Guide to classic & new backpacking experiences
The world is constantly changing and offering travellers new and exciting experiences to write home about. However, not all that is old need be forgotten. Here are a bunch of old and new things to do while backpacking through some of the world's most popular destinations including Europe, Asia and South America.
-- Bangkok night out drinking from buckets on Khao San Road.
-- Diving and swimming in Koh Phi Phi, Koh Tao, Ko Lanta.
-- Rock climbing at Railay beach near Krabi.
-- Chilling out in Chiang Mai.
-- Full-moon parties on Koh Phangan.
Bangkok's royal suburb of Dusit, a laid-back neighbourhood beside Thewet pier on the tranquil Chao Phraya river, is the new Khao San Road (which is well past its prime). Superb street food, a hassle-free local vibe, and easy access via local ferries are the big draws for budget travellers.
Atmospheric, affordable family-run guesthouses on quiet lanes off Sri Ayutthaya Road include vintage-style Pra Nakorn Norn Len. Authentic Thai food is good at waterfront Steve Cafe and Bangkok's hipsters play at jazz and blues spots such as Adhere 13th Blues Bar on Samsen Road.
Elsewhere in Thailand, Phrae and Lampang, with their historic teak-wood mansions, charming streets and vibrant arts scenes, and Khon Kaen, with its university-town vibe, lakeside markets and street food stalls are emerging as low-key alternatives to Chiang Mai.
Beach bums should make a beeline for the laid-back stretches of sand of car-free Koh Lipe and the clean sea and excellent snorkelling in the Surin Islands, near the Burmese border.
-- Motorbiking in Hoh Chi Minh.
-- Beach bars of Nha Trang and Mui Ne.
-- Boat cruises in Halong Bay.
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Homestays and hiking around SaPa to see Hmong and Dao tribes, or in Ba Hon. Insider tours of Hanoi, such as street food walks, cooking classes, and art-themed tours to art galleries and artist's homes and studios.
Travellers feast on home-style food as they work their way through various rice wines on a new Rice Wine Tour offered by passionate local couple Thuy and Sidney. Or there's a bia hoi hop to Hanoi's fresh beer bars in old American army jeeps and on Russian motorbikes.
Or try swinging in a hammock beneath palm trees on the white sand beaches of Phu Quoc island, still relatively undiscovered despite its obvious draws.
-- Angkor Wat by night, by bike, by tuk-tuk, by the back route etc.
-- Drinking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Penh.
-- The open-top bamboo train in Battambang.
Stunning Koh Rong, a backpacker secret a few years ago and still just fruit stalls and beach huts for now, is rumoured to be on the cusp of big Koh Samui-style development by the investment company and banking group that owns it, part of the boom in Cambodian tourism development.
Backpackers are increasingly heading to the smaller uninhabited islands, including nearby Koh Rong Samloem.
Yadong revisited: Upmarket moonshine in Bangkok
Worth the blisters: Trekking to Colombia's 'Lost City'
Boom time: Portugal's top psytrance festival
-- Trekking to the Ciudad Perdida (lost city of the Tayrona).
-- Parque Nacional Tayrona beaches.
-- Art galleries of Cartagena.
-- Coffee region lodges.
Formerly out of bounds because of Farc activity, the Purace national park is becoming popular for hiking, on account of its volcano, waterfalls and nearby hot springs – the Termales de San Juan.
Near the Pilimbala ranger station are accommodation options including cabins and camping. Also partying in Bogota (not scary any more) in lively Zona Rosa or edgier, alternative La Candelaria.
-- Cycling the 'world's most dangerous road'.
-- Cholita wrestling in La Paz.
-- Photos on the salt flats.
-- The silver mines in Potosi to give miners coca leaves and dynamite.
At Urban Rush, travellers dress up as Spider-Man, Captain America or Catwoman and step off a 50-metre-high ledge in central La Paz, to abseil, face first, and then freefall, from the 17th floor.
New Air Europa flights into Bolivia touch down in Santa Cruz, a city low on backpackers' lists. But more and more are discovering nearby Samaipata, with its excellent hiking, ancient ceremonial site and condor-spotting opportunities.
It's also the gateway to Parque Nacional Amboro, which has more species of birdlife than any protected area in the world, so could become the new Rurrenabaque (the base town for trips into the Bolivian Amazon).
Europe, Central Asia & Russia
-- Interrailing across Europe.
-- Trans-Siberian express.
-- Campervan the surf coasts of France and Portugal.
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Mongolia, including multi-day trips by van into the Gobi Desert, surprisingly full of delicate purple flowers. Clubbing in Hvar, Croatia; foreign festivals; hitching using car-share and lift-share apps and websites.
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This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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