Dream Destinations for 2012

As I mentioned in my ABCs of Travel, I wasn’t able to travel internationally last year like I’d hoped—so I pledged to make up for it in 2012! Below are three dream destinations that are all high on my bucket list. They are disparate in pretty much every way possible. If you had these options, where would you go?

Koutoubia Mosque – Marrakech, Morocco

North Africa – Morocco

I was thisclose to Morocco when I visited Marbella, Spain a few years ago. I remember dining on seafood paella (with a pitcher of sangria, naturally) while watching the sun set over Gibraltar. With North Africa’s Atlas Mountains glowing crimson in the distance, it was truly one of the most sublime sights I’ve ever seen. I’ve always wanted to visit Morocco and wish I’d gone when I was so near.

One of the best jumping-off points for the country is the imperial city of Marrakech. Known as the “Red City,” Marrakech is the perfect combination of old and new. You can spend hours wandering the labyrinthine streets and souks (shopping bazaars) surrounded by vibrant colors and a cacophony of sounds and intriguing smells. Only a couple of hours away from most European cities, there are many options for flights to Marrakech. So while it may feel exotic, it’s easy to get there. When I was in Istanbul last year I had my first experience with an Islamic country and look forward to seeing more gorgeous mosques, with their minarets poking above the skyline. Plus, I’m dying to ride a camel on the Sahara desert!

 

Machu Picchu, Peru

South America – Peru

Home to one of the most recognizable and spectacular sights in the world, Peru has long been on my list of dream destinations. Often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas,” Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site located high in the Andes, at 7,970 feet (2,430 metres) above sea level. Built (and then abandoned) in the mid-fifteenth century, these remarkable ruins were “re-discovered” in 1911 by archaeologist Hiram Bingham. For the past century people have been drawn to this mystical site in droves.

Besides visiting Machu Picchu, no trip to Peru would be complete without first visiting Lima, the nation’s modern capital; Cuzco, it’s ancient capital; and Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.

 

Wat Chaiwatthanaram - Ayutthaya, Thailand

Southeast Asia – Thailand

From the bustling metropolis of Bangkok to the ancient cities of Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya, Thailand seems to have it all. Not to mention the stunning seaside resorts and islands along the Andaman Sea in the south. It’s no wonder Thailand is the most popular destination in Southeast Asia.

Ever since I saw the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach I’ve dreamed of Thailand’s white sand beaches and bathwater-warm, crystal-clear aquamarine water. Plus, the idea of visiting Thailand’s many extraordinary wats (Buddhist temples) and riding an elephant through the  jungle is incredible to me. On top of all that, my favorite food is Thai so I’d love to try the real thing!

Have you been to any of these places before? What are your thoughts? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below!

Photo credits: Morocco – public domain; Peru – Wikimedia creative commons ; Thailand – public domain

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