2012 Top Awesome Travel Destinations by Travel Bloggers

“Living life as an inspiring journey is priceless when shared” – Dr. Wends

As we capped the year of our travels and share these to the world, we leave inspiration to countless readers and followers, many of whom we have never met but inspired by their own stories of life’s travails. We travel bloggers give back through this list which we are left inspired, enthralled and driven to go on the road in 2013 and beyond. The 2012 Top Awesome Travel Destinations by Travel Bloggers is our own way of leaving the trails we took, the road less traveled we did with the hope that in it, you will find greatness in the ordinary experiences we have had, in the people we met on the road and the life-changing moments we have had while on it.

This list is completely ours to share. The destinations we deemed our best and our top-most escapes which inspired us. It is in the hope that through this list, we may inspire many of our readers to go check them out like we did, explore them and stay on the road talking to locals, getting inspired and leave nothing but trails so others can also tread on.

From Uganda, Botswana and Zambia in Africa to Chile, Bolivia and Argentina in Latin America; from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Toronto in Canada; From Nepal to Mongolia; from El Nido in the Philippines to Croatia and from Southern Finland to the Netherlands; from Utah in America to Melbourne in Australia, this list shares the best insights from the world’s best and respected travel bloggers. The list includes varied travel bloggers who writes passionately about their trails and travails in the world. May the list inspire so many countless others to see the world beyond their own and march on not as one nation but a community of nations united as one, in the epic journey that will change the world for the best from being better.

The list is our way of giving back inspiration to all those who follow us from wherever in the world they maybe. Unknown to them perhaps, we are inspired by their travel stories too and gladly shares these travel destinations to better guide them as they travel in 2013. We knew ours are little voices on the road but because we share, we sing in the melody of the world, with our hearts we spread the travel inspiration for those who will follow us. Surely, we hope this inspire you all to travel more to share more.

Uganda

“Travelling in Uganda is not only about the sights and sounds but it is more about discovering, pondering, and being inspired by a country and people that weathered a dark past and is working towards a hopeful future.” – Reiza Dejito

I knew I was going to fall in love with Uganda the very moment the Airbus began its descent, revealing the majestic Lake Victoria surrounded by sprawling lush greens dotted by small fishing villages. Dubbed as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda was listed by “Lonely Planet” as the no. 1 travel destination in 2012. True enough, the country’s natural beauty caught the attention of travelers, but only the discerning ones, who try to avoid hordes of middle-aged camera-happy excursionists or those noisy just-got-out-of-college types who think they’re the first ones to set foot in such places. Uganda attracts travelers who dare to experience rather than see, immerse rather than just observe. And of course, Uganda is for the adventurous! I survived a 2-hour trip to the Equator in an overspeeding six-seater van squashed with thirteen other passengers without a scratch. I cruised through crocodile-infested waters in a small wooden canoe to visit charming fishing villages in the islands of Lake Victoria and the source of the famous River Nile. I made friends with a hippo who, of all places, decided to dine on the grass in front of my tent while I was on safari. I exchanged smiles with the bull elephant who blocked our way as he leisurely snacked on a tree beside the road. I braved a trek that left me literally out of breath to touch the rainbow at Murchison Falls. And to think I’ve never even been to the crater lakes nor have I visited the endangered silver-back gorillas. Oh yes, there’s always something for you to come back. One thing I like is that although there are tourists, most of the people you’ll actually encounter and form mini-friendships with are the locals just going about their lives. There are no harassments. No scams. Just funny moments, curious stares, shy smiles, awkward conversations, and genuine mini-friendships you form along the way. Travelling in Uganda is not only about the sights and sounds (yes, prepare to swing your hips to their traditional beats) but it is more about discovering, pondering, and being inspired by a country and people that weathered a dark past and is working towards a hopeful future. It reminds you that all the troubles and pain you go through is worth it in the end. To encourage tourism, Uganda has a no-fuss visa-on-arrival system and some of the friendliest immigration officials in the world! Just make sure you got the proper vaccinations (rabies, hepatitis, typhoid, flu, etc.) and have your yellow fever certificate handy. Uganda is in a malarial region, so taking anti-malarial pills and mosquito repellant lotions will be a wise move. Although Kampala, the capital, has a pleasant climate, it gets warmer as you travel north, so pack lightweight cotton clothes. Nothing too sexy and revealing please, as we don’t want to scandalize the locals, do we? Sunblock is a must. And always, always bring some water to drink, lest you wither like a prune or collapse in the middle of the savanna (read: they have lions). Lastly, don’t leave without enjoying authentic Ugandan cuisine. I especially love the luwombo (fish, chicken, or beef stew wrapped in banana leaves) and the fried fish in groundnut sauce paired with fresh passion fruit juice and the juiciest and sweetest pineapples you can find in the whole world! Aren’t you salivating already?

Reiza Dejito of Wander If You Must. LIKE her on Facebook.

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Egypt

“Egypt for me is one of the most amazing places on Earth and any time I think about it I light up.” – Jaime Davila

Egypt captivated my imagination and heart from a young age. I remember as a child learning about the ancient history of this mystical land and as an adult it still captivated me and for me it was the one country I had to visit in my lifetime. I mean really who hasn’t been captivated by Egypt? The Mummies… the Pyramids… the Temples… the Gods… the Desert… the Nile and even today the Revolution. I have spent over 5 months living in Egypt and have visited all corners of the country. I have been on the beaten path and off the beaten path. The craziness of city life in Downtown Cairo to the peacefulness of a felucca ride down the Nile. From the tourist filled Great Pyramids of Giza to the empty Pyramids of Saqqara and Dajoser. From an empty Tahrir Sq. to a full Tahrir Sq. celebrating the one year anniversary of the revolution or the announcement of Egypt’s president. Surrounded by the majestic golden sands of the Sahara Desert in Siwa to being surrounded be the turquoise blue waters of the Red Sea in Dahab. You can find anything and everything you are craving. No matter how much time I spend in this amazing country it continues to inspire me because there is never a dull moment. Like oh being stuck in traffic behind a donkey cart carrying watermelons. Egypt for me is one of the most amazing places on Earth and any time I think about it I light up. If you haven’t been you should and when you do let me know I will be more than happy to provide you with many tips for your time in Egypt.

