Gary is currently in Grand Chute, WI (May 22nd, 2015)

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My 10 Favorite Cities


This is the first installment in a series for my 4th Travelversay Celebration.

I have no idea how many cities I’ve been to during my travels, but if you just include cities where I’ve slept at least one night, it has to be in the hundreds. These cities have stuck out in my mind for some reason over the years. This is probably one of the hardest lists I had to compile because there were so many other cities that were worthy of mention.

10) Noumea, New Caledonia

Noumea is easily the most beautiful city in the Pacific outside of New Zealand. It is almost like a city on the French Rivera which has been transported to the Pacific. Walking around Noumea and its several harbors was a great experience. The biggest downside to Noumea is the cost. They use the Pacific Franc as their currency. It is now pegged to the Euro, but when I was there it was floating separately.

9) Saigon, Vietnam

I arrived in Saigon expecting to only be there for 4-5 days. I ended up staying for over 3 weeks. I found the city to be very affordable, the food was great, and with the exception of one bicycle rickshaw driver, the people were very nice. If Vietnam didn’t require you to apply for a visa to enter the country, I would probably visit more often.

8) Bangkok, Thailand

It would be sort of hard for me to leave Bangkok off my list considering how much time I’ve spent there. I have probably spent over 4 months in Bangkok during my travels. It has almost become a second home to me. Bangkok is a great city to go and work because it is affordable, yet developed. Bandwidth is very good as well, so I can do almost anything there I can do back in the US.

7) Taipei, Taiwan

Like Saigon, I came to Taipei expecting only to be there a few days, but ended up spending several weeks. They have what I think is the best subway system in the world (also one of the newest) and one of my favorite buildings: Taipei 101.

6) Singapore

I first visited Singapore back in 1999. It is an extremely clean and modern city. Public transportation is easy to get to most places and there are hawker stands (food courts) in most neighborhoods offering cheap food. I think Singapore might be the best food city in Asia due to the diversity of cuisines you can find. The one downside to Singapore are the real estate costs. Food can be had cheap, but accommodations are not.

5) Florence, Italy

I spent three days in Florence eating nothing but steak Florentine and gelato. That alone would be enough to put it on the list. Toss in the Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo’s David, the Doma and the numerous palazzo’s, and it is my favorite city in Italy.

4) Queenstown, New Zealand

I was in Queenstown during the New Zealand winter, but still enjoyed my time. I went bungee jumping and traveled to Milford Sound. For some reason, the song “At The River” by Groove Aramada is what I associate with Queenstown. I haven’t met anyone that disliked Queenstown.

3) Hong Kong

One of my favorite experiences was watching the sunset on the Hong Kong skyline as the lights turned on. If found Hong Kong to be a fascinating city and I could have spent weeks wandering around. Like many of the cities on this list, I ended up saying far longer than I had originally planned. I was there almost 3 weeks.

2) Melbourne, Australia

I was in Melbourne almost a month waiting to get a new passport, during the Australian summer. The places I stayed was in South Yarra, just a block from the botanical garden. Melbourne always ranks near the top of best cities in the world and I can understand why. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay.

1) Jerusalem

The old city of Jerusalem is really an incredible place. You don’t have to be a follower of any of the major monotheistic religions to have an incredible experience. I was in Jerusalem during Holy Week of 2009 and was almost overloaded with everything I saw. It is the single most photogenic city I have visited. I know I will return to Jerusalem.

Honorable Mention (In no particular order): Hiroshima, London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Vancouver, Cairns, Kuala Lumpur, Lahaina, Quebec City, Valencia, San Sebastin, Muscat, Luang Prabang, Apia, Venice, Rome, Nice, Kyoto, Nara, Aqaba

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  1. Gail says:

    Bit gobsmacked you list Noumea as one of your favourite cities! Just shows we all have different taste. I spent 6 weeks there around 1969 and returned 10 years ago. I have no desire to return and thought it was the pits.Someone else recently made the same comment having just visited. Florence I agree with although surprised you don,t have Prague. Lisbon and Oporto are also up there. Hanoi is a nice city and I really enjoyed Kuching…preferred it to Kota Kinabalu. Hmm…so many choices. Hard to select just 10 really.I have been to 8 of your ten and most are nice cities, I agree.

  2. Frank says:

    I’ve never been to Melbourne but I was surprised to see it there because CNN has it on its list of “World’s 10 most hated cities”:
    It has Montreal (where I live) on it’s list of 10 cities to visit in 2013.
    Hmm, I guess I’m not so excited in that ranking anymore….

  3. Jonny Blair says:

    Good list – surprised to see the big Asian power cities in there such as the Kong, Taipei and Singapore. When I think about best cities I always choose the less touristy ones as those are the places where it felt like I was really travelling. For that reason, I’d put Sinying (Taiwan), Asuncion (Paraguay), Paramaribo (Suriname), Ushuaia (Argentina) and Belfast (Northern Ireland) in there.

  4. wondernuts says:

    I completely agree with Taipei. It’s such a beautiful city. My husband was born there. I was so glad when we visited because the food is so amazing and the city is so cultural and modern….And there’s A LOT of shopping!!

