Life isn’t all about scouting the globe. Some of the most fascinating places are on home turf.
I spent 2014, 2015 and the start of 2016 moving around. I travelled, volunteered and worked abroad. Some destinations blew my mind every day. Others didn’t bring me as much excitement as I imagined.
Everyone has different tastes and my faves may be far removed from yours but here’s a list of my ultimate places in our world (in alphabetical order).
1. Bangkok. Thailand
The Marmite of South East Asia. I LOVED it! Smelly, overcrowded, locals trying to flog you everything they own for 10 baht. You’ll never look at a ping pong ball in the same way again after a ‘show’ on Khao San Road. Bangkok is an eye-opener to people you can’t believe exist living lives you can’t imagine.
2. Bondi beach, Sydney. Australia.
Once you go Bondi you never go back. Since moving to Bondi 6 weeks ago I haven’t left it on a weekend yet. Everything you could possibly need is accessible within the 2026 area code. Quality restaurants, beach front pubs, kitsch shops, cliff walks, the infamous sand … The Bubble sucks you in hard. Everything is expensive but somehow you let the prices slide.
3. Bristol, England. United Kingdom.
Nothing else required. Big enough to get lost in, small enough to get to know. Full of quirky pubs, big brand shopping, parks a plenty and an underground music scene that draws crowds from all over the UK. Bristol is full of open minded, fun people. And let’s not forget the cider!.
4. Bundaberg, Queensland. Australia.
If it’s not Fun you’re doing it wrong. The most random place on my list but those who have been to ‘Fundaberg’ will understand why I love it so. 4 months spent working on farms to secure my second year visa for Australia included some of the hardest and funniest times of my life to date. Travellers who moan about farming are in the wrong place – get to Bundy and you’ll experience a lifestyle that you will miss once you leave.
5. Cardiff, Wales. United Kingdom.
The rugby’s on and no one’s home! This city shaped my life – it boasts one of the best universities in the UK. Cardiff gave me everything I needed during my 4 years of study there. A safe, fun city with everything you need on your doorstep. The Six Nations rugby days were always second to none. City roads are shut down to accommodate thousands of fans pounding the streets in hope of a win and a cracking night out to follow. If you haven’t been to the Capital of Wales yet, plan your visit around a rugby day.
6. Chapel Street, Melbourne. Australia.
Take me to Church. Melbourne is known for being the world’s most liveable city. Chapel Street is teeming with cool shops, trendy people and parties that don’t know the term ‘lock out’. It’s a must-visit for anyone who spends time in Melbs.
7. Coogee Bay, Perth. Australia.
”Beaches in WA are the best” . One of my oldest childhood friends lives in Perth and after spending a few days there in February this year I loved Coogee!. Home to the clearest water I’ve ever seen!. Many told me the beaches are pristine in Western Australia – once you go to Coogee you’ll find it hard to disagree.
8. Covent Garden, London. United Kingdom.
Experience the magic. Covent Garden is a tourist haven all year round but if you ever spend time in London at Christmas be sure to factor in an afternoon visit. Street performers, markets full of homemade goods and a ginormous Christmas tree add that extra bit of sparkle to your holiday season.
9. Freshwater East, Pembrokeshire. United Kingdom.
Home is where the heart is. I grew up in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and was extremely lucky to have a home life filled with horses. I spent much of my time racing across the sand, galloping the dunes and swimming the sea with them. We used to spend New Year in the massive beach front house (pictured on the far right) – the good life!. Pembs boasts miles upon miles of untouched beauty.
A European delight. Some of my family live in Geneva and every visit has been a lovely one. The city is pristine, and the ski slopes aren’t far away. Food, mountain walks, boat rides across the border to France for the day – there’s so much to do in Geneva and you’ll leave the city feeling refreshed.
11. Gili Trawangan, Bali. Indonesia.
Out of this world. I had such a fabulous stint on Gili T in November 2014 I promised myself I would never go back. It was THAT good I didn’t want to attempt to top the times I shared at Gili Backpackers and Surf Bar, among others. Gili T is a must for all travellers on that side of the globe.
12. Hoi An, Vietnam.
She’s so pretty. Backpackers flock in their droves to the infamous Sunflower Hotel, home to the ‘best free breakfast in Vietnam’. Party by night and explore everything this little spot has to offer by day; markets, bike rides, spa’s, the beach … there’s just something about Hoi An. It was my favourite place in Vietnam.
