The more I travel the more I realize how many places on Earth I haven’t seen yet. But although I love to explore new countries all over the globe, experience new cultures, meet new people and try new food, there are a few places I have fallen in love with and which I would revisit in a heartbeat.

When Elena from asked me to share my Top Five Destinations to Go There I happily agreed and I am excited to share the Top Five Destinations which really hit me right away.

1. Beijing, China

My love for Beijing was an unexpected one. Before flying to China’s capital for the first time in April 2013 I thought I would visit the city only once to explore the major sights like the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace and maybe only return a few years later to start a journey along the Silk Road of China from there. Little did I know.

After an initial culture shock when I arrived the first time, I fell head over heels in love with Beijing and I returned only six months later in October 2013. This year again I have been to the capital of China three times and spent about 30 days in the city altogether. Beijing has replaced Bangkok – my favourite city in the world for a decade -, right after my hometown Cologne.

I love the Hutongs and the many temples of the city, but the Tibetan Lama temple has soon become my favourite one. I adore the mix of the traditional and the modern. For me, Beijing is a city with a lot of charm and character. I could return right away.

In 2015 I hope to spend more time in Beijing. Also, I would love to explore places like the Labrang Monastery in Xiahe, the Kumbum Monastery in Xining, more of Sichuan Province than I have seen so far, more sections of the Great Wall I have been to, Datong, Pingyao, Inner Mongolia and many more.

Forbidden City Beijing China

Forbidden City, Beijing at night

2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Until 2011 all I have seen from Dubai was the direct transit area of Dubai International Airport where I have changed planes many times. After a longer layover three years ago, I decided that it was time to change that. In October 2012 I spent three days in the city on my way to South East Asia, and I had the chance for an intense exploration. Ever since Dubai is the perfect place for me to interrupt my flight to Asia for one or two nights and I have been there five times so far.

Like in Beijing, I like the mix of old and modern Dubai. I love standing at the Observation deck of the Burj Khalifa (what I have done twice), taking a drink at one of the Sky-Bars, strolling through the Dubai Marina, the Malls and spending time by the fountains at the Dubai Malls.

But I also love to explore the cultural heart of the city: the Dubai Creek, and the Souks and I also highly enjoyed my two guided tours through the Jumeirah Mosque.

This year I stumbled upon the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding and I am planning to do a Heritage tour through the Al Bastakiya neighbourhood of the Al Fahidi Historic District including a visit to the Diwan Mosque and attending a Cultural Meal with them during my next visits.

Dubai Marina Dubai United Arab Emirates

Dubai Marina at night

3. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok was the first place I visited in Asia. In 1993 I spent a few days in the city, together with my Mom, before continuing to other cities in other countries. At that time I wasn’t too much thrilled. I was more looking forward to our time in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand where we went afterwards.

Ten years later I returned by myself. I was on my way to respectively from New Zealand and had a stopover in Bangkok where I spend a few days in the city on both ways. This time it hit me and I fell in love with the city. In between, I have been back about ten times, most recently in November and December before respectively after travelling across Vietnam.

I experienced the floods in Bangkok which hit Central and Northern Thailand in the fall of 2011. I have also been to Bangkok during Loi Krathong, the Thai Festival of Lights, which takes part every year in November, and for the King’s birthday on the 5th of December 2012.

I especially love the location at the Menam Chao Phraya river and I could easily spend the whole day taking the Public Express Boats up and down the river while enjoying the scenery. Besides the main tourist attractions like the Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Kaeo, the Wat Arun, the Wat Pho, the Klongs and the Chatuchak Weekend market, IMO lesser-known sights like the Golden Mount, the Jim Thompson House, the Talin Chan Floating market, the Erawan shrine are very much worth a visit.

I also highly enjoyed a walking tour through Chinatown and a Cooking class in Klong Toey, my third Thai Cooking class after two Cooking classes in Chiang Mai in 2008.

I know a few people in the city and of course, I hope to be back in the (near) future.

Menam Chao Phraya river

Menam Chao Phraya river at dawn, Bangkok, Thailand

4. Costa Rica

I lived in San José de Costa Rica for two months in March and April 2003 where I did volunteer work in a home for disadvantaged kids in the Costa Rican capital and I also took Spanish classes there. During that time I lived with a local lady and her three grandchildren and none of them spoke a word of English, so I had the chance to really practice and improve my Spanish.

Every weekend from Friday to Sunday we had time to travel across the country, so during the long weekends I got the chance to explore the area around volcano Arenal, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (twice), the national parks Braulio Carrillo, Tortuguero and Manuel Antonio (including the seaport Quepos), the Cloud Forest Reserve Monteverde, Montezuma in Puntarenas Province plus the old banana port Golfito and the sandy beach of Zancudo in the far southwest of the country.

I loved my time in Costa Rica and I would love to revisit all these places and more. Also, I would love to see my host mom and her grandchildren again. Furthermore, I wasn’t the photo enthusiast I am nowadays and I travelled with a very old analogue SLR camera which wasn’t good anymore at that time instead of just buying a new camera before going. So I don’t have that many photos from my time in Costa Rica and the ones I have are not as good as all my other photos. Therefore, I would love to go back, and also take lots of amazing photographs.

Wildlife Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Wildlife, Manuel Antonio National Park

5. Northern India

I have only been to India once, in November 2011. During that trip, I visited Delhi, Amritsar, McLeod Ganj/Dharamsala, Shimla, Rishikesh & Haridwar, Varanasi and Agra in the North of the country and I travelled with a wonderful group and a very good tour leader.

Northern India itself isn’t really one of my favourite places on Earth, it’s more a “Being-fascinated-Hate”-Relationship. I liked the hustle and bustle in the cities, the cycle rickshaws and especially the Chai Wallahs which can be found almost everywhere. I was fascinated by the beauty of the monuments and I especially loved the Golden Temple of Amritsar, McLeod Ganj/Dharamsala, Rishikesh and Varanasi.

I think, that the position of women in Indian society, poverty and pollution are problems and that was what I didn’t like. Nonetheless, I would like to go back.

Unfortunately, I had left the battery of my camera in my hotel room, so I couldn’t take any photos when we explored Delhi. Therefore, I would love to go back and do a private guided city tour of the city. I would also like to travel from Delhi to Kathmandu overland and visit Rajasthan, Ladakh, West Bengal and Sikkim.

Ganges Varanasi Northern India

Ganges, Varanasi, India

Further destinations I would like to revisit are Hanoi and Halong Bay in Vietnam, Cuba, Buenos Aires and the Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

I nominate Alexandra from Silvesterkind, Anna from Anemina, Sophie from Luggage Tags and Tickets Stubs, Prue and Becks from Straight On Detour and Nicole von Thirdeyemom, but to all of you, please leave a comment and let me know:

Where would you like to return to? Which are your Top Five Destinations?

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