Taking the road less travelled can be a daunting experience, but for backpackers, it’s the thrill of the unpredictable that makes the whole journey worth it. Armed with nothing but the equipment on their backs (literally), backpacking can change your whole perspective on travelling by exposing you to new and exciting sensations you wouldn’t otherwise know. If you’re interested in starting your backpacking journey, here are 10 of the best backpacking destinations all across the globe.
Thailand is one of the most popular backpacking destinations in the world. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense: the nation has a strong sense of culture, a long list of sights and sounds to experience, and a wide array of affordable accommodation options to boot. So, whether you’re choosing to explore the country’s dense forests, slather on Cetaphil sunscreen on beautiful beaches, or shop in the big city of Bangkok, the Land of Smiles is certain to have something for you.
Set against the pure white backdrop of the Himalayas’ snowy caps, Nepal is a treasure trove of experiences just waiting for the right backpacker to discover. The April 2015 earthquake that shook the region tragically destroyed many of the country’s premier monuments; however, as reconstruction efforts are underway, the money you spend as a tourist will definitely help these projects along. Plus, many other attractions are still intact, like the Annapurna Sanctuary, which offers a ten-day trek for adventurous travellers.
The most popular European backpacking destination, Spain, earned this title through its sheer diversity of locales: from minuscule mountain villages to big cities, from its southern Moorish towns to the Modernist landscapes of Barcelona, backpackers of all kinds are sure to find something they’d like. While the traditional Spanish beach vacation is reason enough to bring your sunscreen along, this sunny country offers far more than just a lazy day on the sand – if you know where to look.
Don’t let the gossip fool you – Colombia’s reputation as the “bad side of the tracks” of South America masks a warm, inviting country with kind inhabitants who are just as ready to help you as anyone else. Away from the plentiful tourists and high price points of its neighbour Ecuador, Colombia has a lot to offer for the inquiring explorer – different sights and selling points litter the region, ranging from picturesque Caribbean coastlines to vivid nightlife in the capital city of Bogota.
The Nordic beauty of Iceland makes it an attractive travel destination for anyone seeking a sense of peace on their next adventure. The natural features of this Scandinavian region will lure you in with their impossible beauty: take, for instance, the Blue Lagoon, where you can take a dip in the milky blue waves and feel your troubles melt away. Of course, it would be remiss to not mention Iceland’s crowning jewel: the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, which you can spot between October and April – if you’re lucky.
6. The Philippines
The many islands that make up the archipelago known as the Philippines offer no shortage of adventurous activities for the kind of backpacker seeking them. Those who enjoy surfing can drop by Siargao Island, whose famous Cloud 9 spot is known for generating thick, hollow tubes, perfect for any surfer seeking a thrill. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something to get the adrenaline pumping, you can head to Palawan, which offers zip-lining and shark diving for those brave enough to try them.
7. Sri Lanka
Any backpacker worth their salt would tell you of the gem that is Sri Lanka: the nation is something of a hidden gem for travellers, as visiting it hasn’t yet entered the mainstream. Of course, solitude alone isn’t reason enough to visit the country. This region offers all sorts of fun, ranging from tea plantations to sample local flavours and verdant jungles lush with wildlife. Also, gorgeous stretches of uninterrupted beach are perfect for snapping a souvenir picture on your Polaroid camera – what could be better?
Up there with Thailand in terms of popularity among backpackers, India, too, earned its popularity based on many of the same factors: the richness of its culture, the diversity of its many charms and attractions, and the affordability of local accommodation. A party-going backpacker might get their kicks from the all-night beach parties in Goa and Kerala, whereas one more interested in history and adventure may find the sweltering deserts and palaces of Rajasthan much more exciting.
A nation that sometimes seems to crackle with energy, Vietnam is the place to go for those seeking a faster beat than most. Vietnam’s history is rife with wartime stories and colonialism, colouring each city’s face with a piece of its dark past that can be pondered upon in its many preserved battlefields. If history isn’t your style and you’re instead looking to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, fret not: the gorgeous Vietnamese countryside can be accessed via the Ho Chi Minh highway.
A nation with many facets and many offerings for the particularly intrepid traveller, Peru boasts history, adventure, and wilderness in spades. The site of Machu Picchu, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, is one you can hike to, with each step bringing you closer to an Incan past rich with awe. However, if you’d rather explore the less-travelled path, you can opt to drift down the Amazon in a canoe, or perhaps venture up the Andes to snap some gorgeous pictures on your Xiaomi phone – the choice is yours.
If these 10 locations don’t tempt you into packing all your relevant belongings and booking the first flight out to adventure, nothing much will. Of course, these 10 locations only represent the most popular and talked-about backpacking destinations – this is, by no means, an exhaustive list, as there’s much more out there to discover. As long as you bring along what you need and keep an open mind throughout, you’re sure to enjoy your first backpacking experience – wherever you may land.