Jaime Davila of Breakawaybackpacker. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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Argentina

“The mother nature got all of her magic into one place. Watching and listening to the glacier break was unforgettable” – Alexandra Kovacova

If I have to say just 1 top travel place for me in 2012, then it was Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina. I always heard that if you visit Argentina, you have to go to Perito Moreno too but I only realised why when I got there. I was amazed with my eyes and mouth wide open the whole day there. The mother nature got all of her magic into one place. Watching and listening to the glacier break was unforgettable. We even decided to stay there to see the sunset and let me tell you that the image will stay on my mind for ever.

Tips: Try to hitchike to the glacier from El Calafate, preferably with the Argentinians as they pay less for the entrance than the foreigners so maybe they will let you pay the same. Also, don’t leave around 4pm like everyone else, you definitely need to see the sunset there. And dress well, it get freezing.

Alexandra Kovacova of Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler. LIKE her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter.

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Toronto, Canada

“Toronto was one of the most surprising cities I visited in 2012″- Adam Groffman

Toronto was one of the most surprising cities I visited in 2012. I’d heard it was a cool and trendy city, but it turns out that it beats all my expectations! Because it’s a huge, multicultural city, there are literally hundreds of cool things to do in the city—everything from the Edgewalk along the CN tower to food tours in Toronto’s answer to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Adam Groffman of Travels of Adam. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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South Korea

“Whether enjoying tantalizing bites of Korean barbecue or digging into a big bowl of bibimbap, there are plenty of diverse options to satisfy all cravings.” – Nomadic Samuel

When one thinks of travel destinations in the Far East, South Korea may not be the first country that comes to mind.  With neighbouring China and Japan enjoying most of the fanfare, South Korea offers an under-rated option for those considering travel within the region.  One of the most fascinating aspects of Korean culture revolves around the cuisine.  Some may be surprised to hear that Korean food is indeed quite spicy, flavourful and savoury compared to Chinese and Japanese.  Whether enjoying tantalizing bites of Korean barbecue or digging into a big bowl of bibimbap, there are plenty of diverse options to satisfy all cravings.  The Korean wave of culture has spread across the world in a way that few would have anticipated mere decades ago.  From K-Pop to television dramas and everything in between, an entire trip to Korea can be planned around famous attractions and events related to entertainment.  The final two reasons one should consider travelling to Korea are shopping and traditional culture.  In Seoul, there are many famous areas to consider shopping including but not limited to Myeongdong, Gangnam and Hongdae.  Traditional culture ranging from martial arts performances to folk music can be found at the Korean Folk Village, Namsan Tower and Gyeongbogung Palace.  If you haven’t yet considered a trip to Korea now might be the time to rethink your plans.

Samuel Jeffery of Nomadic Samuel  is the better half of Backpacking Travel Blog. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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 Trinidad and Tobago

“Caroni Swamp and Asa Wright Nature Center prove this island is more than beaches and a huge fun party.” – Ted Nelson

I am not a big beach person, so the thought of a Caribbean Island does not have a great appeal.  There is much more to Trinidad & Tobago than beaches and a party.  First of all, it is not just any party as every February or March they host one of the world’s most fun Carnivals. It was a blast seeing the whole island come alive in beautiful colors and having a great time. Once Carnival is over, I had an equally great time exploring the jungles and swamps of this beautiful little twin Republic. Caroni Swamp and Asa Wright Nature Center prove this island is more than beaches and a huge fun party.

Trinidad & Tobago travel tips.

  • Come for Carnival, but stay for the scenery afterwards.
  • Visit Asa Wright Nature Center, Caroni Swamp, Nariva Swamp, Maracas Beach, Chagauramas National Park, and Pitch Lake
  • Participate in one aspect of Carnival – Either J’Ouverte or Carnival itself.

Ted Nelson of Traveling Ted. LIKE him on Facebook: Facebook Follow him on Twitter: Twitter

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Singapore

“It has been pretty inspiring to know that despite of the booming economic city growth of Singapore, there are still efforts of being “green” around the circulation and this island has been the product of it. ” – Carlo dela Cruz

Singapore has been a fast-becoming economic tiger not only in Asia but across the globe. We cannot deny that the city-state boasts some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, architectures, and mega-structures that has been built with the most advance technology and up-to-date techniques. It’s city skyline is arguably one of the bests and it houses one of the most diverse melting pot of cultures. Little do we know that amidst this bustling city center is a place where there is a much “cleaner” air strain and a sprinkle of greenery. Located north-east of Singapore just a little above Changi airport is an island called “Pulau Ubin”. It is a quarry site that has been abandoned after the government got its much needed boulders to build the houses of the city-state. You would be required to get a jetty to get there which only costs around SGD 2.00 one way. The best way to get around the island is through bike you would then be given a map once you rent you bike. The whole island is easily navigable. News had been surrounding Singapore that the government is now threatening to open the quarry site again but there have been a lot of effort from the Singaporean nature activists to discontinue it and just preserve its natural state for the young minds to see and explore. It has been pretty inspiring to know that despite of the booming economic city growth of Singapore, there are still efforts of being “green” around the circulation and this island has been the product of it. I always bear in mind that sometime roots are better than underground parking as conserving nature means a more sustainable living from these resources. So whenever you go or even come back to Singapore make your way to Pulau Ubin and get inspired with this little piece of haven.

Carlo dela Cruz of Visa-freeworld. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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Turku, Finland

“Turku is inspired by the unique culture and the country’s excellent creative and design scene.” – Andrea Spirov

Our destination of the year is Southern Finland. We spent time in Helsinki, Turku and Porvoo (pictured) and were inspired by the unique culture and the country’s excellent creative and design scene. Helsinki is a vibrant modern city with an exciting history, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. It also has beautiful parks and gardens. In just a few hours you can reach wonderful day trip destinations or the original capital, Turku, which is also a recommended stop on your tour. Our top tip for visiting Finland is to go in summer so that you can enjoy the outdoors. Be sure to visit the islands south of Turku and Naantali.

