My Five Favorite Places

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

My Five Favorite Places

Whenever I am asked about my favorite places in the world, it is often too hard for me to choose. I have fallen in love with every place I have visited, so narrowing down the vastly different places I have seen is impossible task. I seem to like every place I have been, all for different reasons.

Still, there are certain places that have held my heart, and even after years of not returning, I dream about them on a daily basis. Some places are more special than others either for the experiences I had while there, the people I met, who I was with, or what I saw or learned. Narrowing it down to my five favorite places was hard, but these were the ones that had the most sentimental value.

The Okavango Delta, Botswana

The Okavango Delta, Botswana

Africa has always held a place in my heart, but that spot grew deeper with each day I spent on the continent. I had no idea what to expect of Botswana, but as soon as we arrived at the Okavango Delta, I felt a connection that drew me closer to the land.

Here, I spent two days completely immersed in nature, one night bush camping and the other on a house boat. We soaked up each sunrise and sunset, watched hippos eat their dinners from boats only a few feet away, took a bush walk and watched elephants enjoy their breakfast, and connected with the local people over dinner, s’mores, songs, and dancing around the campfire. It was such a magical experience, one that I will never forget, and one that easily makes the Okavango Delta my favorite place in the world.

The North Island, New Zealand

North Island, New Zealand

My maternal grandfather’s brother is a priest in New Zealand, and so the desire to visit him in the country was always there. Growing up, I had met him a few times and always promised to visit him, not knowing when it would happen. Then in 2010, when my Irish cousin, Michelle, decided to head there after visiting Thailand and Australia, I asked if I could tag along.

She flew into the South Island, and I met her in the North Island where our uncle lived. There, he let us borrow his car, and we drove all over the island ourselves. It was my first time driving on the opposite side of the road, and her first time driving an automatic, so it was entertaining to say the least. We got lost and had plenty of adventures, but after that trip, we were bonded in a way we had never been before. Having that experience together and exploring the North Island at the same time, makes this country one of my absolute favorites. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

Cres, Croatia

Cres, Croatia.

Croatia was a place I long dreamed of visiting because it is the birthplace of my paternal grandfather. Even though my grandpa never spoke of the country he left at the age of 18, I always had the desire to better understand the place I was from; Croatia was a mystery.

Then in 2006, my family took a trip to the island my grandfather was born on, Cres, and I immediately fell in love. It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been, and it was untouched compared to other places I had traveled to. The best part was that we got to stay in the home my grandfather grew up in, so the connection to the country was almost immediate.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Having previously been to Spain, I didn’t expect to have such a strong connection to Barcelona. After wanting to visit the city for years, I was finally able to for my first solo trip.

Because I experienced it all on my own and for myself, I quickly fell in love with each and every aspect of the city. I felt home, even though I was alone and miles away from anyone I knew. Something about the city just clicked, and the fact that it was the first city I had ever traveled to by myself made it even more special.

Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Of all the places I have been, Vietnam was the most challenging, yet rewarding. I remember setting foot in the country after Thailand and feeling an enormous difference; I was unprepared for just how overwhelming the country would be. Often, the beauty of travel lies in the challenges we face, and those hardships we overcome. Travel isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to take us out of our comfort zones, and in so many ways, Vietnam did this for me.

When we first got there, it was all too much for us: the sights, the smells, the sounds. In many ways, my trip to Vietnam was my first case of culture shock. But, I pushed myself to fall in love with the differences, and eventually, Vietnam worked its way into my heart. Once I had fallen in love, there was no going back, and even when I had returned home, I dreamed about it almost every day.

Picking five favorite places was extremely difficult, as I have so many other places I would love to write about, yet these five all worked their way into my heart for different reasons. Some were easy to fall in love with, while others took time. Some challenged me, while others opened up my mind to the world. This is the beauty of traveling, and the reason why I want to see it all; I love falling in love with the world.

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Comments (43)

  1. The Travel Liz

    Interesting list! I haven’t been to any of the countries on your list… but it’s on my (bucket) list.

    My list for favourite places would definitely include Italy, South Africa & Japan!

    Happy travels!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Ohh, I love Italy and South Africa too. I really must get to Japan soon, I have heard so many wonderful things. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. The Travel Sisters

    Interesting list! To be honest it would be hard to pick just 5 places but would probably include Laos, Japan, Hong Kong, Ghana and Namibia.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Great list! I’ve only been to Namibia from your list, which I loved. I was in Laos and Hong Kong, but only for a very short while, too short to really tell if I liked them or not. Choosing just five places was almost impossible! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Sunshine

    thank you for sharing. that is a thoughtful, interesting, and unique list.

    I have a hard time coming up with answers to this myself, as my answers will change almost on a daily basis.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks! It’s a very difficult question, and these were really hard to come up with. Honestly, I love everywhere I’ve ever been.

  4. Melissa - The Mellyboo Project

    Where exactly on the North Island of NZ were ya? Such a magical place!

    1. The World Wanderer

      My uncle lives in Bulls now, so in that region. We went up as far as Taupo and all the way down to Wellington. Had the best time!

      1. Melissa - The Mellyboo Project

        Ah! Bulls! I went through that little town back in 2011. Unfortunately during my working holiday I pretty much stayed only in the far north- occasionally coming down as far as rotorua or the coromandel peninsula.

