I’ve done a lot of traveling, and have been on every continent except Antarctica (I’ll get there, someday). I put together this list of my favorite international cities to help other travelers who might be wondering where to go next.
1. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is truly a city of the future. The buildings look like a scene out of Minority Report or The Fifth Element; huge, glittering structures that curve straight up and are connected by pedestrian bridges. The combination of Thai culture and Western influences makes Bangkok a unique, cosmopolitan city. Take time to explore one of the many shopping malls, or duck into the enormous downtown McDonald’s for a slice of — what else? — delicious cheesecake. If you want to explore Thai temples or see the famous reclining Buddha, there’ll be time for that in your visit as well.
2. Chicago, US
I was hard pressed to choose my favorite American city. Certainly New York has a lot to see and do. However, I always feel a little bit more at ease in Chicago. You get the fast pace of the city without the crush of New York’s population, and just as many parks, museums, restaurants, theaters, and other opportunities. For me, a perfect Chicago day would be a visit to the famous Bean sculpture, a few dumplings from Wow Bao, and a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago to see Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”
3. Milan, Italy
Milan has special memories for me because I spent my honeymoon there. Although my husband and I usually stay in hostels when we travel, this time we went all out and stayed at Park Hyatt Milan. It is located near the Duomo, as well as some of Milan’s best stores. There’s so much fashion and style in Milan, and it was great to be right in the center of it. Having been to both Milan and Venice, I’d always pick Milan; Venice is for the tourists, and Milan is for the people who truly want to experience Italy.
4. Mysore, India
Before we were married, my now-husband (then-boyfriend) and I backpacked from the bottom of India all the way to the Pakistan border. It took us about two weeks, and I wish I could recommend every city we hit on the way. However, I’ve chosen Mysore, a popular destination for Ashtanga yoga aficionados as well as architecture and history buffs. The Mysore Palace is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. Plan to spend a whole day at the palace, touring the building, exploring the shopping stalls and temples in the area, and staying for the nightly light show.
5. London, England
London is the home to so many of our favorite stories, from Harry Potter to Sherlock. If you’re taking the international tour, you have to spend time in London at some point. Visit Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross, watch the jugglers and mimes at Piccadilly Circus, take a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe theater, or simply eat authentic fish and chips under the watchful eye of Big Ben.
6. Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and Nairobi is the perfect home base from which to travel out and explore. When we were in Nairobi, we took a week-long safari and then decided to extend our trip and take a second safari. Once you’ve seen the Serengeti, you won’t want to leave.
7. Tokyo, Japan
I’m ending this list with a city that quickly becomes familiar to international travelers: Tokyo. I’ve spent many hours enjoying Tokyo’s Narita Airport while waiting for a connecting flight to take me further into Asia. After a few times through the airport I decided to book a week in the city itself. Tokyo is amazing — the culture, the food, the capsule hotels and other one-of-a-kind accoutrements. I also spent an absolutely amazing day at Tokyo Disneyland.
Now, your turn — what are your favorite international destinations, and where should I travel next?