Andrea Spirov of Inspiring Travellers. LIKE them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

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El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

“We chose to stay lazy and spent the whole morning by just enjoying the beachfront view.” – Chyng Reyes

The weather is perfect for some island hopping. But unlike most tourists, we chose to stay lazy and spent the whole morning by just enjoying the beachfront view. We went to The Alternative, take one of their awesome lounge, ordered some shakes, and we just had the best time in El Nido.

The best thing to do in El Nido is to simply do nothing!

Chyng Reyes of Chyng Reyes. Follow her on Twitter.

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Myanmar

“Visit Myanmar now before it completely change.” – Regin Reyno

I was really inspired to go to Myanmar when I learned that the culture is still preserved due to strict military rule before. But now, it is already open so expect tourism and businesses to boom, while sadly, this will also affect their culture. So visit Myanmar now before it completely change.

TIPS

1. Bring crisp dollar bills.

2. Talk and befriend the locals.

3. Don’t miss the BIG FOUR (Yangon, Bagan, Inle lake, Mandalay)

Regin Reyno of Regins Travels. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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 Zambia

“My time in Zambia was transformative” – Alex Berger

What a year.  2012 was the year of the Safari.  It started with an introduction to Islamic culture with a visit to Turkey and then continued with an amazing spring conference that was overflowing with Italian food and wine.  From there it was a few months rest before launching into an epic 50 day summer trip that saw a brief layover in Dubai, then three weeks in Zambia and Botswana where I got lost in the mists of Victoria Falls, and enjoyed my first two safaris.  The trip wound down with quick layovers in Prague and Berlin before rounding things out with a six day jaunt through Scotland’s outer Hebrides.  The final safari of the year was a rare and unusual opportunity to watch Polar Bears in their natural habitat in Hudson Bay, Canada. To top it all off it was also my first full year living in Copenhagen while pursuing my Masters which often feels like a trip in and of itself!

My time in Zambia was transformative.  We spent the first six days in country with my brother who is a US Peace Corps volunteer in the Luapula Province.  We stayed in his hut, met his villagers, and got an incredible taste of their culture, their hospitality and their warmth.  It provided us a rare opportunity to experience real and authentic Zambia before climbing up into land cruisers and making our way deep into South Luangwa where we experienced six days of mesmerizing nature safari. The contrast between the luxuries and western structure of the safari, and the poverty but incredible warmth of village life was powerful and really added a lot to the experience. By going about as far into the park as possible we were also able to enjoy a much richer and intimate safari experience than we enjoyed during our second safari near the entrance to Chobe National Park in Botswana.  Victoria falls is beautiful and captivating, but to my surprise was completely outshone by the Luapula and South Luangwa legs of the trip.  My biggest take aways were that while you may see animals in the zoo, there’s simply no comparison to seeing them in the wild.  They feel like entirely different animals.  The other was that while we may have a lot of knowledge to share with rural African villagers, they have just as much to teach us and to share with us in return.

Alex Berger of VirtualWayfarer. LIKE him on Facebook: Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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Barcelona, Spain

“It may be going through tough times, but my love for Spain continues to grow day by day.” – Carl Forbes

It wasn’t the sun, sand and sangria that attracted me to Spain like most Brits… Okay maybe the sangria! But my first trip wasn’t an island getaway to enjoy the rays, but the green and rainy northern region of Cantabria in winter. As such I received an immediate crash course in the diversity and beauty of España, and became hooked. I cruised on to a snowy Basque Country and colourful Catalonia. I’ve since returned to fiesta in Valencia and marvel at Madrid. Oh and explore every inch of bedazzling Barcelona my legs could carry me to – just the four visits and counting! Every destination, new or old, continues to inspire me creatively and culturally. It may be going through tough times, but my love for Spain continues to grow day by day.

Top travel tips for Spain:

  • Take the train in Spain: The website can be confusing, but RENFE’s services are super efficient, and if you’re able to book ahead, potentially super cheap!
  • Make use of Madrid’s Metro: Stay a bit further out from the centre of Madrid for some much cheaper room rates, nowhere is too far away by Metro.
  • Don’t miss La Font Magica: In Barcelona? If there’s a light show on at La Font Magica then don’t miss it! I finally caught one this year on my fourth visit and was blown away!
  • Fiesta by fire: Think your recent Bonfire night fireworks display was impressive? Head to Valencia for Las Fallas (every March) for the world’s most flammable fiesta! I did in 2011, and it was the best week of my life. Just book accommodation early!

Carl Forbes of That Time In. Follow him on Twitter.

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Cambodia

“Siem Reap has developed my passion for exploring and immersing myself in another country’s culture and way of life.” – Edcel Suyo

My trip to Siem Reap has developed my passion for exploring and immersing myself in another country’s culture and way of life. I especially love the people there because of how they smile despite their state. Cambodians are friendly and are ready to strike a conversation. Living in Siem Reap for a month has humbled me to stop complaining about what I don’t have and it has taught me to be thankful that I have enough. Here are some quick tips:

  • Ditch the pants, wear shorts and flipflops.
  • Wear sunblock as the sun is up most of the time.
  • Hire a bike for 1 USD/day and bike around town.
  • Tuktuks charge around 12 to 15 USD a day.
  • Temples passes for one cost 20 USD/person/

Edcel Suyo of SoloFlightEd. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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Nepal

“But what hit me the most is the thought that I was standing face to face with the highest mountains in the world. Simply surreal” – Ron Cruz

A place I have been longing to see ever since I stepped-in that geography class in junior years. Something books portrayed as an unforgiving outdoors sashed with bold tapestry of different cultures, where numerous religions collide and where both explorers and pilgrims share the same welcoming towns of brick houses for centuries. But what hit me the most is the thought that I was standing face to face with the highest mountains in the world. Simply surreal

Filipinos will feel so at home in Nepal because of one dead-obvious reason, we look like Newars. No one will think that we are foreign tourists, so it is easy for us to blend-in and enjoy the local culture without the mask of commercialized tourism. Then you will realize that Filipinos and Nepalis got a lot of things in common so we can get along pretty well.

