The year is almost coming to an end, and I cannot help but look back at how adventurous and exhilarating these 12 months have been. I’m not quite sure how I am still standing, or how it’s humanly possible that I have any form of energy left in me. This entire year has been one giant blur of challenging responsibilities at work, squeezing in any time that I can spare to travel, sharing my experiences through writing, running to visa embassies, creating excel spreadsheets of itineraries, and figuring out the world of websites and blogging.
I cannot believe that I made it to 14 countries this year (excluding my other 10+ local trips within Thailand itself), while holding a full-time job, updating my blog, and freelance writing. I’m pretty convinced that I’m giving Super Woman a run for her money.
Here are my top 10 destination picks of 2015 from both overseas and domestic travels…
1. Wahiba Sands, Oman
Sand dune jumping, watching sunsets while riding camels, and huddling around the bonfire by night far exceeds how I ever imagined my first desert experience would be like! Oman in itself is a magical country, untainted by tourism. Make it to Oman before it’s crowded with mass tourism, because from what I witnessed there, it won’t be long until people start to catch on to what this nation has to offer.
2. Luang Prabang, Laos
Hiking, rice farming, lazing around in waterfalls, riding boats up and down the Mekong River, and cooking local cuisine only begin to highlight the memories I made at this UNESCO World Heritage site! Such a lovely town that has managed to keep it’s charm despite the number of backpackers that visit.
3. Samphanbok, Thailand
This place is quite literally Thailand’s best kept secret and the nicest surprise of 2015. I live in Thailand, and little did I know we have such an amazing canyon just in our backyard. I saw a completely different side of what Thailand had to offer, and it made me fall in love with the country all over again. Refered to in English as The Grand Canyon of Thailand, this place is best visited between December and April. During the rest of the year, the Canyon is drowned out by they rainy season. Plan wisely before you make the trek there!
4. Bled, Slovenia
Put the best camera in my hand, and I could take a 1000 photos. Yet, none of them can quite capture how beautiful Lake Bled is, especially on a day with clear blue skies and sunshine. I discovered another hidden gem, Lake Bohinj, while I was there. This place stole my heart completely, and I cannot wait until I’m back again… because I know I definitely will be!
5. Kyoto, Japan
Fushimi Inari, Gion District, Arashymai Bamboo Groves, the Philosopher’s Path, and so much more. This city is packed with adventure, historical sites, beautiful landscapes, and a great nightlife scene. Need I say more? Make sure you know these quirky facts before heading over to Japan!
6. Pai, Thailand
A town loved by both locals and travellers, Pai is tucked away in between mountains in the Mae Hong Son region. The cold weather, quirky coffee shops, brunch spots, artsy shops, and graffiti gave me a new perspective on rural Thailand. I felt as though this town was some part of Willy Wonka’s next pet project!
7. The Prosecco Route, Italy
I have a weakness, and that weakness is Prosecco. This 40 – 50km Prosecco Vineyard drive took me to some of the cutest little towns, scenic wineries, and abandoned castles. The sunset I got to witness after my day trip was simply the cherry on top of the icing that was already on the cake!
8. Lalibela Game Reserve, South Africa
There is nothing quite like the experience of being amongst animals in the wild. It’s exciting, nerve-racking, and borderline insane to be able to get that close to them. The adrenaline rush I had everytime I saw cheetahs, lions, rhinos, and elephants is beyond me. I would do it over and over again. Call me “Mrs. Tarzan, Queen of the Jungle”, please and thank you.
9. Paris, France
I’ve been to Paris three times now, however this year was my first romantic experience there, which allowed me to see the side of Paris the world is crazy about; and I have to admit it… I completely get it now. The food, wine, atmosphere, music, language, and long strolls along the riverside exude flirtation and seduction.
10. Koh Tao, Thailand
Hopping on a private long tail boat and snorkelling around the island was pure bliss, not to mention I witness to most beautiful sunsets and sunrises on this island.
An added bonus: Koh Nang Yuan, one of my favourite little islands in Thailand is right next door to Koh Tao! Feeling so blessed to have had the opportunity to go back to this island for a second time 🙂
And there you have it, my top 10 travel destinations of 2015. I’m not quite sure where next year will take me, nor do I have any expectations. However, I do know one thing: This year will be a difficult one to beat, because in 2015 I made a conscious decision to follow my passion. I made a conscious decision to embrace life. I made a conscious decision to be true to who I am. This is precisely what makes 2015 an unforgettable year, and a pivotal turning point in my life.
Want to know viaBangkok’s picks for trending destinations of 2016? Stay tuned!