“What’s your most favorite place you’ve been to?” Ah, the number one question travelers get asked, yet it’s one of the hardest ones to answer, and for good reason. Any person you ask will give you a different response because they all faced different experiences on their journey. A bad hostel, an amazing tour, a terrible meal resulting in food poisoning, amazing friends you made it, the weather and more – are all factors that can make or break your trip in any particular place. As you travel, your list of favorite places will grow. It’s impossible for me to choose just one favorite spot! Below are my top 10 destinations in the world to visit:
10. Seoul, Korea
My favorite place was visiting the dog café in the Myeongdong area! (And yes, they have a cat café as well). If you’re looking for a city filled with pockets of shops and restaurants, Seoul is your go-to place. This fairly modern city doesn’t have the heavy hustle and bustle feel you’d expect. Its extensive metro/subway makes it easy to navigate and get around. The lively and vibrant nightlife ranges from fun karaoke bars to hip-hop clubs. There are also grand palaces to explore, plenty of skin care and beauty shops, street food, and desserts to keep you occupied.
9. Munich, Germany
Efficient and beautiful. What a strange and weird way to describe a city, right? Never have I been to a city where the metro train arrives on time to the tee and where I have bought a regional train ticket with customer service in less than 15 seconds. The city is rich in charm and beauty with its blend of baroque and Italian influenced architecture and grey-stoned city center. In addition, English is widely spoken there, so there’s no need to play pantomime in order to get your point across to someone.
8. Mexico City, Mexico
When people think of Mexico, poverty and crime may come to mind. However, Mexico City proved to be the very opposite: it’s a place filled with culture, art, and plenty of history which surprised me. This European-esque city was heavily influenced by Spain in the 1500s and holds artwork from various European countries. You can visit the many museums or see old ruins that were discovered by the Aztecs hundreds of years ago. The metro is quite extensive for this populated city, or you can Uber around for trips as low as $3-$5 USD. It’s a cheap and affordable place to stretch your money. There were street snacks such as elote and tacos as well as hip areas serving smoothies and wheatgrass shots that made me think I was in LA!
7. Chicago, Illinois, USA
Chicago is my favorite U.S city hands-down – make sure to visit in the spring or fall though. If it wasn’t for the brutal weather, I’d probably be living there right now! Known as the windy city, Chicago can be marked for it’s amazing food and great architecture (highly recommend going on a tour for that)! It has super friendly locals, giving it a down-to-earth vibe, and holds year rounds festivals and events you can check out as well. There are ethnic pockets and communities sprinkled around so you can satisfy your food cravings in this culinary city. You can also take a relaxing stroll along the Navy Pier by the water and people-watch.
6. Florence, Italy
When I think of Italy, I think of Florence. The city in Italy’s Tuscany region has a small-town renaissance feel to it that also comes off as rustic and charming. There are plenty of museums to visit and plazas where you can enjoy an espresso. You can check out the vendors that line the Ponte Vecchio medieval stone bridge. I indulged in plenty of carbs and gelato there, but I’m sure I burned it off from the walk up to the top of the Duomo Cathedral!
5. Boracay, Philippines
Ah, Boracay. I’ve been to many beaches in Asia, but Boracay was my favorite. If you’re looking to just relax on white, soft sand beaches surrounded by clear blue water, that is your place to be. And it’s super cheap there as well. The happy locals are friendly, laid-back, and speak English pretty well. You can go on a sailboat trip, paddle board, get massages, play beach volleyball with the locals, and eat and drink by the water, while fire performers entertain you all night.
4. Chiang Mai, Thailand
As with most South East Asian countries, Chiang Mai is another budget friendly place. The city feels more like a large town. Most things are within walking distance or a short songthaew ride. Unlike chaotic Bangkok, Chiang Mai is more on the calmer side but has plenty of things to do (cooking class and the cabaret lady boy show where my favorites)! The nightlife is fun and don’t forget to check out the huge weekly Sunday night market – filled with arts, crafts, clothes, other knickknacks, and food, food, and more food! Beware: Please do not go on an elephant tour, which are widely promoted in Thailand.
3 & 2. Prague, Czech Republic/Budapest, Hungary
I remembered stepping out into the city of Prague and Budapest thinking “I definitely feel like I’m in Europe here.” Why did I combine these two cities on this list? Well, to be honest – they are really similar for me. Quaint and cozy would be the best words to describe them. They both have an old-world charm feel to them; however, Budapest is like a larger sister version of Prague. Both cities are split by a river – with one side being filled with castles and the historic stuff and the other side being filled with places to eat, bars, and nightlife. Most travelers that I met on the road raved about both Prague and Budapest. Many people visit Western Europe, but Prague, Budapest, and Eastern European places are often overlooked. Not only is it much more affordable, but they are also listed as one of the best places to visit here, here, here, and here. Also, if you have time and don’t mind dipping yourself in hot and cold water, check out the Turkish baths in Budapest!
1. Melbourne, Australia
I fell in love with Melbourne, so it’s no surprise that it made the list! Hip, trendy, filled with funky hipster cafés (the locals take their coffee seriously) and the ever-changing graffiti art sprayed in alleyways throughout the business district center. Melbourne just encaptures it all. This down to earth, cultural, and diverse city is filled with friendly and laid-back locals as well as many travelers staying there on a work holiday visa. It’s repeatedly listed as the #1 most livable city in the world as well as why locals are proud to hail from Melbourne. This city, well known for its weather “having four seasons in one day”, allows easy access to the mountains for hiking, small beaches to enjoy, and wineries. The culinary foodie & coffee scene there is big, and there is usually a festival or event happening every season. Even though it is pricy to travel there or anywhere throughout Australia, it’s a great place to work and live.
So there you have it! My top 10 places that I (and many travelers I met on the road) highly recommend! For cities that weren’t listed, it doesn’t mean they were terrible places that you shouldn’t visit. Each person, including you, will have a different experience, so don’t let any list hold you back from traveling to a place you’ve been wanting to see!
Note: I haven’t gone to Latin America/Africa/Middle East yet which is why you don’t see any of their cities listed here. Once I do visit them, I’m sure this list will change!
What are your favorite places on your travels that you would recommend people to explore and why?