There are places in the world that we fall in love with time and time again. Some are from the pictures we find, stirring wanderlust in our hearts, others are from our own experiences. Here in the 21st century where it seems like every step of earth has been explored, we forget that there are places to be seen beyond the beautiful yet stereotypical gondola rides in Venice or the classic elephant rides in Thailand.
Without insulting these timeless places, here is a list of 15 underrated destinations that should be explored before they get famous.
1. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
This is perhaps one of those rare destinations where rain is praised on a vacation getaway. Located in the Daniel Campos Province of southwest Bolivia, the Salar de Uyuni stretches across 10,582 km(4,086 sq mi) of land making it the world’s largest salt flat, and the top thing to do in Uyuni Bolivia. The salar was formed as a result of prehistoric lake transformations and remains a major breeding ground for several species of pink flamingoes. When it rains, the world around you transforms into a giant mirror which is why you’ll want to visit in the months between January-April. For $109 & up you can participate in a full day tour of the flats. It’s important to choose a service with a bi-lingual driver who’s operating an off-road vehicle that will safely handle the terrain. You can reach your Uyuni destination via bus, train, or airplane.
2. Fly-Geyser, Nevada
Many residents are still unaware of Nevada’s coolest and least known attractions due to its location on a patch of private land in the Black Rock Desert. This specific Geyser developed from a man-made well was drilled in the early 1900’s. Workers attempted to prevent the piping hot water that eventually began to rise through cracks in the well & up to the ground’s surface. The mountain of color that stands today spewing water five feet high is proof that the workers attempts were unsuccessful. A third of a mile up from state route 34 is the only active viewpoint of Fly-Geyser since it’s not currently open to the public. Personally, I would plan on visiting this site in late August/early September so you can align your plans with the Burning Man festival. Once the festival ends, the desert becomes vacant, offering opportunities only to the adventurous visitors who are interested in cross-country hiking, camping, and off road driving.
3. Krka National Park, Croatia
The Waterfalls of Krka National Park are truly a site to behold. Over 800 species of plantlife, 200 bird species, some of the 18 different existent bat species and an abundance of other animals & reptiles live in and around the waters of the Krka River. From Split Airport you can transfer to Split Bus Station & take one of the daily buses to Skradin, the town just outside of the park. If you choose to embark on one of the ferry excursions of the park, you’ll see the Skradinski Buk Waterfalls, a collection of 17 waterfalls that range in height over 45 metres and the Roski Slap(waterfall) which is a series of waterfalls in a space of 450 metres, the tallest which is slightly over 22 metres in height. The price is $67 and up for a Siebnik Tour from Split.
4. Eze Village, France
Just outside of Nice is a charming hilltop town on the Cote d’Azur with a view of the Mediterranean. Out on the cobblestone streets of the Eze Village, you’ll find the most desired shops such as Fragonard, a famous perfumery which has been in business since 1926. There are craft stores where products range from music boxes to paintings, blown glass to sweets & spices. If you’re looking to move beyond the view of the water and enter the sea, the Eze-Sur-Mer has beaches, water sports, cafe’s & restaurants. The best way to get to the village is through the #82 or #112 bus leaving from Nice. The tickets cost a total of 1.50 Euros and the travel time is 30 minutes.
5. Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
In the south eastern corner of Bangladesh is Cox’s Bazar, the tourist capital of the country. More importantly, the beach here is an unbroken 225 km of sand and sea making it the world’s largest uninterrupted natural beach. Between the towering cliffs, surfable waves and golden sand, it’s hard to believe that this coastal line by the Bay of Bengal has rarely been explored. Green coconut trees, a buddhist village, and the natural forests of Inani and Himchari filled with wild life surround the bay. The beach also serves as a refuge for rare marine turtles. This beautiful location is reachable through motor vehicles alongside the water, or a private AC bus line ranging from $18-$20.
6. Tzfat, Israel
Visit the highest city in Israel and breathe in that fresh mountain air. Tzfat(Safed) is one of the 4 holy cities in Israel. It’s easy to see why it’s considered sacred atmosphere as you wrap around the cobblestone streets and experience the picturesque city filled with stone houses, artists studios and workshops. Alleyways of the jewish quarter contain beautiful synagogues with ancient torah scrolls. It’s home to exciting museums, and the city plays host to numerous festivals that are rich in culture and color. Tzfat has been the spiritual center of jewish mysticism since the 1600’s. Even the graves are objects of veneration. I can assure you from personal experience that if you become overwhelmed from all of the shops and excitement, you can ease your pain with delicious falafel and schawarma. The easiest form of travel is by bus or train. A 3.5 hour bus ride from Jerusalem is $10.08.
7. Calistoga, California
Calistoga is a town in the upper north end of Napa Valley and has been named a distinct destination to visit by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The downtown shops & art galleries make this a city of natural beauty filled with popular activities such as mineral pools and mud baths, hiking, and of course the infamous wine-tasting tours. It’s distinguishing characteristic since the 1700’s has been it’s hot springs which were initially used by the native wappo for medicinal purposes. Calistoga is less than 2 hours from all 3 of Northern California’s major international airports (SFO) (OAK) (SMF) & only 45 minutes from the major regional airport Santa Rosa (STS). For price reference, a stay at one of Calistoga’s hot springs spa and resorts such as the Golden Haven can go for $175 and up.
