We all have our favorite places (or three), what’s yours and why?
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I’ll start it off by throwing a vote in for Thailand.
My opinion is probably colored by the fact that it was my very first backpacking destination over a decade ago now and it was the start of my lifetime love affair with backpacking. I suppose you could say you never forget your first love!
In my opinion as a newbie backpacker destination Thailand pretty much has everything! I have been back a couple of times since and I absolutely love the country and the people and I still have fond memories of the trekking, the islands and the adventures (and misadventures) I had there.
I’m going to get my vote in for Thailand’s less-popular neighbour, Malaysia. The people are warm and friendly, and there’s the ideal mixture (for me, it would seem) of a relaxed atmosphere, beautiful beaches, jungle, temperate-climate countryside (the Cameron Highlands), and urban fun. The climate is a winner too – if you’re looking for a sunny beach, you shouldn’t have a problem much of the year as the east and west coast have different monsoons, so quite often, while on one side it rains, on the other the sun shines. The food is influenced by a mixture of cultures – mainly Indian, Chinese, and Malay – resulting in some fantastic flavours. Yum.
Helen, great answer I LOVE Malaysia! And Singapore has to be my fave city! Okay, am I allowed three faves? Haha! You are absolutely right on the relaxed atmosphere, the food, the people…
Great answer, thank you!
My favourite and first ever back backing destination was Thailand. I will never forget the excitement from the first tuk tuk I got through the streets of Bangkok, the food markets and the crazy nightlife. 3 days later I was sitting on Bo Phut beach in Samui not a care in the world. I would go back in a heartbeat!!
Aidoc I have to agree, my god the food stalls and markets still make my belly growl when I think about them now! don’t forget to drop by here and vote! www.facebook.com/pages/Bemused-Backpa...
For places where I can get by quite alright with the local lingo, China would do it for me. Which is to say I’m an urban backpacker, to some extent. There’s plenty of food around (a priority in my travels), unless you end up in the industrial zones. As a New Yorker, I walk everywhere, and unfortunately, I’ve ended up in a bunch of those zones in China; that’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek, because a lot of the time, you might as well take that to mean “someone’s digging up the rubber sidewalk again,” or “oh hey, that restaurant I went to yesterday is now a five-story motel.”
Chinese cities are fascinating sources of spontaneous amusement too. A few times, I’ve seen parking lot guards pull machetes and 2x4s out of their booths, escalate a trivial issue for a few minutes, then cower away. The amusement factor steps in when an offending party involved in said issue notices that you’re not Chinese AND that you’re filming everything.
Another bonus is the presence of carnival rides in various parks. Bumper cars are a bit of an Achilles’ heel for me, and fortunately (surprisingly) many urban areas have at least one place to participate in a round of 碰碰车 (pèngpèngchē).
Indonesia’s great too, but except for Jakarta, Surabaya and possibly Bandung, the cities aren’t big enough for me. The affable qualities of most Indonesian people helps to make up for that, as does sampling regional cuisines.