Ultimate Travel Bucket List: 10 Must See Countries in 2023

northern lights

Do you ever see a photo of a specific place, or read an article about a certain country, and it fills you with excitement and a burning urge to go and see that place?

My ultimate travel bucket list is full of places like that.

They are personal places to me – I have great curiosity about them all; always reading up about their rich history and daydreaming about their stunning landscapes. I obsess over the geography, peoples, cultures, food, arts and wildlife of those places.

When I was a kid, I used to study atlases after school and dream wishfully of visiting exotic, far away places.

But it was different back then – there was no Pinterest or Instagram to see all those beautiful photos to feed my wanderlust.

I barely even had access to the Internet to search photos or information on places to travel (I’m a 90’s kid). Instead, all I had were books – geography books, colourful travel guides, and large atlases.

This was my only source of inspiration and knowledge, and it was enough for me to learn some basic elements about the different languages and cultures around the world, the different races of people and their traditions, and I was obsessed with learning the capitals of all the countries.

This is a blogpost of 14 Places and Experiences that tops my Ultimate World Travel Bucket List.

Table of Contents

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Travel Bucket List
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My travel bucket list back then, was to see pretty much EVERYTHING – I was just in awe of the world.

Over time, I narrowed down and changed the list, as my preferences changed, my curiosity became focused on certain places, depending on the influences of those cultures, the history I learn about those places.

In seven years of travelling, I’ve already ticked off some of the places on my list that I’d dreamed of going to.

I’ve already seen some of the Ancient Wonders Of The World – like the Taj Mahal, The Angkor Wat, the Chichen Itza, and Stonehenge in my native England.

I am in no rush to tick them all off. Much of the excitement of travel is the yearning and waiting, while I focus on other places en-route.


Scroll on to read my Top 10 Ultimate Travel Bucket List 2023:

1. Road Trip around Iceland’s Golden Circle

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Geothermal hot springs in Iceland.

Iceland – pretty sure this one tops many bucket lists, right?

A small, mystical, icy yet volcanic island, straddled between two continents in the Arctic Circle, that leaves me in absolute awe.

I am always reading about how magical and breathtaking EVERYTHING about Iceland is – from its natural hot geysers and spas, dormant volcanoes, and of course the stunning Northern Lights.

I would love to trek the famous volcanic Golden Circle, spot my favourite birds (Puffins), relax in steaming hot springs, and gaze up at the incredible Aurora Borealis from inside a glass igloo.

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A cute puffin, native bird to Iceland.

And then there’s the Icelandic people, whom I take my hat off to. Iceland is one of the most open-minded and fair societies in the world.

They are a fine example of a people who said “enough is enough”, when after the banking crisis of 2008, they dragged the bankers through the courts, threw them in jail, and reclaimed their country.

And as a result, Iceland is the fastest growing economy in Europe.

2. Blue City, Souks, and Desert Treks in  Morocco

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The blue city of Chefchaouen – a must-see in Morocco.

I have yet to step foot on the African continent – and Morocco is the place I want to visit for my first trip to Africa.

Like many, I’m in love with the culture and cuisine of Morocco – a fusion of Arab and French influences.

Flights to Morocco are surprisingly cheap – direct return from Manchester at £30 is really tempting.

Also, public transport all over Morocco is pretty cheap (even on 1st class trains), and with reasonable food and accommodation prices, it makes Morocco the perfect place for budget backpackers like myself, to explore the whole country without breaking the bank.

Thinking of visiting Morocco? Below are some epic day tours and activities by Get Your Guide:

3. Haida Gwaii Culture & National Parks of Canada

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British Columbia is famous for its picturesque scenery.

The world’s second largest country, Canada, has tremendous diversity, cultures and climates, it would require many trips to truly experience the country.

The one place in Canada I’ve always wanted to see, is the islands of Haida Gwaii – home to the Haida First Nations people. I have been in total awe of the art and culture of the Haida tribe ever since I studied them in my A-Levels.

I would also like to visit the surrounding areas – the picturesque west coast and further inland, the stunning Banff and Jasper National Parks.

It would be a dream come true to be able to meet the Haida people and discover how they preserved their unique and ancient traditions and way of life in the face of colonialism.

4. South America: Inca Trail & Mountain-top Cities

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Machu Picchu in Peru, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and one of South America’s most iconic landmarks.

South America is a dream destination for many travellers.

