We’re familiar with a little place called Paris. We’ve heard of that party place you kids talk about called Thailand. Las Vegas? Been there, done that. While these places are all tourist hotspots for good reason and we do love them, sometimes the best travel experiences come from the spots that the masses haven’t discovered just yet.
Here are 12 off the beaten path destinations you should seriously consider adding to your bucket list.
Labuan Bajo, Indonesia
If you’ve just spent a week partying on the beaches of Kuta in Bali, you are due for an escape from the tourist scene. An hour-long flight away lies Labuan Bajo, your gateway to Komodo National Park. Come here for some of the best outdoor activities the world has to offer – snorkel or dive with manta rays, check out the Komodo dragons, go hiking, chase waterfalls. Set yourself up for success by booking a stay at the clean and friendly Ciao Hostel at the top of the hill. The seaside town is as charming as the locals that live in it, and those sunsets… oh, those sunsets. You’ll have to go for yourself to see what we mean.
With architecture inspired by Paris and Dubai, the Old City of Baku is a true treasure of the Middle East. The fortress-lined city exudes a cultural fusion of east-meets-west and is constantly charming visitors and locals with its cobblestone streets, waterside promenade, and artistic displays on everything from the city’s walls to its trees. While you’re there, step outside the city to explore the desert landscape including bubbling mud volcanoes. This one will certainly take your breath away.
Welcome to the jungle. Welcome to Borneo. This is a land where you can see orangutans in the wild, embark on an overnight river cruise in the jungle, release newborn turtles into the ocean, and so much more. The town of Sandakan in Malaysia is a good launchpad from which to explore the island, and you can easily pass a day in this town without seeing another tourist. The wildlife, nature, and local cuisine make this spot a top off the beaten path destination.
Ilha Grande, Brazil
A few hours’ boat ride off the coast of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil there lies a little slice of paradise known as Ilha Grande. With spectacular white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, lush mountain peaks, and the chillest beach bars, you may never want to go back to the mainland. With no motorized vehicles, very few ATMs and spotty Wi-Fi, if you’re looking for a place that’s off the grid, this is it!
With its waterways, bridges, and gardens, this peaceful little town makes you feel restored and inspired after stepping out of the hustle-and-bustle of major cities. It’s one of China’s more affluent and modern cities and is clean, peaceful and manicured, yet still retains its ancient heritage and old-world charm.
Lake Kivu, Rwanda
Having miraculously rebuilt itself after the 1994 genocide, Rwanda is now one of the safest countries in Africa, and its capital Kigali is the cleanest city in the continent. Known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” the Rwandan countryside is absolutely stunning and a few hours’ road trip out of Kigali will land you in the remote, tranquil paradise of Lake Kivu, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although swimming isn’t recommended due to a (low) parasite risk, this is the most peaceful place to sit back at one of the resorts lining the lake and take in the breathtaking views.
Lebanon is not on the bucket list of every traveller, but it absolutely should be. Its capital Beirut is charming, friendly, and beautiful. Come here for mountains, beaches, delicious wine, delicious food to go with that wine, and a bumping nightlife scene. Coined the “Paris of the Middle East,” the city’s stunning architecture and diverse cultural mix will captivate your heart in just one visit.
Coron, The Philippines
Tourists have definitely discovered the beautiful beaches of Boracay, and they’re catching onto the majestic island-clad paradise of El Nido. But El Nido’s sister, just a four-hour ferry ride away along the coast of Palawan, still retains that untouched local feel. Many tourists come to this seaside town and embark on the island tours, but there is still so much left to discover. Amidst the hectic traffic of scooters and tricycles (the rickshaw/tuk-tuk of the Philippines), the town itself is still lacking in an overload of touristy bars, souvenir shops, and yes, even Wi-Fi.
Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka
Globetrotters are quickly catching onto the rugged paradise that is Sri Lanka, but it is our pick for the hottest up-and-coming travel destination of the year. You’ll want to visit before it gets really run down with crowds. Take a safari in Wilpattu National Park, which attracts fewer visitors than the popular Yala National Park but still offers a chance to see animals like Asian elephants, sloth bears, and (drumroll please) leopards.
Reroute your Euro tour to one of the lesser-travelled areas and visit the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, for a dose of authentic Eastern European culture. Free from the masses of tourists from the western world, Kiev will surprise you with its awesome vibes and cool stuff to do. There are many beaches by the river, the nightlife is next level and activities are very cheap. You can bungee jump off a bridge for less than $10 USD and drink a beer for less than $1! This ticks off all our travel goals.
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Georgetown is Insta-famous, and for good reason (seriously, peep its hashtag). With some of the most unique street art, delicious street food, and adorably rustic shops, cafes and hotels, this destination is redefining the word charming. The quirky and quaint Narrow Marrow cafe is a great spot to start your Insta tour. Come snap your pics before the rest of your followers beat you to it!
Gili Islands, Indonesia
A short boat ride away from the mainland of Bali, the Gili Islands are certainly on the radar of many tourists, but their laid-back island vibes and horse-drawn carts or bikes in lieu of motorized vehicles certainly make these islands feel off the beaten path. Gili Air and Gili Meno are slightly more untouched than the party-centric Gili T, but any of these islands will certainly feel like a nice little escape from civilization.
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