What is the best country to travel? What is the best country for food? Where can you find the best beaches in the world? Which was the worst country to travel? What is the cheapest country to travel and which is the most expensive one?
Visit every country in the world
Questions I am dealing with on a daily basis, however it never gets really boring to talk about it. I could seriously talk about travelling for hours and hours. I have been to quite some countries and most countries more than once. Sometimes I get the feeling that people think I am on a quest to visit as many countries as possible and that I am just ticking off countries. Yes, I admit I did it twice! Brunei and San Marino are the two countries I passed through to say: ‘been there, done that’. But I bet there are some people out there that don’t even know where to find these countries on a map anyway, so I think it’s not such an issue. But what if I tell you that I have been to Thailand 11 times, 8 times to the UAE or 3 times in Peru? That wouldn’t make sense if I would be on a quest to tick off countries.
I am super happy to be born and raised in Europe. Crossing borders is normal for me since I have been a kid. In Europe we sometimes forget that for most people in the world it is not such a common thing. I grew up 1km from the German border and about 10km from the Belgium border. So in the next list I will only mention destinations outside of Europe and I will not mention those numerous times I ate sushi with my friends in Germany.
*note: this article is written in the beginning of 2016, I will come up with a new article at the end of 2017.
My top 7 most visited countries outside of Europe:
Even I think it is incredible that soon I will enter Thailand for the 12th time. Bangkok is a great travel hub so every time I started or ended a trip in Asia I hit Bangkok. On top of that I have been travelling around the country 5 times and believe it or not I never made it to the North. I guess island hopping in the South is my thing and I have been several times to most of the well-known islands. I visited the Full Moon party in Koh Phangan 4 times, I did my PADI divemaster training in Koh Tao and lived there for 4 months, partied hard in Koh Phi Phi and Phuket a couple times and travelled around in the Krabi Province twice as well. I have probably seen all the standard islands in Thailand and created the best Thailand island hopping itinerary for you with tips how to travel and how long you need to make the best of your trip.
Can you find the best beaches in Thailand? No I don’t think so! There are many pristine beaches around but most of them are overcrowded nowadays. Many young people still see Thailand as the best country for first time travelling overseas. I totally understand them as travelling is made easy, prices are very reasonable and you will meet plenty likeminded travellers on the road. I always say: ‘Thailand is always a good idea!’
For my favorite beach in Thailand take a look at this article: best beach in Krabi.
Bangkok is the most visited city outside of Europe for me (read about my fun things to do in Bangkok). It is a great hub for travellers and if you know where to go life is really cheap. What I love most is the big contrast between luxury and simplicity. Street food and I are best friends for sure as we find each other every day, but I love to hang out in fancy sky bars too. I am not saying it is the best country for food, but yes I do love Thai food and its fresh fruits. Bangkok is vibrant and only very few areas are boring. There were times I woke up, got out, walked around the city, had breakfast lunch and dinner on the streets and at the end of the day I walked back in. People asked me: ‘what did you do today?’. I replied: ‘not that much really, just walked around all day’. But that is Bangkok; everywhere there is something to see or to do!
Wherever you go in Thailand, the food, the people and the beautiful landscape will amaze you. I have been now so many times that I start missing Thailand when I am not there. I made a list of the 18 things I miss about Thailand.
2. United Arabic Emirates
In the last couple years I have been multiple times to the UAE and then mostly Dubai. This will be surprising to a lot of people as most travellers go there once just for the experience. I am really lucky that my lovely cousin is living there with her amazing husband. They always welcome me with open arms in their fabulous mansion. Living in Dubai is one thing, but living on Palm Jumeirah is even cooler. Where they first always received me in their penthouse in the Fairmont Hotel, they now moved to a villa on one of the most exclusive Fronds. Enjoying a bonfire on the beach in the evening overlooking the majestic skyline of the Dubai Marina is priceless. Everytime I go I am super thankful to be there and to hang out with them. Whether we kayak around Palm Jumeirah, go on a Dubai Desert Safari or play tennis in the Marina, life in Dubai with my family is never boring! Sometimes I take a trip to Abu Dhabi too and if there is one building in the world that impressed me the most than it is not the Taj Mahal but the Sheik Zayed Mosque. In one of my first articles ever I compared Dubai vs. Abu Dhabi.
