Countries closest to my heart

My top 4 travel experiences

Charmie Kapoor
7 min readApr 27, 2024

On the flight back from my recent trip, I took a moment to jot down memorable experiences from my last trip, a ritual I cherish every time I travel.

This trip marked the 30th country I had visited.

Traveling has been a part of my life for quite some time now. Each destination has been unique in its own way — some met my expectations, some fell short, and others exceeded them by far. This list celebrates the latter — the destinations that truly over-delivered.

This piece is not about creating a typical itinerary or offering budget-friendly tips. These selections are more personal — they’re about places that resonated with me deeply, each holding a special significance.

While each location varies greatly in culture, landscape, and experience, they’ve all left a meaningful impact on me.

My top four countries:

  • Japan
  • Switzerland
  • Australia
  • Bhutan


Japan has reshaped my perspective in the most significant way. You know how they say travel can change you? I never really bought into it until I set foot in this country. Japan has this perfect blend of tradition and modernity. From the electric energy of Tokyo to the tranquil temples of Kyoto and the hidden gems like the small town of Hakone, every corner of Japan is bursting with beauty and wonder.

Japan’s natural beauty is marvelous, and Fuji is unreal. On a cloudy day, when chances of catching a glimpse of the peak seemed dim, seeing that majestic mountain rising against the horizon is surreal.

The street food scene — it’s out of this world. I come from a place where street food reigns supreme, and Japan’s culinary offerings exceeded all expectations.

But what really makes Japan stand out is its people. They’re just…different. In the best way possible. From the moment you arrive, you are overwhelmed by their kindness, hospitality, and sense of community. And as a female traveler, I’ve never felt safer and more welcomed than I was here.

The Japanese work ethic is equally impressive. Amidst their bustling lifestyle, they maintain a graceful balance between work and play, and they do it with such courtesy and patience that it’s impossible not to be in awe. A familiar night sight there is men and women in suits at 10 PM, gathered in small hole-in-the-wall bars. After a long day of work, they’re unwinding, enjoying each other’s company until midnight, and then seamlessly slipping back into their routine the next day.

I’m a designer, and every single detail in Japan is a feast for the eyes. From the simplest bill receipt to the most intricate food packaging, is a testament to the country’s dedication to aesthetics and design. It’s a place where even the mundane is a work of art, and you can’t help but appreciate the thought and care that goes into everything.


I’ll never forget one particular evening in Hakone (a small countryside town). My friend and I were desperately trying to catch the last bus to the city. We were lost as the road signs were only in Japanese. We stumbled upon a small shop and decided to seek help. Despite closing for the day, and deep into paperwork, the owner walked out of his store in 10°C. Not only did he provide directions, but he also walked for 10 minutes till our bus stop and waiting until the bus arrived. A true reflection of what Japanese generosity looks like.


Switzerland holds the top spot for natural beauty for me. The quaint villages tucked between majestic mountains — these scenes are straight out of a story book.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Switzerland three times, each trip in a different season, and it never ceases to amaze me. There are so many hidden gems to discover on day trips, each offering its own unique and breathtaking views.

The Swiss are a people who truly embrace the outdoors, and it’s infectious! Whether it’s hiking, skiing, or cycling, they know how to make the most of their stunning surroundings.

Adding to the allure of Switzerland is the efficiency and reliability of its public transportation system. Whether boarding a train, bus, or tram, you can trust in punctuality and seamless connectivity, making this a traveller’s dream.

The cuisine may not be the most diverse, but it’s a paradise for chocolate lovers like myself. From creamy fondues to a variety of desserts, it elevates chocolate for you on all levels.


Zermatt, Switzerland, is special as it’s where I first experienced snowboarding. Wrapped in three layers of clothing, striving to find stability in the near-freezing temperatures, it was more than just a winter sport.


I recommend going to Australia for two things – adventure sports & wildlife.

While the country offers much more, my time felt constrained by the sheer number of activities. Also, being in good shape came in handy.

Only a bullet-point list can do justice to the thrills in this 10-day trip. Here it goes:

  • Skydiving from 15,000 feet over the Gold Coast
  • Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Swimming with dolphins
  • Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge at night
  • Speed boating in the open waters
  • Hiking to the Twelve Apostles
  • Snorkeling with colorful marine life
  • Ziplining in Sydney’s adventure parks
  • Canoeing Melbourne’s waterways
  • Feeding the koalas
  • Watching the jumping kangaroos

Reflecting, I couldn’t help but notice the unique charm of the Australians. They hold a laid-back attitude along with an adventurous spirit. Everyone from the locals to the tour guides had a genuine passion for nature and wildlife. They’re also very quick-witted, with a dry sense of humor, adding to the trip's fun.


Watching a kangaroo for the first. As basic as it sounds, it’s a truly unique experience. Their non-arched backs and powerful hopping make them unlike any other animal. It almost feels like encountering a fictional creature brought to life.


Bhutan, with its landscapes and rich cultural heritage, was a revelation. As an Indian accustomed to certain assumptions about neighboring countries, I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered during my visit in March, especially amidst the unexpected snowfall.

Traveling with my basketball team of 12 people, we were embraced by the warmth and hospitality of the Bhutanese people at every turn. Whether interacting with locals or exploring the bustling markets, we were met with kindness and respect, reinforcing the sense of inclusivity and equality that permeates Bhutanese society.

One striking aspect of Bhutan was the sight of women in the workforce. Unlike some other places where gender disparities are more pronounced, in Bhutan, it was refreshing to see women playing active roles in sectors predominated by men, police officers, night watchmen, bodyguards, tour guides, and hotel owners. It also made it safer.

Sampling Bhutanese cuisine was delightful. While there were subtle influences of Indian flavors, the distinct Bhutanese dishes offered a unique and flavorful spice that left a lasting impression. One standout dish was ema datshi, a spicy chili and cheese stew served with rice.

And no trip to Bhutan is complete without the iconic Tiger’s Nest trek. We trekked through the rugged terrain in the snowy weather, and you couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by a sense of reverence for this land of serenity, and progressive values. I’m not the biggest fan of treks, and this was a challenging one, but worth every ounce of energy.


The king of Bhutan declares a national holiday on the first day of snow of every year, which just so happened to be our second day in Paro. Schools were closed, shops shut their doors, and the streets suddenly transformed as locals engaged in impromptu snowball fights. We couldn’t resist joining in, and for two hours, we did nothing but wait for snow to collect and have snowball fights.

Whether you’re an avid traveler or someone just starting to explore the world, may this inspire you to embark on your next unforgettable journey.

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Charmie Kapoor

Associate Director of Design, Unacademy • Alum: Harvard, IIT-G • Ex-Microsoft, Dunzo