Top 10 Countries of Interest in 2019

Each year I find myself fascinated with new countries that pique my interest. Suddenly, a country will pop out of my top 10 and a new one will appear. While I continuously update my Top 10 Countries, I thought it would be interesting to start a tradition of keeping track of how things fluctuate.

1. Guatemala

guatemala atitlan

Like…look at this place. I’ve seen these pictures *everywhere.*

This was a shock, rocketing up my list so fast I nearly bought a flight to go in April. However, I know I need to focus on finishing my book and earning money, so I’m holding off on international travel until I leave for Korea.

But how did it get there? It started with an innocent post on Girls Love Travel, a Facebook group that only allows women. Someone replied mentioning that they had gone to a month long retreat in Guatemala and I just had to look it up. Long story short, the pictures of Guatemala are out of this world. I’ve never been so taken by photos, so filled with the urge to go now, now, now than with the Faroe Islands.

Top places of interest: Lake Atitlan and any Mayan Ruin anywhere. I want to circle the whole of Lake Atitlan, and then do some jungle trek someday!

2. Faroe Islands

srvagsfjrdur faroe

The island formations are out of this world. I don’t have anything specific to do in Faroe Islands because of this. I just want to look everywhere.

This should be of no surprise to anyone who reads this blog. I’m obsessed. Before I realized I was moving to South Korea this summer, I had planned to go to the Faroe Islands. When one door closes, another opens, but that doesn’t stop me from being almost desperate to visit this place. I am currently writing a fantasy novel, and looking at the pictures of the Faroe Islands makes me think that fantasy might actually exist. The landscape is out of this world.

Top places of interest: I really want to see each inhabited island (17 of the 18 main islands), if I could. The entire country is of massive interest to me so it is hard to pick and choose one thing over another.

3. Turkey

pamukkale turkey

Pamukkale, Turkey. This is why Turkey is some kind of fairytale. Wow.

For years I have wanted to visit Turkey. Turkey has always appeared in my mind as a different kind of fairy land. I love tea, and the Turkish peoples drink tea more per capita than any other nation in the world. Tea grown in Turkey isn’t exactly easy to come by, so I want to experience this drink! Along with, of course, all the beautiful ruins and

Top places of interest: Demre, for it’s unrealistic but realistic city of the dead. I don’t like dead things, but this place looks fascinating. Pamukkale is well known, but this natural formation of white sediment – and it’s a spring! is also unreal from the pictures. You’re getting what I mean about a “different fairy land” right?  Konya, to see Rumi/Mevlana’s tomb and his followers the Whirling Dervishes. I don’t know much about this religion but it’s pluralistic underpinnings leave much for me to research. At this point I might as well say I want to see everything.

4. Bhutan

bhutan

Bhutan. I love the architecture.

A new discovery this year, fueled by my goal to learn all of the countries in the world. Knowing nothing about Bhutan I continued to stumble across more and more which fascinated me. A country which protects its culture by charging people per day. That’s not to say everything is great about Bhutan, they’ve had their morality issues of course, but that doesn’t mean a person can’t admire the concept (even if it does prevent the average person including me from traveling there).

Top places of interest: I really want to do one of the long treks that takes you out to see the minority groups of Bhutan, where in some cases yak herding is the main “job.” I would also like to climb to some various monasteries and find some hot springs (but who am I kidding, the latter point is for literally every country).

5. Israel

jerusalem

Israel is just a fascinating place to me, that simple.

My parents idylly mentioned that they had an interest in one day going to Isreal. Being the research guru that I am, I immediately embarked on a quest to learn about it. I feel I could actually spend a lot of time in Israel and still uncover new things in the tiny country. However, I am not a huge fan of their politics, which only seem to be getting more tense as the years go on.

Top places of interest: I believe I’ve mentioned in my A-Z, I’m very interested in Isfiya for a more overlooked destination. But the four quadrants of Jerusalem and any area of Palestine I can get to are also high on my list of interest.

6. Mongolia

mongolia gobi

Mongolia, the Gobi Desert. I hope to see some of this during a long horse-trek.

For years I’ve had a bizarre fascination with Mongolia – I don’t even know where it started. I love horses and the allure of one of the last true nomadic countries holds strong. I think could be because I myself feel like something of a nomad, with no real attachment to any physical place. Either way, I very much want to visit Mongolia.

Top places of interest: Much of the cities and architecture is based on the USSR’s design, which…isn’t great looking. While I’d like to see 2-3 cities, I really want to go on a horseback trek through Mongolia and meet those who live their lives in the nomadic way.

7. Armenia

armenia lake sevan

Armenia’s Lake Sevan, one of the top places to go in Armenia. Idyllic.

My fascination with Armenia began very early this year, which is why it so deserves a spot on this list. As the oldest Christian nation, I want to visit all the monasteries I can!

Top places of interest: Garni, the rock formations and the monasteries seem at their height in this place, and it is my top destination in Armenia. I also wish to head to Nagorno-Karabakh, an unrecognized republic in Armenia. I’ll have to visit Azerbaijan first, just in case a visit here results in me not being able to go back to Azerbaijan.

8. Georgia

gergeti georgia

Georgia, full of culture I can’t wait to explore

Georgia is another country that has just always been on my radar for no apparent reason. I know I was fascinated by the Georgian traditional dances seen in viral wedding videos, but I knew of Georgia even before then. The historical architecture and mountain villages pique my interest.

Top places of interest: Kazbegi, the very definition of historical mountain village. Uplitsike, the oldest settlement in Georgia is, of course, fascinating to me.

9. Greece

greecesantorini

Santorini Greece, it might be popular but goodness the pictures make it seem obvious why!

Greece, like Guatemala, is also a sudden under-the-radar flyer into ninth place. I have, of course, always known about Greece. For some reason, though, it didn’t hold that much immediate appeal to me. That changed extensively over the last two months as I began watching a series on exploring Greece and Turkey. Now, all I want is to hop on the next available flight and commander a sailboat.

Places of Interest: While Athens and Santorini are, perhaps, the most popular destinations they look to be so for good reason. They’re beautiful and chock full of history. However, the main thing I want to do is take a sailboat and sail around the various islands. I’m regretting not taking those free sailing lessons at my first college now. Ah. Stupid youth.

10. Vietnam

hoian vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam, I love the pictures at night so I’ll make sure to go out and about then! (When I get there…someday)

While it’s appearance on this list is new, Vietnam has been rather steadily climbing the ranks of my mental tally throughout the year. It’s to the point where I would now consider teaching in Vietnam, perhaps, after Korea. Vietnam just seems to have everything, from crowded cities to nature to history, including prehistoric sites.

Top places of interest: Hanoi, for some reason this city draws me to it, it seems like such an odd mix of bustling city and secluded peaceful spots (based on people living there). Hoi An has lovely concepts for places to stay that are like homestays but not as intrusive (I like my privacy) and the city looks beautiful as well. Getting out into the nature and those prehistoric sites would be high on my list as well!

 

Those were my Top 10 Countries! I hope you enjoyed 🙂

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