Ask any newly high-school graduate what they really want to do next and the answer will all be the same: travel. But where? Here is a list of beautiful and exotic places to visit for people who have never been outside of the country before.

10. Buenos Aires, Argentina

For all you dance lovers, this is the birthplace of tango itself. Just like the dance, the city is bustling with the same vibrant and captivating energy. The atmosphere is filled with romantic vibes given from glorious sunsets and old European-inspired architecture. The city will take you back to life as it was in 1858; a trip filled with rich historical lessons and tasteful culture. Don’t forget to make a stop by the Museum of Latin American Art, Palermo Soho, Museo de los Ninos!

9. Siem Reap, Cambodia 

Transitioning into a more calm setting, Cambodia’s morning light that shines upon ancient temples is a profound sight to see. If peace and serenity is what you are looking for, this is the place to be. The ancient treasures are held in the one of the largest religious complexes in the world. Indulge yourself in the Cambodian Cultural Village and learn to bargain at the Angkor Night Market. The 12th century Angkor Thom royal city is the most famous attractions in the whole country.

8. Sydney, Australia

This city offers both a historical and contemporary quality. Those who attain a deep appreciation for the arts will be pleased to know that the Sydney Opera House looks over the beautiful blue-green ocean. The cobble streets are filled with performers and entertainers to amaze you in even the most random places. The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the highest ranking in the world. Enjoy the view of an eagle when you check out the Sydney Tower Eye observatory.

7. Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

If you’re looking for you’re looking for a change in color, then Amsterdam is for you. It is filled with the most colorful homes, canals, bridges and buildings. One of the must-sees in the city is of course the Anne-Frank House and the Van-Gogh museum. All you have to do is rent a bike and venture the city in its  labyrinthine streets. Instead of staying at a hotel, consider something different like renting a houseboat.

6. Hanoi, Vietnam 

The humble city has bloomed well with the preservation of many monuments and colonial architecture. Rent a paddleboat on the myriad amount of lakes and streams in the city. The destination also has endless parks and over 600 temples and pagodas that adds to the overall allure of the city. Historical sites within the beautiful country include the Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Hao Lo Prison attest.

5. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

If you’re looking for the beach, look no further. Playa del Carmen is one of the top diving destinations in the world. The sea life is unbelievably vibrant and the underwater caverns are dazzling. On land, the city is much more cleaner and upbeat than the fishing village had been before. The ruins of the Coba Mayan village are an adventurous site to explore.

4. Istanbul, Turkey  

If you’re an architecture geek like me, Istanbul will fulfill all your inner artistic cravings. Surround yourself with the eye-opening mosques, bazaars, and Turkish baths that make the city such a desirable destination. Kick your trip off with the site of the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) from all different points of the city. For all your shopping needs, the Grand Bazaar has thousands of shops to explore.

3. Barcelona, Spain

Designed by Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the buildings of Barcelona give the city a surreal effect. Don’t forget to stop by Guadi’s Church of Sacred Family and Park Guëll. Spain is overwhelmingly filled with culture every where you look. Street performers are constantly dancing in traditional costumes and selling beautiful contemporary art of the inspiring city. What would a trip to Barcelona be without stopping by Casa Batllo and Barri Gotic?

2. St. Petersburg, Russia

Geographically, this is the second largest city in the world’s largest country and it is the country’s cultural heart. Gaze at the city’s architectural gems such as Winter Palace and the the Kazan Cathedral. Since the city is so big, St. Petersburg offers so much art, history, and fine dining that it is worth seeing more than once. Make sure the Grand Palace and the Church of the Savior on Split Blood is on your list.

1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Wonder how life would look like in the future? Now you don’t have to. Dubai has it all: the world’s largest dancing fountain, the tallest building, largest artificial islands, and the largest natural flower. If you want to go big, it’s Dubai. The futuristic oasis towers over the Arabian desert like a beam of hope. Activities I suggest are to rent a dune buggy in the desert or bargain at the open markets and cheer at a Camel Race Track.

Overall, all of the places above are great first-travel destinations. Traveling is such an important experience that I encourage everyone to do at least once in their life. It is an eye-opening adventure that will expose you to the life of different people in different places of the world. I wish you all luck on your journey to cultural and historical knowledge!

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