Ron Cruz of Flip Travels. LIKE him onFacebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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New Zealand

“We locals call this country Godzone, as in “God’s own country” – and you can see why.” – Simon Petersen

My favourite place that I’ve been to this year? My home country of New Zealand. That’s right; in a year when I’ve been to the London 2012 Olympic Games and backpacked through beautiful Southeast Asia, home is where my heart is. After being away for five years it’s like a foreign country to me – and I look forward to exploring it further, as any other traveller might do.

I’m from the north of New Zealand so I started my travels at the very top of the country, a place called Cape Reinga (pictured). It’s here where Maori, the native people of NZ, believe that their souls travel to when they die. It sure feels like heaven. We locals call this country Godzone, as in “God’s own country” – and you can see why.

Simon Petersen of Man Versus World. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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Botswana

“I spent three days bushcamping in the delta along with our local guides who also brought us into the delta in their homemade mokoros” – Melissa Shearer

Botswana’s Okavango Delta, is one of the world’s largest inland deltas – a series of connected waterways, swampland and islands that is home to the largest variety of wildlife in Africa.  I spent three days bushcamping in the delta along with our local guides who also brought us into the delta in their homemade mokoros (authentic African canoe dug out of a tree).  Not only did I feel completely at home and at one with nature, I later learned that this is where a few of my heroes- National Geographic’s filmmakers and explorers in residence, Derek and Beverly Joubert- call home.  It is one of the last untouched places on earth and I can only hope that it stays that way.

Okavango Delta Camping Tips

- Be prepared to use the infamous bush toilet – aka a hole dug in the ground.

- It is not uncommon for you to have animal encounters at your campsite – remember that even though you may get amazing close up photographs, always use common sense and give the animals their space.

- Generally speaking, if you’re camping within the Okavango Delta expect to have no power, no facilities, no running water – consider bringing baby wipes to help yourself freshen up.

It’s advisable to arrange a camping trip in the Okavango Delta using a reputable local tour company for safety reasons.  Local guides will know the area better and let you know important information such as not swimming in a certain area that may be home to dangerous hippos

Melissa Shearer of The Melly Boo Project. LIKE her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter.

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El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

“I look up and mutter to myself, “As clear as an azure sky of deepest summer” this place is paradise on Earth.” – Marky Ramone Go

I didn’t wandered out of the Philippines this year. It wasn’t such a loss. In fact it made me gain a new perspective in to how beautiful my country is. Places like El Nido in Palawan shoved me with delight, into a sense of urgent discovery and the need to explore my country more. Who wouldn’t be transfixed by the magnificent views of the towering limestone islands, the blue and green waters wherein you can take a peek at the living sea creatures underneath. The memory still fresh from my mind. As the sound of the boat ringed through my ears, my other senses savors each moment as the never-ending slides of visual feast caress my mind with unforgettable sights, the winds stemming from the open sea gives me just enough nudge to feel the wholeness of my life – being lived thoroughly.  As I stepped out of the boat and into the seaside town filled with friendly and frolicking people, I look up and mutter to myself, “As clear as an azure sky of deepest summer” this place is paradise on Earth.

Tips: Take a plane to Puerto Princesa then ride a tricycle or jeepney going to the Bus Station going to El Nido. Take a 5-6 hour bus to the town of El Nido. An expensive option is to take a 5 hour van ride from the city of Puerto Princesa.

Marky Ramone Go of Nomadic Experiences. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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Zadar, Croatia

” Once the sun was down everyone moves over to the ‘Greeting to the sun’,” – Neil Barnes

So Zadar in a nutshell …well if you like beautiful old towns, friendly people, glorious weather, beaches, free attractions, pizza and ice cream you might have just found your next travel destination.  Zadar is called Croatia’s ‘little Rome’, and in the beautiful architecture the Italian influence is clear, to be fair Italy is just a short ferry ride away. Zadar is in an amazing location, not only on Italy’s doorstep, but with several national parks including the famous Plitvice national park and its beautiful waterfalls all within a few hours drive. For a relatively small town, there is also quite a lot to see and do within Zadar itself, and all for pretty much nothing, or even better, FREE!  My favorite thing was to sit out of the promenade each evening along with hundreds of others and watch the amazing blood red sunset over the sea whilst in the background the sea organ played a sweet tune.  Once the sun was down everyone moves over to the ‘Greeting to the sun’, a huge circular platform, where the days sunlight is used to power an hypnotic light show.  If you are willing to shell out just a few pennies, a climb to the top of the bell tower next to the St. Anastasia Cathedral is well worth it as the views from the top are breathtaking.  If climbing and exercise aren’t your think, hit the beach, just a 10 min walk away from town centre.

Staying in a local apartment with the owners just next door, the people of Zadar were an inspiration to me.  Having survived some very hard and troublesome times in the early 1990′s when the forma Yugoslavia broke up and Croatia came into existence (1991), their ability to survive those troubles and protect, restore and arguably improve this beautiful part of the world is just incredible.

Neil Barnes of Backpacks and Bunkbeds. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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India

“I’m inspired and excited to see more temples located in breathtaking landscapes.” – Plif Nomad

After seeing Ki Gompa (located in Himachal Pradesh, India), I’m inspired and excited to see more temples located in breathtaking landscapes.

Travel Tip:

You will see Ki Gompa when you take a bus from Kaza to Kibber. But the best way to see it is from above, so you have to hike from Kibber all the way down to Ki Gompa. A little warning for those who are suffering with fear of heights like me, the descent is a bit scary. And be very
careful because the terrain is quite slippery due to small pebbles/rocks scattered all throughout the path. Be sure to wear nonslip hiking shoes:-)

Flip Nomad of Flip Nomad.LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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Chile

“I found Chile to be a country with such a long list of different things to do.” – Michael Turtle

The country I have chosen is Chile, in South America. I’ve attached a photo of the Villarrica volcano in Pucon.

