As 2016 draws to a close, and all backpackers look forward to potentially seeing more of the world in 2017, I am going to list 10 of the best – and most convenient – places to visit for backpackers of all ages. These tourist attractions, natural wonders, or cities, are located conveniently for budget travel and have enough excitement and adventure to inspire us all! They are listed in no particular order.
Candi Borobudur, Magelang, Indonesia
I had to start with Borobudur, which is my favourite place I have ever visited on my travels. I am planning another trip there in 2017 – and I think you should do the same! The backpacker town of Yogyakarta is around an hour’s drive away by bus or taxi to the regency of Magelang, where the famous Buddhist temple is there for you to explore. Catching the sun rise over the jungle from atop the stupa is a popular option if you have a little extra money to spend.
The city of Osaka, Japan
While Tokyo and Kyoto could have ended up on this list, I plumped for Osaka simply for its beautiful cityscape scenery and its delightful food! Day trips from Osaka to other places in the Kansai region include Kobe, Himeji Castle, and a little further afield to Hiroshima and Miyajima, which means Osaka is a great place to base yourself – and accommodation here is much cheaper than Tokyo!
The Coliseum, Rome, Italy
There are many different reasons you could visit the Italian capital, but the one things that screams ROME to me is the Coliseum. From anywhere in the city you can see the Coliseum on the horizon, which means that there is no excuse not to visit. I find the best views of the Coliseum are from the outside actually, but inside there is a whole new atmosphere to experience.
The city of Jaipur, India
Up until now I have neglected Jaipur, having only visited on one occasion (and only for a few nights!), but in 2017 I will be making sure I explore the famous Pink City in all its glory. There are few cities in Northern India that highlight the true culture of this region than Jaipur, plus it is a cheap city to stay in and has a whole host of attractions to keep backpackers occupied!
The Registan, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
I cannot recommend Uzbekistan enough to potential backpackers out there! It was once a huge backpacking destination, but recently Uzbekistan has been overlooked. From Tashkent, you should catch the high speed train to the historic city of Samarkand, where you will see such truly incredible sights as the Registan. Day or night, your trip to this Islamic place of worship will not be lacking memories.
The whole of Southern Laos
While travellers will always end up in Luang Prabang (and maybe Vientiane), the south of Laos is often overlooked – even by me, at first! However, if you are serious about your backpacking in South East Asia then you will love the natural beauty of southern Laos, which includes the greenery of the Bolaven Plateau.
Hoi An Ancient Town, Vietnam
Vietnam has many incredible places to visit, especially in the north, but one thing that should be on every backpacker’s bucket list is to experience the Ancient Town of Hoi An. You should take in the sights and sounds of nearby Hue and Danang, too, but the highlight will be the Ancient Town itself, where it seems like a throwback to the Vietnamese glory days of yesteryear! Try and find some com nam (rice) or banh xeo (crepe) and enjoy an authentic local meal beside the harbour – and remember to take plenty of photos!
The Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China
One place in Beijing that always stood out for me was not the Forbidden City, but in fact the Temple of Heaven. Cheap to enter and conveniently located in the centre of the city, the Temple of Heaven will give all travellers an insight into the culture of former Chinese Emperors and their daily lives and beliefs.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany
Munich should always be on the radar for backpackers – and not just for Oktoberfest! Less than an hour’s drive outside downtown Munchen is Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairytale appearance of which inspired the Disneyland castles. All through the year, you can really enjoy a visit to this historic place, but in winter, Neuschwanstein Castle is often covered in snow, and this blanket of white makes the surrounding forests and waterfalls nearby even more splendid to look at!
Chichen Itza, Riviera Maya, Mexico
The Caribbean coast of Mexico is not all just about the beaches and the sunbathing, you know! I found that of all the Mayan (and Aztec) temples and ruins in this region of the world, it was Chichen Itza that excited me the most. It is also an easy 1-2 hour drive depending on traffic from the backpacker hideouts of the Riviera Maya. As well as its famous stone buildings, Chichen Itza is also home to a wide variety of flora and fauna (dense jungle, howler monkeys, macaws, perhaps the odd jaguar?), and a huge sacred diving pool known as the Cenate, where ancient Mayan beliefs told that if you dived deep enough into this pool you would reach the underworld!
Have you been to any of these places? Are you planning to visit any in 2017? Have a happy new year!