One of the great things about following travel blogs is that we get to read about destinations and experiences around the world from a personal perspective. It’s no secret that, a lot of travel writers that work in major publications, have sometimes written about places that they’ve never even been to! This results in generic pieces and descriptions that, sometimes, could even apply to such different places.
I am obviously not saying that everything sounds the same out there when it comes to travel media, but I’m more into travel blogs where I can read about someone’s opinion on a given place, without editorial restrictions and cuts.
That’s what inspired us to create this collaborative article with fellow travel and expat bloggers: we asked a bunch of our favorites to let us know why we (and YOU!) should travel to their country of origin or residence. What makes their place special, what are the highlights, some insider tips and, ultimately, why their country deserves our time and excitement.
This is obviously not a comprehensive list, but we’re hoping it will awaken your curiosity and you can always click the link to find out more about each place.
This is what our colleagues from Asia and Australasia had to say about their countries:
It is generally accepted that Kyrgyzstan is a beautiful, mountainous country, with many breathtaking lakes and preserved traditions. So, when you come to Kyrgyzstan, of course, do not miss out on those. But to me, there are 3 other reasons why you should visit my fantastic country of residence:
1. Bishkek is a soviet-time-capsule – During the soviet-era, Bishkek grew from village to metropolis. So it has probably changed a lot in the last 20 years, but not as much as other ex-soviet capitals. Kyrgyzstan is remote, its state is broke, and the Kyrgyz probably do not like when things evolve too rapidly. In Bishkek, make sure to visit the city center and the big soviet landmarks (ala-too square, the Opera, Tsum…)
2. As a woman, Kyrgyzstan feels safe – Here, you can be a woman, behave and dress like one (which, in my book includes wearing mini-skirts). To be fair, Kyrgyz men are machos, and some traditions are down-right scandalous (i.e. bride-napping). But my daily life here is very close to what it would be in Europe regarding those issues.
3. Bishkek is the place to party – There are many cheap (in western standards) and good restaurants in Bishkek. Whether you wish to eat American, French, Kyrgyz, Korean, Italian, Japanese, Turkish… you will always find a great place to get the party started. Make sure to watch the sunset from Bar 12, and from there, let the night take you to the many bars, Karaoke’s, and night clubs available. Around 3-4 o’clock, the night will still be young…
Hope you come to visit. This is the only country in Central Asia where many can enter without a visa, and the Kyrgyz will feel honored to welcome you in their incredibly beautiful country.
By Alexandra from Checking Out Landlocked Sushi
Travelers should definitely include the Philippines in their itinerary when they travel to Southeast Asia due to a variety of reasons. The Philippines has more than 7000 islands which makes my home country a paradise for people who love to snorkel, dive or just laze around the beach. The Filipino people also understand English very well and a huge portion of the population speaks English fluently.
There are so many options when it comes to food, some of the must try include “Adobo” and for the adventurous ones, don’t miss out on the “Balut”.
My favorite place in the Philippines is El Nido, Palawan. It has gorgeous white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and the people are very friendly.
If you want to see more pictures of the Philippines, get a free copy of this ebook that I made last year in collaboration with other Filipino bloggers.
By Flip from FlipNomad
Vietnam is a land of chaos and contrasts. The cities are crowded and full of energy, motorbikes and gleaming skyscrapers, yet only a few kilometres away timeless pastoral scenes play out as farmers in conical hats tend their emerald-green rice paddies (often while talking on their mobile phones).
I’ve been in the thrall of Vietnam’s craziness since I first visited in 2006. The following year I quit my job and put all my stuff in storage to immerse myself in the bustle and noise of Ho Chi Minh City. Since then this country has given me a husband, a child and an amazing crazy new life.
Vietnam is long and thin, stretching from the foot of the mist-covered Himalaya in the north to the lush steamy Mekong Delta in the south. It is a country that takes time to traverse. A trip to Vietnam should not be rushed, mainly because there is so much fabulous food to eat, including tropical fruit and crazy vegetables.
