10 Unreal Countries To Add To Your Christmas Wishlist
Christmas day is the only time of year I’d prefer to be waking up in my hometown of Portsmouth, than in one of the amazing countries I’ve visited over the years. For me, Christmas is about family, and despite the fact that I’ve chosen to spend the past 15 months away from them, and now live completely on the other side of the world, my family is massively important to me. So, it’s Christmas Eve, and I’m writing this from my apartment in Perth City, reminiscing about why I choose to live a life of travel and the unreal countries I’ve visited, instead of getting down in the dumps about being so far from home.
When I first get chatting to new friends, or catch up with old friends on FaceTime, there’s always one question that gets asked; which country has been your favourite?
It’s a tough ask. How do you compare the ancient wonders of Mexico, with the snowcapped mountain range of Nepal? My country count sits at 33 right now, with never-ending plans for it to grow. Picking a favourite is almost impossible.
Instead, I’m going to share with you my top 10 unreal countries to add to your Christmas and 2017 wishlist, in order of ‘topness’… for today anyway.
Where else can you get mouth-watering steaks and sensual tango dancers at the same time? Argentina has a captivating history, and the capital city of Buenos Aires actually feels a little London-esque, but cleaner and without the crowds.
Going wild rhino spotting is something I thought only possible in Africa. Add to this witnessing simple, self-sustaining village-life, the Annapurna mountain range, and Nepali people with such admirable resilience, despite natural disasters and political wars damaging their tourism. It’s completely humbling.
Did somebody say ice-cream? The best. Besides the food though, from riding the romantic canals of Venice, to paragliding over Lake Garda, the choice of activities in Italy is outrageous. Plus, it’s just so pretty!
Who knew Ecuador was an adrenaline junky’s paradise? Certainly not me. Endless bike rides to waterfalls, white water rafting, and swinging over cliffs. When all that is said and done, heading to Montanita and finding a nightlife that resembles Ibiza pretty much topped it off for me.
Take the food of Italy and mix it with a coastline full of remote islands and perfectly painted pastel towns, and you’ve got the recipe for a beautiful travel experience. I have never seen anywhere as spotlessly polished as the old city of Dubrovnik, simply wandering between the city walls and listening to live jazz music in courtyard bars is enough to keep you entertained for days.
You may think it’s weird that Aus only made it to number 5, considering I now live here with permanent residency status, but hear me out. Australia is packed full of every season, sight, and sensation you could possibly desire, so to live here long-term is beyond lucky. What it lacks though, is that addictive feeling of being in a land with a culture completely unlike the one you grew up in. It’s number one on my ‘countries to live in’ list of course!
Any nachos lover will fall in love with Mexico the minute they arrive. Putting the food aside though (which is difficult), it’s the Mayan ruins that feature throughout the entire country that make it really special. Plus, once you’re done with a day of touring and learning the Mayan history, white sand beaches that meet aqua blue seas offer the perfect place to relax.
Fancy some snow? Don’t worry, the south of Chile has you covered. Or perhaps you’re a sun worshipper like me, in which case you’ll need to head north to the Atacama Desert. In fact, just do both, because travelling the length of Chile is super easy and is easily doable in a few weeks. What other countries can offer such diversity?
What I love most about Bolivia, is its nationalist attitude. Ignoring outside corporations that want to throw money at Bolivia in exchange for extracting lithium from the Uyuni Salt Flats, the government and the people are set on keeping the country’s assets and culture very much internal. The indigenous culture, including the way the women dress, is still very much a part of modern day life.
OK, so I switched Cambodia and Bolivia around about four times before I decided on the final ranking of Cambodia as my current favourite country. The truth is, both of these captured a piece of my heart. The reason Cambodia just slightly leaps ahead though, is because of the completely unexpected way the its people were genuinely excited to have us there. More rural places in particular, like Battambang’ countryside, Kratie, and Koh Rong Samloen, left me feeling the most relaxed I’ve felt in years. It’s a country I’ll return to without a doubt, because there’s so much more there to discover.
So that’s that. Although, I’d also like to give a special commendation to both India and Guatemala – oh and Nicaragua.. and Singapore and Colombia. Oh let’s face it, they’re all completely worth travelling to!
How do these countries stack up against your favourite places? If you’ve spotted somewhere that’s on your bucket list, hit me up in the comments below and I’ll give you some specific recommendations!