This continent is the ULTIMATE adventure trip for backpackers – with breathtaking scenery, ancient wonders and mind-blowing food – who doesn’t have South America on their bucket list?

The following tops my list for the perfect South American backpack trip:

– The River of Five Colours, Colombia
– The Salt Flats of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
– The brightly coloured city of La Paz, Bolivia
– The majestic Mount Fitzroy, Argentina
– Swing at the End of the World, Ecuador
– Angel Falls, Venezuela
– Moai Statues on Easter Island, Chile
– The snow-capped mountains of Torres del Paine, Chile
– The natural hot geysers of Chile
– Gazing up at the Milky Way over Lake Titicaca, Peru
– The world-famous Machu Picchu, Peru
– Canopy walk in the Amazon, Peru
– Iguazu Falls on the Brazil/Argentina border
– Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– And to top it off, maybe even sail to Antarctica!

5. Cherry Blossom in Japan (Osaka, Kyoto, Mt. Fuji)

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Traditional Japanese Temple with Mount Fuji in the distance.

I went to Tokyo for a week in the summer of 2016 and its without a doubt, one of the craziest and mind-blowing travel experiences I have ever had.

A week was too short even for the city of Tokyo alone. I tried to absorb as much of the city as I could, and was sleeping four hours each night.

Next time, I want to venture out into the wilderness of Japan, in contrast to the bustling Tokyo metropolis. Osaka, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Hokkaido, and of course – I need to see more of Tokyo again.

This would make for a more authentic experience of the ancient Japan that I grew up adoring and reading about, as I have always been fascinated by traditional Japanese architecture, art, and the magnificent cherry blossom phenomenon.

The absolute highlight for me would be to see the macaques bathing in the natural hot springs followed by a trek up Japan’s highest peak: Mount Fuji, and stay in one of the huts above the clouds. Now THAT would be an EPIC trip!

6. Conquer the Great Wall of China

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The iconic Great Wall of China.

I’ve visited Shenzhen and some smaller towns in Guangdong before, but I would love to do the ultimate Beijing, Shanghai and Great Wall of China trip.

The Forbidden Palace of Beijing is an absolute dream for a history buff like myself.

Of course, a Beijing and Shanghai trip is perhaps the most popular China itinerary for many travellers visiting China. 

There are numerous other hidden gems around China that I am itching to explore – for example, the Yunnan Province, in the south-west of the country, is an absolutely breathtaking place. And then there’s the snowy village of Hubei.

7. Spiritual Paradise of Mystical Bhutan

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A Buddhist monastery on the mountain cliffs in Bhutan.

The tiny landlocked, mountainous kingdom of Bhutan is considered the ONLY country in the world where all the food is 100% organic.

And with its strict eco-laws, pure clean air, and friendly people, it definitely features on my bucket list and I know this place would make a truly memorable trip.

Mind you, this is one of the most expensive trips you could do – since all visitors to the kingdom must be accompanied by an official Bhutanese guide, and charging around $200 a day, they don’t come cheap either!

8. Swim with Turtles in the Philippines


Thanks to its exotic grandeur and sheer diversity, Southeast Asia is one of the world’s must-see destinations for travellers of every kind.

Consisting of thousands of islands, each with stunning white sand beaches and aqua-blue waters, the Philippines is the ultimate island hopping adventure trip.

Many of these islands are already popular and packed tourist hotspots, however there are still some quiet spots and hidden gems.

As well as swimming with brightly-coloured fish and giant turtles on Boracay island, I’d love to catch the incredible views of the Chocolate Hills of Bohol.

Planning to visit the Philippines? Below are some epic day tours and activities by Get Your Guide:

9. Roam the Misty Tea Hills of Munnar, India


I’ve been to India before, three times in fact. But I’ve yet to see one of the most entrancing natural sceneries in the country: the tea plantations of Munnar.

Situated in Kerala state in south India, the village of Munnar sits 1,600m above sea level in the Western Ghats mountains range, making this surreal setting of vast tea plantations with billowing clouds flowing through them a sight to behold.

Plus there are waterfalls, elephants, and endangered mountain goats, as well as hiking trails, vast lakes, and spa retreats.

If India is on your list, check out these 47 Fascinating Facts about India

And here’s a post on the Top Things to See & Do in New Delhi

10. North Vietnam: Hike Sapa Hills and Cruise along Halong Bay

vietnam rice fields

Many travellers will tell you and myself included, that Southeast Asia is packed with utterly addictive adventures and encapsulating wonder.

