Top 10 Countries I Want to Visit – 2013 Edition

By Aussie on the Road on  13 Comments
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It’s hard to believe that in the two years since I first put together my Top 10 Places I Want to Visit, I’ve only managed to hit a single one of them (Thailand). In my defense, I was not on the road at all for most of 2011 – and 2012 saw me taking in the United States for a second time and seeing more of China than I ever expected (or necessarily wanted).

Still, it was interesting to read back over the list and realize that there are some on there now that I don’t have the same burning desire to visit anymore. On the flip side, there are those that I still want to see desperately.

So, with my return to Australia just weeks away and my feet itchier than they’ve been in a long time, I thought I’d readdress the list.

Honourable Mentions

Those just missing the cut would be the Netherlands, Turkey, Romania, Russia, Peru, Germany, Vietnam, Cuba, and North Korea. Hell, you could pretty much open up an atlas and point to any country not named the United States, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Thailand, or Cambodia (the places I’ve been but would totally go to again).

But there must be a list…

joker here we go

#10 – Croatia

Cheap, beautiful, and laden with stunning architecture – Croatia remains something of a hidden gem when it comes to European tourism. But word of the stunning former Yugoslavian territory is spreading fast, and the awesomeness of Game of Thrones using a number of Croatian locations to represent places such as King’s Landing and Qarth is only further emphasizing the place’s appeal.

Croatian architecture
Croatia just screams ‘medieval city’, doesn’t it? Photo by Sandro Mancuso.

For me, it’s all about natural beauty – and Croatia has that in spades. Crystal clear waters, national parks, and stunning gothic architecture? Yes, please.

#9 – Canada

The Great White North was the subject of a recent article about why you should visit Canada and that one only touched on the surface of Canada’s appeal. Its many national parks are a real lure for me, but it’s the opportunity to see the northern lights and experience Arctic terrain that really draw me to the country.

Add to that the sheer number of good friends I have in Canada and the nation’s reputation for being safe and friendly and you’ve got the recipe for the kind of place CWB would love to go. Not needing to learn another language is a plus too.

#8 – Iceland

Another Game of Thrones inclusion, the land beyond The Wall is overflowing with natural beauty that’ll moiston even the driest pair of man-panties. Glaciers? Check. Waterfalls? Check. Geysers? Check. It’s like New Zealand in Europe, and with a whole lot more history to add to the bargain.

Glaciers and geysers and tundra, oh my! Photo by bsmethers

There’s also more famed locations such as the Blue Lagoon Spa and the hip & happening city of Reykjavik – although 170,000 people might not constitute a city to some.

#7 – Great Britain

After writing a string of articles on Great Britain, the country has rocketed up in my estimations. While my previous perception of the place was perhaps tainted by the dire weather and the fact ‘whinging’ and ‘Englishman’ go hand in hand in the Aussie vernacular, I’ve lately become increasingly aware of the appeal of the seat of the Commonwealth.

A D&D, World of WarCraft, and Magic the Gathering playing geek such as myself is bound to have an appreciation for castles, dark forests, foggy highlands, and cobblestone streets. Then there’s the presence of the English Premier League (and English Super League for the rugby league nut in me), the appeal of exploring London, the beauty of the Lakes District, the quirky cultural differences between the four members of Great Britain, and about a thousand other things.

I’m lucky enough to have been asked to be groomsman at the wedding of one of my best friends next year, so I’ll finally get the chance to experience the UK while also getting to proudly watch an old friend walk down the aisle. Double whammy of awesomeness!

#6 – Japan

I recently wrote about my first impressions of Japan, but my three day visit to Fukuoka hardly did justice to the ancient and culturally diverse country that is Japan. Looking past the 20th century atrocities that have stained Japan’s reputation is a country where its ancient history has somehow adapted superbly with 21st century technology to create this dizzying and charming country.

mount fuji
Mount Fuji might be the most recognizable mountain the world. Photo by matsunuma

Cosplay girls, video games, high tech gadgets, and the serenity of ancient sites and natural wonders? It’s enough to give me multiple nerdgasms. There’s also the chance to add Hiroshima to my dark tourism list (currently made up of Nanjing’s Massacre Memorial and the Cambodian double of Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields), dine on some of my favourite cusine, and finally make use of the year eight course in Japanese I was forced to take.

#5 – Egypt

What world traveler doesn’t want to someday experience the ancient wonder of the Pyramids, the Sphinx, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings in person? I daresay most of us can remember looking at photos as kids and wanting to someday see them for ourselves.

I’ve written about things to do in Egypt in the past, so I won’t rehash it all here. Suffice to say, I won’t consider my travels complete until I’ve been to Egypt.

#4 – Brazil

While it’s looking increasingly less likely that my beloved Socceroos will be gracing Rio for the 2014 World Cup, the appeal of someday visiting Brazil has not been at all lessened for me. The Amazon and Iguazu Falls check the ‘natural beauty’ box, but let’s face it – Brazil’s biggest lures are beaches and beautiful women. Oh, and churassco is pretty fucking amazing as well. To someday experience the Carnivale and add ‘South American girl’ to my continental list of sexual conquests (leaving Asia – the place I’ve been the longest) would be pretty rad if you ask me.

Brazilian Women
Brazilian girls. Don’t mind if I do… Photo by sabrebiade

#3 – Italy

The highest placed European nation on my list slips back two places to occupy third, but Italy is still very much in my sights. There’s a whole bunch of Roman empire history, the presence of the Vatican (technically its own country), the natural beauty, and a whole bunch of other stuff – but Italy’s real draw for me? The food.

If I ever do make it to Italy, it’ll be at the end of a six month long diet. I’ll need to be at my slimmest so that I don’t come out looking like a sweaty mafioso type.

#2 – South Africa

I was lucky enough to have a lengthy chat with a South African native during my recent visit to Thailand, and if South Africa hadn’t already been on my list before the chat – it definitely would have been afterwards. While there are the obvious safety concerns in certain regions, I’d chance it for an opportunity to see some of my favourite animals in the wild. South Africa’s national parks and beaches are a real draw, and I’m lucky enough to have a handful of friends (and an ex) in the country to crash on the couches of.

South Africa sunset
It’s The Lion King in real life. What’s not to like? Photo by SomewhereOutside.

South Africa also has something of a friendly rivalry with Australia through the cricket and the rugby and, let’s be honest, that Afrikaans accent does it for me every time.

#1 – India

And your new #1 is India. Recent controversies aside, there’s just so much to see in India that it will take a big chunk of time to do it justice. From the beaches of Goa to the dizzying heights of Darjeeling and from the crowded slums to the desert majesty of Rajasthan – India offers so many destinations that you’re taking multiple trips whenever you visit.

Indian food has long been a big favourite of mine, the Taj Mahal is on my bucket list, and I’ve heard nothing but good things from friends who have traveled the subcontinent. And the cricket fan in me would absolutely love to attend a match and see what true cricketing passion is all about.

What’s your list?

There’s my new and up to date top ten, but what is yours? Did I leave any of that surprise you? Or are any of my inclusions a little strange in your eyes?

What continent gets the most votes for you? Europe comes in at first with a healthy four spots on my list, so I’m glad sites like Go With Oh are around to help me find cheap accommodation across the continent.

I’d love to hear what places butter your biscuit!

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