Blog post by the guest blogger Coconuts and Camels. Did you miss the previous guest blogger post? Click here to discover The Gift Guide: For a Travel Blogger or Vlogger.
In the time of Coronavirus and with travel plans on hold, I’ve taken some time to look back on my top 10 travel experiences, moments, and favorite memories. It’s definitely a hard one to narrow down – especially as I pretty much fall in love with every place I visit.
Looking back at travel experiences, memories, and favorite moments… As much as I think it’s good to stay in the present and appreciate the now, I do sometimes enjoy flicking back through old travel photos and thinking about all those great moments I had.
Sometimes it’s also easier to focus on or just remember the bad things, so it’s good to reflect on all the amazing times too!
So here are my top 10 travel experiences so far!
Top 10 Travel Experiences
- Five-week trekking expedition in the Indian Himalayas
- Watching the sunrise over temples in Bagan, Myanmar
- Night snorkeling with bioluminescent plankton in Thailand
- Jungle trek and camping in Luang Namtha Province, Laos
- Walking the stairway to nothingness at the Dachstein Glacier, Austria
- Early morning visit to the Taj Mahal, India
- Kayaking through Halong Bay, Vietnam
- Getting lost in Fez Medina – the largest car-free urban area in the world
- Camping under the stars in the Thar Desert, India
- Hiking up Vidova Gora mountain – the highest peak of the Adriatic Islands, Croatia
READY? LET’S DISCOVER!
1. Five-week trekking expedition in the Indian Himalayas
Aged 18 I went on a trekking and science expedition to the Indian Himalayas with the British Exploring Society. It was a five-week experience completely out of my comfort zone, where for three weeks I lived at over 4,800 metres, reaching 5,175 metres as my highest point.
Although there were many challenges at times, such as altitude sickness, it also provided me with some of the best travel experiences and memories. From seeing fresh snow leopard footprints, to abseiling down a sheer rock face, and kayaking on a lake to do scientific research of the water depth.
If you’re aged 14 – 25 and are keen for some adventure, I would definitely check out the British Exploring Society’s current expedition opportunities. It was a travel experience that I will never forget and really helped with my personal development, particularly my confidence.
2. Watching the sunrise over temples in Bagan, Myanmar
Myanmar was the second country we visited during my backpacking adventure across South East Asia. It was a country that I didn’t really know much about, but I really wanted to visit as my Grandad was based there during World War II.
After two days in Yangon, we got an overnight bus to Bagan. In typical Asian style, it consisted of a midnight stop at a highway bus station with lots of 24-hour restaurants – where you have to get off, even if you’re sleeping. To finally arrive in Bagan in the early hours of the morning, around 3 am!
So we headed straight to our accommodation, dropped off our rucksacks, and hired an electric scooter. The only bonus of already being awake that early was that we could go directly to the temples to watch the sunrise.
And it sure didn’t disappoint!
Tip: Just be aware that a lot of other tourists will be doing the same thing, so it gets rather busy. Get there as early as possible to get the prime photographer positions.
We sat in complete darkness for a while at the top of a temple, to eventually see the first few rays appear on the horizon. And as the sun rose, so did dozens of hot air balloons in the sky.
Note: Unfortunately, we were traveling on a backpacker’s budget and couldn’t afford one of the hot air balloons rides over the temples at sunrise. But if you can spare the cash, I’ve heard that it’s definitely an experience worth doing!
3. Night snorkeling with bioluminescent plankton in Thailand
I loved all of my snorkeling experiences when in South East Asia, from the Philippines to the Thai islands. But my favourite would have to be night snorkeling with bioluminescent plankton!
When in Ko Phi Phi we took a boat day trip from the main island of Ko Phi Phi Don to some of the “tourist hot-spots”. Including Monkey Beach, Pi-Leh Lagoon, and Maya Bay – where the iconic film The Beach was filmed.
On the way back from our day trip we watched the sunset from the boat, before finally going night swimming with bioluminescent plankton!
As you swim and touch the water around you the bioluminescent plankton glow, creating luminous blue lights. It was beyond mesmerizing…
4. Jungle trek and camping in Luang Namtha Province, Laos
When traveling around South East Asia, I did a couple of different trekking trips including an amazing one in Myanmar – a 3-day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake.
But I think my most memorable one would be in the province of Luang Namtha in northern Laos where we trekked into the jungle, visited a remote village, and stayed overnight literally in the middle of nowhere! To then water-raft down through the jungle the next day.
We booked our trek/kayak trip with Green Discovery Laos (Adventure Travel and Ecotourism), although there are several tour groups that operate in the area.
