Float in the Dead Sea, see a broadway musical, stand in front of the Taj Mahal or trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu-what’s on your ultimate life list? It’s never too early to start a list of incredible things to do before you die, and here are 100 of my favorite.
A Crazy Long Life List of the Best 100 Things To Do Before You Die
1. ✦ Volunteer at a Elephant Rescue in Thailand
In Northern Thailand, an hour from Chiang Mai’s city center, I spent a memorable day volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park. This is a special place where there was an eclectic bunch of Asian Elephants; some old, some young, some blind, some injured from working in the logging industry, some abused and some rescued from the circus. This isn’t the only places to volunteer in the area, you can see choose from 5 of the Best Rescues in or Near Chiang Mai.
Other articles about Thailand that you might enjoy:
2. ✧ Sunbathe Topless on the French Riviera
3. ✧ Dogsled Through the Alaskan Forest
Alaska is home to the strenuous Iditarod Sled Dog Race, a journey that spans 1,150 miles across the rugged wilderness from Anchorage to Nome. With this life list goal, you will be able to experience the thrill of this sport first hand by meeting Iditarod racers and their powerful pooches, plus sledding along some of the mountainous terrain that their dogs train on. Read Dog Sledding in Alaska for more information.
4. ✦ Swim in Jellyfish Lake in Palau
Jellyfish Lake in the Micronesian country of Palau is home to millions of jellyfish that are deemed relatively harmless since their sting is so light. It was still crazy frightening for the first five minutes to be surrounded by jellyfish, some brushing up against my body. But, after the panic dissipated, this was one of my all-time favorite bucket list travel adventures.
5. ✦ Explore the Acropolis in Greece
6. ✧ Go Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Take your life list to another level and trek through the dense rain forest of Uganda to get a close encounter with the mountain gorillas of the jungle. The fact that these species are on the brink of extinction and you need to travel to faraway lands to see them adds to the experience. A great place to see them is at Bwindi Forest National Park.
7. ✦ Volunteer at an Orphanage
There are orphanages all over the world to volunteer at, but I accomplished this “thing to do before you die” in Tanzania. Kibowa Orphanage is on the outskirts of downtown Arusha, hidden down a bumpy dirt road and painted in a friendly pale blue. There are 48 children that call it home and, after four days on an African safari in Tanzania, I spent a fun-filled afternoon with them. I chose to bring colorful balloons, which could be turned into animals or creative hats. It was a joy to watch the children smile as they each made their favorite shapes.
Read More: Visit an Orphanage in Tanzania
8. ✦ Cruise on a Junk Boat through Halong Bay
A three-and-a-half-hour drive from the bustle of the city of Hanoi lays a peaceful set of 1,600 islands and islets, Halong Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage site has been the backdrop to many movies, including the Oscar-winning Indochine. Spend a day or a week cruising through the green-topped limestone islands and emerald waters on an ancient-style junk boat.
9. ✦ Hike the Active Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala
Just like skiing and mountaineering is a part of the culture of the Swiss Alps, volcano hiking is huge chunk of the culture in Guatemala. The country has 37 officially named volcanoes, three of which that are still active. And you can hike up one-the Pacaya Volcano. What makes this experience even more bucket list worthy is that once you’re at the top, you can toast marshmallows with the heat from the volcano!
10. ✦ Take a Christmas Market Cruise Through Europe
There’s nothing that can get you into the holiday spirit quite like the Christmas markets in Europe. Between the lighted cathedrals, festive markets and a simple glass of glühwein, it would be hard not to feel festive!
Viking River Cruises invited me to cruise along the Rhine River to visit almost a dozen Christmas markets throughout Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. This Christmas market river cruise was definitely one of my favorites on the 100 things to do before you die list!
11. ✦ Sleep in an Ice Hotel
Each year in different chilly locations around the world, hotels are built from natural ice and snow. The IceHotel in the village of Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden and The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel that is nestled in the wilderness of Northern Norway are two of the best. They both are art exhibitions as much as hotels, where the canvases span from floor to ceiling. Spend the night in one of their negative-five-degree rooms, where you will be surrounded by artistically chiseled ice. It’s a bonus that there is also a chance of seeing the Northern Lights from either location!
12. ✧ Get a Henna Tattoo in India
13. ✧ Spend the Night in a Treehouse
14. ✦ Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel that stands 2,430 meters above sea level in the mountain forest of Peru. Getting to this ancient city can be done by train, bus, or a four-day classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu Hike along the same paths that the Incans did years ago. People choose the challenging hike not only to see other ruins along the way, but for the sense of pride when reaching this UNESCO World Heritage Site by foot. It will not be a simple feat, but it will be worth it!
