1. Bangkok, Thailand
This capital city started off as a trade center and port community before becoming the loud, vibrant and exhilarating city it is today. See the stunning architecture of Grand Palace and Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn), or travel to Wat Pho to catch a glimpse of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha which stands at 15m high and 45m long. Be sure to check out the Floating Market,which offers a scene of wooden boats carrying all sorts of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers. If you are in the mood for some extreme shopping, visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market which contains upwards of 8,000 different vendor stalls to choose from.
2. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia is home to Angkor Archaeological Park, which is where the famous temple Angkor Wat is located. You can also watch Phare Ponleu Selpak, Cambodia’s renowned circus, which captivates audiences with its acrobatics, traditional Khmer cultural dance, music and circus slapstick. If you want to do something adventurous or witness Cambodia’s beautiful jungle canopy, the Flight of the Gibbon zip line tour offers 10 zip lines with 21 platform stations and even a 50-meter abseil! For a more relaxing activity, you can observe thousands of butterfly species in Southeast Asia’s largest butterfly enclosure at the Banteay Srey Butterfly Center.
3. Manila, Philippines
Manila, the lively capital of the Philippines, is infused with both a mix of modern and historic things to do. Located in the city’s center is Rizal Park, a tranquil garden of local flora, which houses statues and monuments dedicated to Manila’s history. Another large tourist attraction is Fort Santiago, the historical 16th-century fortress that protected the Walled City, Intramuros. Two well-known churches are the San Agustin Church with its beautiful Chinese and Spanish influences and The Quiapo Church, which is one of the most treasured and oldest Catholic Churches in the city. For an intriguing outing, visit Manila Ocean Park where in addition to seeing sharks and stingrays, you can also have fish clean your feet at the fish spa! Be sure to plan your visit between May and November to avoid the season when typhoons tend to occur).
4. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh consists of its Old Town, which includes a castle and its “Georgian” New Town, which offers large squares and vast avenues. Travel The Royal Mile and walk through little alleys to see a spectacle of townhouses, historic landmarks, shops, inns, cafes, and museums. At Edinburgh Castle, one of the UK’s most popular attractions are the Crown Jewels, Stone of Destiny, and the Scottish National War Memorial. For a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and Nelson’s Monument, visit Calton Hill. Edinburgh also has many museums to check out, including the National Museum of Scotland, the National Portrait Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. St. Giles Cathedral and The Palace of Holyrood house as well as Holyrood Abbey are also must-sees when you’re in this city.
5. Reykjavik, Iceland
With a name translating to “Smokey Bay,” this small city of 200,000 has lots to offer. Its most famous spectacle is definitely its Northern Lights (which are visible from late August to early May). Another main attraction is the natural hot springs, which are made possible by geothermal activity. Check out Hallgrimskirkja Church which towers above the city at 74.5 meters and can be seen from practically anywhere in the city. If you pay a visit, be sure to check out its viewing platform which gives a complete panorama of the city. For wildlife enthusiasts, there are whale watching and puffin tours available. If you want to see a mesmerizing piece of architecture, visit Harpa Concert and Conference Hall where you can also catch the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra rehearsing or performing a concert.
6. Sao Paulo, Brazil
Its Portuguese, Spanish, German, African, Jewish, Arab and Japanese residents all contribute to the culture of this diverse city (which also is the largest city in South America). The Sao Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) contains western art by Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Manet, and Picasso, along with 73 bronze sculptures by Degas. The Teatro Municipal (City Theater) houses performances by internationally-renowned singers. Visit Ibirapuera Park for museums, playgrounds, gardens, and trails. For a fancier scene, visit Parque da Independancia (Independence Park). This beautiful spot has roses, topiaries and fountains inspired by Versailles and is overlooked by Museu do Ipiranga. Lastly, Se Cathedral is an historical must-see neo-Gothic cathedral capped by a Renaissance style dome. Inside is a 10,000-pipe organ and the opportunity to take a tour of the crypt beneath the church.
7. Cape Town, South Africa
This city is known for its natural beauty with tons of places to explore. Cape Town’s most popular landmark is Table Mountain, which has a flat top and is composed of sandstone and slate. One can climb to the summit to admire the views it offers in two to four hours. A ride via revolving cableway is also available for those in hurry, only taking seven minutes to reach the top. The beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are set on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. A total of 20,000 native South African plant species grow throughout these gardens! For those seeking sun and soft sand, Camps Bay and Clifton are less than four miles from the city center and offer stunning views of the water. Dare devils can get an up close and personal with Capetown’s Great White Sharks by cage-diving. Dolphin, seal and whale-watching tours are also available for the less adventurous.
8. Jaipur, India
Jaipur is often called “Pink City” after the pink sandstone its buildings were made from. City Palace is located at the center of Jaipur and its architecture combines Rajput, Mughal and European influences. Some parts of City Palace have even been made into art galleries and museums showcasing armours, carriages, and costumes. Hawa Mahal is definitely a must-see with its beautiful red and pink sandstone and 900 detailed small windows. Its top floor even offers a panoramic view of the city. Jal Mahal, also called the Water Palace, is a stunning palace that visitors can access via boat ride. For another relaxing view, visit the Kanak Vrindavan, a gorgeous garden with perfectly arranged lawns and fountains.
9. Prague, Czech Republic
This city offers scenic views of old churches, tall old towers, and Gothic, Baroque Renaissance and Art Nouveau influences. Old Town Square is a great place to start out your trip, as it has tons of old churches and its iconic Astronomical Clock. Prague Castle, built in 970 AD, is one of the oldest castles in Europe. Prague Castle contains many famous sites such as St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, and the Old Royal Palace. Prague’s Charles Bridge is one of the most well known in all of Europe, and it offers spectacular views of the River Vlata. To see some art, visit the National Gallery in Prague which offers art by Monet and Picasso in addition to works such as photography, fashion, applied arts and sculpture.
10. Melbourne, Australia
This city is Victoria’s capital city and Australia’s second largest city. The fist place to check out is Federation Square, which has a unique design of open and closed spaces and houses entertainment and galleries. The Royal Botanic Gardens is a great place to see Melbourne’s nature and rare native species. For sports lovers, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is an iconic place to visit. It served as the main stadium during the 1956 Olympics and was where Test Cricket was born. Cricket games take place during the summer months and football in the winter. For entertainment, foods and craft fairs, be sure to give the Southbank promenade a visit.
By Julia Schroeder