5. Walking the Stairway to Nothingness at the Dachstein Glacier
During my travels around the Salzkammergut region in Austria, we did a day trip to the Dachstein Glacier and Mountain. At 2,700 m, it is the highest mountain of the Styria region, providing panoramic views across the Austrian mountain ranges. On a clear day, you can see towards the Czech Republic and Slovenia!
There are several different things to do at the summit, such as crossing the suspension bridge or visiting the ice palace. But for me walking the stairway to nothingness was an experience I’ll never forget!
This clear glass platform protrudes out from the mountainside… even I had wobbly legs. However, the views and epic photos make it totally worth it!
6. Early morning visit to the Taj Mahal, India
Of course one of my top 10 travel experiences would have to be visiting one of the wonders of the world… the Taj Mahal!
Agra was just our second destination after Delhi, India, on our five-month backpacking trip around Asia – A great way to start our travels.
The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is early in the morning for sunrise when there are fewer crowds and it’s not so hot. The opening time is from 6 am. We stayed in a hotel not too far from the East Gate entrance of the Taj Mahal, so that the next morning it was easy to get our tickets and get in nice and early.
One key thing to remember when visiting the Taj Mahal is that day backpacks or large bags are not allowed in… We found out the hard way and ended up having to leave our rucksack with the owner of a small nearby shop, just taking our valuables with us! Although the man was very kind and our bag was very safe with him, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this.
There are lockers at the entrance gates where you can leave your bag. Otherwise, all you can really take in with you is water, a camera, and your phone! Check out the full list of prohibited items here.
Tip: If you can, try to avoid visiting the Taj Mahal between November to February, as there tends to be a lot more fog during these winter months. Making it more difficult to get clear photos.
7. Kayaking through Halong Bay, Vietnam
After spending a few days in Hanoi, Vietnam, we headed to Cat Ba Island located in Halong Bay. From here we took a boat day trip out into the bay to see the sights!
One of the highlights was definitely getting to kayak through some of the bay areas, exploring caves and islands. Kayaking also allows you to reach more hidden spots that can’t be reached by the larger boats…
8. Getting lost in Fez Medina
Morocco is an enchanting and fascinating country that I have visited twice now and find it hard not to return! As much as I love Marrakech, Fez is like a hidden treasure in comparison. A place where you can truly take-in the traditional Moroccan lifestyle and culture.
I spent four days in Fez exploring the medieval medina; a UNESCO world heritage site and consists of a labyrinth of streets, alleyways, souks, and tanneries. It is also the world’s largest urban car-free zone, as the streets aren’t wide enough for vehicles! You can easily get lost in Fez Medina, but I think that just adds to the experience.
9. Camping under the stars in the Thar Desert, India
The most magical travel experience would have to be stargazing in the Thar Desert – one of the best stargazing destinations due to minimal light pollution.
When traveling around Rajasthan, India, we headed west to Jaisalmer in the heart of the Thar Desert. From here we booked onto an overnight Camel Safari with Trotters Jaisalmer (Independent Tours and Travels) – a small local camel safari business based in Jaisalmer. Although there are several different tour operators here.
We first set off by jeep to drive further into the desert, towards the Pakistani border. After a while, we stopped to meet the rest of our tour guides and of course our camels! From here we traveled further into the desert in camel convoy.
Later that afternoon we reached our camp for the night and had a traditional Indian meal whilst watching the sunset over the sand dunes. At this time it was still too light to see any stars properly so we headed to bed out in the open under the night sky.
We woke up in the middle of the night to see a blanket of stars completely covered above us. I’ve never seen anything like it and is a memory I will never forget.
10. Hiking up Vidova Gora mountain
When visiting Croatia last year, we visited Split and the nearby island of Brac. On Brac island we stayed in Bol, which is also home to Vidova Gora mountain. At 778 metres, it is the highest peak on the island of Brač as well as on all of the Adriatic islands!
We left super early (about 6 am) in order to hike most of the mountain before the sun fully rose, to avoid the midday heat. It took us about 3 hours to hike to the summit and we were the first people there that day! And the views at the top definitely don’t disappoint…
At the summit of Vidova Gora, you can enjoy spectacular views of Bol and Zlatni Rat beach below, as well as across to Hvar Island.
If you’re not feeling up to the hike, then there is a road up Vidova Gora mountain. From the car park, it’s just approx. a 10-minute walk to the official summit.
TOP 10 TRAVEL EXPERIENCES – WHAT’S NEXT
With my travels, I know that I’ve been lucky to travel and explore a lot of places so early on in my life. From holidaying all around Europe and northern Africa as a child, to then backpacking across South East Asia. So although I have pulled together this shortlist of my top 10 travel experiences, I would honestly say it’s pretty much an endless list of incredible memories.
… Now just time to make some more!
I would LOVE to hear what your favorite travel experiences and memories are – Share and comment below!
Moments that matter, no matter the top list.