“I found Chile to be a country with such a long list of different things to do. That’s probably not surprising considering it is the longest country on Earth. From the snow-topped mountains of Patagonia, past the beaches and the Andes mountains and up to the Atacama Desert, there is something for everyone. Throw in some delicious food, amazing wine, affordable prices and friendly people and you’ve got an almost perfect travel destination!”

My tips would be to give yourself enough time to see as much of the variety as possible. Highlights include the W Trek in Patagonia, the rural beauty of the islands of Chiloe, the challenging climb up the volcano at Pucon, the colours of Valparaiso, the gentle nightlife in Santiago, and the landscapes of the Atacama.

Michael Turtle of Time Travel Turtle. LIKE him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

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Mongolia

“Central Mongolia is seeing my very own frozen ‘Paradise Falls’”- Upper Viceo

This photograph was taken a month ago, somewhere over the terrain of South China. We were on our way back home from  Mongolia and this view just capped everything beautifully. There was too much strangeness up in the air at this moment.  The past 16 days were just unbelievably surreal: chugging along the Trans-Mongolian Railway, endless driving across Central Mongolia, seeing my very own frozen ‘Paradise Falls’, and sleeping in gers in the middle of nowhere at negative 18 degrees celsius. Bucketlist, checked!

Tips in traveling to Mongolia: Expect less, see more, and up your adventure sleeves the most. Mongolia is downright unique, there are just too much different flavors for every traveler. Don’t miss the Gobi Desert, take a spin across the country on a vintage, bumpy Russian van, have an open mind, bask in different cultures and don’t let your camel run.

Upper Video of Hello From Far Away. LIKE her on Facebook.  FOLLOW her on Twitter.

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 Utah, United States of America

“The continental vastness of America made me realize how small we all are in the face of Nature, of the Universe; and how it would be altogether possible to never see the end of every road trip’s biggest question: “Are we there yet?” – Edgar Alan Zeta Yap

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single stoplight”, Ken my travel buddy mused, paraphrasing a Chinese adage, as we pulled out of the apartment complex in Denver, Colorado to embark on an epic road trip to Utah’s Canyon Country. We traveled some 2,500 kilometers for three days, traversing the snowy Rocky Mountains to the high desert of the Colorado Plateau and the misty shallows of the Great Salt Lake, before looping back to the “Mile High City” through the wind farms and endless prairies of southern Wyoming. This was, by far, the best part of my cross-country adventure across the United States.  It was everything a road trip should be: wind and dust on our faces, string cheese and chocolate, Punch Buggy and I Spy, the Book of Mormon on loop, and the mandatory mishaps of running out of gas twice in the middle of nowhere (and getting rescued by park rangers). The landscape, of course, was equally exciting. The red sandstone behemoths – great walls, looming towers, gravity-defying boulders and incredible arches fired up by the shifting sun – of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks were a sharp contrast to the foggy tranquility and muted colors of Antelope Island State Park, where wild bison and languid cowboys roamed under the dreamy gaze of the Rockies reflecting on the saltwater lake. The continental vastness of America made me realize how small we all are in the face of Nature, of the Universe; and how it would be altogether possible to never see the end of every road trip’s biggest question: “Are we there yet?”

Edgar Alan Zeta Yap of EAZY Traveler.LIKE him on Facebook. FOLLOW him on Twitter.

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Bolivia

“After it rains, the ground reflects everything and becomes the biggest mirror in the world!” – Gerard

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to visit the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia because of all the amazing photos that have come out of that place. It’s 11,000 square km of nothing but pure salt. After it rains, the ground reflects everything and becomes the biggest mirror in the world! It’s truly a spectacle when you’ve reached the center of the flats and see nothing but vast whiteness as if you’re in one of the dream lands.

Tip: Go with the 4-day tour that starts from Tupiza and ends in Uyuni. So many amazing natural landscapes to see along the way that ends with a bang at the salt flats themselves.

Gerard of GQTrippin. LIKE them on Facebook.  Follow them on Twitter.

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Pulau Tioman, Malaysia

“Tioman was gorgeous. With clear waters, bluegreen colored seas, clean beaches and the flag of Malaysia at every port, it was like a breath of fresh air.” – Brenna Bustamante

I’m a very shallow-happy person. Everything new in my eyes I learn to appreciate because I know I got there on my own. Going to Pulau Tioman was part of my first trip abroad and I guess anything new inspired me. Tioman was gorgeous. With clear waters, bluegreen colored seas, clean beaches and the flag of Malaysia at every port, it was like a breath of fresh air. You know that hunger that you get when you visit a new place? That was how I felt. I felt hungry. Hunger for more. I guess when I saw something beautiful outside the Philippines, I realized how much more life had to offer me. And I wasn’t going to stop any time soon.

Avoid going to PT in monsoon months. The boat can be pretty unpredictable so you need to call beforehand to ask the schedule. It takes about 1 hr and 30 minutes to get to Salang (the farthest beach). You can also go diving there for as cheap as 400RM on lean seasons. From Larkin Bus Station, take a 2 hour bus to Mersing (11.50RM), then from Mersing, take a boat to Tioman Island (70RM – 2 way).

Brenna Bustamante of Philippine Travelogue. LIKE her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter.

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Bali, Indonesia

“The sacred space, the solemn rituals by the Balinese, and the simple and intricate architecture blending organically with sea, mountain, or green fields are what makes them special for me.” – Claire Madarang

Bali’s temples take my breath away. The sacred space, the solemn rituals by the Balinese, and the simple and intricate architecture blending organically with sea, mountain, or green fields are what makes them special for me. And no wonder – the Balinese try to live in harmony with nature, a fact I happily found out later.  One of my favorite temples is Tanah Lot, a temple resting on a rock island off a grey beach. It is beautiful any time of the day – whether with the pounding surf protecting it like a fortress in daylight or with the orange sunset darkening it into a silhouette of a giant bonsai.