13. Ibiza, Spain.
The undisputed party island of the globe. No place does parties like Ibiza does parties!. It’s non-stop, 24/7, during the season (May – October). From one venue to the next, there is a soiree for every taste. The options for new experiences with diverse music is endless. I’ve been 5 times. Some of the best memories of my life have been been made in the heady heights of the White Isle.
14. Koh Phangan, Thailand.
Don’t fall into the Full Moon trap. During the first 4 months of my travels in 2014 I flew back to Koh Phangan 3 times. Phangan stole me! I found that, contrary to popular belief, the island is so much more than just the Full Moon. For parties you can’t beat a Friday in the mountain at Guys Bar on Haad Tien. Hire a scooter and explore. Don’t be fooled into the ‘I’m just here for the Full Moon’ – the whole island is unreal.
15. Koh Phi Phi, Thailand.
Welcome to heaven on earth. After living and working on the ”paradise island” for a few months from November 2015 it would be hard not to love that place. Phi Phi has beauty that makes you question if you are actually alive, living that moment, that second. The party lifestyle is 24/7. You’ll be surrounded by a welcoming ‘family’ of island workers from the moment you step foot on the pier.
16. London, United Kingdom.
Giving it the big one. I owe much of my life to the UK’s capital. My younger years were focused on securing my degree and ”getting to London”. I started working there during holiday’s and weekend’s whilst at university in Cardiff. As soon as I graduated I moved to London to chase my career. I had the best 5 years I could have asked for. The buzz of the city always lifted me. It’s a crazy place and maybe only right for some to visit for a weekend but it’s an absolute must do. As the saying goes ”bored of London; bored of life”.
17. Paris, France.
She’s magic. Paris is simply beautiful. The Eiffel Tower, the markets, the culture, the people. Paris has to be on every European traveller’s check list. I once spent a weekend there just before Christmas and it was enchanting.
18. Queenstown, New Zealand.
Any time is a good time. I spent six months in New Zealand in 2015, this was my view from my bedroom window. Queenstown is the most breath-taking place I have ever laid eyes on. Nature closes in on you – that feeling of awe never escaped me, from the day I arrived to the day I left. It is a place that almost has to be experienced to be believed. Words just aren’t enough.
19. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. South America.
Feel the vibes. Rio quite frankly scared the sh*t out of me!. High metal barriers surrounded every building where we stayed (near the famous Ipanema beach). Spending the day on the sands of Ipanema itself was a real ‘pinch myself’ time. Touring the Favela was one of the my favourite days of my 6 weeks through South America in 2014. We learnt so much about how thousands of locals live. Brazil is a place for the brave, it is intense but Rio has a real energy about it.
20. Soho, London. United Kingdom.
How Londoners do it. As one of my best friends says Soho is ”everything that is wrong and right with the world in one square mile”. Get your real insight into the lives of many Londoners in the place where anything goes. You could take on a new identitiy every day on these streets if you wanted to.
21. Uluwatu, Bali. Indonesia.
Good for the eyes, good for the soul. Hire a scooter and get exploring. Bali is so green, it’s like riding through a jungle. Party on the cliffs over the never-ending sea at Single Fin on a Sunday. Immerse yourself in perfect shores dotted with surfers. Eat health-conscious, cheap food every day. Uluwatu just makes you feel good, really good!.
22. Vang Vieng, Laos.
Prepare to get stuck. The first place I saw horses during my travels in February 2014 – they were grazing by sunset as hot air balloons flew overhead! I’ll never forget that sight. From amazing street food, tubing down the river, cheap bungalows, blue lagoons, chill out bars that play Friends back-to-back to parties in the jungle. Vang Vieng is small but perfectly formed, many stay much longer than planned.
Every place you go brings you different feelings, new fortune and fresh faces but that’s my top 22 of the the place I’ve spent time in and loved.
[Images to credit: Bristol, photographyrush.co.uk. Cardiff, walesonline.co.uk. Chapel Street, inbatmania.com. Covent Garden, dailymail.co.uk. Freshwater East, visitpembrokeshire.co.uk. Gili Trawangan, ingili.com. Hoi An,bohemiantrails.com. London, bbc.co.uk. Soho, christopherfowler.co.uk]
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