They often go by different names:
“12 of the Best Places to Visit in 2014”
“42 Undiscovered Destinations to See in 2014”
“5 Hotspots for Food Travelers in 2014”
But when it comes down to it, no matter what these articles do to be different they are all inherently the same. Publish a list of must sees for the year, and I can assure you that Paris, Florence, or Rio will make the cut (most likely all 3). Undiscovered gems? Dubrovnik will be on it 9 times out of 10 but the nearby cruise port of Kotor, Montenegro, will never get a feature. World’s most beautiful cities? I think a more appropriate title would be “World’s Most Visited Cities” because New York City just isn’t that pretty.
So I thought I could do better while still using the same strict criteria these popular travel articles have embraced.
I pulled them out of a hat.
6 of the Best Destinations to Visit Because The Hat Told You So
The following are 6 of the best destinations that we have visited that you absolutely must get to right now because we used the very scientific method of pulling them out of a hat. But, in this case since we do not own a hat, I used a random number generator to pick 6 out of the 250+ cities we’ve been to.
Will this list be a tired cliche like the other articles, or an actual list of great cities to visit? Let’s find out.
It would be like most “best of lists” to include an over-hyped expat haven, and here we are on our first selection! This mountain town in Ecuador boasts beautiful weather year round, Incan ruins, and an array of cultural museums and activities that are free for all who wish to enjoy them. You and your thousand new American expat friends will be thrilled to try out the tasty gringo restaurants, or, if you are one of those rare travelers who likes to go off-the-beaten-path, you may even enjoy eating with the locals at one of the many proper Ecuadorian restaurants in the city where there is hardly an expat in sight!
Want to visit other gorgeous cultural cities in South America? Check out Sucre, Bolivia and Cusco, Peru!
Koh Lanta, Thailand
It looks like it is true that no best of list gets published without featuring a Thai island, so I am not surprised that one came out of our draw for this post (although I’m a bit shocked it wasn’t Phuket, the go-to choice in these kinds of articles). As one of the larger islands off the western coast, Koh Lanta is the place to do lots of exploring on your motorbike as you go on a quest to find the best beaches and delicious restaurants. Give it just a little bit of time and you will be easily rewarded in this gorgeous paradise. Be sure to stop at the famous Hammock House and bring home one of these prized souvenirs before leaving, too!
Looking for more Thai paradises to add to your itinerary? Check out the islands of Ko Tao and Koh Lipe!
As the trendy capital city of Peru, Lima is one place you absolutely cannot miss on any visit to the country. We say can’t miss in the literal sense because you will be flying into the city on your way to Machu Picchu as it is home to one of the few international airports in the country. Second, even if you come in overland you’ll have to spend a few days here getting your emergency passports if your backpack gets stolen along with all its contents (important documents included). Do not miss the famous Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink, because you’ll need quite a few to get over the anger from the theft and the headache of dealing with Peruvian immigration to replace your entry stamps.
Looking for more capital cities in the South? Bogota, Colombia and Santiago, Chile may be for you.
You’ve seen burial sites and memorials for leaders everywhere else in the world, but you haven’t seen the best until you travel to Hue, Vietnam to visit the tombs of the Vietnamese emperors. The tombs in this city are for the emperors from the Nguyen Dynasty which reigned from 1802 to 1945. Although many of the tombs and historical buildings were damaged in the wars since then, the repairs and restoration have made them truly a sight to see. Do not go to Vietnam without putting this one on your list!
Want to visit more unique Asian cities like Hue? Head to Yangshuo, China or Malacca, Malaysia
You should have seen this one coming, but as much as I want to say this was planned, it was completely random. I think our hat has been reading too many best of articles. In any case, this popular cruise destination in Eastern Europe is home to one of the most beautiful walled cities on the continent. One of our favorite activities in this city was taking the cable car up the nearby mountain for a gorgeous look at the city and sea before returning down to walk the walls and feel like you were transported back in time (or, more aptly put, transported to King’s Landing as this city is displayed as in the popular TV series Game of Thrones). Want to feel like you are a the ruler of your own kingdom (hopefully not Westeros)? Stay at the Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik like we did for a true taste of luxury.
Looking to visit more historical cities in Eastern Europe? Check out Kotor, Montenegro and Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
To get a true taste of Spanish life, Granada is the place to be. This city in southern Spain embraces many of the philosophies of life you’d come to expect from the country, namely tapas and siestas. Could you ask for anything else? Well, if you do require more of your time in a Spanish city this one also is home to the Alhambra, one of the most beautiful Islamic styled palaces you’ll see in the west. Get your reservations in advance for this one because the time slots book up soon after they become available. To end your day, head to our favorite not-so-hidden-gem, the olive oil shop La Oliva and ask for the olive oil infused tasting menu that will blow your mind (reservations also required).
Hungry for more wonderful food cities in Europe? Make your way to Budapest, Hungary or Florence, Italy.
So, how did our hat do in competing with the best of lists that make the rounds every few weeks on the major news sites? We have our cliched expat haven, a Thai island, Dubrovnik, a capital city in South America for diversity, and two real gems that you may not have known anything about before reading this article.
Two out of six? I’m starting to think that the hat should get a job one of those national news sites.
Check back soon for our next best of list where we throw spaghetti at the wall to see which city gets spelled out to claim a feature. Something tells me Dubrovnik has really good odds there, too!
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