in the world and much known for its ultra-fast bullet trains. Sleep in the Capsule Hotel, visit Tokyo Disneyland, eat a bowl of fresh Ramen, and witness its nightlife in all its neon splendors. Three hours away is the most perfect cone-shaped volcano in the world, the majestic Mt. Fuji. Kyoto is a once old capital of Japan and it is home to its classical Buddhist temples, imperial palaces, and exquisite Zen gardens. There are also notable must see places such as the Philosopher’s Walk, and the Temple of the Golden leaf, which is really coated with actual gold leaf.
4. Southeast Asia (SEA) Trail
Southeast Asia is definitely the hub of young backpackers not only because it is cheap to travel there but also because of the kind people and amazing places. The trail includes Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia. It is called the SEA Trail because you can basically travel around easily and on a very low budget. You can see and experience everything from amazing ancient temple ruins, wild parties, and spectacular natural attractions. Thailand has both beautiful, modern temples and ancient ruins built by the Khmer Empire. It is also famous for its tranquil and pristine beaches. Thailand holds amazing yearly parties and celebrations such as the wild Full Moon Party and the full of fun Songkran Festival.
You can go wild tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos or visit its UNESCO Heritage site in Luang Prabang. Ride in a hot air balloon over the temples in Bagan, Myanmar. The best time for a great view is either at sunrise or sunset. Visit the Ha Long Bay in Vietnam and see the fog engulf the water and the islands giving it a mysterious atmosphere. Lastly, go visit the largest (and ancient) religious monument in the world, the Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
If anyone says Indonesia, most people think of Bali. But Indonesia is the biggest archipelagic country in the world. This means that the country is more than just the immaculate beaches of Bali. If you are into historical and ancient places, then you should pay Yogyakarta in Java a visit. It is a cultural hub with the mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism. It is also the starting point to Borobodur and Prambanan. Borobodur is one the oldest Buddhist temples with about 5,000 Buddha statues. Prambanan is a Hindu temple that features Ramayana dances during the night. Take time to visit the Komodo National Park or relax in the largest volcanic lake in the world in Lake Toba.
The Philippines is also an archipelagic country with beautiful and pristine beaches and islands. Boracay is the most visited (and most touristy) beach in the country, so if you love bars and dancing fires then it is a must-visit. Go and swim with whale sharks in Donsol. Dive and snorkel off one of the islands in the Visayas. Go and wonder at the biggest underground river in the world in Palawan. Pay a visit to the bug-eyed (but extremely cute and delicate) smallest monkey in the world, the tarsier, in Bohol. There are also a lot of outdoor adventures in Bohol such as zip lining and bungee jumping. Although the Philippines is a part of Southeast Asia, it is geographically, culturally, and spiritually thousands of miles apart from its neighboring countries. So instead, of seeing temples, you are going to see centuries old churches built during the Spanish colonial times. Filipinos speak English and almost all of the signs are in English so traveling here is relatively easy.
1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral formation. There are tours and day trips organized for travelers. These operators also offer diving classes for the novices. Why is it worth a visit? Diving and swimming with the exotic fish are a once in a lifetime experience. It is also an educational experience and a wake-up call for all of us. The ever-worsening climate change takes a toll on the coral, the home to many of those exotic fish. Seeing its effects first hand might help you take action to help and be conscious of our mother Earth.