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Nine holidays in nine years. Where would you go? You could see a large chunk of the world over nine years. You could get to every continent. You could experience a whole range of cultures and lifestyles and environments.

Or, you could keep going back to the same place nine times over, like the woman I met in South Africa a few months ago. "I just don't want to go anywhere else," she said. "I'm completely addicted to coming here."

And she was. Nine holidays in nine years. Nine flights from London to Cape Town. Nine trips to one part of the world.

I met her in her destination of choice, at a game park near the KwaZulu-Natal coast. She explained to me why she does this, why she's happy to simply return to the same spot over and over again rather than investigate the rest of the world: she just loves it there, and that's enough.

There are plenty of countries that you're done with after one visit, but there are some that are addictive, that take a hold of people and don't let go. Countries like these should come with a warning.

1. South Africa

There is something about this place that keeps people returning over, and over, and over again. There's an element of adventure, a feeling of exploring a sometimes-dangerous land while still knowing you're actually quite safe.

There's all the wildlife and those rugged landscapes, but also cities with an edge. All of your senses seemed heightened in South Africa, and for travellers that's wildly addictive.

2. Italy

I'm really sick of Italy, said no one ever. Italy is the good life – it's the dream. It's 20 regions that seem like separate countries in their own right, places with different food and art and history and temperament and beliefs.

Italy is late-evening walks down cobbled streets; it's long days on warm beaches; it's pasta in small trattorias; it's scooter rides through busy cities; it's wine and friends and fun. No wonder people want to go back.

3. India

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There are two kinds of travellers in this world: those who found India to be a constant battle and were done with it after one try, and those who absolutely love the place and will keep returning for the rest of their lives. It's polarising.

For those in the latter category, India's heady mix of spirituality and madness, of hospitality and hassle, of all the colours of life painted bright and bold, will always have them dreaming of a return journey.

4. The US

Most first-time visitors know they'll like the US – but they're still surprised by just how great it is. People are friendly here. It's easy to get around. It's cheap. It's fun.

It's also a huge and diverse country, meaning you could go back every year for the rest of your life and still not have to repeat a city, or even a state. That's a big drawcard.

5. Iran

The travellers' addiction to Iran is one of those painful ones where you spend the rest of your life chasing the feeling that you had when you first visited. Because to arrive in Iran is to have your life and your view of the world altered forever.

This is a seriously friendly, fun and fascinating place to travel  – despite its reputation for being the opposite – and that's not a discovery you get to make often.

6. Indonesia

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How many people do you know who've been to Bali? Or who've been to the Gili islands, or Lombok, or Nusa Tenggara? And how many are planning to go back?

There's something undeniably attractive about Indonesia – it's the sort of place you can go off the beaten track exploring, or into a resort relaxing.

7. Japan

It only takes one visit to become hooked on Japan. For skiers it's the blankets of snow, but for everyone else it's the sheer foreignness of Japan, the fact it's all so different and strange and interesting, and yet approachable.

There's never a dull moment, and no matter how many times you return, there will always be something surprising.

Have you been to any of the locations mentioned above? Which location has you coming back again and again? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Written by Ben Groundwater. First appeared on

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