I just got an encrypted secret message directly from the President of the World Tourist Association, giving me the results of a juicy new poll. Ok, so none of that is true – except I did find a great poll about traveling and experiences abroad, but it was published for everyone else, too, by U.S. News and World Report.
In fact, I first found an infographic that documents a list of Asia’s Best Countries for Adventure.
With no further context or explanation, the list includes:
8. Sri Lanka
They also have Kazakhstan at number 12, and the rest are middle eastern countries, including Iran at number 18.
Of course, this list begs a few questions, including how they define “adventure.” But visiting Iran right now would definitely qualify as adventurous if you like bullets, political unrest, and kidnappings, but that’s another story. (By the way, Iran is actually a beautiful country and was a lot more modern, sophisticated, and beautiful than we give it credit for until the region was de-stabizied.)
But I digress.
So, I did a little Googling and found the source of this list for best countries for adventure seekers, the U.S. News and World Report.
But their list of the top nations in the world looked far different.
In fact, they listed:
4. Thailand (the first Asian country represented)
6. Costa Rica
7. New Zealand
Let’s break down some of these well-earned but also questionable choices.
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Sure, Brazil is gigantic in terms of land mass (it actually takes up half of South America’s land mass!), and is as naturally, ethnically, and culturally diverse as you’ll find. But Brazil also has become exceedingly dangerous in recent years, and tourism is in sharp decline. Not sure why Brazil earned the #1 spot in the world at all.
Italy and Spain are also ill-fitting choices. Sure, those countries (as well as France) are the most popular tourist destinations in the world (actually, Paris is #1 and Thailand is #2 for the number of total visitors), but we’re supposed to be talking about adventure, right?
What do people do in Italy that’s so adventurous? Wear linen? Eat a second gelato? Spain may be a little better because a lot of tourists come for the running of the bulls, which DEFINITELY qualifies as adventure, but those numbers are still pretty low compared to total visitors, and the rest just party and sunbathe or catch a random football match? And the same goes for Greece (at #5) – you SEE things when you’re there, but what do you really DO that’s adventurous?
Thailand is next, and with training at Muay Thai, island hopping, scuba diving, hanging out with elephants and tigers, hiking, and living through spicy cuisine, I’d say Thailand is exotic and adventurous for the average traveler.
Costa Rica is an excellent addition to the list, too, and I’m surprised it’s not higher, as tourists to that central American nation can surf, ride horses, sport fish, go zip lining, mountain climbing, hike up a volcano or through cloud forests, or ride through the jungle in ATVs. I’d say Costa Rica should probably be in the top three!
But I actually love the additions of Portugal, New Zealand, and Argentina to the list to round out the top ten.
So, what countries would be in your top ten for the most adventurous?