15. ✦ Stand in Front of the Taj Mahal in India
16. ✦ See the Changing of the Guard in London
The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is a mesmerizing spectacle where the Old Guard hands over the security responsibility to the New Guard.The guards arrive by marching pass Victoria Monument, directly in front of Buckingham Palace, and then entering through the ornate front gates of the palace. This is combined with synchronized marching, precision drills, and the band playing. It’s a show like no other, but get there early!
17. ✧ Hot Air Balloon over Cappadocia
See the surreal landscape of Cappadocia from high above in a sky dotted with colorful balloons. Cappadocia is the land in central Turkey known for its fairy chimneys (rock formations), rolling vine- yards, and troglodyte dwellings that are best seen from three thousand feet in the air. This top rated balloon tour can take you up up and away.
18. ✦ Hear the Pope Speak at the Vatican in Italy
If you’re visiting Rome and want to cross off the ultimate bucket list experience, you’ll absolutely want to be a part of the Papal Audience at the Vatican with the Pope. The service will begin with a ride around in his Popemobile, kissing some babies who are lucky to be close enough. Then he gives a themed speech in several different languages, followed by a homily and prayers. After an hour or an hour and a half, the Pope will conclude the Mass and bless families, children, and religious items like rosaries and bibles.
19. ✦ Release Baby Turtles into the Ocean
There are many hotels around the world that work with conservation groups to allow visitors to be a part of the baby sea turtle experience (here are 10 places!) While on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, I spent a memorable afternoon at Osa Turtle Conservation to help with releasing baby turtles into the ocean. Not only is it incredible knowing you are helping with these endangered animals survival, but they are adorable too! Definitely top on the list of 100 things to do before your die!
20. ✧ Walk the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China winds up and down a series of fortifications, stretching from Shanhaiguan to Lop Lake in the Gobi Desert. The wall is one of the most recognizable and extensive construction projects built to prevent attacks of the Chinese Empire. Take a walk along a portion of the 13,170-mile-long wall, stopping at scenic spots that overlook flowing rivers and to view precious historical relics. See the Travel China Guide for more info.
21. ✦ Make a Wish in the Trevi Fountain in Italy
22. ✦ Get a Fish Pedicure
Fish pedicures are popping up all around the world, but mine was done in Spain. For €15,00 I had my feet nibbled on by Garra Rufa fish in the tiny Spanish beach town of Sitges, just forty minutes from Barcelona. This crazy technique became popular as a relief for eczema and other skin disorders, but is now a trend around the world and one of the weirdest things to do before you die.
23. ✧ Drive Route 66 in the United States
Get your kicks on Route 66, the iconic 2,400-mile route from Chicago to Santa Monica. Also, known as the Main Street of America, it was one of the original US highways, a means for the nation to move about for work or pleasure. Today it keeps old traditions alive with neon-signed motels, mom-and-pop diners, and kitschy roadside attractions.
24. ✦ Explore the Ancient Ruins of Petra in Jordan
The ancient city of Petra was carved into the rose colored sandstone cliffs by the Nabataeans as early as 312BC. There are over 30 incredible sites spread over 60 square kilometers, from temples to tombs to elaborate buildings. No Trip to Jordan would be complete without a stop here.
Three days a week visitors can attend Petra at Night, where over 1,500 candles light the mile trek from the Siq to the Treasury, an elaborate two-story tomb. A group of roughly two hundred people will walk through the narrow rock fissures that are lit by candlelight. Walking through the Siq at night is a very mysterious experience. But, don’t miss Petra by day too. During the day, you can wander way beyond the iconic Treasury building and explore trails that will pass by the Street of Facades, the Theater, countless tombs and through the Arch.
25. ✦ Hike Mt. Nokogiri in the Chiba Prefecture of Japan
It will be easy to spend quite a few hours of your day hiking and exploring the sites at Mt. Nokogiri (also called Sawtooth Mountain). The 1,079 foot Mt. Nokogiri has a natural beauty on it’s own, so take your time exploring it, but it also home three major attractions not to miss.
- Hell Peek Point // This lookout is situated on a jagged rock that protrudes from the mountain. So, when you look down from above, all you can see is the deep plunge to the mountain floor below with nothing in between.
- Hyaku-Shaku Kannon // Carved right into the cliffside in a deep gorge is the 30-meter tall Hyaku-Shaku Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The carving was created in the 60s and is dedicated to those who have had unfortunate deaths.
- Nihonji Daibutsu (Big Buddha) // One of the main attractions at Mt. Nokogiri, is Nihonji Daibutsu, Japan’s largest sitting buddha. It was founded during the Nara Period, is 31 meters high and was built over 1300 years ago in 1783.
Read More: 4 of the Best Day Trips from Tokyo
26. ✧ Dive the Great Barrier Reef
Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef stretches for more than 1,200 miles, running parallel to the Queensland coastline. It is the world’s largest coral reef system with over 2,900 reefs, 1,500 fish species, 400 types of coral, and 900 remote islands. Scuba divers flock here to glide with hundreds of manta rays, marvel at the colorful sea fans, and swim with schools of blackfin barracudas.