On top of that I made loads of friends over the years and I even celebrated New Years Eve 2015/2016 with one of my friends who hosted me for a couple nights in their apartment in the Marina. Dubai is full of wonderful people that all have a story to tell how they ended up in the sandpit.
3. United States
Although I have been to the States 6 times it does not feel I have been travelling around. My visits were mainly just city trips. This is how I ended up in Miami three times, Vegas and New York twice and no to forget Houston where another family member is living. Family all over the world and yes here I have been received with open arms as well.
The only time I have really been travelling around was in a state far from the mainland. May be one of the most unique places on earth I have seen, Hawaii definitely stands out! As I have seen a lot of incredible destinations in all continents I am not impressed that quickly anymore, though Hawaii blew me away. The fantastic coastline combined with unbelievable lush mountains makes it a truly unique place on earth. Is it the best place on earth? I think that’s hard to say, but one thing for sure, it is damn expensive. After 5 days exploring Oahu in my car I decided I had to fly back to the mainland as I was spending way too much money! Was it worth? Hell yes!
I think the USA is highly underestimated with travellers and only a few travellers I meet go to North America to travel around the country. Just like me most people opt for city trips rather than exploring the country by themselves. To me it is clear that the country has a lot to offer. With so many National Parks, snowcapped mountains, lakes, deserts and beaches is the perfect country for a great roadtrip. I have always told one of my best friends that it is topping my bucketlist. Yes it might not be the cheapest country I totally agree but what if you buy a van and go camping, prepare your own food, etc. Americans are extremely inviting and you will be amazed by their hospitality, especially if you are doing something they all wish to do: travel their own country!
Although I have been to Malaysia 6 times I still have a lot to tick off from my Malaysian bucketlist. Kuala Lumpur is a great travel hub as there are numerous cheap flights from the low-budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Air Asia, the Asian Ryanair, operates from Kuala Lumpur and literally flies to every country in East Asia for very competitive prices. I have been using it in the past, which made me come to Kuala Lumpur a couple times. During my first visit in 2009 I travelled around on the mainland. Places like Tioman Island in the east and Perhentian Islands in the north cannot be missed. Malacca or Cameron Highlands are nice trips to escape the hustle and bustle in the capital and one of the cheapest Formula 1 races in the world can also be found in Malaysia. In 2009 I paid exactly $10 to get this fantastic experience. Still on my to do list for the mainland is hiking in Taman Negara National Park and a visit to Langkawi.
In 2013 I enjoyed a big adventure on the Malaysian side of Borneo. In Sabah I saw swimming elephants, interacted with Orangutans, enjoyed stunning beaches and did some island hopping in the Celebes Sea and discovered the underwater world on loads of scuba dives. My secret tip for Malaysia: go island hopping in the Celebes Sea!
It is not a secret that I love South America and I often blame Asia for being so cheap that I have to name it as my favorite continent. When people ask me what is the best country you have been I include Argentina on the list. It is hard to say what is the best thing to do in Argentina, as there are so many activities that will blow your mind. Hiking in Patagonia is definitely among the highlights in South America, but so is Iguacu Falls in the Northeast of Argentina. With Buenos Aires being one of the best cities in South America, the fantastic wine region around Mendoza and Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas, I can go on with cool things to do in Argentina. Oh did I mention Perito Moreno? The majestic glacier that surely is a must do in Argentina! All of these highlights I explored at least twice and I collected 18 Argentinian stamps in my passport. In fact I visited Argentina 9 times, but that has more to do with my itineraries since I crossed the border with Uruguay and Chile multiple times. I made two big trips around the country, my first one in 2008 and 5 years later I spend another month in this beautiful country. As I always wanted to live in Buenos Aires I rented an apartment for two weeks in 2014, to get to know this city a little more. I love the midnight dining ritual and of course the amazing ‘asado’. Being a vegetarian in Argentina is a pity since their beef is rated as world class.
