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Backpacking Destinations

Backpacking Destinations & Recommendations.

Did you flounder at geography in school? Have you rarely travelled before? Are you stuck in a rut and undecided on where in the world it is you should broaden your horizons? If any of these circumstances ring true with you, worry not. Deciding upon where you want to go is one of the most common dilemmas that aspiring backpackers face.

There's a plethora of choice out there and knowing if you've made the right decision is a thought that can haunt the back of your mind transiently. And so, to help prevent such trifling thoughts, we decided to ask some of the most renowned and experienced traveler's which countries they'd recommend to fledgling backpackers and why.

Here's what they said.

Bali

- Recommended by Jaklien at Passport and Toothbrush

Bali

My favourite place to travel to is Bali in Indonesia. It’s got this unique character as most people on the islands are Hindu which sets it apart from the rest of the country which is mostly Muslim. Things in Bali are fairly cheap so you can find pretty luxurious accommodation for not too much money. My favourite place to stay is Teka Teki. They offer a few rooms and some cottages and they are all decorated in authentic Balinese style. Food is very inexpensive in Bali as well.

You can find authentic food in the warung's for almost nothing and the food is amazing. My favourite is the Warung Ocha in Seminyak which serves Sumatran food. It is extremely spicey, so be warned. Don’t hesitate to try one of the proper warungs along the side of the streets. They serve and sell lovely food and locals will come here as well. You can’t get it more authentic than that.

Most backpackers head to the busy Kuta and Seminyak area so these places can get very busy and congested. It is still nice to spend a few days here and enjoy some shopping, great food and seaside drinks. If you like things a bit more quiet, head up north to places like Lovina, it is much more tranquil and relaxed. Early risers should definitely go on one of the dolphin watching trips although if you are lucky you might be able to spot one from the shoreline.

Ubud in the centre of the island is a bit more laid-back as well and it has attracted many artists over the years. There are lots of galleries and lovely arts and crafts shops here. Don’t miss out on a visit to Monkey Forest which is located pretty much in the town centre. It’s a small park inhabited by Balinese long-tailed monkeys who are extremely cheeky.

Or head out to the idyllic Gili Islands. They are actually located closer to Lombok, but they are still within easy reach of Bali. There are loads of ferry operators that can take you there in a ew hours. There are three of them; Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawangan which is the biggest of them. Here no cars are allowed and only horse and carriages rule the roads. They are the perfect spots to unwind.

Bolivia

- Recommended by Matt Baron at Travel Geek

Indonesia

These days’ backpackers are not only looking for the cheapest but also the most unique destinations to visit. For me that place has to be Bolivia, a country that is so diverse but yet remains relatively undiscovered.

South America is notorious for being friendly, for me Bolivia didn’t fail to deliver. You’ll meet an incredible array of new friends including locals, if you stay at hostels or home-stays you’ll meet like-minded backpackers who potentially you may decide to travel on with. As one of the most affordable places I’ve ever visited, backpacking here is not only cheap but it enables you to see much more of this wonderful diverse country.

The main sites to see include Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flats in the world that will make an incredible photo to show your friends back home whilst making them incredibly jealous. One of the most famous places in South America is Lake Titicaca, many presume it’s only in Peru but thankfully it has shared ownership with Bolivia. Visiting it from the Bolivian side not only means you’ll see the best part but it also has a lot less tourists.

It’s highly likely that when you arrive in the country you’ll fly into the capital La Paz. As it’s one of the most difficult places to fly into due to altitude, as soon as you step off the plane you’ll immediately notice a whole new world. For me this made the destination unique and it’s certainly an incredible place to spend a few days exploring. Be sure to hunt out the people dressed as zebras that manage traffic in the city; they’ll happily stop traffic to have a photo with you.

As a country Bolivia has gone through a turbulent past, many people are still extremely poor but things are changing and I highly recommend visiting sooner rather than later. To be able to backpack here is such a unique experience exploring a totally unusual culture with traditional values for an incredibly low price.

If all of the amazing cultural experiences don’t tempt you the fact that you don’t have to apply for a visa and can buy a beer for approx. $1 should have you booking your plane ticket right now!

India

- Recommended by David Webb at Across & Abroad

India

While careening through the streets of Jaipur, our taxi driver posed the question: “What is impossible in India?” Following a few tongue-in-cheek suggestions from my wife and I, his equally cheeky answer was simply, "Nothing! Nothing is impossible!"

And this rang true throughout our month in the world’s most fascinating country. From the chaotic capital of Delhi, to the knee-weakening beauty of the Taj Mahal in Agra, to the impressive palaces of Jaipur, to the idyllic beaches of Goa, to the cosmopolitan metropolis of Mumbai—India has it all. And we barely scratched the surface. The icy Himalayas, the river-ways of Kerala, the holy cacophony of Varanasi—all of this awaits for our return journey.

For a month, we traveled by train, plane and automobile—and scooter—often relying on the kindness of strangers and impulsive plans to guide our way. Sure, there were trying times. Getting violently ill outside of the Jaipur airport isn’t a fond memory. But it is lost in the mists of wonder. Of ancient culture and modern ambition. Of crowds and of silence. Of colour and of beauty. This is incredible India, my favourite country in the world.

Japan

- Recommended by Dave & Vicky at ACoupleTravelers

Japan - Ku Temple Kyoto

One of the favorite countries Dave and I traveled to was without a doubt Japan. This was the first stop on our round the world trip so naturally made a very bold and memorable impression. We had never been to Asia before so as soon as we stepped off that plane we felt like we were in a different world.