27. ✧ Explore the Waitomo Glowworm Cave in New Zealand
28. ✦ Give Blood
Thanks to my fear of needles, my heart beated uncontrollably when I decided to give blood. But my mother, who had given blood many times before, convinced me that the feeling of saving lives would far outweigh the fear of that needle piercing my poor, unscathed arm. And she was right. A little pinch in the arm is worth knowing your blood donation can possibly save three lives!
You can find a blood donation near you at the American Red Cross, but first read about my giving blood-what to expect & benefits of donating.
29. ✧ Climb Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro
Standing at over 19,000 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak. The once-in-a-lifetime trek to the summit will have you hiking through lush rainforests, over glaciers, and across the Tanzanian landscape, plus traveling through four different climatic zones. It takes roughly six days to reach what has been called “the roof of Africa,” where the stunning view will be worth the challenge. This is one of the most popular goals on the “100 Things to do Before You Die” list.
30. ✦ Visit Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
31. ✦ Castle Hop in Ireland
From Northern to the Republic of Ireland, the stunning landscapes, forest green shades and melodic nature have rightfully earned the country the nickname ‘the Emerald Isle’. The country has a rich heritage in the form of prehistoric monuments, ancient ruins, fortified palaces and, of course, spectacular Irish castles to make you feel like a princess. While there is no official count (rumor has it that there’s over 30,000!), there are thousands of castles in Ireland entwined with strange myths and legends, the beauty of rumbling ruins and towering fortresses. Whether you wish to explore on your own, take a tour or stay the night in a castle hotel, there are plenty of castles to choose from!
32. ✦ Eat at the French Laundry in Napa
The French Laundry is arguably the most well-known French restaurant in the world. A meal for two at this Michelin three-starred eatery will set you back close to a thousand bucks, but your taste buds will be dazzled. In order to indulge in the nine-course dining experience the chefs create, you’ll need to get a reservation at Napa’s French Laundry-and that’s the tricky part.
33. ✧ Run With the Bulls in Pamplona in Spain
34. ✧ Adopt an Animal from a Shelter
35. ✧ Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway
For those that believe getting there is half the fun, travel the legendary Trans-Siberian railway, an epic train journey that spans from Moscow to Vladivostok. Traverse one third of the globe, enjoying the scenery from the window of your train car, plus make stops to different cities along the way.
36. ✦ Climb to the Peak of Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka
Sigiriya is an ancient palace built in 480 AD, located in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka. This UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its beautifully landscaped gardens, well-preserved frescos, and twelve hundred different anxiety-producing levels of stairs to reach the summit. These steps will bring you to the sky palace that sits atop the rock, a royal residence built sixteen hundred years ago.
37. ✧ Drink Steins of Beer at Ocktoberfest in Germany
I’ve always been a big fan of booze – I would always try and have some of my dad’s beer when I was little and even had a legit fake id when I was in my teens! So, when I found out about a festival that was entirely based on drinking beer and eating good food, I knew I had to go – and you should too! Put on your traditional Bavarian outfit and drink a stein (or two) at the world’s largest beer festival, Ocktoberfest held in Munich. Each year this sixteen-day festival draws over six million people from around the world.
38. ✦ Take a Flyboarding Jetpack Flight
Flyboarding is an adventurous sport where your feet will be slipped into boots that are attached to a board, much like a snow board. A tube attached from your feet to the jet ski pushes water and propels you into the air. I took a flyboarding jetpack flight in Cancun and it was beyond challenging. For this fun adventure you will definitely need to use every ounce of balance you have, but worth a spot on your list of things to do before you die.
39. ✧ See an Opera at the Sydney Opera House in Australia
There is nothing quite like the Sydney Opera House overlooking the harbor, its exterior an iconic vision from all angles. Don’t just admire one of Australia’s most recognized buildings from afar, step inside to spend a magical evening at one of their acclaimed operas.
40. ✧ Attend a Music Festival
41. ✧ Helicopter Over a Volcano in Hawaii
Feel the heat radiate when you fly over an active Hawaiian volcano in an open-door helicopter ride. Your ride will cross the Kilauea Volcano that has been continuously erupting for the last thirty years. With the doors off, there’s nothing but five hundred feet between you and this hot natural wonder of the world.
42. ✧ Soak in Pamukkale Hot Springs in Turkey
43. ✦ Marvel at Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls
While Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls and Victoria Falls are all more popular on things to do before you die lists, Kaieteur Falls in Guyana is off-the beaten-track but just as amazing. It is the world’s widest single-drop waterfall and one of the world’s most powerful waterfalls with an immense volume of water from the Potaro river plummeting down a cliff at a height of more than 700 feet in the Kaieteur National Park.
