As I bid farewell to 25 and prepare myself for the next quarter of my life, I think it’s finally time to post my own bucket list of countries I wish to visit in the next 25 years.
It’s been a lot of fun creating this list and it helps to bring back my travel spirit after a few recent hiccups. Yes, it’s not 100% feasible to accomplish everything before 50. But it’s a nice reference of ideas to inspire my next adventures, and hopefully inspire others too.
[Image Credit: Moyan Brenn]
Iceland has been at the top of my list for so many years I’m surprised I haven’t made it happen yet. Perhaps because I’ve always felt like Iceland deserves a longer trip of its own so that I can fully marvel at the beauty of its many geysers, waterfalls and geothermal spas. The ice cave of Skaftafell and glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón particularly stands out.
2. New Zealand
[Image Credit: MartinStr]
New Zealand’s diverse landscape, ranging from the expansive Mildford Sound to the glowworm caves of Waitomo to the geothermal lake of Rotorua, has made it to my desktop wallpaper many times. It’s just a matter of time before it becomes a reality!
[Image Credit: Kashif Pathan]
Though I visited Hangzhou before, I feel like China still has so much more to offer: the red beach of Panjin, the painting-like mountains of Zhangjiajie and Huangshan, the clear water of Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong, the colorful landscapes of Zhangye Danxia, the ice festival of Harbin, the heavenly lake mountain of Changbai, and of course, the bustling metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai.
[Image Credit: wreindl]
As one of the world’s most culturally rich countries, India mesmerizes me on so many counts: Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Agra, Varanasi, Amritsar, Ladakh and Leh. I’ve heard everybody singing praises for Kerala, so I’ll check it out as well.
[Image Credit: Mstyslav Chernov]
There’s no way I’m leaving this world without exploring not only the ancient wonders of Giza, Luxor and Abu Simbel, but also the stunning White Desert of Farafra.
6. United States of America
[Image Credit: John Vetterli]
The iconic cities of New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the eternally sunny Hawaii are simply impossible to skip; but it’s the Arizona-Utah road trip trail (e.g. Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, The Wave) which attracts me the most.
[Image Credit: jidanchaomian]
The Mediterranean coast of Dubrovnik walled city and the Biševo‘s blue grotto are definitely on my wishlist, as is the idea of wandering through Plitvice‘s 16 natural lakes and its inter-connected waterfalls.
[Image Credit: Jim Gordon]
Another destination with rich traditions, from the Running of the Bulls to tomatoes fighting to flamenco. Topping on that, beautiful architectures from Barcelona‘s Gaudi buildings to Moorish-styled Mezquita of Cordoba to multi-cultural Toledo fascinate me.
9. United Kingdom
[Image Credit: photos.uncoated.uk]
The UK influences so much of what makes popular culture today and there are simply too many iconic things here to be missed: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, red telephone boxes, etc. It’s a vibrant modern country with a strong touch of history.
[Image Credit: Anton Zelenov]
No doubt Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow is a must-do, but I’m also lured by the charm of Trans-Siberian Railway experience, Kamchatka wilderness and the historic Golden Ring cities.
[Image Credit: Gavinevans]
Long isolation from neighboring countries means Madagascar is blessed with bioecosystem not found anywhere else in the world. The razor-sharp stone forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha and the Avenue of the Baobabs are no doubt one-of-its-kind.
[Image Credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen]
THE quintessential safari experience and Big Five game hunting. THE annual wildebeest migration around May/June on Serengeti. THE iconic images of flamingos resting at Ngorongoro‘s Lake Magadi. THE Mount Kilimanjoro. Need I say more?
[Image Credit: wreindl]
Mainly for the jaw-dropping Himalayas and Mount Everest, but also the sacred religious and cultural sites. P.S. God bless Nepal and hope they recover from the earthquake damages soon.
[Image Credit: Petter Lindgren]
Indonesia offers underrated world-class vistas, which is such a pity that everyone seems to know only Bali. And I feel like I haven’t even covered the basics of Indonesia, such as treading Borobudur and Prambanan temples, hiking up Mount Bromo and Rinjani, watching the blue fire of Ijen Crater at night, three-colored lake of Kelimutu, diving at the world’s richest marine biodiversity site of Raja Ampat, discovering the shocking Tomohon traditional market, etc.
[Image Credit: Remote Lands]
For me, this nomadic land represents the last frontier, offering remote beauties such as Tien Shan and Song Kul Lake, as well as 15th century Silk Road legacy in the form of authentic caravanserai Tash Rabat.
[Image Credit: a2ua.com]
Arguably the crown jewel of Silk Road era, with stunning and meticulously-detailed architectures as found in the historic cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.
[Image Credit: Travel Directors]
While the most logistically difficult to visit among the STAN countries, a visit to Darvaza Gas Crater at night is simply too phenomenal to skip shall I embark on a Central Asia adventure someday.
[Image Credit: Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji]
I’m a huge fan of Islamic architecture and artisan works because they’re so amazingly intricate. A visit to what was once the great Persia to cities such as Shiraz and Isfahan is so high on my priority I was VERY CLOSE to including it during my recent Jordan-UAE-Morocco adventure.