The Japanese architecture, sights, culture, history and cuisine is all so fascinating and enchanting. We were simply amazed by the gorgeous temples in Nara and Kyoto, the modern bustle of Tokyo and the charming small streets and views in Kanazawa, Takayama and Shirakawago.

We couchsurfed during our 2 week trip there and met so many incredible people from young working profession bachelors to a surgeon in his 30s with two young kids to a widowed 70+ year old man. The food is absolutely incredible.

I have never tasted fish quite so fresh and the sushi is simply out of this world. There is no shortage of places to go or things to see in Japan but if you can only make it to one city make it Kyoto, and spend your time exploring the various temples there. Make sure to sample the local food, from the slurp worthy ramen noodles bowls to fresh sushi and sashimi. So much to choose from.

Mexico

- Recommended by Alexandra Kovacova at CrazySexyFunTraveler.com

Mexico - Ek Balam Pyramid

My top backpacking country is Mexico; my number one country in the world. Mexico has it all... from awesome white sand beaches, volcanoes to hike and rivers to cross, to a beautiful underwater world that's great for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Mexico is one of those countries with the biggest bio-diversity I've ever visited. My favorite are the so called cenotes, or sinkholes where you can swim in caves with clear cold water.

Then, with the abundance of unique pyramids, it makes Mexico a paradise destination for such an archaeology lover as myself. Mexican hospitality is known throughout the world and I don't even have to start talking about the most delicious cuisine ever! I could eat quesadillas or nachos with guacamole all the time.

Drinking agua de Jamaica (hibiscus water) while surrounded by all the different colours and smiles is the best chill out time for sure. And on top of that, the Mexican guys are the nicest gentlemen I've ever come across! They will not only open your door but even close it behind you. What kind of girl would not enjoy that?

I definitely recommend spending a lot of time in the Yucatan Peninsula as many stunning beaches, pyramids and cenotes are located there within a short distance from each other, such as Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Uxmal, Coba, Ek Balam, Yaxchilan, and the famous Chichen Itza.

I thoroughly enjoyed Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Queretaro and San Jose Iturbide in particular. I also recommend La Baja California as a great place to visit, if you get time.

Thailand

- Recommended by Rob at Love & Road

Thailand

We've already visited 37 countries in 4 continents, and very often we hear questions like: What's your favourite country? What country do you recommend for backpacking? It's not an easy answer. Actually there are a lot of answers. It all depends on what do you want for your holiday.

For years, Thailand is considered the “Mecca” of backpackers. After spending 3 months in Thailand, I have to agree with it.

Thailand is an easy destination for backpackers. It`s safe, cheap, fun and you can enjoy amazing nature.

A lot of people will tell you that it`s overcrowded that already lost its essence but still is a great adventure. You can find the “real” Thailand if you take some time and pay attention in some details. I went for an early run in Bangkok city centre, a city with 8 million inhabitants, traffic, skyscrapers… and in one of the alleys I spot an old lady drying fish & squid in the path walk.

In the same city where you can party your socks off at Khao San Road you also can join a class of Buddhism. Bangkok is a city of contrasts.

Head north to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai for ancient temples and delicious food. Down to the Gulf of Thailand to the infamous Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, then relax and go diving in Koh Tao. On the Andaman sea, you can visit astonishing rock formations in Krabi & Ao Nang area. Party hard in Patong beach and appreciate the sunset in Pronthep Cape in Phuket. Don't miss the boat ride to Phi Phi islands. Try the Papaya Salad, Pad Thay, Mango Stick Rice, Bubble tea, Iced Coffee...

Above all, the Thai people are absolutely friendly. Thailand really deserves the title of "Land of Smiles".

Turkey

- Recommended by Kamila Zawadzka at London New Girl

Pamukkale, Turkey

I’ve been on a lot of holidays and backpacking trips and my favourite so far has to be Turkey! It’s such a beautiful country and it completely took my breath away which I wasn’t expecting at all – which possibly made me love it even more.

Turkey has so many different landscapes that exploring the region makes you feel like you’re travelling through several different countries. Istanbul is the perfect example as it’s split into two sections – European and Asian sides, which already have a different feel to one another. Istanbul is completely crazy with millions of people and what feels like even more tourists, but there’s so much to see and do.

When you travel to central Turkey, life slows down a little and the scenery completely changes. Cappadocia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and the hot air balloons, underground cities and incredible landscape makes this region one of the most visually stunning in the world.

When you head to the south-west coast, the temperatures sky rocket and the beautiful coastline makes the perfect setting for a relaxing beach holiday. Pamukkale is another natural wonder that will just take your breath away. One of my favourite things about Turkey is the people – I’ve never had such amazing and genuine service before and the people were all so lovely. I was completely taken aback by this and it really made all the difference.

While I’m here, I can’t write about Turkey and not mention the food – I’ve never had so much good hummus in my life!

Finally, every cent counts when you’re backpacking, and your dollar goes a lot further in Turkey than it does in most places around Europe, so it’s really a fantastic country to travel through when on a tight, backpacking budget.

Impressed? As you can see, they're renowned and experienced travel bloggers for a reason...

They are some pretty remarkable destinations, but then we've probably just confused the situation a little more, haven't we. From the more popular, mainstream destinations to those that are off-the-beaten-track, there's a place for everyone on this extraordinary planet that we call home.

If we have just mystified your mind a little more, but you'd prefer not to spend hours researching on the web, reading through books and would like to stop scratching your head in bewilderment at where it is you want to go, we have a brilliant solution to resolve your indecisiveness, once and for all.

Ready for it? Okay, here it is. Rely on your hand-eye coordination and let fate (or your lack of accuracy) decide for you. What we mean by this is throw a dart at a map of the world and see where it lands. We dare you.

It's the journey, not the destination that matters