44. ✧ Sleep in an Overwater Bungalow in Bora Bora
You’ve seen the photos of a string of bungalows perched atop the azure waters below. A memorable trip to Tahiti’s Bora Bora must include a night in one of these overwater hideaways where you can wake by diving into the warm water and go to sleep to the sound of the swish of the water beneath you. One of the most luxurious ones you will find is at the Four Seasons.
45. ✦ Go to a Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica
Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica is known for practicing morning silence, exercising sustainable tourism, having a secluded beachfront property, healthy farm-to-table meals and as being a place to nourish the body, mind and spirit. Those are all reasons that it made this place the perfect one for my very first yoga retreat.
46. ✧ Take the Walk of Faith at Tianmen Mountain China
In the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park you will find a 196-foot- long see-through glass path that stands over 4,000 feet above sea level. This adrenaline-producing walkway clings to the side of the Tianmen Mountain. A stroll along this path is only for the most adventurous, who will marvel at the crystal-clear view below their trembling feet.
47. ✦ Hike to the Top of Bartolome Island in Galapagos
The peak of Bartolome Island was known to have the most perfect view of the famous Galapagos Pinnacle Rock. There was no way that the avid bucket lister in me would miss scaling the 374 steps of this volcanic cone to see a unique perspective of one of the most photographed natural structures in the Galapagos.
48. ✧ Throw Tomatoes at La Tomatina in Spain
La Tomatina is a weeklong festival in the town of Buñol thats highlight is on the last Wednesday in August, when thousands of people fight in an innocent battle using tons of over-ripe tomatoes. Trucks come to the city hauling more than one hundred metric tons of ammunition and the world’s biggest food fight begins with the throw of a single squished tomato.
49. ✦ Swim with Whale Sharks in Cancun
Don’t let the name “whale shark” scare you, these enormous fish are gentle giants. During the warm season, hundreds migrate to the waters of the Caribbean Sea. A boat ride from Cancun will take you to a place where you can swim with several of the largest fish in the world that grow up to sixty feet long and can weigh over forty thousand pounds. It is a thrill to be face to face with their gigantic mouths that can extend five feet when open.
Read More: Swim with Whale Sharks in Cancun
50. ✧ Walk the Spanish El Camino de Santiago de Compostela
El Camino de Santiago was originally a pilgrimage leading to Santiago de Compostela, to the tomb of the apostle St. James. Now, scores of people on a personal journey walk this five-hundred- mile network of routes across Spain and Europe. Whether the motivation is spiritual or adventurous, many choose to take this month long challenge.
51. ✦ Experience Istanbul’s Call to Prayer at the Blue Mosque
Five times a day throughout the streets of Istanbul you can hear the trilling call to prayer, also known as ezan. During this time the voice of the bellowing muezzin, the man who calls the Muslims to prayer from a minaret, can be heard over the loud- speakers at different mosques in the city. One of the best locations to witness this is while sitting on the benches between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia as a quavering musical battle begins.
52. ✧ Attend the Kentucky Derby
It isn’t just the world-class horses that set the Kentucky Derby apart from other horse races, it’s the spectacular hats. Let your inner Southern Belle emerge, and don your most dramatic bonnet while watching what has been called the “greatest two minutes in sports.” If you can’t attend the derby, this doesn’t mean you can’t be just as engaged with it. Betting on your favorite horses to win gives a brilliant thrill so take a look at this Profit Accumulator review to learn how you can get into betting on sports.
53. ✦ Attend Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
You don’t have to speak French or be religious to be blown away by a powerful mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The sound of the preacher’s voice will billow through the cavernous cathedral and into your body. It may not be the largest Catholic cathedral in the world, but it is one of the most beautiful and famous with an estimated 14 million visitors a year.
Read More: Attend Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
54. ✦ Feed the Swimming Pigs of Exuma
Somewhere out there in the Outer Exuma Islands is Big Major Cay, a small island ruled by pigs-that’s right, actual pigs! It is in fact one of the biggest attractions on this island. The pigs will swim out to your boat as you approach the island and depending on how friendly they are on the day they will hang around, swim with you guys and have some of your lunch as well.
If you are pressed for time, there is a closer piggy island called White Bay. I booked the half-day tour there with Exuma Water Sports and it was GREAT! For the full day tour that includes a nurse shark swim check out this tour (FYI it starts from Nassau): Famous Swimming Pigs Tour Bahamas
55. ✦ Tour a Monastery at Meteora in Greece
Greece is not all about white buildings with blue rooftops and delicious Greek food. There is so much more to explore. Like, the Meteora monasteries. Meteora, meaning “suspended in the air” in Greek, is a magical complex of six active monasteries that are strategically built on natural sandstone pillars, some that rise up to thirteen hundred feet in the air.
