Five Unmissable Multi Centre Countries

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What is Multi-Centre Travel?

Prior to studying tourism this year when I went back to school, I hadn’t heard the term ‘multi-centre’ either, but it is actually a pretty perfect way to sum up the way I travel.

Rather than picking a single destination and spending all of my time there, I invariably try to see and do as much as humanly possible in a country.

I mean, if I’m not sure whether or not I’ll ever be back there, it makes sense to try and find a balance between seeing as much of it as possible and doing so at a pace that allows me to appreciate what I do see.

What Makes a Multi-Centre Country?

Obviously, not every country is a great candidate for multi-centre travel. Maybe it’s a place like Kenya that is really only famous for one thing (safaris) or maybe, like Fiji or South Korea, it’s a smaller country that can be explored quite well in a small amount of time.

But there are countries out there that really do warrant an itinerary that fits in as much as possible. It’s not enough to go to the United States and only see New York, or to go to the Philippines and only see Boracay.

Disclaimer: Of course, every country can be a multi-centre country. Even a tiny place like Fiji has multiple islands worth visiting.

Below, I’ve listed five countries that I’ve travelled to that are perfect multi-centre destinations offering plenty of variety in things to do and places to see.

Five Unmissable Multi-Centre Countries

Honorable Mention – Europe

This is ‘unmissable multi-centre countries’, so obviously Europe can’t be included but the continent is arguably the original multi-centre destination.

With so many countries and cultures, there are limitless possibilities when it comes to planning a European vacation. It’s something I’ve not yet made a tilt at, but I’d love your advice!

My only European experience so far has been a very British wedding. Photo by Stephanie 'Rock & Roll McDonalds' O'Donnell.
My only European experience so far has been a very British wedding. Photo by Stephanie ‘Rock & Roll McDonalds’ O’Donnell.

#5 – China

It’s no surprise that a country as large and as ancient as China makes for an excellent multi-centre vacation. With its many historic cities and beautiful mountains spread out across the country, many Chinese itineraries include at least three or four stops.

Beijing -> Xi’an -> Shanghai

This seems to be the general route everybody takes. A visit to Beijing to check off the Imperial sites and the Great Wall, Xi’an for the Terra Cotta Warriors, and then Shanghai for whatever it is people think there is worth seeing there.

(I love Shanghai, honestly I do, but it wouldn’t even make my top ten places to visit in China).

Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan, for example, should definitely be prioritised ahead of Shanghai in my eyes.
Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan, for example, should definitely be prioritised ahead of Shanghai in my eyes.

Beyond these three obvious choices, there is so much to see that it would be impossible to do China justice in a single trip. There’s the landscapes of Yunnan that inspired Kung-Fu Panda, the distinct Xinjiang province, the tropical paradise of Hainan, the Germanic beer town of Qingdao, the pandas and forests of Sichuan, the beauty of Tibet, the stunning surrounds of Hangzhou’s West Lake…

I could wax lyrical, or I could just direct you to my previous posts on different places to visit in China.

#4 – Thailand

For a lot of travellers, Thailand begins and ends at its beaches. Whether your poison is debauched Phuket, over-hyped Koh Phi Phi, the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, or the sweeping beauty of Krabi – Thailand definitely does have it all on the beaches front.

I’m not even judging those who do just go for the beaches. Hell, that’s my plan when I’m in the country this October.

A visit to islands like Koh Phi Phi is a must on any Thai itinerary. It just shouldn't be your only stop.
A visit to islands like Koh Phi Phi is a must on any Thai itinerary. It just shouldn’t be your only stop.

But Thailand truly is a place that warrants the multi-centre approach. Sure, you can set up camp on the beach for weeks and not regret it, but you might regret missing out on the beautiful mountains of the north, the crumbling ruins of Ayutthaya, the hustle and bustle of dynamic Bangkok, or one of the myriad other places across the country that warrant exploration.

While I may not be doing justice to Thailand this time around, I certainly gave it my level best in my three weeks there in 2013 – hitting Phuket, Koh Phagan, Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai before jetting off to Cambodia.

#3 – New Zealand

New Zealand may be a small country, but if the Lord of the Rings series taught us nothing else – it’s that New Zealand is home to one of the most diverse landscapes in the world.

It’s like God had a little of ever landscape left over, so he decided to cram it into this relatively small island. In my eyes, there are few countries that can compete with New Zealand for sheer natural beauty.

The Fjordlands in New Zealand are just one of about a thousand things to see there.
The Fjordlands in New Zealand are just one of about a thousand things to see there.

What makes NZ such a perfect multi-centre destination is that you can see so much in a small time frame.

My ten-day tour in 2010 included:

Christchurch -> Queenstown -> Milford Sound -> Franz Josef Glacier -> Rotorua -> Auckland

That was missing out so many amazing landscapes and charming cities, so I guess I’m due a return tour.

#2 – Australia

I constantly have friends from abroad asking me if they can see Australia in two weeks.

In all honesty, you can’t even see all that my country of birth has to offer in two months. I’ve lived there most of my life and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

The general route for most people heading to Australia tends to be:

Queensland (Cairns) -> Sydney -> Melbourne

That’s not a bad way to get a snapshot of Australia. You’re visiting its two biggest and best cities as well as the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Great Ocean Road. That’s not a bad trip.

Standing atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge is still one of my favourite travel memories.
Standing atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge is still one of my favourite travel memories.

But you’re leaving out so, so much. I’ve written at length about the different places to visit in Australia, so I’ll leave that with you.

#1 – United States

Was there ever a country more perfectly suited to multi-centre tourism than the US of A? With its large population, fantastic infrastructure, and diversity of both landscapes and cultures, the US is a place just begging to be explored at a leisurely pace on an epic road trip. It’s such a massive country that you could do multiple US multi-centre holidays and still not see it all.

I’ve been to the US twice now for a total of three months, yet have only managed to make it to fifteen states. You can read about my favourites in the 50 State Challenge.

Contemplating the sunset from atop Sentinel Dome in Yosemite.
Contemplating the sunset from atop Sentinel Dome in Yosemite.

East Coast

West Coast

About a dozen viable cross-country routes.

And that’s just the continental US!

Next February, I’m headed to the US for The Great US Road Trip, and you best believe I’m going to be hitting as many cities, landmarks, and dive bars as humanly possible.

It’s gonna be legendary.

Your Say

What destinations would you recommend people include on a tour of your home country?

What destinations in your country do you wish people wouldn’t focus so heavily on?

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