When you head out on a long-term trip, every single person you meet will ask you what your favorite experience has been. We have been asked this question hundreds if not thousands of times, and for several months it was very hard to answer as we have had just too many great experiences to pick the very best.
As a way to share our favorite experiences and give you inspirations for activities to do on your own long-term trip, we decided to put together a ranked list of our Top 100 experiences, destinations, restaurants, and moments from around the world.
When reading, keep in mind that we haven’t been everywhere. This list represents our favorite experiences as of now, from all of the destinations we’ve been to (500+ cities in 67 countries), and will be updated as we travel more and find great experiences that make the Top 100.
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67 Hang Dieu Street – Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam. This is all you need to know when it comes to Bun Bo Nam Bo, a restaurant that serves the namesake dish (in fact, it’s the only dish they serve). Bun Bo is a traditional beef and noodle dish in Vietnam, and Bun Bo Nam Bo serves a variant full of vegetables, tangy sauce, and bold flavors that come together in perfect harmony. For just a few dollars per bowl, you really can’t go wrong here. Perhaps there is a reason I still have the address committed to memory almost six years later. It was my favorite meal in all of Vietnam, and for a country that is as delicious as this one is, that is truly saying something.
#69 – Meeting Friends and Making New Ones
You’re never truly alone when you travel long-term, even if you are traveling solo. Being on the road for months or years on end gives numerous opportunities to make friends on the road or have friends from home come visit. We were lucky in that we had a friend visit us in Turkey and Bulgaria as well as in the Galapagos several months later. In addition to this, we made dozens of great friends that we ended up seeing quite a bit, including a couple we me during our Easter Island visit and another that Jeremy later visited at their home in Paris. Think that you need to be staying in dorms to make this happen? We actually met our closest friends from traveling on day tours!
#68 – Boulder’s Beach in South Africa
Like other beaches featured on this Top 100 list, Boulder’s Beach is not included for its natural beauty. In fact, you can’t even step foot on this one. This beach makes the cut because it is home to about 2,000 endangered African penguins! I mean, lets be honest, is there anything cuter than watching penguins play on the beach? Add in the fact that it is one of many incredible Cape Town activities, and you do not need any other reason to know you’ll have a good time here.
#67 – Kathmandu‘s Monkey Temple
Normally when wild monkeys run around temples, they are a nuisance. But at Swayambhunath in Kathmandu, Nepal, they are considered holy. As a result, these monkeys can be found all over the grounds of this gorgeous stupa that was renovated in 2010. This temple made our list because it was the first stupa we visited in Nepal, and it was also the first spot where we first heard the famous “om mani padme hum” chant that helped carry us through our Everest Base Camp trek a few days later. If there is any place that can bring about a feeling of serenity in us, it would be this place, and we definitely needed that for the looming trek.
#66 – Swiss Fondue
Does anyone else feel satisfied eating a giant hunk of cheese, or is it just us? Well, if you are like us then you’ll understand why Swiss Fondue takes our #66 spot. This delicious meal is actually taken quite seriously in Switzerland, and many restaurants that serve fondue offer numerous variations to try that are all delicious, making it hard to pick just one. No matter what you do, however, be sure not to keep the flame going when the cheese level gets low or else you will burn the religieuse, the browned cheese that sticks to the bottom. It is truly the best part (and beginners like us missed out on enjoying it several times due to our poor burner skills).
Without seeing photos of Lake Bled, you may not give it a second thought. This small mountain town in Slovenia is famous for the 17th century church that was built on the island in the center of the lake. As the story goes, it is good luck for grooms to carry their brides up the near-100 steps to the church on their wedding day before ringing the church bell and making a wish (although I’m sad to say, our wish has not come true yet- maybe I should’ve carried Angie up the steps). For those with a flair for the romantic, this destination doesn’t disappoint. Lake Bled is also the gateway to the Julian Alps and offers numerous day trip opportunities like white water rafting and exploring Bohinj, Sloevnia, another popular glacial lake in the region.
#64 – Oktoberfest
Beer drinkers rejoice! We would not do justice to European beer without featuring this incredibly popular event that is celebrated around the world. We spent three days in Munich taking part in the massive party that is Oktoberfest, and although we found it to be crowded and overpriced, we’d be lying if we didn’t say it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we’re happy to have celebrated. The bonus perk of being in Europe throughout the duration of Oktoberfest meant that we also got to experience the party in several different cities like Bucharest and Vienna, which were much more low-key, offered better beer choices, and overall were just as enjoyable as the party in Munich, if not more! (Hefewiesen fans like us take note: the Oktoberfest in Vienna has the best).
#63 – Tacos al Pastor in Mexico
The preparation looks like a Greek Gyro, and the delivery looks like a taco. Drooling yet? Tacos al Pastor lived up to the hype as being one of the best meals we’ve ever had while traveling. A heaping mound of pork is covered with bright red achiote paste and is cooked on a giant vertical rotisserie just like gyro meat is. This meat is shaved off straight into a fresh, soft corn tortilla and topped with onions, cilantro, salsa, and one or two pieces of grilled pineapple. The best part? These delicious tacos come in at around $0.50 to $1.00 each so you’ll be able to have an entire meal for under $5 US. For our very favorite, be sure to try Antojitos La Chiapaneca in Tulum!
#62 – Whale Watching in Baja, Mexico
If you want quite possibly the best whale watching in Mexico, head to Baja. Every October, gray whales migrate from the Bering Sea all the way down to the Baja Peninsula. The gray whale has the longest migration pattern of any mammal- over 5,000 miles each way! Once they reach Baja in December or January, the females start giving birth in protected bays and lagoons. Because the whales stay here off the peninsula for several months, you have a much better chance of seeing whales in Baja and you can get much closer to them than in other whale watching spots around the world. Despite their massive size, there is something graceful and majestic about these creatures and the way they glide in and out of the water. This is one awe-inspiring experience that’s hard to fully describe in words- you’ve got to experience it to believe how life-changing it is!
My Koh Lipe Thailand is, without a doubt, our favorite island in the country. Although the activities you can do on this island are much more limited than on, say, Phuket or Koh Samui, the natural scenery more than makes up for any lost opportunities. This small island boasts no roads, no cars, and can be walked in about 20 minutes. So what makes this island so special? The beaches are pure white sand, the water crystal clear, and it is an access point to Tarutao National Park, one of Thailand‘s best and oldest marine reserves. If you want an island with a secluded feel while still having opportunities for day trips and other activities, Koh Lipe should be on your list.
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How We Came Up With This List
- Angie and I each put together Top 100 lists based on our favorite experiences both together and separately.
- We then compared our two lists and averaged out items that appeared on both lists.
- Example: An experience ranking #12 on Jeremy’s and #20 on Angie’s list was re-ranked at #16
- Roughly 50 items appeared on both lists.
- We then critiqued experiences which only appeared on one list.
- For experiences that we both had, the one who did not list it originally assigned their own rank and we averaged them out like above.
- For experiences that only one of us had from traveling solo, we accepted the listing as ranked and promised to take the other one day.
- Roughly 20 of Angie’s items and 30 of Jeremy’s unique items made the final cut.
- We then came up with a final Top 100 list based on these adjustments and then tweaked placements together as needed to fix any unusual averaging errors.
- Destinations visited by staff members were not considered.
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