Full disclosure, I have not been to most of these places. However, I have done a fair deal of research on each of them and talked to plenty of people who have been to them. Although there are many cool places to travel in and around Australia, these are just some of the places that come up the most often and which I believe would be the most accessible for an everyday tourist. I hope all the information that I’ve put here is correct, and I hope this list gives you some inspiration for travel during your study abroad.
1: New Zealand
Have you ever seen Lord of the Rings? Oh… you haven’t? Well, go watch it and then come back. If you’re like me, you’ll be blown away by the scenery and left wondering where on Earth they filmed those movies. The answer, of course, is New Zealand! With 2 giant main islands to explore, New Zealand is absolutely stacked when it comes to beautiful nature. Due to its location right on the edge of a tectonic plate, the country is largely mountainous, meaning you’ll be getting incredible views all the way through. Even better, you’ll be on or near the ocean the entire time, because it’s just two big islands! With wildlife just as unique and incredible as Australia’s, including the Kea, the world’s only alpine parrot, as well as tuataras, a lizard-like reptile species only found in NZ, you’re bound to discover something new and incredible.
2: Cairns, Australia
I just wrote a whole article about my trip to Cairns and how incredible it was, so the fact that I’m including it in this list too should tell you just how much I enjoyed it. Hidden away in Northeastern Queensland, it lies right at the foot of Australia’s most awesome mountains as well as its rainforests, and just a stone’s throw from the Great Barrier Reef as well. If you love nature, tropical weather, and awesome Asian food, Cairns is the destination for you!
3: Tasmania, Australia
In the opposite direction of Cairns, we have Australia’s most southern state, the island of Tasmania. I haven’t been here personally but my roommate just spend his spring break hiking there and holy cow did he enjoy himself. Not only is Tasmania one of the only places in Australia where you can go skiing, but it’s also home to some of the best bushwalking in the country as well as Tasmanian devils and all sorts of other exotic mammals. Hobart, the capital, isn’t the most exciting place on Earth, but it’s at least a comfy port town that you can use as a base of operations for your travels. If the tropics are too hot and rainy for you, and everything else too far away, Tasmania is the perfect place to be.
It seems like everyone is going to Thailand these days. Whether you’re a nature lover, a spiritual type, or a party animal, there’s something for you in Thailand. Although Bangkok, Thailand’s massive capital city, is often portrayed as a dirty and hectic place, it’s also home to more Buddhist temples than you or I could count. On top of that, it has some of the best street food you can find, and at a much, much cheaper price than anything you could get in Australia. If you make your way outside of Bangkok, you’ll find lush backpacking routes throughout the country’s rainforests and a plethora of other beautiful cities to explore. If none of this excites you, also remember that Thailand is one of the cheapest places in the world to get SCUBA certified and it has a generous amount of beaches which tourists flock to year-round for that perfect beach vacation. As I said, there’s something for everyone.
I’m studying in Sydney right now, so I’m probably very biased, but Sydney is an incredibly cool city. With over 400 spaces listed as public parks, there’s greenery everywhere which makes for a very warm and welcoming environment no matter where you go. Every night, dozens of live music venues and pubs host shows, so there’s also something to do and a cool, new place to explore. Furthermore, Sydney has some of the best beaches in the world, and boy are there a lot of beaches. Sure, the touristy beaches like Manly and Bondi are pretty great, but if you look around a bit you’ll find that there are way more than just those to relax on, and as far as I can tell, most of them are free for public use. Whether you like to sit in a park and read or go out to the club and get down, Sydney is where you want to be.
You’ve probably heard about Bali at some point or another. Maybe you heard that it was one of the best surf spots in the world, or that it has the best food in Southeast Asia, or that it has the best parties south of the Yangtze. Whatever the case, I can assure you that it, and the rest of Indonesia, is a wicked cool place to visit. Although I’ve personally never gone there, I have met plenty of Australians who go there every summer, as well as a few people from Indonesia, and everyone speaks very highly of it. Boasting over 17,000 islands and a population of 264 million, this country is just flush with stuff to do. If you want to just sit on the beach all day, go ahead, there are heaps to choose from. If you’re looking for a cultural adventure, head to Jakarta and Ubud for an unforgettable experience. If you’re more of a naturalist, head to Mount Bromo for the sunrise and then to Lake Toba, which is twice the size of Singapore and just as beautiful. Wherever you choose to go, please send me all the pictures so I can live vicariously through you. Thanks.
Uluru is a big old red rock in the Australian outback, and when I say big, I mean BIG. It has a circumference of 5.8 miles and reaches 2,831 feet above sea level. If you want to go see for yourself what I’m talking about, your best bet will be to fly to Alice Springs and take a little drive out into the desert. Beyond being just a big rock, Uluru is also a place of cultural significance for the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal people, who consider it a sacred landmark. It is also a remnant of the Anangu people, the oldest culture known to man, dating back 60,000 years. They believe that their culture has always been located in Central Australia around Uluru and that it was created at the beginning of time by great ancestral beings. So Uluru is just a big rock, in the same sense that the Grand Canyon is just a big hole. Go there for yourself and see the peak of Australian natural beauty, and again, take some pictures for me.