San Salvador, El Salvador - It’s a layover. But we’ll do our best to make the most of it.
Lima, Peru – For the parties! And I need something to compare to Machu Picchu, right?
Cuzco, Peru – World Heritage Site, and the must-go stopping point before Machu Picchu.
Ollaytaytambo, Peru - The cheaper, backpacker route to Machu Picchu if starting from Cuzco; also the last stronghold of the Incas before they fell to the Spanish.
Aguas Calientes, Peru - Base of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru - How can you say no to this? One of the most beautiful places in the entire world. No trip to Peru is complete without making a stop here.
Bogotá, Colombia – Capital of Colombia, why not check it out?
Cartagena, Colombia - Quite possibly one of the most beautiful cities in South America. We’re going to see if the claim is true.
Playa Blanca, Colombia - Imagine a beach with no people. Like you own the place.
Istanbul, Turkey – The city to see in Turkey! And a lot of my college friends are here.
Cappadocia, Turkey – One of the most enigmatic landscapes in the world.
Beirut, Lebanon - To see a friend and to party in the Cosmopolitan Party capital of the world! Imagine clubs that open up its roof in the middle of night to pouring rain.
Baalbek, Lebanon – The Roman ruins once known as “Heliopolis.” It houses one of the best preserved ruins of the Roman Empire, including the Temple of Bacchus, the Temple of Venus, and the the Temple of Jupiter.
Damascus, Syria - The Oldest Inhabited City on Earth!
Palmyra, Syria – The beautiful ruins of Palmyra and its ancient city, once known as “The Bride of the Desert.”
Amman, Jordan - A must stopover in the capital of Jordan before going to check out Petra.
Petra, Jordan – Do you remember the last scene of Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade? This is the temple that Indy ventures to retrieve the Holy Grail…a temple carved out of a mountainside.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Manmade islands? Indoor Ski Resort? The TALLEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD? It’s Dubai! I also have a lot of friends here.
Kathmandu, Nepal – Capital of Nepal! And to see a friend!
Pokhara, Nepal – ”One of the most beautiful places in the world.” We can start or end our treks here. It’s also to kali gandaki river and loads of pretty temples. Finally, it’s near one of the highest lakes in the world
Lhasa, China Tibet – Former home of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. If I’m to visit his current home on the same trip, why not venture to where he used to live?
Delhi, India – The capital of India and must stopover to reach Dharamsala.
Dharamsala, India – Mcleod Ganj in Dharamsala is the current home of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama!
Jammu, Kashmir – Pit stop between Mcleod Ganj and Srinagar. And we’re finally in Kashmir!
Srinagar, Kashmir – Seeing a picture of Dal Lake is worth the trip.
Kargil, Kashmir – A city where the eponymous war between India and Pakistan took place a few years ago. Also a stopover between Srinagar and Leh.
Leh, Kashmir - It’s a beautiful mountainous city. It’s the largest city in Ladakh and was featured in “A Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Look it up.
Jaipur, India - I missed the Jawa Mahal last year! Making amends.
Jaisalmer, India - The honey-colored fort in the desert. I missed out on this on the last trip.
Jodhpur, India – Only way to get to Mumbai from Jaisalmer is through Jodhpur!
Mumbai, India – Always a tradition.
Madurai, India – Epic temples, bar none. Google it.
Pondicherry, India – I missed this on the last trip. French-Indian fusion!
Chennai, India – Oh Chennai…I’m just using you to get to Sri Lanka. Kthxbye. (love ya still!)
Colombo, Sri Lanka - Capital of Sri Lanka!
Kandy, Sri Lanka – Cultural Capital of Sri Lanka and UNESCO World Heritage Site. And pictures of it reminds me of Luang Prabang.
Dambulla, Sri Lanka - Underground Temple Cave Complex!
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka – Supposedly one of the most beautiful nature preserves in the world.
Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka – Another beautiful complex of temples.
Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka - Our final temple stop!
Yangon, Myanmar – I missed this on the last trip. Time to make amends.
Bagan, Myanmar – ”The Manhattan of Temples”
Mandalay, Myanmar – For Ruyard Kipling’s eponymous poem.
Lake Inle, Myanmar – Because it is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and it has ferrymen that paddle with their feet.
Kyaiktiyo, Myanmar – I missed this on the last trip. Time to make amends to see the enigmatic Golden Rock.
Beijing, China – Capital of my motherland and a must stopover before heading into North Korea.
Pyongyang, North Korea – The capital itself! And to watch the epic Arirang Mass Games.
Myohyang, North Korea - Pretty mountains. “The Mountains of Fragrance.”
Kaesong, North Korea - Industrial city near the DMZ
Panmunjom, North Korea – The DMZ itself.
Singapore – Had a magical time here twice last summer, right before ending my trip. Can I have another?
Manila, Philippines - I have a lot of Pinoy friends, and it’s the capital of the Philippines: an essential stopover before Banaue and Batad.
