Every year, people young and old delay going to school, starting careers, or they abandon bad ones in order to take the plunge towards seeing the world. While it takes much courage to diverge from the path that society has laid out before them by default, another problem crops up once this individual makes the fateful decision to hit the road: where do I start?
Fears surrounding communication with the locals, the quality of infrastructure, and the security of the nation to which you are headed wear on the minds of these people, making it important to find places where one can get their bearings and speak to fellow travelers about where to go and what to see in the country they are visiting. These places also contain attractions that are well-renowned throughout the world, making them destinations in and of themselves.
To help you with your impeding trip plans, we will review 5 backpacker meccas around the world that will get your RTW adventure off on the right foot.
1) Bangkok, Thailand
If Southeast Asia is squarely in your sights, then Bangkok is likely the place where you will begin your wanderings, as it has been for many decades now. As such, Khao San Road has developed in the past 30 years from a quiet street in the historical district to a flashy, party-filled traveler’s ghetto dedicated to entertaining, informing and coordinating the onward travel plans of countless backpackers.
In addition to this, shopping here seems to be the national pastime of locals, as there are malls, stalls, and shops everywhere you look, and many religiously significant Buddhist temples exist here (Wat Pho, Wat Arun, etc), making it easy to spend several more days here than you ever anticipated upon arrival to this hectic, polluted megalopolis.
2) Siem Reap, Cambodia
Anyway you slice it, Cambodia is not like Thailand. Having emerged from a devastating genocide and civil war that spanned a couple of decades just 15 years ago, it is one of the poorest nations on Earth, despite its rapid development in recent times.
This makes for rough journeys during much of your time in Cambodia, but once you arrive in Siem Reap to see the much vaunted temple ruins at Angkor Wat, it is like stumbling upon an oasis, as this magnet for international visitors has caused many western conveniences to crop up here to grant them as comfortable a stay as possible.
Be sure to try out the outstanding restaurants and bars on Pub Street after a long but productive day doing your best impersonation of Lara Croft, as they will round out the intellectual pursuits of travel with a measure of earned hedonism.
3) Berlin, Germany
The perception is that Europe is an expensive place, and much of Western and Northern Europe seems to confirm this assertion. This tends to dissolve somewhat the further east you go, and Berlin is one of the first centers where this holds true.
Travelers, be they slow or fast, can find excellent deals on apartments and hostels respectively, and beer is dirt cheap. The art community is alive and well here, and bars pound with the reverberations of dance, techno and rave music.
All told, Berlin is one of the most fun capitals in all of Europe, so carve out a healthy part of your schedule for this place.
*Image of royal grand palace in Bangkok via Shutterstock