  5. Brenda says:

    Great list, but I see that you forgot to put Cape Town, South Africa on it :-)

  6. Mike Wilmet says:

    I decided to move to Bangkok to life there!
    Despite of the negative imaged cause by its annoying red light districts i have to say that bangkok is fabulous and it s people are very open!simply a great place to stay and work!

  7. shun says:

    it is glad to see Taiwan in your list.
    i came from taiwan and i miss there bery much(l live in the US now) some people in the US didn’t know taiwan.
    the subway is very convenient, i can live in Taipei without a car for whole life

  8. Peter says:

    Havana, Cuba…go there before you die mate

  9. saç kaynak says:

    i agree with you istanbul is to so mistycal city…

  10. David Urmann says:

    I agree that Bangkok has to be on the list – if just for the food. Even the street food is amazing.

    • Marion Coady says:

      Hi Gary I have travelled to some wonderful places and now that i have raised my three kids I would like to pick that up again time allowing, do you think its safe for a woman to travel alone, I want to see Asia, Vietnam, thailand, Japan, India, China and if possible New Zealand

      • Hi! I’ll go with you Marion. I’ve wanted to travel always, but like you, I’ve ben tied down with children and jobs. I’m ready to go now and would love to hav3 someone to share the experience with.

  11. Mar says:

    How about ISTANBUL? You don’t know what you’re missing, dude :)

  12. I love your photos, and I enjoy your newsletter and Travel Blog

  13. Mooplace says:

    Amazing posted cities in your blog. I believe that there are more beautiful cities you can see in the world but these cities are amazing.

    Thank you for posting it here.

  14. johnny says:

    good to see Bangkok feature highly, and Asia in general – hard to disagree :) I’d have to squeeze in Chiang Mai and Xian though i think!

  15. Like somebody else mentioned, Kyoto is an amazing place that would be on my list, it was so rich in culture and history, and perfect for photography. Usually tho, my favourite places are smaller, I tend to avoid big cities for the most part and then savour them briefly. Interesting that you don’t feel that way, to each their own!

  16. AnitaMac says:

    I am pleased to find I have been to 4 of your cities. Thanks for bringing back some memories – I went to Noumea so long ago – it was only the other week when digging through photo albums that I came across some of the photos. You are so right – it was a great place to go. I remember wandering the markets. They had such interesting fish for sale. And the boats – great spot to stop. Have not been to Jerusalem – maybe something to look in to!

  17. flipnomad says:

    great picture of jerusalem, never been to israel before ive heard a lot of great stories from other travellers about the place :-) i also love bangkok and have been coming back and forth to that vibrant city

  18. I’ve never even heard of New Caledonia! Looks beautiful though.

  19. Tom Pinit says:

    Gary, glad to see Bangkok made your list, as most of my extended family lives there and it is like a second home for me. I have also been to HK and Florence, although I was not as impressed with Florence after some of the other northern Italian towns we spent time in. Singapore, Taipei and Saigon are on the to-see list, and our good friends just moved to Melbourne so that is on the short list too.

  20. Igor says:

    awsome photos… hong kong is amazing…

  21. Gary, I am very impressesdyou voted Melbourne as your 2nd best city, I hope you got to see more of Australia as it is Amazing.

  22. amusingocean says:

    Taipei of Taiwan,Melbourne of Australia, Hong Kong, Florence & Italy, those countries are my favourite.

  23. amusingocean says:

    Is Noumea, New Caledonia is nice?

  24. Ian says:

    Where is Cape Town?

  25. Im fortunate enough to have seen a few of these cities. Florence being my favourite i think, as well as Melbourne. I saw Queenstown out of season, so there was little going on when i was there. Im sure it would have been great during the ski season though. Well done you for doing the bungy :)

  26. Bobby Nguyen says:

    I do not know you discover Son Doong Cave – World’s largest cave in Viet nam yet? Great cave I’ve ever seen

  27. Natalie T. says:

    Great post and series. I did something similar for my Travel-versary on my Facebook Page showing my photo albums from my trip exclusively on there. This post is making me think of my favourite cities. The love of SE Asia is apparent, though I’ve never been. Melbourne looks lovely and everyone I’ve met that has been there has said there’s such a creative vibe there. Never would have thought Jerusalem would be #1 and now it’s on my radar. It does look beautiful!

  28. Unanchor says:

    Fantastic list, Gary! I am very impressed that you were able to narrow the list down to 10 amazing cities. While I have only been to 3 of the cities on your list, I think that I would have included a South American city such as Rio or Buenos Aires! Great work, Gary!

  29. Glad to meet you Gary. I wish I could travel to so many places like you but I cannot do it as I started to travel too late and I am not very healthy and am too old to travel the way you do. I plan to re-visit Thailand soon and travel at a slower pace. Hope to meet you someday.

