Is it June already?
It seems like not so long ago that I was ringing in the New Year with my brothers and a few friends at a Glen Innes house party.
Seems like only yesterday I was nervously sitting in my San Francisco hostel ahead of the five week Great US Road Trip.
Not that long ago I was headed off to Singapore to give the place a second chance.
Yet here I sit, six months into the year, in my tiny Nanjing apartment preparing for what looks to be a busy second half to 2016.
While much of that seems to be set in stone now, such as my upcoming trips to Taiwan, South Korea, and Tanzania, a boy can dream, right?
What follows isn’t likely to teach you much. Consider it a bit of self-involved masturbation on my part.
You’re welcome to watch.
Top 10 Countries I Want to Visit in 2016 – 2016 Edition
If you’re bored beyond mortal comprehension, you can read the previous editions below:
- Top 10 Countries I Want to Visit: 2010 Edition
- Top 10 Countries I Want to Visit: 2013 Edition
- Top 10 Countries I Want to Visit: 2015 Edition
Enough hindsight! On with the show!
#10 – Spain
It seems like a lot of my friends are currently tackling the Camino de Santiago, and I’m not going to lie: it’s inspired me to want to take on the iconic pilgrimage for myself.
While the walk has a great many routes covering a number of countries (and even another continent), the ultimate goal is Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.
It may not look it when you first see me, but I absolutely love to walk, and my favourite way to see a city/country is to wander it on foot with a tune in one ear and my eyes soaking it all in. Whether it’s a walk between villages back in Australia or wandering my neighbourhood here in China, I just love to take in a place at a slow pace and with the freedom to stop and start as I please.
So, Spain makes the list by virtue of my desire to take the walk that ultimately ends there, but it’s not its only reason for inclusion. Spanish food, Spanish women, and the country’s legendary festivals all make it one I’m dying to get to.
#9 – Malaysia
Malaysian food has been something I’ve developed a massive affinity for as I’ve travelled across Asia. With Malaysian inspired curries and dishes being such a staple in both Indonesian and Singaporean cuisine, I’ve begun to slowly fall in love with Malaysia from afar.
The opportunity to eat my way around the country isn’t its only appeal. The colonial architecture, the opportunity to explore Malaysian Borneo, and the world-class scuba diving to be found off the coast are all huge checks in the pros column for Malaysia.
#8 – Taiwan
The only one on this list that I am guaranteed to visit in the foreseeable future, its inclusion is also likely to irritate Chinese readers who cling to the very,very, very wrong notion that Taiwan is part of their China.
I’m headed to the other China early next month to spend two weeks exploring its national parks, cities, and historic sites and I cannot wait. I’ve heard such good things about Kenting Beach, Taroko Gorge, Taipei, Kaohsiung, and even little Jiufen – the village that inspired one of my favourite movies, Spirited Away.
I’ll talk more about my upcoming Taiwan trip soon, but suffice to say – I’m f***ing excited!
#7 – Cuba
While I’m not on the ‘see it before tourism ruins it’ bandwagon, I do want to see Cuba while it is still largely free of the trappings of tourism success: fast food joints, plastic luxury accommodations, and crowds of obnoxious tourists.
I’ve had a lot of friends visit the colourful, beautiful nation in recent months as it opens itself up to international tourism a bit more. It seems like nobody was going there until the US embargo was lifted, which seems odd given it was always an option for most of us.
Either way, I’d love to check out Cuba and then bounce to a few of the other beautiful island nations nearby.
#6 – Ethiopia
This year’s sole African entrant is a potential stop on my November trip to Africa, and I’m really excited to see a different side of Africa.
I’ll never get tired of going on safaris and exploring countries such as Uganda and Tanzania, but Ethiopia’s rich history and unique landscapes make it unlike anything I’ve seen so far in my travels.
As a lapsed Christian, I’m also excited to see some of its ancient churches and monuments.
#5 – Italy
Where do I even start with Italy? The food? The history? The culture? The beautiful landscapes? The wine?
Shit, let’s just say I want to have my way with Italy over several months and leave it at that.
#4 – Vietnam
My good friend Byron from Byron & His Backpacks recently relocated to Vietnam to renew his love affair with teaching in Asia, and it’s given me added motivation to visit this popular Southeast Asian destination and experience it for myself.
His recent posts about how cheap, delicious, and amazing his life is have done Vietnam’s chances no harm, and I was already pretty keen to relax on its beaches, cruise the Mekong, and bike my way up and down the whole place.
