Around the globe there are so many incredible places worth visiting. The natural, cultural and historic places you get to visit as a traveler make lasting impressions. I feel very fortunate and thankful that I have been able to visit so many of them.
Many people ask me what my favorite place is I have been to – a question I always fail to answer. It’s just impossible to rank such diverse destinations and experiences. How do you compare standing eye-to-eye with a wild animal in Africa to looking at an ancient old architectural gem in Asia? Are the landscapes of Latin America more impressive than those in North America? Each destination is special in its own way.
That said, being an experienced traveler, I think I should be able to compile at least a top 5 of my favorite destinations. So I asked myself: which countries have made the biggest impressions? What if you add up all the experiences, sights, scents and tastes of the countries you have visited, which ones stand out?
Painfully aware of the arbitrariness of this endeavor and knowing I am bound to do an incredible injustice to all those other amazing places not to be mentioned, a top 5 of Traveling Dutchie‘s favorite countries for amazing travels has surfaced. Highly subjective, but here they are:
The expectations were high when I left for New Zealand – and this stunningly beautiful country met all of them. I you make me choose my favorite travel destination, New Zealand ends on top of the list.
The two islands that make up Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand) provide the perfect scenery for an amazing road trip. After every bend a new panorama. The landscape – or rather all the different landscapes – are unbelievably beautiful and it goes on and on, mile after mile. My journey to New Zealand has been the only one I made during which I had to take a break because it was all too overwhelming.
Subtropical beaches along an azure blue sea, glaciers and snow capped mountains, geysers and hot springs, perfectly shaped vulcanos, wine valleys and endless outdoor opportunities, New Zealand has it all. Unfortunately, living in The Netherlands, New Zealand is so terribly far away, otherwise I would like to go there much more often.
Read more about my trip to New Zealand here.
United States of America
The United States has for a long time been my number one travel destination (until I went to New Zealand). And it’s still a toss-up.
The USA is not one travel destination, it’s a multitude of destinations packed as one. From the metropolis of New York City to the Polynesian islands of Hawaii, from mountainous Wyoming to subtropical Florida. I have visited the USA nine times until now and I’m bound to go back, because there is still much more to see.
The stunning landscapes, fantastic cities, beautiful national parks plus a great travel infrastructure provide endless opportunities for amazing road trips. The vastness of the country, the contrasts and contradictions, the ultimate feeling of freedom; just get in your car, get a cup of coffee, turn on the radio and go!
Read more about my trips to the United States here.
This is where compiling my top 5 became hard: Chile or Argentina? In my opinion the two countries are equally beautiful. Equally stunning really. The reason why Chile is at number 3 is that beforehand I knew that Argentina would be amazing, the beauty of Chile on the other hand came more as a surprise. And made a big impression.
Chile occupies a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. On average it’s only 175 kilometers wide and no less than 4,300 kilometers long! From the driest desert in the world in the north, to the glaciers and Cape Horn in the far south.
Like New Zealand and the USA descibed above, Chile offers a variety of very different landscapes, which makes a journey to Chile highly rewarding. With – if you take the opportunity – Easter Island as a fascinating bonus.
Read more about my trip to Chile here.
Argentina ends ex aequo with Chile and it might just as well the number 3 (like I said, I’m doing great injustice here forcing a top 5). Why? Because Argentina is a stunningly beautiful country. And it’s not just Patagonia.
From the metropolis of Buenos Aires to the dusty streets of Salta and Cafayate in the arid northwest, from the penguins and whales on the Atlantic coast to the mountains of the Andes at Bariloche, and of course the amazing glaciers in the south from Patagonia. Argentina is an amazing travel destination and incredibly diverse. Add good food and fine wines and you have a near perfect travel destination.
Read more about my trip to Argentina here.
Japan is is maybe the most culturally exotic country I have visited. A bit mysterious to outsiders, the traces of traditional Japan can be found everywhere. Walk down a busy neon-lit shopping street where the latest gadgets are sold, turn into a backstreet and you will stumble upon a small temple in a serene environment.
When I visited Japan, to my surprise it turned out to be a very accessible country and a very easy country to travel. It’s very safe, extremely clean and efficient, there is an awful lot to see (until you can’t handle any more temples) and the people are very friendly, helpful and extremely polite.
Japan is a world of its own, uncomparable to any other (Asian) country. A journey to Japan is guaranteed to be very impressive and therefore it’s completing my top 5.
Read more about my trip to Japan here.