Perched on the pinnacles of the Thessaly region, worshippers came to this world heritage site to discover peace and absolute isolation. Many years ago, access to these monasteries was strenuous, using handmade ladders and baskets with a pulley system to hoist the monks and their goods up – this was a system that had long been abandoned by the time I had arrived!
You can admire the Meteora Monasteries from afar, but also take the opportunity to tour the interiors and get a glimpse into a monk’s lifestyle one thousand years ago.
You can attempt to navigate to Meteora on your own or for an easier option book a tour: 2-Day Trip to Delphi and Meteora from Athens.
56. ✧ Relax in the Blue Lagoon Hot Springs in Iceland
The warm geothermal, milky-blue waters of the Blue Lagoon draws visitors worldwide. Many float in the mineral-rich waters for the reputed skin benefits, while others go there for the relaxation, ducking into a grotto with a beverage in hand from the float-up bar. Those who decide to visit Iceland may also want to take in the scenery.
57. ✦ Stay in a Tuscan Villa in Italy
This “things to do before you die” goal was definitely inspired by the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. There are plenty to choose from, but just a few kilometers South of Siena you will find Villa Pippistrelli, a luxury Tuscan farmhouse located on the Monstegliano estate. This charming house is everything you’d expect from a Tuscan villa. It may be old in years, but the villa has been restored with present-day conveniences and elegant interiors while still keeping its rustic 17th century Tuscan feel.
58. ✧ Go Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua
The adventure starts with a rocky forty-five-minute hike up the 2,388-foot Cerro Negro (Black Hill), an active volcano just outside of León, Nicaragua. Once at the top you will sit on plywood boards, and go racing down at speeds up to 30 mph.
59. ✧ Be a Part of a Flash Mob
60. ✧ Cross the Salarde Uyuni in Bolivia
Blanketing more than forty-five hundred square miles, the Salar de Uyuni is a flat salt dessert that seems to go on infinitely. It is the remains of a lake that once covered the southwestern corner of Bolivia, but is now a vastness of white that plays an optical illusion on you. During the wet season, the shallow water that collects acts as a mirror of the sky, showing reflections of the sky and clouds, making the world seem endless. In the dry season, you can walk or drive across it, taking goofy photos that play with the lack of perspective created by the continuous sheets of hexagonal tiles.
61. ✦ Take a Helicopter Ride into the Grand Canyon
After having traveled to Las Vegas a half a dozen times in the past couple years, on this current trip I was looking for something more than sparkling lights, feathered girls and dancing water fountains. I wanted a unique “Things to do Before You Die” experience. A helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon fit the bill. Sundance Helicopters took us 45 minutes from Las Vegas and landed us right into the Grand Canyon where we had time to explore and have a picnic. If helicopters are not your thing than consider getting a thrilling perspective of the Grand Canyon by white water rafting it from the Colorado River. In your raft, you will navigate the greatest whitewater in North America while marveling at the multicolored layers of the eroded rocks.
62. ✧ Kayak Through Icebergs in Greenland
Lose contact with civilization while paddling your kayak through a labyrinth of icebergs along the pristine Greenland waters. You may encounter a curious seal or giant whale, but the real treat is the peacefulness of listening to the crumbling of the icebergs in the distance.
63. ✧ Visit All 7 Continents
64. ✧ Hike Between the Towns of Cinque Terre in Italy
Cinque Terre is a collection of five charming villages that are linked by a network of picturesque hiking trails. The trails go through each town, giving you a chance to peruse through the quaint shops, drink a glass of Chianti at a café, or both.
65. ✦ See the Blue Footed Booby Mating Dance in Galapagos
There are 3 types of boobies on the Galápagos Islands: Blue-footed, Red-footed and Nazca. Though we did see them all, my real bucket list goal was to witness a Blue-footed Booby mating dance. This dance was their unique courting ritual, which included rocking side-to-side while lifting their eye-catching baby blue feet. On our last day of exploring the Galapagos Islands, on North Seymour, we saw one very popular female bird surrounded by a few male Boobies who were strutting their stuff trying to impress this desirable lady.
66. ✧ Tour the Hanging Temple of Mount Hengshan in China
The Hanging Temple is an architectural wonder, built into a cliff of Hengshan Mountain. It is said to have been built by a monk during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386–534 AD). Inside is a labyrinth of passageways connecting forty pavilions and halls, plus more than eighty bronze, iron, and clay statues.
67. ✦ Drink in a Shinjuku Golden Gai Bar in Tokyo
Golden Gai is a neighborhood in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo that squeezes in over 200 miniature bars into a network of six narrow alleys, made only for pedestrians. Most bars in this section of town seat less than ten drinkers and cater to the locals. But, it is possible to find somewhere the travelers are welcome and will flock to. I ended up doing most of my Golden Gai drinking at Nessun Dorma, which means None Shall Sleep.