  30. Paul Castro says:

    What about Barcelona !!!
    For sure is one of my favorites citys,,Ive been travelling for 6 months and stayed at sant jordi hostels barcelona….was amazing….good times
    Good stuff Mr Gary!!!
    congrats : )

  31. Evan says:

    Great post—especially the picture bungy jumping The Ledge in Queenstown. Is that you?

  32. jakespeed says:

    Nice to have stumbled on your website. I have been to HK (twice), Bangkok and I am a foreigner living in Singapore. I have to agree on those 3 places. Although for me (who just traveled so little) Kyoto is my favorite.

  33. Being Italian (hereditarily), it’s nice to see Florence on your list. Even more than that, not being too well-traveled myself (world-wise), it’s great to see Queenstown (a place I have been) on your list. :-)

    With Love and Gratitude,


  34. Amer says:

    Great list you have here. I do have to agree with WanderingTrader that at least 7 out 10 cities you’ve picked has been tried and tested extensively not just by backpackers but mass tourism. However, since you are the authority travel blogger and have travelled well more than most people do, I think this list sheds a light to my understanding that not all more unknown cities are great cities to visit just because they’re off the beaten track.

    Regarding food, though Singapore do have a great range of diversity, I still think Kuala Lumpur is a better place to have more authentic street food at cheaper prices. KL is more diverse ethnically – 40% of the population comprised of Malays and Chinese equally, 10% Indian origins and 10% foreigners. Even better is Penang, definitely the best place to have street food I’ve been to anywhere (I know because I’ve lived there for more than 10 years).

    Having said that, I still haven’t covered most of the cities you’ve listed and would love to do so in the future. Definitely interested to go to Jerusalem! Thanks for the fantastic list.

  35. Agree with almost all your list Gary…. except I am going to be the one person that doesn’t like Queenstown. Love almost everywhere in NZ, but didn’t like it. Too many tourists and party kids stumbling all over each other for me.

  36. D Phillips says:

    Nine in Asia, one in Europe. None in the Americas or Africa. Hmmm.

  37. Its really refreshing to see a list of cities that are out of the norm, you of course aren’t the normal kind of guy, but I think its awesome that you didn’t pic you know Rome, Paris, Barcelona the same cities everyone else pics. (Can’t blame you for Florence though I will let you slide on that one).

    I have a bit of the same concept in my travels in that I want to do the most visited countries last, ergo the reason why I plan on retiring after I finish up Africa and Asia. Thanks for the list, added some cities to my bucket list.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for including Taipei on your list! We were just at the new W Hotel last night w/a great view of Taipei 101 from the bar. It’s one of my favorite buildings as well — this past NYE we stayed in town just to watch the 101 fireworks since this is the 100th year celebration.

    A couple of your other picks are in our top 10 as well. Melbourne and Hong Kong are definitely two of our favorite places. I want to go back and spend a few weeks in Melbourne just to explore the food and nearby wine scene alone. Hong Kong is almost our home away from home — we go 6-7 times a year because it’s only an hour flight and I never get tired of seeing the downtown/harbor skyline and the food is out of this world. If it wasn’t for the insane housing cost, we’d probably live there versus Taipei.

    I couldn’t live in Singapore with the humidity, but definitely love it there — just too humid for me, even in the winter (I thought it was worse than Bangkok!). I might have to disagree with you on it being the best food city in Asia. I think Taipei might be a tie! You need to come back here and explore the whole food scene on the island — we do have a wide variety of ethnic cuisines, incredible street food, and some local historic culinary gems here.

  39. Great list! I haven’t been to very many of these, but I think I can easily see how most of them would rank in your top 10. Glad to see somewhere in New Zealand represented, as I think at least 2 or 3 of my favorite 10 cities would fall in that country.

  40. James Clark says:

    A hard list to narrow down to 10, and happy to see Melbourne on the list :)

  41. Lindsay Hogg says:

    Ahhh I love the Hong Kong city scape. Some awesome places on your list. Gives me goosebumps. I need to get back on the road!

  42. Andi Perullo says:

    I was so excited to see you list Noumea! It’s NEVER talked about and I fell hard for it.

  43. Erik says:

    I agree with you on Jerusalem. Every corner seems to hold something magical. I was so glad I chose to stay in the Old City instead of in the newer part.

  44. Erik says:

    I agree with you on Jerusalem. Every corner seems to hold something magical. I was so glad I chose to stay in the Old City instead of in the newer part.

  45. Erik says:

    I agree with you on Jerusalem. Every corner seems to hold something magical. I was so glad I chose to stay in the Old City instead of in the newer part.

  46. Erik says:

    I agree with you on Jerusalem. Every corner seems to hold something magical. I was so glad I chose to stay in the Old City instead of in the newer part.

  47. Erik says:

    I agree with you on Jerusalem. Every corner seems to hold something magical. I was so glad I chose to stay in the Old City instead of in the newer part.

  48. Shanna says:

    I’ve only been to one of the cities on your list – Jerusalem and it was amazingly photogenic!

  49. I have been to 3 of your 10 and I must echo that Florence was amazing, especially the Uffizi Gallery. But my favorite Italian city was either Rome or Positano.

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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