For many people, travel is all about experiencing something totally unique, about stepping outside of their comfort zone and diving into a new culture. These travelers want to experience the unfamiliar and unique when they travel. They’re seeking the hidden gems, the undiscovered destinations that will really change their worldview. Uncrowded, unspoiled, undiscovered.
I’m one of those travelers, so I understand the urge. There’s nothing more disappointing than flying halfway around the world and being greeted by the Golden Arches and crowds of tourists with cameras and backpacks spoiling your view. For those travelers who seek the less-traveled, I have a few suggestions. But please, go now, before they’re completely overrun!
But why? It’s rugged. It’s adventurous. It has a thriving nomadic culture and deeply ingrained traditions.
What can I do there? Visit the Gobi Desert and take part in a dinosaur dig. Spend the night in an authentic Mongolian ger. Experience the elaborate annual Naadam Festival. Learn to ride a camel and a horse. Explore a Buddhist temple. Visit the alpine mountains of Terelj National Park and search for the once-extinct wild horses in Hustai National Park. Experience the land of Chinggis Khan.
Who should go? Outdoorsy types, horse-lovers, those who don’t mind roughing it.
But why? It’s like Bora Bora without the crowds. Plus, it’s known as one of the happiest nations in the world.
What can I do there? Experience the turquoise blue waters of Champagne Beach (or, its less-crowded neighbor, Lonnoc Beach). Snorkel through well-preserved reefs and mail a waterproof postcard from an underwater post office. Play Tarzan and swing into the crystal-clear waters of Matevulu Blue Hole. Dive to explore the wreck of the SS President Coolidge. Stare into the mouth of Mount Yasur, the world’s most accessible active volcano. Visit the Louinio Cultural Village and learn about the Yakel tribe.
Who should go? Beach-lovers looking for an undiscovered gem, cultural adventurers who want to experience traditional ways of life.
But why? Well, because, gorillas. Do you need more than that? (There's way more than that.)
What can I do there? Trek through the jungle to come face-to-face with gorillas. Learn about the 1994 Genocide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. Haggle over beautiful African fabrics at the colorful market in Kimironko. Spend the day at the pristine beaches on the shores of Lake Kivu. Hike through the rainforest at Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Who should go? Gorilla-lovers and outdoor adventurers who love a good hike.
But why? This less-traveled neighbor of Peru boasts amazing scenery, world-class adventure and serious cultural experiences.
What can I do there? Watch the sky and earth meld at the Uyuni Salt Flats. Uncover the pre-Colombian, pre-Incan history of Tiwanaku. Visit Copacabana along the shores of Lake Titicaca. See the birthplace of Inca civilization on Sun Island. Reach new heights at Potosí, one of the highest cities in the world (13,420 ft.). Experience the less-crowded, yet no-less-biodiverse side of the Amazon rainforest.
Who should go? Instagram fanatics looking for some amazing natural shots, lovers of Incan and other pre-Columbian history, altitude junkies, and nature lovers seeking the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest.
But why? Angkor Wat alone is bucket-list worthy, but the culture and history make the trip worthwhile.
What can I do there? Explore the Angkor Wat temple complex, the largest religious monument in the world. Visit Banteay Chhmar, a hidden temple complex that rivals Angkor, minus the tourists. Learn about the brutal history of the Khmer Rouge at the S21 Genocide Museum. Take a cruise down the Mekong. Spend the day on the pearly white beaches of Koh Rong Samloem. Experience the buzzing energy of the Crab Market in Kep. Totally unplug from the world on Rabbit Island. Visit Phnom Kulen National Park for beautiful waterfalls and impressive archeological sites.
Who should go? Temple-enthusiasts and bucket-list junkies as well as beach- and nature-lovers.
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