A bucket list, a travel wish list, or just places you have always dreamed of going—whatever you want to call it, you often wonder if having dreamt of visiting for years if it really is going to live up to its reputation. Are some of these iconic, bucket list destinations really worth all the hype?
Well, this list of five we have visited in the past couple of years definitely do deliver. Despite the crowds, the cost and sometimes the travel distances involved to get there—it is all worth it.
Santorini, Greek Islands
Let’s start here, as Santorini was the destination I was most skeptical about visiting. It is renowned for its natural beauty and stunning sunsets. And it delivers. Nothing quite prepares you for the dramatic cliff-side villages set along the top of the caldera. It is also busy, expensive and touristy. Our tip: stay in Oia to avoid the crowds of trying to get there for sunset. Spend only a couple of days, and if at all possible, don’t visit during peak season! (We were there in May before peak season starts and it was incredibly busy and hot!) Combine the Greek Islands with the Parthenon, another great bucket list destination in Greece.
Staying in Europe and not too far from Greece is Italy. Venice is the top tourist destination in Italy, and Italy has a lot of famous tourist destinations. Venice is renowned for its vaporettos, gondolas and Carnivale. The churches, palaces and museums and, of course, the famous Murano glass are all fascinating to see firsthand. Venice is unique. Riding along the Grand Canal in the evening is an experience you won’t forget. Like Santorini, Venice is busy, touristy and expensive. If you can visit outside of the peak season in June or July, it is less crowded.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Wow! Having seen documentaries, pictures and read about the ancient Khmer Empire, nothing prepares you for seeing the Temples of Angkor. Angkor Wat is but one temple in a complex of many. It takes at least several days to fully appreciate the scale and magnificence of these amazing temples. You can find all you need to know about the Temple of Angkor, what else there is to do and Siem Reap (the nearest town). We’ve even included our favorite Siem Reap bar and restaurant suggestions for you. To plan your trip all our posts, including recipes and travel tips from Cambodia will be helpful. It is hot and humid and busy, but this is not an expensive destination.
A cruise in Halong Bay, Vietnam
This is one of nature’s natural wonders and the rock formations in Halong Bay are amazing. Visiting the many local, floating villages and islands in the bay helps you appreciate the traditional way of life of the many people that call Halong Bay home. This is definitely a case of “you get what you pay for”—you can read the comments on the post for yourself but many people on the cheap “party” cruises into the bay were disappointed. We did a two-night luxury cruise on a traditional junk and couldn’t have been happier. The two nights allows you to travel further into the bay and really enjoy the “vibe.” New regulations have been announced for Halong Bay to limit tourist numbers and preserve the natural beauty.
Machu Picchu, Peru
The crown jewel of the Incan empire, Machu Picchu, is the most visited destination in Peru. We hiked the Inca Trail, the traditional route to Machu Picchu. If you are fit enough to do the hike, it is an amazing experience. The other Inca sites and the agricultural terraces you pass on the four-day hike can only be seen by walking. The trail is largely the original stone walkway built by the Incas. If you can’t do the hike, the train ride to and from Agua Calientes allows you to see Machu Picchu in a shorter amount of time. You need to organize permits and tickets well in advance. As soon as you know your travel dates, organize your tickets to avoid disappointment. — DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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