[Image Credit: Kirilos]
Brazil is a dream destination in so many ways, though it being so far means it’ll take quite some time before this becomes reality. Until then, my checklist will keep on growing: Rio De Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, Amazon Rainforest, Lencois Maranhenses National Park, etc.
[Image Credit: Liam Quinn]
From Atacama’s Valle de la Luna to Patagonia’s Torres del Paine, Chile is absolutely blessed by Mother Nature. And then, of course there’s Easter Island, which recounts the tale of what happens when human gets too greedy for their own good, and what we are currently doing to our planet.
[Image Credit: Charlesjsharp]
Well, no trip to South America is complete without hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu.
[Image Credit: Jaime Ramos Zambrano]
Colombia is colorful. The vibrant city of Cartagena will be a no-brainer visit, but it’s the five-colored river of Caño Cristales which I believe will knock my socks off.
[Image Credit: Ohio State University]
Once upon a time, I had a dream to become a biologist. When all kids go to a local game arcade called TimeZone every Sunday, I’d ask my parents to bring me to the bookstores to read science books. Having the opportunity to visit Galapagos Islands, where Darwin’s theory was conceptualized would be a childhood dreams come true.
[Image Credit: Ezequiel Cabrera]
4,000-square-mile salt flats that reflect everything above it? Sign me up for this trip.
[Image Credit: Jlazovskis]
Nothing big. Just, like, the tallest waterfall in the world. So tall much of the water evaporates before reaching the ground!
[Image Credit: KoiQuestion]
Following the footsteps of Mayan into Chicken Itza is definitely on the list, but plunging into the secret underworld of the country’s many, many gorgeous cenotes + Marieta Islands‘ hidden beach are the real reasons why Mexico is on this list.
[Image Credit: Liam Quinn]
“I don’t want to visit Antarctica,” said no one ever. Now if only it isn’t so expensive. *sigh*
[Image Credit: Taras r]
This one’s a little different in that I mostly want to visit the ghost town of Pripyat, a trembling testament to the impact of Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster. On a slightly more positive note, I’d also love to visit Klevan‘s Tunnel of Love.
[Image Credit: Klugschnacker]
The first time I saw pictures of Praia da Marinha‘s sunny, rocky beach and Porto waterfront, Portugal shoots up into my wishlist immediately.
[Image Credit: Dobre Cezar]
I wouldn’t skip the chance to venture into Transylvania‘s mystical land, step into the eerie Sighisoara, and be a silly dumb tourist at Bran Castle (yes, I know it’s not the real dracula castle… but still).
[Image Credit: Richard Mikalsen]
Most people I met have been to Australia, and it’s funny how I have always missed the chance to visit this neighboring continent. My wish list is as basic as it gets: Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Island, Great Ocean Road, Pink Beach, Tasmania, but I feel like Australia will surprise me beyond expectations.
[Image Credit: Florian Fuchs]
Everytime I look at photos from Canada, I’ve always been impressed with the mesmerizing panoramas of Banff National Park and the rest of Canadian Rockies. Someday. Yes, someday.
[Image Credit: Rod Waddington]
The present civil war situation means that Yemen is the least likely trip from this list to materialize in near future, but the old city of Sana’a and especially the Mars-like landscape of Socotra Islands are definitely on my before-you-die list.
[Image Credit: Nicholas Kenrick]
Watching sunset at Bagan. Marvel at the gravity-defying Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. And with Myanmar being so close to home, this one will probably happen soon.
[Image Credit: Jean-Marc Astesana]
Another easy pick, with Halong Bay being the nature masterpiece and Hoi An + Hue being the culturally-impressive imperial cities that they are.
36. South Africa
[Image Credit: Brendon Wainwright]
I’m not much of an adventure traveler, but I’ll definitely give a shot at shark cage diving and bungee jumping in South Africa. It doesn’t hurt that Cape Town is so pretty too. And let’s not forget the classic whale-watching experience!
[Image Credit: Kashif Pathan]
Well, mainly for the majestic Victoria Falls and defying death by swimming in its Devil’s Pool.
[Image Credit: Harald Süpfle]
For the surreal Sossusvlei red dunes and white salt pan, the epic Fish River Canyon, and Skeleton Coast where the desert meets the ocean meets a shipwreck!
[Image Credit: Geo Safaris]
The swampy land of Okavango Delta brings out the river safari potential which makes Botswana a very unique game reserve as compared to the rest of Africa.
[Image Credit: Kuoni]
There are many gorgeous tropical beach resorts around the world, yet Maldives stand out because of the bio-luminescent plankton which can be found on Vaadhoo Island. If it’s no longer possible to see stars in the sky, I guess we have to look down.
How the List is Ranked
The list is subjectively ranked based on a combination of how much I want to visit them AND how likely it’ll happen in near future (which is why places far away like South America ranks relatively low although it’s my dream destination). This is done as such to give a better picture of what countries I’m likely to cover next in my blog.
Additionally, the 29 countries (and autonomous territories) which I have already visited are excluded, except for China and Indonesia which I feel I have barely scratched the surface of.
It’s really difficult to narrow down to 40. Some honourable mentions that didn’t make the final cut includes Ethiopia, Algeria, Mongolia, Argentina, Cuba, Seychelles, North Korea, Philippines, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kenya, Palau, Bhutan, Belize, Slovenia… basically everywhere in the world, I guess.