Read More: Shinjuku Nightlife: A Guide to Tokyo’s Best Golden Gai Bars
Book a Tour: Kabukicho and Shinjuku Golden Gai Night Tour
Related: Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do in Japan’s Coolest City
68. ✧ Let Go of a Floating Lantern in Taiwan
Watch the sky ablaze as over a hundred thousand luminous lanterns are simultaneously released at the Pingxi Lantern Festival. The launching began as a means to signal refugees of the town’s safety; today participants decorate them with their wishes and release them into the moonlit sky.
69. ✦ Get Spooked at the Catacombs in Paris
The Catacombs in Paris is a labyrinth of caves underneath the heart of the city and the resting place for the bones of six million Parisians. Starting in the late eighteenth century, remains were transferred to the ossuary as overcrowded graveyards were closing due to the risk to the public. Though the underground maze is extensive, the portion that is open to the public is an eerie two-kilometer-long walk filled with skulls, bones, and stones.
70. ✦ See the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are mysterious twists of multicolored lights that can only be seen in a handful of locations in the world, mostly in the Arctic Circle. To witness them is a once-in-a-lifetime experience whether you do it while relaxing in a thermal spa in Iceland, cruising on a yacht through Alaska, or night dogsled-ding in Norway. Check out the Aurora Zone for help.
71. ✧ Ride in a Gondola in Venice
72. ✧ Watch the Grand Prix in Monaco
Each year the ritzy streets of Monaco are turned into a challenging Formula 1 circuit for one of the most prestigious races in the world, the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s one of the slowest tracks, but probably the most glamorous, bordering the yacht-filled harbor and studded with movie stars.
73. ✦ Visit a Maasai Tribe in Tanzania
On the massive continent of Africa, there are several different tribes of people, many of which are still living in a way that’s loyal to its own traditional customs. One of these is the Maasai tribe and when you go on an African safari in Tanzania it’s possible to pay a visit to their land to have a firsthand peek at their lifestyle.
Along the safari routes on my trips to Tanzania with Shadows of Africa, I saw the Maasai people dozens of times. Their blue and red frocks gave them away every time. Not only are they scattered throughout the main roads, mostly herding their cattle. Their villages are also sporadically spread on the long stretches of land. But, what is Maasai culture all about?
74. ✧ Attend Burning Man in Nevada
For one week each year over sixty thousand dreamers, artists, and partygoers converge at Black Rock City in Nevada for the ultimate desert art festival-Burning Man. This bash is not for idle spectators, it is expected that you participate by creating art, performing, volunteering, and dressing up. The hedonistic homemade community centers around “The Man,” the sixty-foot-tall mascot who is burned to the ground on the final days.
75. ✦ Skydive
76. ✦ Zip Line through the Rain Forest of Costa Rica
Imagine the thrill of gliding along the treetops in the Costa Rican rain forest attached to cables. The zip lines bring you to different height platforms, crossing an extraordinary landscape on the way. You will find adrenaline-pumping zip lines all across the country that will fly you next to a waterfall and through the forest with the monkeys, giving you a different perspective from the air.
77. ✦ Visit All 50 States
78. ✧ Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal
At over twenty-nine thousand feet, Mount Everest soars above Khumbu in northeastern Nepal. Though a rare few attempt to reach the summit, the trek to Everest Base Camp at 17,590 feet is still a challenging adventure and an achievable goal for the rest of us. Along the way the stunning Himalaya views, hospitality of the village people, and spectacular glimpse of its peak will take you aback.
79. ✦ Kayak with Beluga Whales in Manitoba
Between mid-June to September one of Canada’s most incredible wildlife display happens – the beluga whales come to town. More than 50,000 of these sociable creatures patrol the Arctic in Northern Manitoba, and the Hudson Bay coastline sees the world’s largest population.
Nicknamed ‘melon heads’ these majestic, fluorescent white creatures will mesmerize as much as baffle you as they swim right up to your kayak. I glided along while whales swam underneath and next to me, a couple babies even came right up to the boat to inspect my GoPro.
Read More: Kayaking with Beluga Whales in Manitoba
80. ✧ Attend the Palio Horse Race in Siena
Twice a year, the central piazza (Il Campo) of Siena is turned into a track for the most important event in the city-Palio. The Italian town is stuffed to the brim as ten of the neighborhoods (contrades) each compete in a bareback battle of the best racehorse. The event is just as much about the thrill of the seventy-five-second race as it is about the pageantry and pride.
