Backpack. Passport. A little money. Change of clothes. You have all you need to visit these three incredible countries:
The undisputed number one backpacking location remains as popular as ever, and for good reason. Thailand offers something for everyone, whatever your tastes. Head to the islands for the amazing beaches, warm sea and winter sun. Try Koh Tao for diving, Koh Samui for a holiday in the sun or Koh Pha Ngan for a party, especially during the legendary Full Moon Party.
Thailand isn’t just beaches though, it’s a very spiritual country with a vast array of Buddhist temples. There are ruined cities from the ancient Khmer civilization, notably at Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. Entire swathes of the country are covered in dense jungle, ideal for trekking by foot or elephant. Then there’s the urban sprawl of Bangkok, a frantic city that never sleeps where you can find anything you can imagine, and some things you can’t.
Another destination popular with backpackers, India is a country of extremes. From poverty to excess, hot to cold, awe-inspiring to frustrating, it’s all here. Be moved by the majesty of the Taj Mahal as it changes colour during the day. Visit temples hidden in jungles or colonial forts towering over vast cities. Take a camel trek through the searing desert or a boat journey through the narrow canals in Kerala.
A highlight of India is the food. The colours and smells of the huge piles of spices are too tempting to ignore. For a truly authentic experience, eat with your hands like the locals and enjoy the best curries you’ll ever eat.
The biggest island in the world has only 20 million inhabitants and most of them live on the coast, leaving the inside of the country mostly empty. A trip to the desolate outback, with its red sand, salt lakes and nothingness is humbling and can make you feel very small, but very happy. Camping under the stars beside the mighty rock Uluru is an unforgettable experience.
On the coast, there are cosmopolitan cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, miles of incredible beaches for surfing, diving or relaxing, and of course, the breathtaking Great Barrier Reef, with its multicoloured corals and thousands of species of fish. Australians are also some of the friendliest people in the world, you’ll be their ‘mate’ as soon as you step off the plane.