Ah, our 20s. The age of trying to find ourselves, stressing out over securing a career or a significant other, and procrastinating on getting our sh*t together.
But also for many of us, the age before we start to have real responsibilities and commitments (like children or, you know, going to bed by 9 pm).
In other words, it’s the perfect age to travel.
This is your chance to say “pce” to reality, unleash your inner free spirit, and go wherever the wind takes you.
And we at Daily Hive Mapped are here to help guide that wind.
If not, here are 20 places you HAVE to visit before you hit the big 3-0 (If you’re a “mature 20-year-old” you can take a detour over to our 30 places to travel in your thirties).
1. Hong Kong
This list was written before our trip to Hong Kong, but after spending six nights in this city, we knew we had some reshuffling to do as HK had easily sniped the #1 spot for 20-something-year-old YOLO-ers.
Hong Kong’s nightlife scene is seriously epic. These streets do not stop – even after the bars close, you will still see people dancing on the streets, drinking on the sidewalks, and partying till the sun comes up. We’ve never experienced anything quite like it, and trust us, we have dabbled in our fair share of partying across the globe.
With locals that know how to get down, a work-hard, play-hard expat community, and tourists that are running off pure jetlag-fueled adrenaline, you’ll come across people from every culture imaginable – many with the mindset of being here for a good time, not a long time. Hit up the “party district” in SoHo and Lan Kwai Fong Street and pop into one of the many hidden bars, dance floors, or rooftop patios overlooking the city’s iconic skyline. Must-visits are Iron Fairies (speakeasy), PLAY (nightclub) and CÉ LA VI (skybar).
2. Bali, Indonesia
If you’re travelling to Southeast Asia like 99.99% of people in their 20s (don’t fact check us), you had better make sure Bali is at the top of your list. For the sake of your Instagram page, at least.
This magical island will take your breath away with its lush natural beauty, chill and friendly locals, and bumping international party scene. Please make sure to splash around at Finn’s Beach Club and join in on a congo line at Motel Mexicola for us.
There’s truly something for every type of traveller in Bali. Put it on your list if you haven’t been, and if you have, we’re sure it’s already on there again.
3. Cape Town, South Africa
It’s true that travellers need to be extra mindful in countries like South Africa, but if you’re in your 20s and craving an epic adventure – look no further than Cape Town.
Cape Town has everything – vibrant nightlife, world-renowned views, epic hikes, stunning winery tours, adventure in every form from paragliding to off-road quadding to shark diving.
It even has penguins. What 20 to 30-year-old doesn’t want to see penguins?
4. Palawan, The Philippines
The Philippines is basically Thailand from 20 years ago. Not yet completely overrun with young drunk tourists, epic island tours, pristine white-sand beaches and the clearest turquoise water you ever did see.
Visit this up-and-coming Southeast Asia staple while you’re young and up for an adventure! Beautiful Boracay is a touristy favourite, but we recommend El Nido and Coron on the island of Palawan – cruise around on a scooter or hit up the day tours to island-hop your worries away.
5. Cairns, Australia
Cairns itself isn’t the most vibrant city in Australia, but it is a mecca for twenty-somethings looking to have a good time. This place is all about the excursions – ziplining through the rainforest, whitewater rafting, snorkelling, etc. – you’ll definitely want to check out the Great Barrier Reef, as it’s gradually deteriorating (major sad face).
Stay at the infamous Gilligans Backpackers Hostel and you are guaranteed to meet a plethora of young travellers who have just completed their road trip up the coast and are now looking for some farm work to stay in Aussie land – and partying every night in the meantime.
6. Zanzibar, Tanzania
If you think picture-perfect beaches and full moon parties are only found in Thailand, allow us to introduce you to your new favourite getaway: Zanzibar.
Africa should be on every traveller’s bucket list, and with Zanzibar being a very foreigner-friendly option, you are going to want to check this tropical island out ASAP. The beaches are e-p-i-c. The snorkelling at Mnemba Island is quite possibly the best in the world. Our spidey senses are telling us that this up-and-coming hotspot has swarms of thirsty tourists coming in the near future, and you’ll want to get in before the masses.
You’re sure to meet other adventurous young travellers at Kendwa Rocks Beach Hotel, which hosts Africa’s most epic beach party on or around the Saturday closest to the full moon of every month.
7. Las Vegas, USA
Helpful hint: wait till you’re a year or two into your 20s for this one. Nobody likes to be a minor in Vegas.
This is your chance to let loose and do things you may or may not regret (and if you don’t regret them, chances are it’s because you may not remember them) because you know what they say about what happens in Vegas!
…Okay, it lives on Instagram Stories for 24 hours.
Even if you’re not into obnoxious pool parties, Vegas has something for everyone. The entertainment scene is through the roof, you can always find a tame hotel to sit poolside soaking in the desert heat, or who knows, maybe you’ll develop a healthy gambling addiction (Is that a thing?)
No matter what tickles your fancy, the over-the-top glitz of Vegas is something every twenty-something should see.
8. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
This historic little town will make you feel like you walked into a storybook. Its renaissance and baroque architecture, castle complete with moat, and quaint cobblestone streets make it one of the most picturesque spots in Europe.
