1 – Egypt. King Tut, The Pyramids, The Valley of the Kings. The list is endless. But it’s just not the history and the culture, it’s the people too. Egyptians are some of the kindest and most generous people on the planet. They will welcome you into their homes in a second and even if they have almost nothing, they will share it with you.
An afternoon on the Nile with an Egyptian felucca captain sailing your boat as the sun sets over the Nile in Luxor is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed.
2 – China. China is not somewhere people immediately think of when planning a holiday…but they should, and hopefully, after the Olympics in Beijing, they will. Even if you could only afford 7 to 10 days, an itinerary that takes in Beijing, Xian, a Yangtze River Cruise, and Shanghai will be a great introduction.
And for an unforgettable experience, just visit Guilin. Guilin’s landscape is amazing and totally unique. It can’t necessarily be called Mountainous as such, but the peaks that do rise, rise almost vertically up into the mist.
If you get a chance take a ski lift up to one of the peaks and just stare in awe at the view, and if you are feeling adventurous, take a kart down a toboggan style run (about 3,000 feet in length)!
3 – Jordan. Handily located, if you plan it right you can visit Egypt and Jordan together to make a real trip to remember. Amman is a great city full of atmosphere, Petra is marvelous, but surely the can’t miss site is the Dead Sea. The only ocean in the world with so much salt in it, you actually float!
This alone makes Jordan a must-see country and on top of what I have already mentioned, don’t forget the Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Jerash, and the King’s Highway. A week in Jordan is good, but 10 days is better.
4 – Hong Kong. Although there is much more to Hong Kong than just shopping, if you do love to shop, then Hong Kong is the place for you. A stroll along Nathan Road and a visit to the Temple Street market just HAS to be done. And make sure you have your bargaining hat on as haggling is as big a part of the experience as the purchases themselves.
There lots more to Hong Kong too. The great thing is that despite it being a modern city, there is a tradition around every corner. Don’t forget to take a trip to Victoria Peak and enjoy the stunning views and remember that even if it’s misty, there are 2 guys at the top who will take your picture and transpose it onto a picture of what you should see if the weather were not so poor! I also suggest a couple of half-day visits out to Lama and Lantau Islands too. A great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the craziness that is Hong Kong.
5 – Thailand. Thailand suffers a little from its reputation of being a very hedonistic destination and while it is true that the is a very wild side to Thailand (especially certain areas of Bangkok, Phuket, etc) there is also an amazing culture to immerse yourself in.
There really is everything there, adventure, culture, and even for the not faint-hearted, a place about 1 hour north of Thailand where you can go in, yes go in, with real live tigers. No cages, no chains, just you and around a dozen tigers. For me, it was a thrill of a lifetime and without a doubt, it is just one of the many reasons that Thailand is in my top 5 of places you need to visit in the world