8. Mt. Kelimutu National Park, Indonesia
Mt. Kelimutu is the smallest among 6 national parks in the stretch between Bali and the Nusa Tenggara Islands. It’s special attraction (as pictured above) are the 3 lakes on the mountain, each possessing the same name as the park. Kelimutu means ‘the boiling lake’. Each lake has its own colors & a local name, and all are believed to be a resting place for souls who’ve departed this world. The magic of the lakes? They continue to change color. It’s unpredictable as to when and what color they will change into. Sometimes these bodies of water are white, red & blue. Other times they transform into blue, green, and black. The site is roughly 40 miles from the town of Ende & 52 miles from Maumere, both which have small airports with flights from major international hubs in Indonesia. Depending on the location of your guesthouse, a ride up to the lakes can cost between $369-$516. It’s suggested by past travelers to walk the distance and appreciate the view both up and down the mountain.
9. Bozcaada Island, Turkey
One of Turkey’s two Aegean islands is an insider’s secret. These ottoman-greek whitewashed houses surrounding the harbor in Bozcaada are home to about 2,000 people. If you’re not wandering around the rest of the island covered by scattered pine woods, vineyards, and mediterranean shrubland, you can visit one of the main attractions where former architect Resit Soley is producing the country’s most sought after bottles at the Corvus Winery. There are 3 connections a week between Istanbul and the Canakkale Airport which is located 56 km away from the Geyikli Yukeri Harbour. There are also frequent bus rides to the Yukeri Port where ferryboats connect Bozcaada with the mainland. Travel & Leisure magazine recommends checking out Kaikias Hotel which doubles from $156.
10. Kyaukse, Myanmar
photo: Lin, Tun
A small town in the Mandalay region of Myanmar and known around the country for it’s Kyaukse Elephant Dance Festival. Myanmar is located in southeast Asia and is bordered by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos & Thailand. It seems that one could only dream up a place such as it’s Dutdawtaung Cave as it’s filled with an air of peace, meditation, and spiritual enlightenment. It’s raw architecture made up of high ceilings, alters, and buddhist statues make this destination a must see. Kyaukse is a rich and fertile land with a population of 51 billion people. A one-way flight to Myanmar’s international airport can cost between $637-785.
11. Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
This giant fortification made up of 6 kasbahs & nearly 50 ksars (individual kasbahs) is a great example of earthen clay architecture. This incredible city is located along the former caravan route between the Sahara & Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Only four families remain in the ancient city, the rest are living in a modernized village nearby. This fascinating pre-saharan habitat is a great way to immerse yourself in history. A one-way flight from NY is priced around $990 and a 3-star hotel in the area averages about $50 a night.
12. Leutasch Gorge, Germany
It wasn’t until 2006 that tourists were allowed to roam the Bavarian-Tyrolean border area through which the Leutascher Ache river flows. It was the steepness of the land that led to the 1.4 milliion Austro-German project made possible by building steel walkways and bridges over a distance of 970 metres. With a half day duration consisting of 7.5 miles and gaining 290 metres in elevation, this hike is family friendly and not an opportunity to be missed. The trail begins in Mittenwald, Germany and crosses over to Scharnitz, Austria. This hike combines the view of the gorge, a romantic river that travels alongside the trail, and provides the opportunity to visit ruins from an old fortress. It’s best to travel to your desired starting location by car. And the cost of this experience? Priceless.
13. Havasu Falls, Arizona
Most people in the world are familiar with the famous American site which goes by the name of The Grand Canyon. Yet somewhere within this famous landmark, an oasis exists with crystal clear blue water surrounded by trees, and red walls of the canyon. Hevasupai means “people of the blue-green water.” The hike starts at Hulapai Hilltop which is a hundred miles from civilization. Tourists have said that though it is not easy to hike to this destination, this beautiful place is definitely worth a visit.
14. Marble Caverns of Carrera Lake, Chile
Cuervos de Marmol is a 6,000 year old nature-made sculpture, carved by the crashing waves of Carrera Lake in Patagonia, Southern Chile. The swirling pattern of the lake’s waters are directly reflected on the interior of the cave. This solid marble peninsula has also been called the Marble Cathedral or the Marble Chapel. The water’s color hue tends to change with the seasons, further altering the appearance of the cave. Starting from the Chilean capital Santiago, visitors must travel 800 miles to the next big city Coyhaique and then embark on a 200 mile drive towards the lake. A kayak or boat ride is then needed to access the caves which adds up to about $50.
15. Genoa, Italy
It’s one of Europe’s largest cities on the Mediterranean and the largest seaport in Italy. Though most places in this classic country are well-renowned across the globe, I feel that Genoa is one of those locations which is overlooked. It’s population of 588,688 people make it the sixth largest city in Italy. The city’s rich cultural history in music, art and cuisine bring it’s nickname la Superba (the proud one) to life. Speaking of cuisine, we should take this moment to point out how Genoa is home to pesto sauce. Pesto is just one of those things that makes life so much better and tastier of course. Between the culture, shops and irresistable food, la Superba is a place that’s sure to keep a tourist engaged and entertained. International flights can arrive directly in the Genoa airport (GOA) and a 3-star hotel can average $80 per night while a 5-star hotel will average $110 per night.
Have you been to any of these places? Let us know in the comments below!