The 10 Best International Places to Propose

Voted on by no one in particular and selected by no particular authority other than me. I’ve been to all of these places – but I’ve only proposed at one of them.  

10 Hot Air Ballooning over the Serengeti 

Your special partner will never forget a proposal floating above herds of giraffe or zebra, followed by a champagne breakfast on the plains. I’ve ballooned over the Serengeti and it is indeed spectacular – though I did not propose to anyone. You might want pay for exclusive use of the basket if you don’t want to be sharing the experience with random strangers. 

Be careful if you are proposing to your same sex partner – same sex relations are illegal in Kenya.  

Serengeti circa 1988

9 On a Gondola in Venice 

Pop the question as you float under the Rialto Bridge. Kitsch? It probably doesn’t get kitscher. But memorable… definitely. I’ve been to Venice a couple of times but I was too cheap for pay for a gondola ride.  

8 In an Overwater Bure in the Maldives 

There’s nothing as romantic as listening to the water lapping underneath your bedroom floor at night, or sipping cocktails as you dangle your legs from your private balcony in the crystal clear water. There are some incredibly indulgent resorts to choose from, but some are going to cost more than the engagement ring.  

Same sex relations are illegal here – you can pop the question but you can’t marry your same sex partner.  

Coco Bodu Hithi

7 The Taj Mahal, India 

Proposing at a mausoleum might seem a bit macabre. But the Taj was built by the Shah Jahan as a symbol of his everlasting love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Actually Mumtaz was the Shah’s favourite wife, not his only wife. India may have turned its back on polygamy but they are yet to embrace same sex marriage.  

Still, the Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings on earth. 

Sunset at the Taj, circa 1985

6 Top of the Empire State Building 

An iconic view from an iconic building. Surely more romantic than its modern-day viewing rival, One World Tower. If you happen to be in New York with your loved one, the Empire State affords a golden opportunity for a Proposal to Remember. Consider making your partner watch An Affair to Remember before you go – just for added impact. Whether you’re a Deborah or a Cary, the US had had marriage equality since 2015. 

View from the Empire State 2006

5 Top of the Eiffel Tower 

Paris, city of lights, city of romance. If you find yourself in Paris when the time is right, it would be hard to go past the Eiffel Tower. I’d recommend doing it at night to enjoy the lights. Same sex proposals welcome here! 

4 The Shard in London 

Arguably offering the best view of London, the Shard also offers a unique Proposal Package. A whopping 640 GBP gets you an exclusive 30-minute hire of The View from The Shard, in a private area decorated with hundreds of rose petals & candles. You’ll get champagne and chocolates and a dedicated concierge to ensure all goes smoothly. You’ll have to pop the question yourself though. 

3 Hawaiian Sunset Cruise 

Hawaii is a great place for a honeymoon. It’s also a great place for a destination wedding. So why not the whole package? Utter those four little words on a romantic sunset catamaran cruise from Waikiki or Maui and – if he or she says yes – spend the next day scoping out some wedding options. Return one year to the day for a wedding and honeymoon to be remembered. 

2 Make a Grand Statement with a Helicopter Flight into the Grand Canyon 

Your partner is sure to be impressed with a helicopter flight over and into the Grand Canyon. The only decision to make is whether to propose on the canyon floor or up on the rim. And if you’re in a hurry you could get a quickie marriage back in Vegas on the same night. Helicopter flights aren’t cheap but you’ll save a bomb on the wedding! 

1 The Whispering Gallery, Grand Central Station New York 

This acoustic marvel will allow you to whisper sweet nothings in your loved one’s ear while they listen 30 feet across the hallway. This was where I attempted to propose but I lost my nerve – so I popped the question under the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Centre instead. Not a bad fallback plan.  read more

Travel Ethics

As travellers today we might think of ourselves as roving ambassadors, enriching ourselves and the world with cross-cultural experiences as we traverse the globe. But do we have a responsibility to think about where we spend our tourist dollar, and to think about who we might be hurting or helping? 

This has never been more pertinent for LGBTI travelers as the gulf between equality and discrimination becomes more glaring in countries across the world.  

Here’s a list of countries where homosexuality or homosexual acts are forbidden and punishable by law: 

Algeria, Antigua & Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cook Islands, Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, UAE, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe 

There’s quite a few countries here that I’ve been to and plenty more that I’d like to visit. Sure, Eswatini was never high on my bucket list (btw it’s the new name of Swaziland, and yes I had to Google that), but a lot of those countries are highly desirable tropical paradises. You’d think they’d be more chill! Why would a Maldivian policeman bother to get out of his hammock to arrest Faisal and Abdul for having a quickie in their fishing dhoni?

And Bhutan… wtf??? This tiny Himalayan Kingdom that measures Gross National Happiness instead of GDP (they pretty much don’t have any GDP) may not be nirvana for their gay citizenry facing up to a year in jail just for being themselves. 

So what’s your rule when it comes to visiting countries that make same sex relations a crime? Should we boycott all such countries? Or just those that actively enforce those laws? Many countries turn a blind eye to their archaic anti-gay laws (possibly in a cynical pursuit of tourist dollars), and hey, it can be hard to avoid Singapore and Malaysia for an Australian who regularly travels internationally. 

For me, Brunei’s recent toughening of anti-LGBTI laws – death by stoning no less! – are just a bridge too far. I won’t be travelling to this sultanate anytime soon, nor flying on the national carrier Royal Brunei Airlines, or lining the king’s pockets by staying at any of his hotels! 

And should we use our tourist dollars to vote against Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women, China’s human rights violations and annexation of Tibet, cultures that practice female circumcision, Japan for whaling, the otherwise charming Danes for their senseless slaughter of dolphins, the USA for building a wall against Mexico??? 

And what about our own backyard? How should foreign tourists respond to Australia’s treatment of refugees, our record with our own first peoples, the racist attitudes of many of our politicians,  and hey we only just got marriage equality after being dragged into the developed world, and what a shit fight that was! 

Maybe Muslim Brunei should have boycotted Australia when Pauline Hanson wore a burqa to parliament. 

So should we stay home waving an indignant fist at our computer screens, or do we go forth into the world and hope that in some small way our tourist diaspora will spread seeds of tolerance and understanding? 

No right or wrong answers here – everyone will have their own travel deal-breakers – but plenty of questions to ask ourselves when booking our next trip.