Now I just need to develop an affection for this pho nonsense everybody seems to like.
#3 – Mongolia
There’s been a lot of buzz about Mongolia this year from my travelling friends, and it seems high time that I make up for choosing laying on the beach in Jejudo over visiting the vast grasslands of Mongolia back in 2010.
After I had the pleasure of sleeping under the stars in Namibia, I’ve had a hankering to go someplace else with wide open spaces and clear skies. While the Mongolian capital often rivals Beijing in the fight to have the worst air, Mongolia’s a vast country with plenty of wilder areas still begging to be explored.
Maybe a visa run to Mongolia is on the cards for ol’ CWB?
#2 – India
I’ve called the world’s most popular country home, but I’ve yet to set foot into the world’s second most populous nation.
India conjures up so many images for me when I hear the name: brightly coloured clothing and festivals, serene temples, towering mountains, dusty deserts, exotic wildlife, bustling markets, crowded cricket stadiums, delicious food…
It’s something of a crime that I’ve basically lived in Asia since 2008 and still haven’t made it to India, but I justify it by saying I’d like to take my time getting to know India. After some friends have had less than stellar first impressions and been told to be patient with it, I want to take it slow and fall in love like so many others have.
#1 – Japan
I’ve technically been to Japan already, but my four day visa run in 2009 just didn’t do justice to the country that somehow blends its ancient aesthetic with its modern, dynamic society almost flawlessly.
Even my four days in Fukuoka opened my eyes to the pleasing juxtaposition of ancient shrines and towering skyscrapers, and I barely scratched the surface of what the East Asian powerhouse has to offer.
From seeing the cherry blossoms in bloom to taking in Mt. Fuji to having my own Lost in Translation moment in Tokyo to visiting shrines and solemn sites to late night karaoke and sashimi to being dazzled by the lights and crowds, experiencing Japan for myself remains at the very pinnacle of my to do list.
Countries I’ve visited enough to consider them visited aren’t included on the list. If your favourite isn’t in the above, it could be that I’ve already been there:
Australia, South Korea, China, New Zealand, Fiji, United States, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Tanzania, Singapore, Uganda, Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda, United Arab Emirates, England, and Scotland.
JustFly, through their JustFly Review service, have compiled this year’s top destinations so far as:
- The United Kingdom: London;
- The United States: New York and Los Angeles;
- Mexico: Mexico City;
- The Philippines: Manilla.
No real surprises there, although it’s always good to see one of my favourite countries (the Philippines) getting a little bit of love.
I asked on Facebook for my readers to suggest their favourites and have listed them below for your reading pleasure. What are your countries you’re most dying to visit?
- Greece: 7
- Scotland: 7
- Italy: 6
- Ireland: 5
- Japan: 5
- Russia: 5
- China: 4
- Iran: 4
- Mongolia: 4
- Morocco: 4
- United States: 4
- Canada: 3
- Cuba: 3
- England: 3
- Germany: 3
- Iceland: 3
- New Zealand: 3
- Norway: 3
- Spain: 3
- Turkey: 3
- Argentina: 2
- Brazil: 2
- Croatia: 2
- Greenland: 2
- Malta: 2
- Netherlands: 2
- Peru: 2
- Philippines: 2
- Sweden: 2
- United Arab Emirates: 2
- Wales: 2
- Australia: 1
- Azerbaijan: 1
- Bangladesh: 1
- Belize: 1
- Bhutan: 1
- Botswana: 1
- Cambodia: 1
- Costa Rica: 1
- Denmark: 1
- Dominican Republic: 1
- Egypt: 1
- Estonia: 1
- Ethiopia: 1
- Fiji: 1
- Finland: 1
- Honduras: 1
- Indonesia: 1
- Jordan: 1
- Kazakhstan: 1
- Kyrgyzstan: 1
- Latvia: 1
- Malaysia: 1
- Mauritius: 1
- Myanmar: 1
- Oman: 1
- Poland: 1
- Portugal: 1
- Romania: 1
- Saudi Arabia: 1
- Singapore: 1
- Slovenia: 1
- Sri Lanka: 1
- Tahiti: 1
- Taiwan: 1
- Tajikistan: 1
- Tanzania: 1
- Thailand: 1
- Ukraine: 1
- Uzbekistan: 1
What are the ten countries you’d most like to visit?