Every region of Vietnam has its own specialties and they’re all fantastic. A visit to Vietnam should include LOTS of eating – bún chả (a grilled pork and noodle dish) in the capital Hanoi, bún bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup) in the former imperial capital of Hue, mì Quảng (a pork and prawn noodle soup) in Hoi An in central Vietnam and cơm tấm sườn nướng (broken rice with barbecued pork) in the nation’s commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City. As well as the regional specialties, there’s national dishes, such as phở (noodle soup), bánh mì (Vietnamese baguettes), various types of gỏi (salad) and bò khô (beef stew).
My best Vietnam advice: come for the craziness, stay for the food.
By Barbara from The Dropout Diaries
From north to south, east to west, Australia offers an incredible diversity of scenery, culture, cuisine, climate and places to visit.
Most visitors start in Sydney with its iconic Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, great restaurants and Taronga Park Zoo where the kangaroos have the best view in town. They then head either north to Queensland’s famous Great Barrier Reef or south to Melbourne to enjoy Australia’s cultural capital, famous cafes, hidden laneways and fabulous drives into the wine areas or along the Great Ocean Road. This, however, is only touching the surface.
The island of Tasmania to the south, is beautiful to visit for its mountains, streams, fabulous fresh produce and much cooler climatic conditions.
Don’t forget to head west to my home state of Western Australia but stop on the way for a visit to that big rock in the centre of the desert, Uluru.
As well as the wine growing region of Margaret River, one of my favourite areas in WA is the Kimberleys, in the north part of the state. Start in Broome to explore this amazing area, renowned for its wilderness, its red earth, deep gorges and truly spectacular scenery. Winter is the time to visit the north and whilst you are here you shouldn’t miss visiting the Northern Territory’s fabulous Kakadu National Park for even more unbelievable scenery.
Due to the influx of migrants from Europe and Asia, the cuisine of Australia is as varied as its origins. Each major city boasts fabulous restaurants ranging from Michelin starred dining to a cute cafes and cheap Asian eats. Try it all from traditional Aboriginal grubs at Uluru, to just caught fresh seafood all along the coast. Some of my favourite restaurants are Chin Chin in Melbourne, Fratelli Paradiso in Sydney and Gordon Street Garage and Il Lido in Perth.
Spend a month if you can but a couple of weeks is better than nothing. You’ll be back!
By Jenny from A Taste of Travel
Compared to my native America, Thailand is an exotic land full of wonder! Every day is a new adventure filled with spicy food, golden temples, aquamarine beach water and smiling people. Whether you’re traveling solo, with a family or a group, you’ll love what you find in Thailand.
Urbanites will adore the colorful chaos of Bangkok. From the grungy backpacker’s hang-out Khao San Road to the cosmopolitan Vertigo Sky Bar Bangkok has it all. Those who prefer a slower pace will fall in love with Chiang Mai’s comfortable, old world beauty. If you’re like me and you can’t pass up a beach, you’re in luck! Thailand’s coasts are lined with beaches and islands such as the famous Phuket and the diver’s paradise, Koh Tao.
The Land of Smiles will also please trekkers and nature lovers. Thailand is blessed with many natural treasures such as Khao Yai National Park and Erawan Waterfalls. Foodies traveling in Thailand won’t be able to choose between night markets, gourmet restaurants, street food and cooking classes. Finally, families will delight in elephant rides and Chao Phraya River boat rides.
So, what are you waiting for?
By Karisa from My Hot Pink Passport
If you want to catch the key highlights of a trip to Singapore in one afternoon, consider a leisurely stroll around waterfront promenade of the Marina Bay – do remember to bring along an umbrella and a bottle of water as the weather here can get quite hot!
You can start with a bird’s eye view of the city atop the 150-meter tall observation wheel – the Singapore Flyer. One rotation takes about 30 minutes and cost about 30 Singapore Dollars. If you are a guest at Marina Bay Sands hotel, you can take a dip at the infinity pool which looks out over Singapore’s Central Business District. Even if you are not a guest, you can also check out the view from the Sands SkyPark.
