Top 10 Countries I Want to Visit – 2015 Edition

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Revisiting an Old Favourite

I’ve written about countries I’ve wanted to visit twice in the past: first back in 2011 and again in 2013, and with 2015 looking like a year where I largely stay put in Australia – I thought it was time to revisit the idea and get my daydream on.

Oh, you didn’t know? Newsletter subscribers and Facebook fans already know, but I’ve actually decided to stay put here in Australia for a couple of years while I complete a degree in Tourism Management through Southern Cross University. Not only does this dovetail in well with my recent decision to join the Shadows of Africa team as their Australia & New Zealand consultant, but it also means I’m a short two hour drive from my family and get to live in the beautiful city of Coffs Harbour.

With that likely to tie me up for a while now, it’s all a boy can do to dream about lengthy international trips. With that in mind, here are the top ten countries I want to visit as of January 2015.

#10 – Costa Rica

Central America is a region that really interests me, but no country more so than Costa Rica. I love jungles, I love the famous Costa Rica beaches, I love the Costa Rica weather, and I love people who speak Spanish. Sure, that might describe most countries in Central & South America, but Costa Rica also has the perk of having a slightly more developed tourist scene.

While that’s not always a plus, when it comes to places to scuba dive or try water sports, I like my countries with a safety record and a few creature comforts. Costa Rica’s dedication to eco-tourism is also a selling point.

The big selling point, though? It’s one of the countries where I could also base myself full time as an ESL teacher!

The aptly named 'Sky Blue River'. Photograph by Mike Baird.
The aptly named ‘Sky Blue River’ in Costa Rica. Photograph by Mike Baird.

#9 – Malaysia

Ever since Nomadic American (my girlfriend at the time) spent a few weeks in Malaysia before joining me in Thailand, I’ve wanted to visit this fascinating country in South East Asia. With its fusion of SE Asian and Indian cultures, Malaysia is also a place with so much diversity in its landscape that it’s like visiting multiple countries all at once.

I can’t say I’m particularly interested in Kuala Lumpur, but a visit to the Cameron Highlands and a jaunt across to George Town in Penang for the food scene certainly intrigue me. Then there’s the opportunity to explore Malaysian Borneo and experience some of the best scuba diving in the world. Nothing to be sneezed at!

#8 – Peru

It might have something to do with the yummy mummy from Raising Miro inviting me over to hang out, but Peru is quickly climbing up the ranks when it comes to countries I’d love to visit. In fact, it’s finally usurped Brazil as the highest ‘ranked’ South American country on my list!

While I’m not going to weigh in on the Chile vs. Peru debate when it comes to who invented pisco, any country with pisco sours on the menu gets an immediate vote from me. Couple this with its beaches, its cuisine, and the fact it’s home to Machu Picchu, and you’ve got a recipe for getting a little more CWB in you.

This only applies to countries. Ladies, you don’t need ancient Incan ruins…

#7 – Canada

My bucket list features quite a few ‘manly’ items I’d like to someday check off; stuff like killing and cleaning my own meal, roughing it and camping, sleeping in an igloo, learning to start a fire from scratch etc.

My good friend and former Mud Festival party companion, Crystal has invited me to come visit her someday and she’ll show me the ropes of being (wo)manly.

Roughing it in the icy north really appeals to me.
Roughing it in the icy north really appeals to me.

I’ve come achingly close to getting to Canada when I was whale watching in the San Juan islands, but have yet to pay a visit to the land of Tim Horton’s, ice hockey, and meese moose.

#6 – Italy

Ancient history was arguably my favourite class at high school, and while we didn’t get the pleasure of studying Roman history extensively, it’s always fascinated me. The opportunity to visit some of the sites that I have been reading about since I was a kid is one that fills me with a nerdy kind of excitement.

Let’s be honest though, it’s the food of Italy that puts it so high on my ‘to visit’ list. The carb addict in me knows I’d probably die from a pasta and pizza overdose, and my newfound appreciation of wine would also get a thorough workout.

#5 – Greece

With the possible exception of Egyptian history, Greek history is the stuff that I loved most growing up. The mythology behind it all (and the sheer laziness of a people believing their Gods lived up a perfectly climbable hill but never thought to check) fascinates the Dungeons & Dragons playing geek in me, and the opportunity to explore such legendary structures as the Parthenon, the Acropolis, and the many ancient temples that dot the country is one I’d love to leap on.

What history buff wouldn't want to see the Parthenon in all of its glory?
What history buff wouldn’t want to see the Parthenon in all of its glory?

There’s also the allure of the Greek coast, and is it gay that I immediately think of Mamma Mia instead of Ibiza when I contemplate a week or two chilling on Grecian beaches?

#5 – Spain

Maybe it’s that one of the coolest people I know lives in Spain with her similarly cool boyfriend and has extended an open invitation for me to go crash with them, or maybe it’s that the Spanish accent is one of the hottest going – but Spain’s really shot up the list in recent years.

As a football tragic, the opportunity to see El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona is a pretty big lure, and the country’s contribution to global cuisine – tapas – is all about a broad variety of tastes. Definitely something a foodie like myself can appreciate.

Spain’s beaches are world-class, but it’s the country’s variety of cultures and festivals that really speaks to me. Joining the tomato fight that is La Tomatina is on my bucket list and while I’ve got no desire to run with the bulls, I can certainly see the appeal in exploring the region’s long history and varied cultures.