Banaue & Batad, Philippines - I saw a picture of the rice terraces on Wikitravel.org and knew I had to go.
Hanoi, Vietnam - Vietnam was so close to not being on the itinerary because of their relatively exorbitant visa prices, but Shakthi Bhaskar told me to go for the food given our shared love for banh mis. And Anthony Bourdain. This is also the capital of Vietnam.
Halong Bay, Vietnam - The picture that started it all…I fell upon the entry on this in Wikitravel.org and then I fell in love.
Hué/Hoi An, Vietnam – A lot of my Vietnamese friends have this battle between Hue vs. Hoi An. I wanted to see if I could settle it.
Saigon, Vietnam - Where the war (you know, that war) all went down…just wanted to see it for historical purposes.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Isaac Silverman told me many stories about his travels here, and I definitely wanted to see the Killing Fields for myself.
Siemreap, Cambodia - Christian Pina showed me pictures of Angkor Wat even though I had never heard of it before. After much research and coercion from every single of my friends who had been there, I was convinced to go. It probably is the only destination on this list that has not gotten a single negative “oh it’s overhyped” review.
Vientiane, Laos - I figured if I was in the area, why not check out Laos and its capital city? This was a last minute addition.
Luang Prabang, Laos - While in Egypt I met an Australian backpacker named Adam who strongly recommended this city to me. Told me I would be missing out on “the most romantic city in Southeast Asia.”
Chiang Mai, Thailand - The same Australian backpacker, Adam, also recommended this one. When I was hesitant, Christian told me I was being stupid for not going to the “Rose of the North.”
Mae Sot/Myareddy, Thailand/Myanmar – This is the border town between Thailand and Myanmar. If getting a visa into Myanmar proves too impossible, this might be our only chance to see the country.
Bangkok, Thailand – It’s Bangkok. Are you kidding?
Penang, Malaysia - For the food (not referring to the big chain of restaurants in NYC). And because my Malaysian friends all recommended it.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - The Petronas Towers.
Melaka , Malaysia - UNESCO World Heritage city. Figured we might as well go since we’re in the area.
Singapore - It’s Singapore. Are you kidding?
Bali, Indonesia - My cousin might get married here around the time I reach Bali…and it’s Bali. Are you kidding?
Gunung Bromo, Indonesia - A Halong Bay moment: I stumbled upon an entry on Mt. Bromo while surfing Wikitravel and knew I had to climb it.
Yogyakarta, Indonesia - An essential stopover to see Borabudur and Prambanan (see below).
Borabudur, Indonesia - Saw a picture of the endless Buddhist stupas on the UNESCO World Heritage Site and was taken aback. Adam also highly recommended it.
Prambanan, Indonesia – Saw a picture of these Hindu temples lit up at night and knew I had to go if it was right next to Borabudur.
Jakarta, Indonesia - Essential stopover to get out of Indonesia to either Myanmar or India. And it’s the capital…why not?
Yangon, Myanmar - That freakin’ giant golden pagoda is beautiful. And it’s Myanmar.
Bagan, Myanmar - They describe this as the “Manhattan island of temples.” As a native Manhattanite, that’s a tall claim. I also saw an amazing picture of Bagan on Google Images that I now can’t get out of my head.
Kyaiktiyo, Myanmar - Lonely Planet notes that this city contains “most enigmatic sights in Southeast Asia”: A Golden Rock that defies the basic laws of gravity.
Kolkata, India - Other than Chennai, this is one of the last megacities in India I have yet to see.
Varanasi, India - In my favorite scene in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, Brad Pitt is sailing along the Ganges in Varanasi.
Amritsar, India - Nilam Patel highly recommended it. This one’s for her.
Jaipur, India - I hear from everyone that it’s a beautiful city…a must see in India.
Jodhpur, India - Same reason as Jaipur, although I hear Jodhpur is more highly recommended now.
Goa, India - It’s Goa…Are you kidding?
Mumbai, India – I have a few quite important people to see… This is the only destination on out itinerary that I’ve been to already; the only reason I’m going back is because a few great friends live there. And it’s the best way to end a trip like this: familiar faces and lots of love.
Obviously when I wrote this, it was before I left for my Summer 2010 trip. Because after Mumbai I ended up adding Hyderabad, Hospet, Hampi, Bangalore, Mysore, Chennai, and Mamallapuram to the itinerary.
Hyderabad, India – I added this during the trip because I had acquaintances here who asked me to stop by and visit. So I did, and had a magical 3 days.
Hospet & Hampi, India – I added this during the trip because I had head this is one of the most seductive and unique places to visit in India. And it was.
Bangalore & Mysore, India – I added this during the trip because I had heard this city was rare for having perfect “California-like” weather.
Chennai, India - I added this during the trip because this was the last megacity of India I had yet to see. And because one of my former girlfriends hails from here.
Mamallapuram, India- I added this during the trip because I was told if I was disappointed by Chennai (which I was), I should head straight to Mamallapuram. So I did.