Top 5 Places Visited: After 50 Countries and Countless Cities Here Are My Favorites

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After 10 Years of Travel Here Are My Favorite Places

Without being able to travel for over a year now, I take a look back at some of my favorite and least favorite (coming later this week). This is a list of some of my favorite places I’ve travelled in my 10 years of travelling to just under 50 different countries.

My Favorite Places – Countries

travelling bangladesh

Bangladesh

I’ve written an entire blog about Bangladesh because it left that much of an impression on me.

Whilst I disliked India because of the chaos, it’s the chaos that makes Bangladesh what it is. But aside from the busy city of Dhaka, there are amazing beautiful landscapes to explore, and also a chance to visit the Bengal Tiger in the Sundarbans. 

Bangladesh is also home to the longest beach in the world.

But aside from the landscapes and sites, there are two reasons why I mention Bangladesh as a favorite travel destination.

  1. The people
  2. It’s a ‘raw’ country

The people in Bangladesh are some of the nicest and friendliest people I’ve ever met in the world. They’re incredibly hospitable, and will certainly be very curious about you. They’ll help you out and invite you to dinner, and you can learn a lot about the culture of their country from them.

What do I mean by ‘raw country’? Well, it must be one of the least-travelled countries I’ve ever been to. For 3 weeks I didn’t see any foreigners until I went to the south and saw a big group of foreign NGO workers. If you want to travel to Bangladesh, you have to do so like a local. There is no tourist infrastructure. And that makes for a really unique experience, that admittedly isn’t for everyone.

If you want to experience a country like local experiences it, Bangladesh is your way to go.

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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is my go-to country if people ask me where I’d recommend. And I recommend Sri Lanka for a few reasons. In no particular order…

  • It’s relatively cheap.
  • It’s laidback and peaceful.
  • Good food (not the best, but really quite good, with a lot of variety.)
  • It’s safe. Much safer than neighboring India.
  • The people are friendly.

It’s relatively not travelled. You won’t see many foreigners. It’s still off the beaten track, but once it gets discovered more, this won’t be the case. Lonely Planet named it Destination of the Year a couple of years ago, and after that, it saw a sharp rise in tourism. This then went down again after a recent terrorist attack and since then tourism hasn’t picked up again.

It’s beautiful. (We’re getting into the real reasons now). It really is stunning. I’ve been to a few countries in my life and honestly Sri Lanka I found to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing. You’ve got the sea, beaches, green landscapes, waterfalls, mountains, safari, tea hills…

Elephants. Wild elephants in Sri Lanka, and lots of them. You can stay in a hotel and see one coming down the road if you’re in the right place. Or you can go on a safari and go and see where they live.

Tea! As a Brit, I love my tea. And hiring a scooter to take me through the rolling tea fields was just something too stunning and one of the best rides of my entire life.

The train rides. Probably one of the most famous things about Sri Lanka, it offers some of the most picturesque train rides in the world. Word has got out about this so you’ll probably end up seeing a lot of foreigners enjoying the train too. You can lean out the door or sit at the edge whilst you’re going through fields and mountains and stunning landscapes.

If there’s one place you should visit on your next travels, it’s Sri Lanka.

favorite sri lanka

Japan

Onsens, cherry blossom, temples, tea… You know it all. Japan truly is an amazing country. I lived there for a year to study Japanese and have since been back several times.

The Japanese are the most polite, hospitable people. The country is clean and safe. There are snowy mountains in the north and paradise islands in the south. In between, there are beautiful landscapes to hike and a lot of traditional cultures to experience. And, of course, there are the big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka.

I really can’t find anything to complain about for Japan. And it’s one of those countries I could always go back to and always experience more. I could gladly spend years there wild camping on pilgrimage trails, staying in temples, testing out various onsens (hot springs) or picnicking in the park watching the cherry blossom fall.

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View of Mt. Fuji (Fuji San) after climbing it.

Favorite Places Cities

Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea

A bit of a bizarre entry, but Hongdae is a place my mind always goes back to. And, maybe my ultimate favorite. 

I’ve been to South Korea a few times. I’ve travelled a lot of the country but mainly stick to Seoul. And in Seoul, I always pay a visit to Hongdae. This is a place in Seoul where many foreigners go, and even though I usually try to stay away from tourist areas, I’m always pulled back.

Honda is the cool, hipster area of Seoul. It’s worth a visit just to have a walk around, have some coffee, some food, or go shopping. But I don’t go there for any of those reasons. I go there for the energy.

Apart from the numerous hipster coffee shops and restaurants, Hongdae is also famous for another thing. Its buskers. During a weekend or evening, you won’t be able to move for the number of buskers that litter the pedestrianized streets. And it’s not just singers or people playing the guitar. It’s singers, dancers, dancing groups, boy bands, girl bands, makeup artists, painters, poets, magicians, comedians… Anything you can think of, pretty much. A lot of them live-stream their talents and also make money from donations from the public. And honestly, a lot of them are seriously talented.

The main thing I love about walking through here is that people are really doing something they love. They love what they do; that’s the only reason they’re there. And the energy of these people performing as well as the crowds is really something special, and something I haven’t found elsewhere.

I am also partial to a bit of K-Pop (Korean Pop music) so that definitely helps the experience for me, too.

hongdae favorite

Favorite Province: Yunnan, China

This place will forever remain one of my favorite places in the world, and a few years later is still my phone background.

I first went to Yunnan as a kind of stopover from Beijing before going to Myanmar. I spent a week here. What I thought would be way too long. In the end, I wish I’d stayed more.

Like a mini country, the province of Yunnan is home to various ethnicities and local languages and cultures, as well as various beautiful landscapes. Rice paddies, lakes, mountains, and more. The climate is generally quite warm, even in winter, and it has a general more south-east Asian kind of feel, in comparison to the rest of China.

It’s home to Dali and Shangri-la, two of the most famous places there that are a must-visit. The air is clear, the weather nice, the streets small, cute, and traditional.

Yunnan is one of the places that I can’t wait to get back to, and I know I’ll be there again.

Of course, there are countless numbers of other places I’d recommend, and writing this list was tough to pick my top 5. But these places are my favorite travel destinations my mind comes back to. Here, I had some of the best experiences of my life.

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Zoe Stephens
Zoe is a freelance writer from Liverpool, UK. She spends her time travelling between China, where she is based, and North Korea, where she works as a tour guide for Koryo Tours. You can follow her journey and see her content from North Korea on Instagram (@zoediscovers) and YouTube. You can see more about her life stuck on Tonga on Instagram @ifyouwerestrandedonanisland.

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7 COMMENTS

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I only spent three days in and around Dhaka, but I can attest to the people being very nice. Glad to see them get a shout out.

  2. I could not help but commenting on this post. I am so surprised how you were able to grasp the exact reasons to like Bangladesh within that short period of time. It is impressive! I was born and raised in (close to Sundarbans) Bangladesh before I migrated to USA 25+ back. I’ve visited many countries (probably 60+ and countless cities) in the world… I go to Bangladesh every year for few weeks. Not being biased, I still have not found another hospitable country (and the other reasons that you mentioned in your post) like Bangladesh. Anyhow, what a great post! Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your favorite cities.

  3. I have a good friend who traveled for a couple weeks with his wife in Yunnan. I couldn’t get over how incredible the experience sounded as he described their travels. Hope to make it there myself in the next few years!!

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