81. ✦ Explore the Depths of a Cava Cave in Spain
The cava caves of Spain feature dark narrow tunnels, steep spiral staircases, a labyrinth that would challenge anyone’s sense of direction, and are filled to the stone ceiling with a winemaker’s dream. Some cava caves would make the perfect location to film a horror flick, while others could be used as a skilled mathematicians puzzle. Exploring the seemingly endless channels can only be topped by tasting the bubbly at the end.
Read More: Explore the Depths of a Cava Cave in Spain
82. ✦ Drive Maui’s Road to Hana
With flowing waterfalls, picturesque hiking, and a black sand beach, the fifty-three-mile Road to Hana drive is one of the most popular in the world. Most travelers will take the road to the town Hana, then turn around and head back the same route they came. For the more adventurous traveler, do the continuous loop, which takes you over the unpaved, bumpy part of the road with the zigzagging turns that tour books warn you about.
83. ✦ Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable in Tokyo
You can’t fully understand the intensity of this sport unless you are up close and personal at a sumo wrestling practice to witness the panting, grunting and dripping sweat. The practices are not attractions created for tourists, they are serious and you need to show respect while you are there. Though there are several other stables to visit, at Hakkaku Sumo Stable in Tokyo you can spend the morning watching an intense Sumo wrestlers practice. This was one of my favorites on the things to do before you die list!
Read More: Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable in Tokyo
Read More: Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do in Japan’s Coolest City
Book a Tour: Watch a Morning Sumo Training
See: More Sumo Related Experiences
84. ✧ Wear a Mask at Carnival in Venice
Each year the Venice canals come alive as roughly three million visitors flock to this colossal masquerade party. The Carnival in Venice is one of the biggest celebrations in Italy that starts two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday. Partygoers parade through the city donning elaborate bejeweled masks and costumes while enjoying an array of festival events.
85. ✦ Eat at a Themed Restaurant in Tokyo
At the Alcatraz ER themed restaurant, you can eat a plate of beef shaped like a brain on the floor of a jail cell while sipping cocktails out of a dummy’s head, which is exactly what I did. If a gothic cathedral environment is more your thing, try Christon Cafe or opt for The Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku that takes dinner and a show to another level. There will be loud music, dancing and robots fighting, plus a little sushi to dine on if you should choose.
86. ✧ Go Truffle Hunting in Tuscany
Traveling to Italy is absolutely about the pasta and the wine, but it’s also about the truffles. Walk through the Tuscan forests with a Lagotto Romagnalo breed of dog sniffing out a culinary treasure-the white truffle. Though there are over sixty varieties of truffles worldwide, this is the most coveted, at times bringing in over $800 per 100 grams. Giulio the Truffle Hunter will help you find your prize.
87. ✦ Go on an African Safari
We are all familiar with the term “once-in-a-lifetime’. Right? It is reserved for those epic bucket list experiences that you feel so fortunate to have even once during your life, that you can’t even imagine being blessed enough to be able to do it a second time. An African safari in Tanzania is one of those experiences-and I was blessed twice.
There are plenty of places in Africa to go on safari, but both of mine were done in Tanzania with the Shadows of Africa tour team. For four days we explored the surreal Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks. And a bonus “things to do before you die” was spotting the big five!
88. ✧ Get Scrubbed at a Hamam in Turkey
The hamam has been popular in Turkey for thousands of years, not only as a relaxing bathing ritual but also as a social center. Today the healthy hot steam bath, followed by a body scrub and massage, is still a major part of the Turkish culture.
89. ✦ Eat Insects at Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Market
While exploring the plentiful booths of Chiang Mai‘s Sunday Night Market, there was one stall that caught my attention. It had all sorts of varieties of edible bugs; crickets, cicada, mealworms and whirligig beetles. How do I choose? I opted for the insect sampler pack for 20 baht ($0.65 usd), a little of each. I like variety.
90. ✦ Float in the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is a salt lake over thirteen hundred feet below sea level, making it the lowest elevation on Earth. Nestled between the country of Jordan to the east and Israel to the west, the unusually high salt concentration (8.6 times saltier than the ocean) causes a natural buoyancy that makes people float. Many people use this oasis as a chance to aimlessly drift while reading a newspaper.
Read More: Float in the Dead Sea
91. ✦ Hike to the Top of Piaynemo in Raja Ampat
Indonesia is filled with beautiful scenery, but for me none was more picturesque than the view from the top of Piaynemo Island in Raja Ampat. Pulling up to the small dock on the island, there was a set of stairs heading straight up into the forest.
These 318 steps (I counted!) were strenuous in the humid heat, but the view from the top was worth every single one. From the peak you can see an iconic karst island seascape, small islands surrounded by a dozen shades of brilliant turquoise. This million dollar view wasn’t my only reward, so was the fresh coconut juice waiting for me at the bottom.