But the real reason for visiting here in your 20s comes from this pro tip: stay at Hostel99 and do their river rafting pub crawl. A couple stops in and you will become the best of friends with your new boat-mates while you get happily whisked down the river to your next shot of tequila.
9. Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne is fun and hip and if you’re in your 20s, so are you. There’s always something going on in this city, whether it’s the White Night festival where the CBD (Central Business District) is illuminated from dusk till dawn to a very intensely rivalled game of “footy” to a lively musical (make sure to sing along, because your Aussie mates certainly will be).
Consistently voted the most livable city in the world, Melbourne is one you’ll want to check out asap.
10. Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Dare we say that this is absolutely the most cliché attraction for young party people, but hey, it has earned that reputation for a reason. There ain’t no party like a Thailand party. Our advice is to get in, drink a bucket (or five), and get out with as much remaining dignity as possible.
There’s definitely another side of Thailand that offers a much more cultured and reputation-preserving experience. A healthy mix of the two is what we would recommend.
You know your friends have either already been or will be going at some point, so just avoid the FOMO and get your backpack.
11. Medellín, Colombia
It’s no secret that Colombia has risen to the top of most travellers’ bucket lists. Despite a tumultuous past, this country is now safe to travel and the local people will welcome you to their beautiful country with open arms.
Hop on a plane to the country’s most trendy, happening area in Medellín and you’re sure to meet a great group of adventure seekers similar to yourself.
12. New York City, USA
The Big Apple isn’t just for twenty-something travellers, it’s for people of all ages that want to experience the world. New York is the city where anything can happen, and you will be captivated in just one visit. Check out the popular tourist attractions or just stroll through the neighbourhoods for scenes you’ve only seen on the big screen. You’ll run elbows with celebrities, aspiring Broadway stars, Wall Street wolves, and world-class chefs – and most of the time, you won’t even know it.
13. Hvar Island, Croatia
Croatia’s sunniest island offers a perfect mix of authentic European vacay vibes, with internationally renowned partying at beach clubs like Carpe Diem.
Rent a scooter and explore the small towns, jagged mountainsides, and vineyards of the mainland. Rent a boat and cruise around the hidden beaches and cliffs – you can thank us later!
14. Byron Bay, Australia
Ahh, Byron. The quaint little town where hippies and surfers gather for some organic food and live music on the beach to a backdrop of crashing waves. Someone told us our breakfast was “psychedelic” there once. There truly is no place like it.
The small-town vibes mean you are bound to make friends that you will run into again, and you’re in Australia so everyone is automatically 10% friendlier than the rest of the world. Solo travel destination: check.
It makes sense why so many young foreigners want a taste of this idyllic life. Now, where do we sign up?
15. Berlin, Germany
Ask anyone who has been and they will tell you Berlin is one of the coolest places in Europe.
Dive into the city’s café culture with a cup of coffee, snap some Instas of the iconic street art, make your own pub crawl and party till sunrise at a DJ show and you’ll see what we mean.
This city’s bohemian, artsy, hipster vibe combined with epic nightlife makes it a must-add to your bucket list.
16. Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is slowly becoming on the radar of every travel enthusiast, and what better time than your 20s to explore this rugged and beautiful land before it becomes overrun with tourism?
Frolic on the tropical shores of Mirissa Beach for a perfect mix of chilled out and party vibes, and then explore your way through the rest of the country. All you need is a backpack and a healthy dose of YOLO.
17. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
You can’t visit Bali without popping over to the Gili islands. Only about a 2-hour boat ride from the main island, Gili T is a little slice of paradise with white sand and turquoise waters, horse-and-buggy and bicycles in lieu of motor vehicles, and island-wide reggae tunes.
Go diving or swimming with turtles just off the shore, banter with the friendly locals, sip on a blended beverage at a beach bar, or frolic along on the newly-opened Gili T Island Pub Crawl – we promise you will never want to leave.
18. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
An oldie but a goodie, Cabo is and probably always will be a hotspot for youngsters looking to throw away all responsibilities and dignity for a week at a beachfront resort.
Just keep dancing the night away at El Squid Roe or Cabo Wabo and you’ll never grow old. That’s a fact.
19. Montreal, Canada
With a work-hard, play-hard mentality, Canada’s French-speaking entertainment hotspot always has something going on. Whether it’s Igloofest, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the MURAL Festival or one of the other 120+ festivals hosted in this city, you will be – dare we say – all festivalled out by the end of your visit. If that’s even a thing in your 20s.
In typical Canadian fashion, Montrealers are a very multicultural bunch and they welcome visitors. You’re sure to make a friend or deux to join in on the good times.
20. Marrakech, Morocco
Just a hop skip and a jump away from Europe, Morocco is a great way to introduce yourself to Africa. Easy to navigate and easy on the budget, its tourism hub Marrakech will give your sweet young self an insightful look into the layers of a new culture.
Take an overnight camel ride into the dessert, get lost in the medina (old town), and flex your bargaining skills at a local souk (market) and you will leave feeling cultured and itching for more. The sights are truly something worth seeing.
In the words of Camila Cabello, you, and your Instagram feed, will never ever ever be the same.
That’s a look at 20 places we think you have to travel in your 20s, but what other places are on your bucket list? If you want to share your travel knowledge here on Mapped, email us at [email protected].