When visiting Balinese temples, make sure you wear the proper attire. The large temples like Tanah Lot usually offer sarongs for rent, but it is also good to bring your own, especially if you are planning to go to smaller temples.

Claire Madarang of I am Traveling Light. LIKE her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter

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Netherlands

“I reveled in every moment along the way” – Jeff Titelius

A journey I will never forget! When I was invited by Viking River Cruises to accompany them during the Christening of four new longships in Amsterdam, and a subsequent river cruise through the Netherlands, I couldn’t send my confirmation email fast enough for I have dreamed of taking a European river cruise for the last two years! Many times I have found my thoughts drifting down scenic European waterways while magnificent castles, enchanting villages and pastoral settings all passed me by—moments of euphoria—and now, I was only days away!

I embarked on a five-day cruise aboard the brand spanking new “Viking Odin” for an unforgettable voyage through the Netherlands and my experience not only met every one of my expectations, it exceeded them hundred fold, and I reveled in every moment along the way—from my cabin tour aboard this intimate river-cruise vessel, to the friendly and quite humorous staff, to the scrumptious cuisine and finally the most sublime European scenery just beyond the window panes of my cabin.

I savored each moment and created memories to last a lifetime however, this won’t be my last river cruise. I plan to ply the waterways through every country in Europe to experience the cultures, marvel at magnificent architecture, get lost in the art and most of all, greet the people and make new friend far and wide. I am forever hooked and can’t wait for my next voyage! Where? Germany I hope! Bon Voyage!

Jeff Titelius of Euro Travelogue. LIKE him on Facebook.  FOLLOW him on Twitter.

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Jordan

“My favourite spot at Petra wasn’t the famous Treasury, but the lesser-known Monastery”- Lucy Dodsworth

Jordan has been on my travel wish-list for years – the historic sites, the other-worldly desert scenery, the photo opportunities wherever you turn. Or maybe it was the iconic view of the Treasury at Petra through the rock corridor of the Siq in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that sold it to me. Either way it was just as fanastic a country as I’d hoped. But my favourite spot at Petra wasn’t the famous Treasury, but the lesser-known Monastery. Even bigger and more impressive, it’s also a lot quieter – probably something to do with the 800 steps you have to climb to get there. But it’s worth every bit of the hard work when you emerge out of the canyon to see this amazing temple towering above you.

Lucy Dodsworth of On The Luce. LIKE her on Facebook. FOLLOW her on Twitter.

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York, United Kingdom

“I feasted on stunning architecture and attractions renowned for its Roman, Viking, and Medieval heritage that are beautifully preserved to this day. ” – Mhe-Ann Ojeda

“For historic feel of United Kingdom, never miss out on the ancient City of York in England which dates back 71 AD when the Romans founded and named it “EBORACUM”. As soon as I entered its medieval gates called “bars” I feasted on stunning architecture and attractions renowned for its Roman, Viking, and Medieval heritage that are beautifully preserved to this day.  Take a tour of the iconic York Minster, the  largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and find access to its Undercroft, Treasury and Crypt where you can find traces of the Roman headquarters where Constantine was proclaimed Emperor. Climb the 275 steps of the Minster’s Central Tower for the best panoramic view and wonderful photo opportunity of this historic city and its countryside. Then explore the interiors at JORVIK Viking Centre, the very site of  the most famous and astounding discoveries of the Viking-Age city of Jorvik, as it stood 1,000 years ago and finished up with a spine – tingling experience that will haunt you forever by joining one of the ghost tours.”

Mhe-Ann Ojeda of My Comings and Goings. LIKE her on Facebook.

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New Zealand 

“it is easy to have a visual love affair with a country where Mother Nature is so vibrant, diverse, fiercely naked.” – Ryan Brown

The country that most inspired me? Well that’s an easy one! Hell, I’ve only been to one country after escaping the corporate run USA that suckles us on reality television.

Can I even count it if I’ve only been to one country? I can’t compare it to another country, and wouldn’t it seem like any slight escape from an old mundane lifestyle be enough to instill me with inspiration?  Sure, you could say that — but you would be wrong. Seeing doesn’t just tweak the inner workings of someone’s soul, it was something else.

And trust me — it is easy to have a visual love affair with a country where Mother Nature is so vibrant, diverse, fiercely naked.

No, the spirit that New Zealand is made up of won me over; adventurous, transient, and totally chill.

It was the times that New Zealand taught me to trust my gut and hopping into a car with two German travelers I just met and spending two weeks in the wild living in my hammock. Teaching an Austrian and a Canadian how to make s’mores (If you have never had one, they are bomb-diggity). Learning the Haka war dance from a Maori warrior. Discovering we are all from different lands but are all the same. Not knowing what comes next but knowing this lifestyle was right.

That is what was instilled in me, the traveller spirit. To see through my convoluted view of my own home that I couldn’t wait to leave from, and help me return as if it was a foreign land to learn it all over again. To do that, it must have been pretty damn inspiring!

Ryan Brown of Just Chuckin It.LIKE him on Facebook.  FOLLOW him on Twitter.

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Bhutan

“It lived up to every expectation, untouched beauty, the Himalayas, old temples and the people all took my breath away and everything is touched by devout Buddhism.” – Johnny Ward

“Bhutan had always been my dream destination. It’s everything that I dreamed Asia would be when I was a kid, and having been to every country in Asia East of Pakistan, I only had it left to visit! It lived up to every expectation, untouched beauty, the Himalayas, old temples and the people all took my breath away and everything is touched by devout Buddhism. I’d go back in a heartbeat.”

TIP: Avoid the single supplement tax and go with a friend, it’s already expensive enough without extra costs :S

Johnny Ward of Onestep4ward. LIKE him on Facebook. FOLLOW him on Twitter.

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 Montreal, Canada

“Of course you must speak the language of joie de vivre, french with red brick houses and bare trees draped with white snow” – Lauren Gaile

I’ve only started to call Montreal my home since the last weekend but i’ve already known that it has everything i need to keep me happy, as a student with great support from amazing schools, to its natural beauty that still show even during the harshest winter and as an equal opportunity place where you are free to create your own future, get a job and live a comfortable life. Of course you must speak the language of joie de vivre, french with red brick houses and bare trees draped with white snow.

