Summer is the best. I wish I could spend my life permanently with a bikini underneath my clothes and sand permanently stuck between my toes. Here's a list of some of my top recommendations for travel this year--and I'm actually even going to some of them in the next month! Can you guess which?
10. Siam Reap, Cambodia
Siam Reap has it all--food, nightlife, a fascinating culture, $1 foot massages. Cambodia is the perfect place for those who want a more unique travel experience. Siam Reap is also home to many magnificent temples, of course including the Angkor Wat. Go during sunrise or sunset to see the real beauty and energy of the place, and to avoid crowds. Best of all, Cambodia is affordable!
9. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik is an architectural feast for the eyes. It's one of the only remaining medieval walled city with beautiful churches, museums, and fountains. You might recognize some of the places from Game of Thrones! Croatia itself is a treat, with endless beautiful lakes, hikes, and surprisingly good food. You can also take a day trip to Montenegro from Dubrovnik, an underrated beautiful place.
8. Cancun, Mexico or Tulum
No matter what time of year you arrive in Cancun, the party is never ending. Swim with turtles & whale sharks, lay out in the sand, visit the Yucatan Mayan ruins, enjoy incredible seafood by day and enjoy some of the best parties in the world with tequila at night. If you want to escape to a more quietly beautiful place and disconnect, take a 2 hour bus ride to Tulum. Tulum is home to extremely pristine beaches and amazing cenotes.
7. Fjords in Western Norway
Norway has some of the most incredible hikes in the world, with endless breathtaking beauty at every corner and turn. Every second is an amazing photo opportunity. Summer is a great time to visit Norway because you can chase the midnight sun. Fun fact: Norway is rated one of the happiest countries in the world--go for yourself and see if it's true!
6. Ibiza, Spain or Formentera in the Balearic Islands
Viva la festa! Get a true taste of the European parties and Spanish culture at the iconic Ibiza parties, whether it's at world famous clubs, right on the beach, or on a boat. If you also want to escape from the crowds and noise, take a short ferry trip to Formentera where you can find reclusive beaches that look and feel like paradise.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is a stunning city full of unique art, culture and history. I love how it is truly where the east meets the west and is a living, breathing example of contrast. The city's unique landscape of steep hills, intersection of the two seas, Marmara and Black, and mosques and other architectural gems make the city particularly photogenic. Rooftops are commonplace and a great way to soak in sunset views. Furthermore, the food is amazing (and try Turkish Coffee!) and people are known to be warm and friendly, even if you don't speak their language. And don't forget the amazing shopping throughout the city and especially at Grand Bazaar.
4. Guilin, China
If you love being active and seeking new adventures, Guilin is the place for you. It's known for hiking, rock climbing, cliff diving, kayaking, mud caves, and mountain biking. And even if that's not your thing, Guilin is absolutely breathtaking--the Li River has long been an inspiration for many artists. Its astounding landscape is even imprinted on their 20 RMB currency! I went to Guilin when I was in the 10th grade as a spring trip with my school, my muscles felt sore the entire time, and I loved it. Remember to go for all the spicy food too!
3. Amalfi Coast, Italy
It's no secret that I've a special place in my heart for Italy ever since I studied abroad there. I love the fresh, amazing food, the coffee, the friendly people. The Amalfi Coast is truly a special place that I hope to visit someday soon--there are endless picturesque views, gorgeous beaches, amazing food, and hikes to help you keep off the pasta/pizza weight. This year, take a tour of the Amalfi Coast and swing up to Milan for a day or two to experience the World Expo 2015.
I can't believe it's already been a year since I went to Thailand (Phuket Island & Bangkok). Thailand has it all--animals, snorkeling, amazing food, lovely beaches, unique art & temples, and partying, all at affordable prices. Be sure to eat a lot of papaya salad and seafood dishes like curry crab! Thailand is also known as the "land of smiles"--they have up to 13 different types of smiles and not all of them convey happiness. Make sure to become an expert on the different types. (Side note: try to understand the political turmoil they've been going through recently as well, which is actually more common than not considering its history)
1. Greek Isles, Greece
I'm sure that you've been overloaded with pictures of Santorini and the other Greek Isles, and bombarded with news of its financial turmoil. Contributing to their economy through tourism is a great excuse for a vacation there this year. Greece is a beautiful place to eat, party, swim, soak up history, and relax. Since it's a very popular summer destination, make sure to book early!
Quick economic note: banks have been closed and ATM withdrawal limits have been placed to prevent people from withdrawing their money in panic. Note that these ATM limits do not apply to foreign cards, but to be on the safe side, be sure to bring lots of cash and other payment options (multiple debit cards, credit cards) for your trip. Also, I haven't heard of it being dangerous for tourists there yet, buttake extra precautions to look out for people who might pickpocket or rob you on your trip.