On my big trips through South America I couldn’t resist the beauty of Peru. The incredible landscapes, world wonder Machu Picchu and ancient Cusco are some highlights of Peru that cannot be missed. I travelled around twice, both times entering the country at Lake Titicaca in the South. Island hopping is a must do in Puno where you can find people living on floating islands. Actually a pretty touristy sight, but worth a go. One of the better things to do in Puno is to hop over and stay at Taquile island for a night. Also don’t forget to visit the white colonial city Arequipa with its fantastic Plaza de Armas.
Nearby Colca Canyon is for the adventurous traveller. Hiking Colca Canyon, is hiking in worlds deepest canyon. Cusco has a lot to offer and to me it’s may be the best cities in South America. The old capital of the Inca’s is obviously the hub to reach Machu Picchu. Undeniable on your trip through Peru, but take your time for Cusco itself. The cobbled stoned colonial streets full of charming restaurants and cozy coffee places will make you want to stay longer than intended.
Go surfing in laid-back Mancora, go bird watching in Paracas and skip the Nazca lines. To me this was one of the most disappointing things to do in Peru. Lima can be intimidating and it is not often that travellers rave about this city. I was fortunate to meet up with some friends in 2014 and stayed for about 2 weeks in the Miraflores area. Once you get to know the city a little better you will find out that it is not just another big city. My best travel tip for Lima is to go out in Barranco. This bohemian district is the place to go out in Lima and home to many Peruvian leading artists, musicians, designers and photographers. Have some tapas and beers in this old romantic neighborhood and listen to great live Latin music, I totally loved it.
Since the World Cup 2014 Brazil will always be in my heart. It was my third time in this massive country and this time I seriously fell in love. My first two times I had only been to Rio, Sao Paulo and Iguaçu. Beautiful places but they never really made me fall in love with the country. When I returned in 2014 everything changed! May be it was because Holland won the bronze medal but that was not the only thing I loved. It was the people, their believes and the way they approach live. Completely in line with my point of view: you only live once, and what’s tomorrow is not important right now! How can you not love this country? No matter where in Brazil I travelled everyone spoke Portuguese to me and they were all mistaken me for a Brazilian. It is a great feeling if you are considered one of them, I can’t really describe it! Communicating can be pretty hard as locals hardly speak English, but I am fortunate to speak some decent Spanish and with some Portoñol you get a long way.
Even a city like Sao Paulo, which is not a favorite at all with most travellers, was a great experience. It might not be the best city for sightseeing but when it comes to going out for dinner, drinks or partying hard in clubs you are spoiled for choice here. I think it speaks for itself that I don’t need to say anything about Rio de Janeiro. Furthermore I had a great time in Porto Alegre in the South and Fortaleza in the North. Brazil is such a huge country and I am eager to learn Portuguese some day and travel around Brazil again. On my bucketlist are the following: exploring the islands Fernando de Noronha and Ihla Grande, touring through the Amazon and partying hard in Florianopolis.
Heading to Fortaleza? Go to the sleepy town of Cumbuco.
More countries that I have been visiting more than once and have been blogging about:
Turkey - Hong Kong - Indonesia - Singapore - Bolivia - Colombia - Australia - Philippines - Sri Lanka - India.
Want to know what’s my favorite country for food, or what is the worst country I have been to? Or where to meet the most gorgeous women or the friendliest locals? Dig deeper into my blogs and you will find the answers to all of these questions… ;)
Ask me which country I like most for … and I will be happy to answer them iin the comments below! Tell me about your most visited country and leave a comment, I am sincerely interested in your stories! Thank you guys.
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