Insider Tips:

- Try to go during spring or fall to better appreciate the parks that seems to sprout on every block in Montreal

- Experience the metro that has 3 lines, blue orange and green with buses that connect everything in between or rent a bike, we’ve got very disciplined drivers here

- Walk in Rue St. Catherine’s for an entire afternoon, a whole block of shops, boutiques and charming cafes. Montreal houses the iconic 555 Chabanel building that was from basement to top about fashion.

- Don’t be surprised if people mention the Isle of Montreal, centered along 2 diverging rivers makes it seem like one, where Celine Dion has her sprawling mansion and also the head office of Cirque du Soleil (where they have 5$ shows sometime).

Lauren Gaile of Epic Potato. LIKE her on Facebook.  FOLLOW her Twitter.

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Melbourne, Australia

” If you’re lucky you may even get to see some of the graffiti artists at work.” – Katherine

Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in the world and I’m lucky to have recently moved here and can now call it home. It’s a big city full of art, culture, great food, fantastic shopping, friendly people and some amazing architecture. One of my favourite buildings is the Flinders Street Railway Station which I love to photograph. Melbourne is also famous for its street art so when in the city, be sure to check out Hosier Lane near Flinders Street Station. If you’re lucky you may even get to see some of the graffiti artists at work. They are truly amazing and it’s a great place to take some unique and colourful photographs. Melbourne is also renowned for being a coffee lover’s city which means there are many awesome cafes on just about every street corner. Don’t worry though; if like me you prefer tea, there is no shortage of cute and tasty tea shops to quench your thirst.

Katherine of the Kapcha The World  LIKE her on Facebook. FOLLOW her on Twitter.

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 Norway

“Hove Festival is an amazing summer music festival set in one of the islands near Arendal, Norway.” -DJ Yabis

Arendal, Norway. I have been going here every summer for one week for the last 3 years. Why? Because of Hove Festival which is an amazing summer music festival set in one of the islands near Arendal, Norway.

More than that, I love Norway and Scandinavia in general because of the long summer days that seem never to end. Like the photo shot around midnight in Arendal. That and the breathtaking scenery and the beautiful, beautiful locals.

So my best travel tip? Attend a Norwegian music festival and meet lots of cool and fun Norwegians!

DJ Yabis of Dream Euro Trip.LIKE him on Facebook. FOLLOW him on Twitter.

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Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

“I realized that I wasn’t after just to see the place but also to learn a thing or two bout their religion and life.” – Two Broke Girls

Growing up in a Catholic family, I always been curious about other religion. After my trip to Kota Kinabalu, I realized that I wasn’t after just to see the place but also to learn a thing or two bout their religion and life. It inspired me to learn one’s culture.

Travel Tips:

- If you’re planning to roam the city, it’s okay to walk it’s just small plus you can really explore the place instead of riding a cab.

- There are Pinoys in Kota Kinabalu, so smile. You might meet a kababayan.

- Dine at local restaurants and eat their cuisine.

- Bring a three-pronged adaptor. They have a different plug from ours.

The Two Broke Girls. LIKE them on Facebook. FOLLOW them on Twitter.

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South Korea

“Just pick a season and travel, you’ll be pleased.” – Runaway Juno

Korea is one of the most underrated countries in Asia. Geographically located in between China and Japan, Korea has been a forgotten destination to many international travelers. However, Korea is certainly can’t be dismissed due to the following reasons: food, nature, culture and history. For five thousand years, Korea has come a long way. The diverse cuisine is one of the world’s healthiest, the four seasons are strikingly beautiful, the five thousand years old history developed the complex culture. Starting the country’s capital city, Seoul, the small peninsula is full of surprises. There’s no better time to visit Korea than now. Just pick a season and travel, you’ll be pleased.

Juno Kim of Runaway Juno. LIKE her on Facebook FOLLOW her on Twitter.

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Prague, Czech Republic

“Prague is a place where great artists, writers and thinkers alike, have gone to be inspired” – Karl

Prague is a place where great artists, writers and thinkers alike, have gone to be inspired. If it is the views from The Charles Bridge , the architecture or the history of this great city, I will never know. Although I am no artist myself, I do I find inspiration walking the cobbles of Prague. From the views in The Old Town Square of the Astronomical Clock to the eeriness felt walking down an alley on a chilly night.

The sounds of a real trumpet belting on the hour high above , the aroma of fresh coffee being brewed , the majestic architecture, too the feel of an ice cold pint of Prague’s finest. All my senses are in overload, and I love it.

It is why my description will pale in comparison to an actual visit. Ordinary people like myself can be inspired to do the unordinary in here. Find your inspiration in Prague.

Karl of Solobagging. FOLLOW him on Twitter.

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Morocco

“Smoking hot tagines reignited my passion for knowledge of other cultures.” – Gay Emami

During my jaded period, I actually believed for some time that the world does get less exotic the more you see it. Morocco brought my travel mojo back early 2012. Its otherworldly landscapes, spice-scented back alleys, enchanting music, and smoking hot tagines reignited my passion for knowledge of other cultures.

Gay Mitra-Emami of Pinay Travel Junkie. LIKE her on Facebook.  FOLLOW her on Twitter.

The compilation of our best 2012 sojourns bring us enough packets of inspiration to sprinkle on for the coming year and wish that our trails be an inspired journey that you will also tread on. We wish that our 2013 travels will give us the adrenalin-rush, the reflective-moments and the rare opportunity to rediscover the world through our soles, our lenses and our pens.

