By The Secret Traveller
So you’ve been to Thailand. You’ve probably been to Bali too, and the USA, and the UK, and maybe France or Italy or Spain as well.
But it’s time to look further afield. It’s time to look past the obvious destinations for your next trips and try something a little bit different. You won’t regret travelling to these seldom-visited destinations.
Not so long ago it was officially part of the “Axis of Evil”, an enemy of the West, but in reality Iran is one of the friendliest, most welcoming countries you could ever visit. There are beautiful sights here – mosques and bazars, bridges and gardens – but the real attraction of Iran is all of the great people you meet when you’re there.
This is another of those countries that used to be dangerous, but is now open for tourism business. Back in the 80s and 90s this was Pablo Escobar’s territory, a country ruled by the gun, but things have changed dramatically since those bad old days. Colombia is now safe and welcoming, a great place to sightsee, or dance the night away in a sweaty salsa club.
It’s often overlooked in favour of neighbours such as Brazil, Peru and Argentina, but Bolivia has plenty to offer lovers of adventure. From its wild main city, La Paz, which clings to a mountain slope high in the Andes, to the huge expanse of the Uyuni salt lake, to Lake Titicaca, to patches of Amazon jungle down in the lowlands, you could spend a long while in Bolivia and not get bored.
Namibia is huge, and yet only a few million people live in the entire country. Most of it is wide-open space, from desert plains in the south to rolling, barren hills in the north. There’s wildlife there too, particularly in Etosha National Park. And in the town of Swakopmund, you have one of Africa’s main centres for adventure tourism.
OK, Albania is a little strange. It’s pretty close to places like Serbia and Montenegro, and other Eastern European hubs, and yet the feel of Albania is completely different. It’s far less developed, but that doesn’t mean it’s less attractive. The beaches here are stunning, as good as any on the Med, and the capital, Tirana, is extremely good fun.
Like Mediterranean beaches? You’ll find plenty of them in Tunisia. Like Roman ruins that could rival almost anything you’d find in Rome itself? Then once again, Tunisia is your destination. Like culture that’s a mix of Arab, Moorish, African and European? Then you know where to go.
Mongolia pretty much only has one major city, Ulan Baator, and it’s extremely unimpressive. In fact I’d even go so far as to say it sucks. But as soon as you set foot outside that smog-laden town you arrive in another world, a place of nomadic families living in yurts, of rolling green hills, rocky outcrops, and endless plains. Mongolia is a serious adventure, and it’s loads of fun.
Australia’s closest neighbour is a country plenty of people have never seen. That’s because parts of it are dangerous – but there are plenty of parts that aren’t. Spend time in places like Milne Bay, or Kokopo, and you get to see PNG at its best: culturally rich, friendly, affordable, and boasting some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.
If you need one reason to visit Guatemala, in the middle of Central America, it’s Lake Atitlan: a huge expanse of water surrounded by three live volcanoes. And if that’s not spectacular enough, or enticing enough, then how’s this: some of the lakeside villages worship a god called Maximon, who is officially the god of rum and cigars. What’s not to love?
Stuck in the middle of Central Asia, almost completely unknown to the wider world, is Kyrgyztan, a country that will heavily reward anyone daring enough to pay it a visit. This is high, mountainous country, where you can hike or ride horses through spectacular, rustic scenery with barely another tourist around. You’ll feel like the first Westerner to ever set foot in some parts of Kyrgyzstan – and it a few cases you’ll be right.
Have a fun, safe & enjoyable holiday with our guide to staying safe in Bali.
1Cover’s UK Survival Guide is packed full handy hints, tips and tricks from those in the know.