Read More: Raja Ampat Bucket List: 7 Things to Do
92. ✦ Visit Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania, Romania
High above the valley of Romania, in the principality of Transylvania, there lies an unusual castle that is said to have once been occupied by Count Dracula himself. You will find the gothic Bran Castle near the town of Brasov, which has long been linked to this ancient vampire, though Dracula probably won’t be there when you arrive. There is a mystical atmosphere surrounding Bran Castle; it looks like the perfect setting for a vampire novel, perched on top of a hill and filled with dozens of tunneled stairs, dark wood paneling, and stark white walls.
93. ✦ Eat at the Cheapest Michelin Starred Restaurant
Tim Ho Wan is a hole-in-the-wall dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong that gained recognition after receiving a coveted Michelin star and therefore being known as one of the cheapest Michelin starred restaurants in the world. And it is cheap. Really cheap. Though they are well known for their pork buns, all their food is quite tasty, especially their chicken feet.
94. ✧ See a Broadway Musical in New York City
Along and nearby Broadway, in the heart of New York City, between Forty- second and Fifty-third, people have been dazzled by gleaming lights, powerful voices, and some of the world’s best theatrics. There’s nothing quite like a Broadway show. The theater district has also been called “The Great White Way,” because of its flashy marquees that light up the sky. Many Tony awards have been earned on these streets.
95. ✦ Go Tidal Bore Rafting in Nova Scotia
The Nova Scotia tides cause 160 billion tons of water flow through the Bay of Fundy twice a day, which feeds into the Shubenacadie River. This surge of seawater creates a once-in-a-lifetime adventure like no other, tidal bore rafting. It’s a wild ride where you will zip through up to 10 foot waves, they will crash over your motorized raft drenching you from head to toe or submerging you completely. If you have only one adventurous thing you do in Nova Scotia, this is it!!
96. ✧ Interact with the Penguins of Antarctica
A highlight to any trip to the chilly continent of Antarctica is interacting with the many penguin colonies; Adélies, emperors, chinstraps, and gentoos. Watch as they clumsily waddle to the sea, slide on their bellies and curiously approach you, sometimes coming so close they shuffle right over your feet.
97. ✦ Explore the Silent City of Mdina in Malta
Mdina is the old capital of Malta and referred to as the “Silent City”. It’s not to hard to understand why. There are limited cars that can enter to immaculate town, mostly owned by the approximately 300 residents. This contributes to the peaceful atmosphere as you stroll through the narrow cobbled streets admiring the shuttered windows and a handful of quaint shops.
For a special evening, dine at The Mdina Restaurant, which specializes in Mediterranean and local cuisine, like the Stuffat Tal-Qarnit, a traditional stew consisting of octopus cooked in red wine, raisins, apples and roasted walnuts.
It’s easy to get around on your own or book one of these two tours: Mdina: Full-Day Tour with Lunch or Mosta, Crafts Village, Mdina & Valletta Full-day Tour.
98. ✦ Walk through a Rice Terrace in Indonesia
If you’ve seen pictures from Bali, you’ve probably seen a few of these stunning green rice paddies. They are some of the island’s most popular destinations for travelers, and they don’t disappoint! The traditional Tegalalang Rice Terraces are just about half an hour north of Ubud, in the Tegalalang Village. The whole community pitches in to maintain the paddies’ complex irrigation system, which is centuries old. They also let tourists in to wander much of the terraces for free.
99. ✦ Have a Home Stay in Norway with a Sami Reindeer Herder
In the Arctic tundra of Norway there’s a unique home stay waiting. A Sami reindeer herder in Finnmark welcomes you into his winter cabin, and his culture. The Sámi are indigenous people to the very north of Europe, in the arctic area of Sápmi, which spans the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. There are approximately 80,000 Sámi living in these four countries with a majority in Norway, and specifically in the Finnmark region where my homestay visit was. For many years, reindeer herding has been a popular way to earn a living amongst the Sámi through the selling of meat, milk and fur.
100. ✦ Participate in a Japanese Tea Ceremony
The refined Japanese Tea Ceremony is the ritual of preparing and serving the powdered green tea, matcha. This warm, thick beverage is served with sweets to balance the bitter taste of the tea. The host may spend years mastering this art, learning every detail from utensil placement to the perfect angle for the tea bowl.
In Tokyo, go to the Happo-en Japanese Garden that sits in Shirokanedai district. It is an exquisite example of natural beauty with its ancient bonsai, koi pond and blanket of cherry blossoms in the Springtime. Not only is it a beautiful representation of a Japanese garden, but you can schedule to participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony where you will be drinking Matcha in their wooden Muan tea house.
Read More: Participate in a Japanese Tea Ceremony in Tokyo
Related: Tokyo Bucket List: 44 Top Things To Do in Japan’s Coolest City
Book Tour: Experience a tea ceremony or wearing kimono at Bonsai Museum
What’s on your 100 things to do before you die list?
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