Categories: Backpacker's Corner, Backpacker's food and street foodies, Backpacker's Tip, Meet the Backpackers | Tags: , , , , | 60 Comments

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60 thoughts on “2012 Top Awesome Travel Destinations by Travel Bloggers

  1. this is awesome mate – great way to connect people and show how amazing the world is at the same time, thanks! :D

  2. gretchen

    its nice to travel to other countries but i find that not in my budget so far … well i might as well start traveling around the philippines first … cheers … :-)

  3. Thanks for the invite, mate! I’m proud as to feature alongside these excellent travel bloggers.

  4. Great list – thanks for letting me a part of it. Lots of cool places to add to the bucket list there.

  5. Wow!!! I have just traveled around the world and visited many places I have only dreamed of!! What an amazing collection of journeys from many an inspiring writer and I thank you all for allowing me the opportunity to accompany you on this fantastic voyage! Thank you again for inviting me to be a part of this esteemed company of travelers!!

    • I thank you too Jeff for pitching in on Netherlands. I am most inspired by those I ask to pitch in and they, like you, have been inspiring others and let us continue traveling and sprinkling inspiring as we chart another new destination next year.

      I am glad you accepted my invites to be a part of this. It is great to be so connected as travel bloggers as also we try our best to make this world a better place.

  6. OMG, this list is so awesome Doc Wends!

  7. Thanks for having me contribute Doc Wendz. This is like a check list for anyone going on an RTW, but mainly – this will surely kickstart the wanderlust in everyone.

  8. Great post Doc Wends. Thanks you.

  9. Brilliant, brilliant! I read every single word of it, Doc Wends, and each time I finished reading one destination, my thirst for travel surged a notch higher. How I love this nomadic lifestyle! I’m honored to be included in the list, Doc. And I hope to bump into you and the people in this list soon, in one of my travels.

    Cheers!

    • I thank you Reiza for pitching in on your Uganda trip and I love it the way you weave it too. Its great to be reading you and as always, I wish you safe and happy travels.

      See you on the road Reiza. :)

  10. I hate to state the obvious but your writing is terrible. It’s too flowery and redundant. And you’re proud to be a doctor? Shame on the Philippines.

    • oh well, u are afraid to reveal yourself in your comments on this post? Why? You would have wanted to be a part of this and didn’t get invited? You make your own post and then we will see what good will come out of your head.

  11. Thanks so much for featuring me here alongside some much more experienced travel bloggers Wends! This was such a great read, so big credit to you for having the idea for this. It was really great to be included and to see what other destinations people chose :)

    Great stuff! :)

    • Thanks too Carl. You too have made the list successful with your entry on Barcelona and I am most proud of it. Thank you for pitching in and may this post inspire others to follow our trails and see these in 2013 and beyond.

      I am inspired by your blog too Carl and so happy to have you on the list.

      • It was a pleasure Wends! Oh yeah good point – Just remember it was for all of Spain though, not just Barcelona haha! :)

        Great to see so many destinations on the list too I must add!

      • it will inspire us to see more and sprinkle the world with inspiration. :)

        thanks alot Carl. You have made this list a success too.

  12. Einar Kr. Holtet

    Where is Laos? Where is Vietnam?

    • the list is base entirely on the choices of travel bloggers where they find inspiration and pitched in. Laos and Vietnam are two of my favorite destinations however, no one pitched them in.

      We are all in awe with the two destinations you are looking and in my heart, it is still one of the best to visit.

  13. I love this compilation! Some of my favorite bloggers contributed something. See you soon Doc! :D

  14. Wow you’ve put together quite the list here! Thanks for including my Toronto travel tips!

    • Adam, I am most happy that you pitched in Toronto. My sister and her family lives in Ontario and Canada fascinates me as much as with other in the list.

      Thanks for being a part of this.

  15. Quite the list! Nice stuff.

  16. Nice compilation! And it’s got Upper Viceo’s Mongolia – my favorite country (I live here. Yeah!) Upper – don’t forget State Department Store, our hangout!

  17. Awesome Wends, just great

  18. That’s quite a list of wonderful places Doc! Nice assortment of places to but on the “must see” list! :) Thanks for sharing!

  19. I’m so happy you contacted me to be a part of this. This is such a brilliant idea. It’s crazy to see so many different regions of the world, being picked as the top travel destination. Wow… so many places I have visited here, but many more I haven’t. Looks like even though my trip around the world is ending soon I will have many more place to still travel too. Ahh travel… an expensive yet amazing drug.

    • but still Jaime, I want to get overdose by it. I thank you for joining me in this list and I am inspired by your travels. Since we all shared the same passion for the road, the list sprinkles great inspiration for our readers to follow in our footsteps.

      Your Egypt entry is amazing!

  20. These are some great destinations! It’s great to see some more unconventional locations like Uganda, Mongolia, and Bhutan included here. Thanks for passing these suggestions along!

    • i have had the greatest inspiration compiling all these awesome destinations and is yes, it is part of my bucketlists.

      Safe travels to you and see you on the road wherever it may be

  21. This is quite a list here doc. It inspired me more to becom a traveler someday, of course if I can afford already. hahaha :D soon. the passport’s waiting for me! kudos to the contributors!

  22. shame on “shame” . ignore the coward.

  23. What a great collection of diverse and interesting places. This is a wonderful idea to bring travel bloggers together and introduce us to some hidden gems. Beautiful pictures too! More places to add to the ever-growing travel wish list :)

    • Mary, I am inspired doing this and I am happy most of those I ask to join me pitched in their entry. Mostly, this is our way of paying back to those who get inspired by our travels.

      thanks for dropping by and wishing you great and happy travels :)

  24. howow!, great post, congrats Dr. wends. Kaanindut ba ani.

  25. Thanks for this Doc Wends, this is the powerhouse post of the year! Not sure why I am here though, hehehe ;-)

  26. wow great read Doc Wends and equally awesome destinations! more additions to my growing wish list. :)

  27. Michael Hodson

    Great list you’ve got here. Some great bloggers and even better locations!

    • Thanks Michael and indeed they are. The destinations are handpicked by them as their favorite destination in the year and hope it adds up to the bucketlists of many travelers like us.

      Cheers and see you on the road wherever it may be.

  28. thelighttraveler

    Very comprehensive list, Doc! And thanks for having me! :)

  29. Wow what a great list! It is a humbling reminder of how many places I have yet to see, my bucket list has just expanded a bit!

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