By CHRISTINA LIAO
Whether or not you studied abroad in college, the wanderlust bug is sure to bite when you hit your 20s. One trip and you'll realize that--as cliché as it may sound--you truly haven't lived until you've traveled. See what the world has to offer, experience different cultures, weave your way through a destination where you don't know the language (and perhaps get a little lost while you're at it)--it's all a must. While a trip just about anywhere that necessitates a flight and a passport is guaranteed to broaden your horizons, these are the big ones--the spots that will give you a window into a new culture and whet your appetite for more. Here, the 10 places to tick off your travel list before you turn 30.
Thailand is surely the biggest bang for your buck. In Bangkok, you'll be astounded by the grandeur of the palaces and temples; food offered by street vendors will rival anything you've had before; and the floating market is a site to be seen. From inexpensive massages to amazing hotel rooms boasting luxury amenities at unbeatable prices, it's a city you'll want to visit time and time again.
The City of Light is unequivocally the most charming and romantic destination in the world. Take in the sights of the Eiffel Tower with a loved one, stroll through the Tuileries Garden hand in hand, shop to your heart's content, and enjoy some of the most inventive and traditionally haute cuisine in the world. Lastly, don't forget to indulge in all of the croissants you possibly can--after eating the Parisians' perfect rendition of these deliciously flaky pastries, all others will pale in comparison.
3. Hong Kong
Don't be dissuaded by the sea of office buildings that make up Hong Kong's skyline; some house amazing history, such as the June 4th Museum--inside the Foo Hoo Centre--which is dedicated to the Tiananmen Square protests, while others reveal palatial interiors, like that of the Mandarin Oriental. And there is so much more to see just beyond the concrete and glass. Venture out into the streets, weave your way through the markets and keep your eye out for hidden gems (practice those bargaining skills now!), indulge in some mind-blowing street food, and partake in the burgeoning nightlife, which will surely keep you up into the early hours of the next day.
4. San Francisco to Los Angeles via Highway 1
Both San Francisco and Los Angeles are worth visiting independently. In San Fran, navigate your way through the steep rolling hills, devouring fresh oysters and Dungeness crab or authentic dim sum in Chinatown along the way. Meanwhile, the City of Angels offers a multitude of museums and performing arts centers, diverse culture and cuisine, epic shopping districts (hello, Rodeo Drive!), and the perfect SoCal weather that you always hear about. However, it's the scenic drive via Highway 1 that will make your California trip truly exceptional. The key is to start up north in San Francisco, then drive south to L.A. so that you are riding right along the Pacific Coast. Yes, it's much longer than alternate routes, but the breathtaking views make it more than worthwhile, as will the pit stops you make on the way (Point Sur and McWay Falls, for starters) to take in the beauty of it all.
Don't let the notoriously bad weather dissuade you from going to London--just pack a brolly and your favorite Wellies. And while fish-and-chips may quickly become your favorite dish (unless you like Indian food, then you're in luck and should make a beeline to Brick Lane), there is a burgeoning foodie scene to explore. Be sure to visit staples Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, wander the quaint side streets and historic neighborhoods, and bask in the charm of this multicultural capital.
Dubbed one of the friendliest cities in the world, embrace the "g'day mates" from the locals as you take in the glorious waters on your morning run along the coast. Pub food will top that of London's tenfold, local coffee will make you question what you've been drinking all of your life, and the seafood Down Under is unlike anything you've ever had. Finally, to inspire the nightlife-goers, Baz Luhrmann's words will definitely hit the right spot: "The party is a true art form in Sydney, and people practice it a great deal. You can really get quite lost in it."
7. Machu Picchu
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, this Incan citadel is definitely one spot that you want to visit in your 20s while you have the energy to scale up the Andes Mountain. The site brings you back in time to the 15th century and where the ruins of what was once an isolated and hidden city are revealed for you to explore. Walk through the temples and homes of the ancient estate and keep your eyes peeled for rare animals like the spectacled bear, Pampas cat, and Peruvian dwarf brocket.
There is no city quite like Japan's capital. The skyscrapers and bright lights may remind you of New York City, but the orderliness and respectful culture couldn't be further away from its U.S. counterpart. Neon-lit edifices aside, wake up early to visit the fish markets, hit up any number of ramen joints for lunch, admire the unique street style scene, take a stroll through the beautiful gardens and shrines in the afternoon, and delight in fine Japanese cuisine at night--this will surely become your number one foodie destination.
9. Sailing Around Greece
Grab a handful of friends, rent a yacht, and have the summer of your lives as you sail around the Greek islands. From jaw-dropping crystalline waters, ancient ruins reflective of the country's history and mythology, black-sand beaches, and a lively club scene, your trip though the Ionian and Aegean seas will be the ultimate FOMO-inducing venture.
10. New York City
The Big Apple is the ultimate metropolis stateside. A true melting pot, there is no other city that presents a more diverse mix of cultures. Karaoke lounges open all night long? Koreatown has got you covered. Halal carts with lines stretching down an entire block? Yes, people do line up at food trucks. Ramen at 2:00 a.m.? Not a problem. Between all of the main attractions (museums, theater), unparalleled shopping, and a variety of cuisine at your disposal, not a minute goes wasted when you're in NYC.
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