It’s a place that puts you in a state of euphoria with its bustling cosmopolitan cities, dreamy villages, energetic festivals, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s also jam-packed with natural wonders including surreal rice paddies, picturesque lagoons, thundering waterfalls, verdant mountains and pristine beaches.

I have been there a couple of times (Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand, Cambodia, and southern Vietnam) and yet, I have seen only a snippet of the region.

When I first visited Vietnam I only saw the south, as its such a huge country. 

The true natural gems of Vietnam are found in the incredible Sapa region of the north – the plush rice terraces and vast valleys with small villages and tribes.

Plus, on Vietnam’s coastline is another incredible gem: Ha Long Bay. This place is perfect for an overnight cruise that takes you around the enormous rock formations in the waters that look mesmerising at sunset.


So, what are the top 5 tourist destinations?

Based on the number of annual tourists, here are the 5 most visited tourist spots on earth:

  1. Niagara Falls, Canada  USA
  2. The Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt
  3. The Great Wall of China
  4. Eiffel Tower, France
  5. Acropolis of Athens, Greece



What are the most visited countries?

Here are the top 10 most visited countries in the world, as of 2020 (source: worldpopulationreview.com):

1. France
2. Spain
3. United States of America
4. China
5. Italy
6. Mexico
7. United Kingdom
8. Turkey
9. Germany
10. Thailand

What countries are a must see?

Some of the absolute must-see countries in the world are the offbeat places of hidden beauty that are still unheard of, and still untouched by mass-tourism. Here are some great hidden gems:

  1. Northern Bali – a gem still untouched by tourism, packed with incredible waterfalls, ancient temples and vast rice terraces.
  2. Bosnia and Herzegovina – wander the picturesque towns of Mostar and Tuzla.
  3. Jordan – as well as the iconic Petra, spend a night in the Wadi Rum Desert.
  4. Iran – this enormous country is packed with incredible beauty and friendly locals, despite the bad press it receives.
  5. Cambodia – a relatively unknown gem with floating villages, UNESCO sites, and world-class beaches to rival Thailand’s.


What are the 10 best places to visit in the world?

Here are ten of the best places in the world to visit, based on their broad wealth of breathtaking scenery, history, arts & culture, cuisine, hidden beauty, and exciting activities:

  1. Kerala, India
  2. Paris, France
  3. Yunnan, China
  4. Cinque Terre, Italy
  5. Bali, Indonesia
  6. Yucatan, Mexico
  7. Machu Picchu, Peru
  8. Marrakesh, Morocco
  9. Cappadocia, Turkey
  10. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Book Your Trip: Budget Tips & Tricks


Flights: As always, I source the cheapest flights on the web from Skyscanner and Kiwi.com. They are considered the top flight search engines for the best deals.

Accommodation: I use Booking for the best hotel deals and HostelWorld for the cheapest stays. If you’re considering Airbnb, be sure to check Vrbo to find cheaper vacation stays. 

SIM cards: DrimSim is a universal SIM card that isn’t tied to an operator and works in any country/region.

Travel Insurance: Stay protected from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.

Tours & Excursions: I book all my fave activities and guided tours on Get Your Guide & Viator – they do superb deals whilst offering excellent customer support.

Renting a car? I always use DiscoverCars, make sure you book your car hire in advance. For airport transfers, I use KiwiTaxi for the best deals.

Need to store your luggage in a locker? Use Radical Storage to store your stuff in a locker in any city for just $5 per day.

Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.

Thank you for reading my Ultimate Travel Bucket List 2023

I hope this post inspires you to see the hidden gems of the world!

Some more adventures that I am eyeing up for my future bucket list include: The Silk Road of Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan, Kenya and Tanzania trip, South Italy road trip, Pacific Island hopping, New Zealand hiking adventures and the Australian Outback.

And I am extremely fascinated by the region of Southeast Asia and Oceania – especially the archipelago of Indonesia and other nations (East Timor, Brunei etc) and of course, the Pacific islands – that’s another enormous world of adventures in itself.



Further Reading




What’s on Your Ultimate Travel Bucket List?

Comment below and tell me why you chose those places!



Lover of epic adventures, slow travel, and great coffee. When not travelling, Billy teaches dance, and creates performances on commissioned projects.

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Hey there! I’m Billy, the guy behind BRB | Gone Somewhere Epic. I’ve been travelling around the world for nine years, having an absolute blast going on epic adventures, without breaking the bank. Click here to read more about the art of budget travel.




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