Leave the crowds behind and explore these less-frequented destinations.
London, Bali, the US. Sure they’re all great destinations in their own right. I’ve got nothing against them. But don’t you sometimes crave going away, way away, from the crowds? Don’t you want to explore a new city or country without the masses? Without having to fork out a fortune?
If you answered “yes”, “yes” and “yes”, read on for our top picks of the most underrated and affordable destinations.
The country formerly known as Burma is in transition. Having held democratic elections in 2015 after decades of rule by a military junta, Myanmar is increasingly opening for foreign business and tourism. With a culture less diluted by mass tourism than many other South-East Asian countries (ahem, Thailand), Myanmar offers a far more authentic and rewarding experience. Marvel at the thousands of temples in Bagan (or Pagan), see the contrast between colonial British architecture and traditional Buddhist pagodas in Yangon, and cruise the Ayeyarwady River spotting the famed pink dolphins.
The land of sheep, Lord of the Rings and the All Blacks consistently features high on travellers’ wish lists. While it may not be short on tourists, its sheer beauty and broad appeal can’t be over-exaggerated. The country’s calm character is hard to match. Get lost in Fiordland, admire a city rebuilt in Christchurch, enjoy fine wine in vineyards throughout the country, and let nature overwhelm you pretty much everywhere you go.
Often overlooked in favour of Germany, Austria or the Czech Republic, Poland is a big country with a big heart. There’s no shortage of pretty cities to explore (Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk), hearty food to enjoy (pierogi, rosot, goulash) and local brews to sip (vodka, beer). Not to mention a vast amount of wilderness (including the Tatra Mountains), should you wish to go even further off the beaten track. History buffs will have no trouble finding food for thought in Poland, though much of it is very sombre.
One of the smallest South American nations, Uruguay still packs a lot of punch. This Spanish-speaking country shares many of the same attractions as its more popular neighbour, Argentina – namely great steak, a strong wine industry and ‘gaucho’ heritage – but without the crowds. Uruguayan beaches are arguably some of the best in South America, while charming towns such as Colonia del Sacramento invite lazy afternoons strolling along cobblestoned streets.
Namibia, located on Africa’s south-western coast, is a great introduction to the continent for first-time visitors. Etosha National Park provides a prime opportunity for viewing the country’s wildlife (elephants, black rhinos, cheetahs) in their natural environment. Another major drawcard for nature lovers is the Namib Desert, which is said to be the world’s oldest. Lose yourself among the sand dunes and solitude. The Skeleton Coast is also hauntingly beautiful with whale bones and shipwrecks strewn along the edge of the country. The German colonial architecture in many of Namibia’s towns points to the nation’s recent history and makes it unique in Southern Africa.
While Canada is a popular destination, certain cities and provinces in the country are definitely overlooked in favour of others. Travellers tend to flock to British Columbia and jump on the Rocky Mountaineer, but there is much more to Canada than this Western province. As with the five countries mentioned above, the natural environment is beyond stunning. From the Gold Rush history in the Yukon to the rugged beauty of the Maritime provinces, you’ll be drawn in. Canadians are often said to be welcoming, warm and laid back – what more could you want when visiting a foreign country?
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