        Need to get back to NZ, I miss the simplicity of it all!

  5. Hammad Tariq

    Your experience in Botswana seems awesome, I am still to visit Africa, hope I will land on that continent soon. Barcelona is my favourite too, I don’t know what’s in that city but it’s so vibrant and colourful, one always want to go back and I am always there even if I am passing by or have something to do in a nearby town.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Yes, Africa is a magical place. You must visit one day soon, I know you will not be disappointed. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Barcelona is a wonderful place to – so vibrant and colorful as you mention. I completely understand why you are always there – if I lived closer, I would stop by all the time!

  6. Nadya's Side Of The Road

    Cool selection of places! I guess my top 5 is looking like this:
    1. Majorca, Spain
    2. Kauai
    3. Belize
    4. Chipiona, Spain
    5. Canada

    1. The World Wanderer

      Great list! I have only been to Canada on here, so I guess I must see the rest! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Eileen

    Can’t wait for NZ, I’ll be looking for some recommendations from you

    1. The World Wanderer

      You’re going to fall in love!

  8. Leah

    You know I love seeing New Zealand on the list. If you adored the North Island, you will fall hopelessly in love with the South. It’s heaven on earth.

    1. The World Wanderer

      I have heard amazing things. One of these days!

  9. Traveling Ted

    Interesting that Vietnam makes the list. I had a love/hate relationship with the country while I was there. The last experience I had was amazing, and made me really appreciate it, but I still don’t think I would place over Thailand. Okavango Delta is definitely a bucket list item.

    1. The World Wanderer

      I did too, Ted, but eventually, I fell hard. I still think about it all the time. Thailand is one of my favorites too – it was hard to leave it out.

  10. Hugo

    Love the article. Thanks for sharing. Barcelona is one of my favorites too. Going to Vietnam on November, very excited about it. Never been to Africa, in my bucket list thou.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Hugo! You will love Vietnam and Africa. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Nita

    Love it! Great places you’ve listed there ๐Ÿ™‚ The picture taken in Botswana is just amazing!
    Apart from Thailand (the beautiful country I live in), my favorite places are India, Turkey, Italy, South Africa and New Zealand (only visited the South Island).

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Nita! I will be getting to India and Turkey this summer, and returning to Italy in just two weeks. South Africa and New Zealand are so beautiful as well, and Thailand is hard to compete with. Great list! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Charlie

    I love NZ, Barcelona and Vietnam so so much! I’ve not been to Croatia, but it’s really high on my list. I hear that Montenegro is also awesome ~ have you been?

    1. The World Wanderer

      Croatia is the best, you would love it! I have not been to Montenegro…yet. But, like you, I’ve heard great things. If you get there before I do, let me know!

  13. the lazy travelers

    totally agree that it’s VERY hard to narrow down. we usually answer in categories (favorite city, favorite beach, etc.) you + the romantic have a lot of overlap ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The World Wanderer

      I like the ideas of favorite cities and beaches, it’s so hard to narrow it down though. The Romantic and I also have our love of sloths, so it makes sense. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Craig Zabransky

    definitely not surprised at number 1… but surprised only one from Africa… and no Mexico or any Latin America… we need to work on that. But I’ll be more curious how this list changes through the years of adventure….

    stay top5, Craig

    1. The World Wanderer

      I would have made it all Africa, honestly, haha. Yes, please help me work on Latin America, I feel so far behind every one else!

  15. @mrsoaroundworld

    That is a good list! Must say that only been to BCN, so this got me thinking ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. The World Wanderer

      You’ll have to visit the other places…they are great!

  16. Amanda

    Choosing favorite destinations… like picking your favorite child! Your list is inspiring my wanderlust – many places yet to see. I’m really excited about your Barcelona photo of Plaza Real – that ornate lamp you can see in your photo was actually designed by Guadi. I believe it’s his only lamp post. I didn’t realize that when I was there and regret having no photos of it! Cheers! Happy travels.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Agreed, it is not an easy task, and I definitely left out some good ones. I didn’t realize the lamp was designed by Gaudรญ, though I remember really loving it. Happy travels to you too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Adam&Amanda

    Great post! Its so true of what you said! “That often the beauty of a place lies in challenges we face.” Safe Travels!

  18. lola

    Vietnam & Croatia…. DYING, DYING to go!!!!

  19. Lisa - Wee Wanders

    Wow what a list! They are all places I have yet to visit actually but I’m heading to SEA and Vietnam this summer ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The World Wanderer

      You are going to love SEA so much!

  20. Lisa

    I haven’t been to the places on your list, but a list of favorites without Paris? Crazy talk. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The World Wanderer

      I know! I put Paris on this pedestal, and when I went, I didn’t love it the way I thought I would. However, I was young, and not the traveler I am today, so I absolutely want to go back and give it another go. I definitely liked it, just not enough to make it a favorite.

  21. Adam P.

    Iยดve had a soft spot for Croatia since I can remember — its seaside villages are just beautiful! But from what Iยดve seen so far, I think, none is as gorgeous as Pucisca on the island of Brac. The gleaming white stone houses lining the shore in contrast with the amazing blue of the water…idyllic!

  22. Jessica Johnson

    Little fishing villages in Greece.
    Little fishing villages in Maine.
    A sidewalk table in Paris.
    Baden Baden, Germany.
    NYC
    My bed.

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