Next, walk over to Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay – Singapore’s equivalent of Sydney’s famous Opera House, except that the spiky Singaporean version deliberately bears a striking resemblance to the durian, a tropical fruit related to the jackfruit which is notorious for its sharp odour. Opera, dance and classical concerts is offered here daily. There are usually free productions on the outdoor riverside stage on weekends.
Don’t miss out Singapore’s icon – the Merlion – a mythical creative with the head of a lion and the body of a fish.
There is something for everyone to do around Marina Bay. Arts enthusiasts can visit major international touring exhibitions from the most renowned collections in the world at the lotus-inspired ArtScience Museum while the nature lover will definitely enjoy the Gardens by the Bay. Gardens by the Bay consists of three waterfront gardens with two domed conservatories that houses flora and fauna from different parts of the world. Also check out the giant artificial trees (also known as Supertrees) that glow in the night time.
If you are tired from all the walking around Marina Bay, hop onto a river taxi for an alternative way to take in the magnificent sights around the Bay.
By Zhiqiang from Passport Chop
Cambodia has a subtle charm that somehow creeps up on you, which is largely due to the friendliness of the Cambodian people. Cambodians enjoy passing the time of day and telling others about this country and its history.
Phnom Penh has plenty to keep you occupied, whether it’s finding a bargain in the markets, immersing yourself in Khmer history at the National museum or, watching the world go by with happy hour cocktail at the infamous FCC. At sunset, join the locals for a walk along the riverside and, if you’re feeling energetic, join an outdoor aerobics class – the cheapest you’ll find anywhere.
My favorite day trip from the capital is Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary. Most of the creatures here have been saved from poachers and NGOs are working hard to make sure the animals are well cared for. The rambling layout of the zoo makes it an adventure in itself.
If you want to get a real taste of Cambodia, head for Battambang. In the heart of Cambodia’s rice paddies, Battambang has retained it’s colonial charm. Visit the old train station, where time seems to have stood still. And then visit the ‘other’ railway, the Bamboo Train – kind of like a roller coaster, without the dips and bends, and a great way to get a glimpse of the rice paddies. In the evening, head out to the bat cave to see their spectacular evening exodus.
If you want to chill out, head to Koh Rong Samloem. Here you can unwind and escape from the bustle and the touts. Doze in a hammock, explore the sandy beaches or cool off and go for a snorkel. If you get tired of relaxing, hike through the jungle to the old lighthouse and check out the stunning views (but make sure you take lots of water).
By Annie from Top of the Phnom
Raja Ampat: The Jewel of Indonesia
Raja Ampat is located in the western tip of Papua island and is one of the most picturesque and beautiful spots in Indonesia as well as offering world class diving. From climbs that offer jaw dropping views, to the chance to swim with basking sharks and even reef and hammerhead sharks this place has it all.
If I had to give advice on one thing that you should do while your in Raja Ampat, it would be to climb to the top of the highest peak on Wayag Island. As you can see from the photo, the panoramic view you get from the top of the turquoise waters and emerald green islands is something that will stay with you for a lifetime.
The view that you get from the top of Wayag is equaled by the underwater wonderland that you can explore below the waves. Surrounding the thousands of islands that make up Raja Ampat you will find unspoiled coral reefs, where thousands of fishes live in a thriving underwater ecosystem.
Accommodation in Raja Ampat is easy to find and ranges from basic budget home stays all the way through to five star luxury resorts. With so much on offer it is easy to find something that would work for you. There are also plenty of backpacker tour operators that offer unique and personalised tours.
By Firsta from Discover Your Indonesia
If you could take off right now to any of these places…
Where would you go and why?!
For further travel inspiration, read:
- Travel to my Country 2/4: Africa & The Middle East
- Travel to my Country 3/4: The Americas & Caribbean
- Travel to my Country 4/4: Europe