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My Top 5: Favorite Places To Visit After 140+ Countries – These Were Awesome

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My Top 5: Favorite Places To Visit - These Were Awesome

My Top 5: Favorite Places To Visit – These Were Awesome

From all the places I’ve been, these were my favorite places to visit. Each has a reason or reasons, which I’ll highlight. Mostly, they’re based around experiences. One great moment isn’t enough to make my list of favorite places to visit. It takes more than that.

My Top 5: Favorite Places To Visit - These Were Awesome


It could be recency bias, since we were just there. However, visiting the Galapagos was a life-long dream-come-true experience for both of us. When you dream of visiting a place for years and years, it unfortunately can be underwhelming. Your expectations might become too big, too unrealistic. For us, the Galapagos were awesome. We loved the nature, all of the iguanas just hanging around, and of course diving with hammerhead sharks.

$3 lunch available anywhere in Quito

We also really liked Quito. While I talked about the fact that the “fun got sucked out of it” when we were stuck there longer than expected, looking back on it changes things. I am a big fan of Quito. And those ultra-cheap $3 lunch cafes were amazing. It wasn’t any one, particular, special thing but just the general vibe of the city and the amazing people there. In fact, we said several times while there, “I could totally live here.” We liked it that much.

My Top 5: Favorite Places To Visit - These Were Awesome
Piazza Venezia, Rome


You can’t open your eyes without seeing something beautiful or historic–or beautiful AND historic–in Rome. The Colosseum. Vatican City (OK, technically not “Rome”). The museums. Statues and artwork everywhere. Plus, it has the most fountains of anywhere in the world.

Rome is beautiful. The history is everywhere. I said “Rome” and not “Italy” because I’ve spent much more time in Rome than other parts.

Who doesn’t love lasagna?

And the food. Yes!

We absolutely loved Rome. There’s fantastic public transportation, amazing food everywhere, tons to see & do, and more history than you can possibly study in your visit.

Again, we found ourselves saying, “I would totally live here.” I’ve been to Rome 3 times and would easily go back again for longer.

My Top 5: Favorite Places To Visit - These Were Awesome


More recency bias? I don’t think so. We were there in December and loved it. The thing with Mexico is that I like it more and more every time I go. And every time I go, I want to see more. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface from my 5 visits. The people are awesome–some of the best people on the planet. I love just chatting and talking about the local area, history & culture with locals wherever I go. I find this especially interesting in Mexico.

The contrast between new, colonial & traditional throughout Mexico is super interesting. I’m not glorifying colonization. What I mean is that it’s interesting from architectural, sociological & historical points of view. And the museums (of all types) are incredible.

Frida Kahlo museum in Mexico City

I love the food. The people. The mariachi bands in the plaza. It’s awesome. Again, “I would absolutely live here” is a common expression during our trips to Mexico.

Hotel des Mille Collines – the famous “Hotel Rwanda”


The people of Rwanda put it over the top. However, I liked everything else, also.

Rwanda is probably most famous for the genocide and civil war in the 1990s (and you can even go by the famous “Hotel Rwanda” pictured above). What I love about Rwanda is that they don’t pretend the negative parts of their history don’t exist. Instead, they’ve done a lot of soul-searching to figure out how to be better for the future. The result is a country that’s beautiful, clean, protects its nature, and tries to help its people.

The people in Rwanda, as I said, are fantastic. Lots of smiling and friendly greetings.

There’s history to be found, and the genocide museum is brutally honest about Rwanda’s shortcomings.

If you want nature, take trips out to hike in the mountains. You can even see gorillas.

I stayed at the Marriott in Kigali (the capital), which is superb. Anywhere you want to go, pay 50 cents to ride on the back of someone’s motorcycle. It’s a licensed form of taxi there.

While Rwanda has the highest standard of living and fastest internet in the region (and they welcome digital nomads), the cost of living is not bad for foreigners. I would live in Kigali in a heartbeat.

Bamboo train in Battambang, Cambodia


Speaking of a country with genocide in its recent past, another country that blew me away is Cambodia. It’s on my “favorite places to visit” list because I enjoyed every single part I visited.

Phnom Penh, the bustling capital, is the starting point for all of the dark history, museums, killing fields, etc. that you can visit and learn about.

Battambang was one of my favorite cities in the world. Ride the bamboo train (1 track only, so you have to disassemble it and move to the side if someone comes the other way). Go to the circus, where the performers are former homeless children who received training to join the circus for a stable career. Awesome street food abounds.

Siem Reap is where you can visit the famous Angkor temples. So many things are 50 cents or $1 that I splurged while I was in Siem Reap.

My Top 5: Favorite Places To Visit - These Were Awesome

In Kampot, I paid $2 a night to sleep in a hammock on a rooftop. Rent a scooter to drive to the abandoned colonial resort from the French colonial days.

Bokor Hill – abandoned French colonial era resort

Final Thoughts On Favorite Places To Visit

There are other places that I loved visiting, but some of them felt like still being at home (ex: major cities in Canada & Australia). These are my favorite places to visit because the experiences were deep & authentic. They all offered great food & wonderful people, as well as something beautiful and interesting.

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Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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  1. My wife and I did a few weeks in Cambodia a couple of years ago and we adored it. I saw Quito when I was a teenager. Your mention resonates with me, reminding me that I should go back.

    • Christian – “La Carolina” park in Quito has got to be the coolest, most impressive free public park I’ve ever seen.

  2. I agree about Quito. As far as sightseeing, it rivals any of the more touristed South American cities. The historic core is absolutely spectacular. The food and hiking are quite good too.


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