Top 5 countries to Explore in 2015

Top 5 countries to explore in 2015

Choosing your perfect travel destination is quite a task. Places that are affordable and offer picturesque settings alongside rich culture tend to be either overcrowded or impossible to get to. While I was lucky enough to explore numerous different countries over the last few years, there is only a handful of places I would go back to in a minute.

Expecting heavily polluted and over-crowded cities? Think again. Besides enormous energetic metropolitan centres such as Shanghai or Beijing, China is also home to some of the most diverse, breathtaking and colourful landscapes one can come across. While discovering China requires plenty of time, patience, and flexibility, you will be rewarded with spectacular views and divine food.

Lunch time all day every day
note to self: the unrestored part of the Great Wall of China is just as wobbly as it looks
Avatar adventures in Zhangjiajie
a day of autumn in the middle of winter
breaking through the clouds at 4500m
black and white Yellow Mountains
the Yellow Mountains – a great weekend getaway from Shanghai or Hangzhou
colours of Shanghai
a traditional cooper shows off his smile

China is an up and coming travel destination yet to be fully discovered. Beat the crowds and explore this breathtakingly diverse and beautiful country in 2015!

2. Vanuatu

Located in the South Pacific, the island nation of Vanuatu continues to be #1 in the ranking of the world’s happiest countries. Enough said, right? Besides tonnes of smiles, the sleepy archipelago also offers picture-perfect waterfalls, some of the world’s best wreck diving, deserted white sand beaches, a very accessible and terrifyingly active volcano, and even the chance to rent your private island for the day.

The brightest smiles you will ever come across
this is where taking your rental car off-road will lead you
the best way to see the surrounding islands
how to exit a canyon on Espiritu Santo
dipping my toes in
the perfect way to end a day in paradise
one of the many magical blue holes
getting lost on Efate Island
exploring the Mele Cascades on Efate Island

Whether you prefer to have an active adventure-packed trip, or a relaxed vacation consisting of (too much) good food and an empty white sand beach, Vanuatu has it all! The best time to visit is from May to October; making it the perfect winter getaway.

3. Peru

Peru is the perfect getaway for affordable adventure travelling. Follow the paddle-strokes of David Attenborough spotting jaguars on a canoe down the Amazon.Β  Trample the same ground as the subjects of the ancient Inca Empire leading you to the truly breathtaking site of Machu Picchu. Take a break from your adventures and get to know delightful locals over a glass of Pisco Sour, or two, while practising your Spanish.
From watching spectacular sunsets on giant sand dunes to joining a holy pilgrimage to an Andean peak believed to be a god, the options are plentiful. No matter what you choose to do, don’t forget to indulge into some of the world’s freshest, tastiest, and most diverse cuisine – treat your taste buds and wallet and head to the local market.

Good morning, Machu Picchu!
The big kid at the playground
a 3000m drop in 3 hours #domybrakesevenwork?
the perfect way to end the day
Peruvian pineapple proudness
photo-shoot with my mate, the Llama, at MachuPicchu

Be sure to consider an off-season visit for the most rewarding and grounding experience – the Peruvian wilderness is best to be explored without trails of tourists.

4. Argentina

A land full of beauty, culture, history, and, nature – Argentina will always have a special place in my heart. Whether you take in the awe-inspiring beauty and silence of Patagonia, or you tango through the night in the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, Argentina offers endless opportunities to dive into its rich culture. On a side note,Β  Argentina is the proud founder of the highly celebrated Friend’s Day (20 July); a great reflection of its society’s social nature.

Be sure to see the falls from both the Brazilian and the Argentinian side
one of the most impressive sights I have ever been to – Cascadas de Iguazu
preparing to gallop through the Argentinian pampas
Sunday markets in San Telmo offer unique souvenirs and excellent people watching
Buenos Aires’ best place to sleep, eat, and shop – the leafy suburb of Palermo
the key to my heart

Despite the fact that the home of some the most spectacular waterfalls on this planet has faced plenty of rough times, Argentinians never seemed to have lost their traditions, pride, or humour, which makes it a delightful country to visit.

5. New Zealand

There are only a few words that accurately describe New Zealand. Epic is one of them. Here is why.

Mt Cook is always worth a stop
Christchurch’s city centre
the Botanical Gardens in the heart of Wellington
Kapiti Island makes an ideal day trip from Wellington
lunch with the seagulls in Abel Tasman National Park
en route to Mt. Roy glacier in the Aspiring National Park
a view I never get tired of – Port Hills, Canterbury

Besides the staggering variety of picturesque destinations Aotearoa has to offer, the friendly down-to-earth Kiwis combined with a rich variety of cultures make it the perfect place to explore for young and old. While it is a struggle to get to New Zealand due to its remote location, you will struggle to leave once you are here. In my case, I planned to visit New Zealand for six months before heading back to pursue my studies in Europe. Three and a half years later I am writing this post from my home in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Which one of the above countries would you most like to explore?

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