The World's Top 10 Backpacking Destinations
Backpacking is one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have; full of adventure, awarding you with a sense of freedom and giving you the chance to redefine your very being.
Whether you want to stay off the typical beaten track and really experience the culture of a country, or fancy sticking to more typical tourist routes, there is a destination for everyone.
Here are my top 10:
1: Bolivia; well known for its "road of death", a towering, narrow and deadly - but spectacular - road passing through the mountains in the rainforest to the many Inca trails and ruins (the Inca Empire included Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and most of Chile) the country is quite literally packed with awe-inspiring sights to see. One of the cheapest countries in the region - you should easily be able to live on less than £10-15 a day - but one of the richest in terms of the culture and vistas it has to offer. Don't miss; Yungas Road (as mentioned above), Tuahuanaco (an ancient pre Incan city at the heart of the country with megalithic stone structures) and El Pantanals (A huge wetland with exotic animals, plants and birds).
2: Reykjavik, Iceland; an increasingly popular destination for stag and hen weekends, the capital of Iceland is known for its wild nightlife and party culture. With longer nights and cold temperatures it seems the - younger - locals have turned to dancing and drinking the night away. Traditionally a more expensive destination with the average pint of beer costing around £5-6, prices have since fallen with the credit crisis making it a more affordable destination. Don't miss; Laugardalur thermal baths, Blue Lagoon (a Turquoise man-made lagoon), Geysir (the geyser that gave its name to geysers all over the world) and finally, visit in winter to experience the Aurora Borealis (northern lights).
3: Australia; a country filled with backpackers and hugely popular as an easy choice for travellers - although more expensive due to the huge distances involved in getting there and then subsequently travelling around the country. Prices for food and accommodation are a little more expensive than many other popular backpacking destinations (such as Eastern European countries) but with tons of sights to see, friendly locals and culture galore it's most certainly worth it. Don't miss; the Great Barrier Reef, the Metropolitan cities of Sydney and Melbourne, to the outback and the Great Ocean road (not forgetting Uluru or Ayers rock as it is more commonly known), all in all it makes for an unmissable destination.
4: Argentina; this country has it all, stunning mountain vistas with glaciers and crystal clear lakes through to cosmopolitan cities. Once home to the famous Eva Peron (immortalised in the Film/Musical, Evita) and now home to many football mad locals, add superb food coupled with low cost of living and you have the perfect destination for backpackers. Don't miss; Buenos Aires (the country's spectacular capital with wild nightlight and great bars/restaurants), El Calafate/Perito Moreno glaciers (a spectacular sight that will take you back to the ice ages), Iguazu Falls (spectacular waterfalls that make for an excellent photo opportunity) and finally the Valdez Peninsula (a wildlife reserve with whale-watching, penguins, sea lions and all manner of other wildlife to be seen).
5: Thailand; what backpacking trip could be complete without a trip to the seasoned traveller's all-time favourite (although you might want to avoid visiting in May to October as this is the monsoon season). With constant year round temperatures of between 31-34°C and lower humidity levels between November and February, you'll be free to explore this beautiful country and meet its friendly natives (the primary belief system being Buddhism) who can't do enough to make sure your stay is a pleasant one. Don't miss; Bangkok, Ko Phangnan (full moon party), Suan Mokkh (Buddhist forest temple), Phuket (a place that has everything, including superb scuba diving), Chiang Mai (one of Thailand's most beautiful cities) and Kop Samui (a beautiful island with white sandy beaches, clear blue water and coral reefs).
6: Brazil; home to some of the most beautiful people in the world (and to the Brazilian wax...), a culturally diverse society with vibrant art and celebrations galore, Brazil is most definitely the party destination. Don't miss Carnival (a countrywide celebration) and look for a number of other festivals which occur throughout the year when planning the dates of your stay. A country that takes tourism seriously and neighbour to other South American Countries that you may want to visit on your trip (such as Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, etc).
7: India; a rewarding but challenging place to visit whilst backpacking (Delhi Belly and much travelling between attractions can hamper your enjoyment). Food, transport and accommodation are all extremely cheap and the country has culture a plenty. Don't miss the Taj Mahal (a world heritage site built by an emperor in memory of his wife), Goa (for its beautiful beaches, turquoise water and party atmosphere), the backwaters of Kerala (a chain of beautiful lakes and lagoons on the Arabian coast) and Darjeeling (famous for it's tea and verdant green valleys).
8: Cambodia; an excellent place to visit if you like the sound of Thailand but don't want to encounter swarms of other backpackers. Travelling to the country might cost a fair bit but once there, daily cost of living is extremely cheap (hostels costing only a few pounds a day and food costing mere pence). Don't miss; Angkor Temples (around £10-15 a day to enter), Phnom Pen (visit the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and National Museum), Bokor National Park and take an Elephant ride through the Jungles of Mondulkiri Province.
9: Italy; perhaps not the first country that come to mind when planning a backpacking trip on a shoestring budget, but nevertheless, one that should not be missed. With a wealth of historic monuments and ruins to explore, beautiful scenery and spectacular lakes, you'll need to take a big memory card for your camera. Don't miss; Lake Garda (car chase scenes in the Quantum of Solace were filmed there), Venice (well worth taking a day trip to despite the cost of food and drink), Rome (whether you like your fashion or wish to see the coliseum, there's something for everyone) and of course the leaning tower of Pisa.
10: Colombia; and finally, for the braver backpacker, why not visit this up and coming destination. Long avoided due to rumours of kidnapping and drug wars, the country has become much safer in recent years. Extremely cheap food and drink along with super cheap accommodation will make this destination friendly on your wallet. It is still a good idea to stay in at night whilst in cities if you are travelling alone, but beyond this there should be nothing to fear. Don't miss; Bogotá (the capital of Colombia), San Andres (a Colombian archipelago in the Caribbean with white sandy beaches and spectacular scuba diving), Isla Gorgona (a former prison island now a nature reserve) and last but by no means least, Cartagena (a walled city and fortress which repelled pirates in past times).
"An article brought to you by moneysupermarket.com"