Introduction

There currently 195 UN recognized countries in the world, leaving no shortage of unique and exciting places to visit.  After visiting over 65 countries and frequently asked what places are my favorite, I figured I’d rank my top 10 countries to visit.  The below list is ranked based on unique cultures, monuments, historical attractions, food, geologic wonders, and friendliness of locals.

10) Jordan

Jordan has a long history that dates back to the paleolithic period and was under the control of several empires such as the Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, Roman, and Ottoman empires.  The Greeks founded many cities in Jordan including the current capitol of Philadelphia (Amman).   As a result, Jordan has many ancient sites to visit such as:

  • Jerash: One of the most intact Roman cities with large structures over 2,000 years old
  • Petra: A complete city carved into mountains established in 4th century BC
  • Kerak Castle: A crusader castle from the year 1142
  • Qasr Amra: One of the best preserved Islamic period monuments
  • Mount Nebo: Where Moses was said to have viewed the promised land

The “Treasury” in Petra, JordanGreco-Roman city of Jaresh

9) New Zealand

New Zealand is a backpacking, hiking, and camping paradise and is where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed.   The country has 13 National Parks and some of the best maintained hiking trails in the world.

Renting a camper van is easy and just about every town has a campsite with showers.  Going on a long road trip in New Zealand to witness the epic scenery is a bucket list must.

Arthur’s Pass National Park

Hiking in Mount Cook National Park

8) Brazil

Brazil is a large country with lush rain forests, exotic wildlife, excellent food, beautiful beaches, and warm weather.   Exploring the vast Amazon river is truly a unique experience where its even possible to swim with pink river dolphins. To the south, the largest system of waterfalls can be visited which is an epic sight.

View from Rio de Janeiro from Christ the Redeemer Statue

Iguazu Falls

7) Morocco

Morocco is a country with many ancient cities and historical sites with landscapes that vary drastically from one region to the next.  Vast deserts contrast with the forested Atlas mountains and Mediterranean coastlines.  Morocco has a long history of being under various empires, colonies, or protectorates such as the Phoenicians, Romans, French, Spanish and even some ports being controlled by the Portuguese.

The mixing of cultures over the centuries make for some delicious food with influences from the Middle East and Europe.  A trip to Morocco is not complete until the you’ve tried the tagine and gone on a camel ride in the desert with an over night stay at a berber camp.

Merzouga Desert Camel Ride to Berber Camp

Marrakech, Morocco

6) Germany

Germany is the second most populated county in Europe with many large cities such as Berlin, Cologne, an Munich.  However, there any many small towns and villages that are much more interesting to visit such as Rothenburg, Rudesheim, Bamberg, and Cochem.

Well known for its numerous fests, Oktoberfest held in Munich is the worlds largest festival attracting more than 6 million visitors annually.  Aside from being well known for having some of the best beer in the world, Germany has plenty of great wine regions to visit such as the Rheingau and Moselle Valley.

Rothenburg, Germany

Oktoberfest tent with many people wearing traditional Bavarian lederhosen

5) Vietnam

Vietnam has some of the best food on earth with dramatic tropical landscapes and friendly people.  Best part is the cost of accommodations, tours, and food won’t break the bank.  The Mekong Delta, Saigon, Ha Long Bay, and Ba Be National Park are must visit destinations.

Mekong Delta

Saigon, Vietnam

4) France

Well known for the incredibly beautiful city of Paris, France also has other great destinations such as the French Riviera, Alps, and wine regions such as Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, and Bordeaux.

Paris has an staggering amount of art held in gigantic museums with arguably the best restaurants in the world.  France also has numerous ancient Roman sites such as Pont du Gard, Nimes, Arles, and Glanum.

The Louvre in Paris in the largest museum in the world

Ancient Roman Aqueduct of Pont du Gard

3) Kenya

One of the more affordable Safari destinations, Kenya has some of the best national parks and reserves for seeing a variety of wildlife including the “Big Five”.  Top areas for going on Safari are the Masai Mara, Samburu, Amboseli, Tsavo East, and Lake Nakuru National Parks.

The landscapes throughout the country vary greatly between grassland savannas, deserts, mountains, rain forest, and tropical beaches.  One of the best travel experiences in the world is taking a hot air balloon ride over the great wildebeest migration at Masai Mara National Reserve.

Elephant named “Tim” in Amboseli National Park, Kenya is one of the last remaining big tuskers on earth.

Zebra/ Wildebeest Migration in Masai Mara National Reserve

2) Italy

Italy is full of ancient wonders, delicious food, coastal villages, and beautiful hilltop towns.  While most folks visit Rome or Venice, there are many more wonderful places to visit such as Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Amalfi Coast, Florence, and other areas in southern Italy.

The Pantheon in Rome was built in the year 125 AD

Coastal Village in Cinque Terra

1) Japan

Japan is a country of paradoxes being both highly modern while also being one of the oldest countries in the world.  Japan claims it was founded in 660 BC by the Emperor Jimmu.  A two hour bullet train ride separates one of the most modern cities in the world (Tokyo) with one of the most ancient cities (Kyoto).  The culture and customs run deep in Japan and to gain a thorough understanding as a gaijin (outsider) is almost impossible.

Customer service here is world renowned and it will be hard to find a more respectful, orderly, and clean country on earth.  To top it off Japan has some of the best food experiences in the world such as sushi, Kobe beef, hibachi, okonomiyaki, yakitori, ramen, and weird snacks from 7-11.

Kinkaku-ji, “Temple of the Golden Pavilion” in Kyoto, Japan

Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima, Japan