#4 – Turkey

In the past, this place would have been reserved for a Kenya, South Africa, or Tanzania. Having had the opportunity to go on safari last year, however, I’ve temporarily sated my desire to see beautiful animals in the wild.

With that in mind, Africa’s other big draw for me is some of its history. Countries such as Egypt and Turkey are soaked in history both as their own nations and as countries conquered across history. I’ve previously down a showdown to debate whether to visit Turkey or Egypt, but Turkey wins out in this case for the below reason:

With this year marking the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Landings in World War I, Turkey has an added allure. To be able to stand on the very beach where Australian and New Zealand servicemen lost their lives in defense of Queen and Country would be a powerful way to honour their memories.

#3 – Vietnam

South East Asia has thus far never failed to impress; with The Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia all countries that have come to hold special places in my heart.

It pains me to admit that I’ve not yet made it to Vietnam, a destination that has fast risen up the ranks as a tourist hotspot in the last few decades due to its stability, its natural beauty, and the sheer diversity that exists within its borders. My bucket list has quite a few items that are specific to Vietnam (such as visiting Ha Long Bay) while others (boating up/down the Mekong) would also be achievable there just as easily as in Laos or Thailand.

Simply stunning. Vietnam's Ha Long Bay is often considered one of the many 8th Wonders of the World.
Simply stunning. Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is often considered one of the many 8th Wonders of the World.

Vietnam’s fusion of cultures – Chinese, Vietnamese, and French makes it an intriguing melting pot both culturally and from a cuisine front, and I’ll go on record as saying Vietnamese women might be among the most beautiful in the world. What’s not to love?

#2 – Japan

Technically, I’ve been to Japan before and am breaking my own rule here; I don’t believe my three day visa run to Fukuoka really counts, though. Of all of the Asian countries, Japan has fascinated me for the longest and remains one of the countries I most sorely want to visit before I hang up my passport and call it a day.

The country’s rich Imperial history as well as its reinvention as a technology capital of the world makes it a study in contrasts, and having heard it said that Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean cultures all bear similarities to one another – I know that culture shock will be less of an issue for me. Ever since seeing Lost in Translation, I’ve wanted to experience the night life in Japan and the dizzying, disorienting chaos that exists in cities such as Tokyo.

Then there’s the opportunity to sneak quiet moments of serenity in shines or parks, to pay respect to the lives lost in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the fact that Japanese video games, animations, and cinema are among the most cutting edge too. There’s plenty of reasons why Japan draws me.

#1 – Malta

I bet you didn’t see this one coming, eh? The tiny island in the Mediterranean might not be awash with tourist traps and iconic sites, but the country possesses a quiet charm that I think I’d find utterly attractive. Having seen the photos that my best friend took on his honeymoon and heard a little about the adventures that Where is Kait had while visiting, I’m all the more keen to check out what Malta has to offer.

Malta might not be on a lot of people's radars, but damned if it isn't beautiful.
Malta might not be on a lot of people’s radars, but damned if it isn’t beautiful.

My friend’s wife described the simple pleasures of good food and coffee taken overlooking the ocean, and the island’s history and natural beauty can’t be denied either. Beautiful beaches, friendly people, and a pleasant year round climate make Malta a place I’d sorely love to spend a few lazy months exploring.

Already Visited

As much as I’d love to revisit every single country I’ve already been to, I’ve excluded them from this list to keep things fresh. If you’re disappointed to see that the US, China, South Korea, Tanzania, Kenya, New Zealand, Fiji, Thailand, Cambodia, The Philippines, Japan, England, and Scotland aren’t on here – that’s why.

Facebook Says

I put it to a bit of a poll on Aussie on the Road’s Facebook page and got quite a few responses. While you’re welcome to add your own, I thought I’d collate the responses so far and see what the rest of you are saying.

  • Turkey: 6
  • Spain: 6
  • Japan: 6
  • Greece: 6
  • England: 5
  • Italy: 5
  • United States: 5
  • Canada: 5
  • Indonesia: 4
  • Thailand: 4
  • India: 4
  • Iceland: 3
  • Czech Republic: 3
  • Morocco: 3
  • Ireland: 3
  • Scotland: 3
  • Mongolia: 3
  • Norway: 3
  • China: 3
  • Egypt: 3
  • Brazil: 3
  • Tanzania: 3
  • Australia: 2
  • France: 2
  • Russia: 2
  • Argentina: 2
  • Nepal: 2
  • Cuba: 2
  • Peru: 2
  • Mexico: 2
  • Vietnam: 2
  • New Zealand: 1
  • South Africa: 1
  • The Netherlands: 1
  • Wales: 1
  • Bhutan: 1
  • Azerbaijan: 1
  • Croatia: 1
  • Benin: 1
  • Solomon Islands: 1
  • Suriname: 1
  • South Korea: 1
  • Hong Kong: 1
  • Taiwan: 1
  • Malaysia: 1
  • Slovenia: 1
  • Colombia: 1
  • French Polynesia: 1
  • Panama: 1
  • Poland
  • Ecuador: 1
  • Costa Rica: 1
  • Kenya: 1
  • Myanmar: 1
  • Palau: 1
  • Micronesia: 1
  • Montenegro: 1
  • Switzerland: 1
  • Germany: 1
  • Laos: 1
  • Nicaragua: 1
  • United Arab Emirates: 1

Your Say

What countries (ten or less or more) would you most like to visit in 2015 and beyond? Have you been to any of the countries on my wish list?

From Facebook

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