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Travelling Tips

A New Bucket List

Jonathan van Bilsen



April 4, 2021

A New Bucket List

In last month’s article I shared with you, a number of great places to experience once this pandemic is over. As it turns out, we are not there yet, and many people have asked for a few more cool spots around the planet, so I will continue my whirlwind trek around the globe.

Ha Long Bay

Hạ Long Bay, in northeast Vietnam, is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Junk boat tours and sea kayak expeditions take visitors past islands named for their shapes, including Stone Dog and Teapot

The region is popular for scuba diving, rock climbing and hiking. The area is well worth the visit and two or three days should be enough. You can travel to famous China Beach or visit Hanoi, or just lazily enjoy the scenery around you. To maximize your experience, spend a few nights on a Ha Long Bay cruise.

Northern Lights

Unlike many of the natural wonders of our planet, you can never know for certain if the northern lights will give you a show, but if they do, it will be an experience that will leave you breathless.

To increase your chances, head to Alaska, northern Canada or Scandinavia, any time between December and March. To make the experience extra special, you can also book a stay in an ice hotel. There are three in Scandinavia and one in Canada.

I personally have only seen the northern lights once, and that was in northern Saskatchewan. It was one of the most spectacular events I have ever witnessed.

Machu Picchu

More than 2,100 metres or 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist destination in Peru. A symbol of the Inca Empire and built around 1450 CE, Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

Even if the ruins of this ancient Inca city weren't located high amongst the clouds, it would be a sight worth seeking out. The magical setting can be enhanced with an epic hike, which arrives at the summit in time to see the sunrise (it is a four day trek, and you need to be pretty fit). For the rest of us, a scenic train ride will also take you there. No matter how you arrive, seeing Machu Picchu for the first time, is one of the most cherished travel experiences in the world. 

The Great Wall

The world's most famous fortification, the Great Wall of China, is in fact, a series of barriers that stretch thousands of miles across the Chinese frontier. While some spots are crowded with tourists, if you dig a little deeper, you can find secluded sections perfect for quiet contemplation.

As China's most famous attraction, the Great Wall is an essential stop on any trip to the country. Commonly considered a wonder of the world, the Great Wall boasts a history of over 2,000 years, and stretches more than 4,500 kilometres or 2,800 miles, across several provinces of northern China, making it one of the most impressive ancient structures on the planet.

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls  is a waterfall on the Zambezi River in southern Africa, which provides a habitat for many unique species of plants and animals. It is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and is considered to be one of the world's largest waterfalls, due to its width of 1,700 metres  or 5,600 feet. 

Victoria Falls is one of the world's most stunning cascades, and seeing the mists rise before your eyes will get your heart racing. After you've experienced the magic of "The smoke that thunders," head to the east to experience Africa's Great Lakes: Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawai, which are a collection of stunningly deep and beautiful bodies of water, complete with tremendous beaches.

I saw Victoria Falls from both Zimbabwe and Zambia, and prefer the views from the Zimbabwe side.


Cappadocia, a semi-arid region in central Turkey, is known for its distinctive “fairy chimneys,” which are tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered in valleys. They are Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes (cave dwellers), and later used as refuge by early Christians. The 100 metre deep Ihlara Canyon houses numerous rock-face churches.

This region of Central Turkey is steeped in history and legend, with towns like Goreme, home to fascinating rock formations and exquisite hotels built into caves. While the sights in and around these towns are thrilling, it's the views from the basket of a hot air balloon that will leave you speechless.

Canada’s Via Train

I was fortunate, a few years ago, to guide a group of Brits on a trans-Canada train journey. I flew to Vancouver, where we spent three days touring, as well as a day trip to Victoria. Back in Vancouver, we boarded the Rocky Mountaineer which  we took to Jasper, with a layover in Kamloops. As you can imagine, the vistas were breathtaking.

In Jasper we toured the Edith Cavell Glacier, did some white water rafting, went on a great nature hike, took the cable car to the top of the mountain and much more. When it was time to go home, we boarded the Trans Canada Via train, which took us on a three day adventure to Toronto. The trip was amazing, and a great way to see Canada. Service on both journeys was exceptional, and the scenery was spectacular.

I would recommend the trip to anyone who wants to explore Canada and enjoy the novelty of rail transit. The entire adventure took two weeks, and was an amazing trip.

Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit

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