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8 Less Conventional Travel Destinations

January 11, 2015

Traveling is easier now than it has ever been in human history. The vast majority of Earth’s landscapes, from the sprawling jungles of Africa, to the sands of the Gobi, to the glacial ice of Antarctica, can be traversed by simply boarding a plane.

However, despite our freedom of mobility, most people still tend to flock to the same locales. This is not surprising, as psychology has taught us that nothing draws a crowd like a crowd. This is a shame, because there is so much more to this world than the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben.

Therefore, as a way of vitalizing true wanderlust, here is a list of 8 destinations that are a bit less conventional, but just as worthy of exploration. You won’t find Paris, Rome, or Sydney here, but hopefully you’ll still find a place suited for you.

Croatia
Croatia_villasigurata

Venice is not for lovers; Croatia is. The country is a synthesis of traditional Mediterranean and Italian culture, food, and architecture. Wine here is plentiful and the weather is near perfect all-year-round. Croatia’s winters are mild, its summers are cool, and its spring is simply gorgeous. The average sunshine hours is 2,600 per year, making it one of the sunniest- and therefore serotonin rich- regions in Europe. The Adriatic Sea shimmers with a delicate turquoise blue against the coastlines of over a thousand Croatian islands. Even within the interior, the famous Plitvice Lakes brings a series of cascading lakes that showers a travertine, carrying minerals below to make the water a glamorous azure green. The architecture of the famous walled city of Dubrovnik- for which George Bernard Shaw calls “Paradise on Earth”- and the various other towns showcases the country’s long storied history with its ruined Roman arenas, Byzantine mosaics, Venetian bell towers, and Habsburg villas. Simply put, Croatia is a city of romance, where having an affordable seafood dinner along a beach while watching the sun descend over stone and sea, seem as natural as the rotation of seasons.

Belize
Belize

Just south of continental United States, Belize is a tropical paradise that has been minimally affected by globalization. You won’t find any McDonald’s or Starbucks here; just authentic, local shops and culture. The interior region of Cayo, where the charming town of San Ignacio is situated, is filled with jungles, waterfalls, wildlife, and secluded Mayan sites (unlike the overexposed Chichen Itza of Mexico). A boat ride from the coast will also take you to one of the country’s two famous cayes. Ambergris and Caulker are coral islands where travelers can lay on the beach, snorkel the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean’s Great Barrier Reef, or scuba dive the majestic Blue Hole. Ambergris is developed to accommodate the older, higher socioeconomic crowd, while Caulker is more for the young 20-30 something backpackers.

Iceland
Iceland
Iceland is incredibly unique socially, but its landscape is the primary reason travelers should go. It’s simply like an alien planet. Volcanic ash, moss, and basalt “black sand” beaches cover a landscape of glaciers, waterfalls, valleys, and geysers. Due to its high latitude, the troposphere naturally floats lower to the surface, creating a constant nebulous land of haze. During the winter months, the Aurora Borealis dances magnificently in the sky, and all year round, the milky sapphire waters of the Blue Lagoon invites visitors to soak in a geothermal heated hot spring rich in silica. The capital city of Reykjavik is small and artistic, with an abundance of bars and coffee shops to warm visitors during their stay in this kingdom of ice.

Bolivia
Spectacular Reflections On Salt Flat In Bolivia HD Desktop Background

Beautiful, complex, and diverse, Bolivia is arguably South America’s most interesting nation. Adventurers here will get their fill, as it is home to two of the world’s most imposing physical environments: The Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest. Bolivia is also where “The Mirror of the Sky” is found; a 4,000 sq mi salt flat (largest in the world) that when saturated with water, becomes so luminous that it reflects virtually everything above it. The country has a large indigenous population that traces back to Incan times. Much like the rainbow tapestry of the local clothing, Bolivia is a mosaic of ethnicities and languages, many of which are currently at-risk for extinction. It is important for travelers to not overlook this quiescent landlocked country, because many of its cultures might not survive beyond our lifetime.

Hong Kong
HongKong

Hong Kong is a city of contrasts that satisfies travelers of all types. For the urbanites, it offers an extensive skyscraping, neon landscape filled with shops, restaurants, museums, and amusement parks, all backed by the greatest public transportation infrastructure in the world. For the nature lover, Hong Kong includes a series of undeveloped islands that are just a short ferry ride away. Their interiors are covered with hills and luscious green vegetation, while the coasts are comprised of beautiful golden sand beaches. Lantau, one of the islands, is also home to the world’s largest outdoor Buddha. For the culture enthusiasts, Hong Kong is where East meets West. It is a conglomeration of British colonial heritage and Chinese culture; a place where you can have dim sum for breakfast and fish and chips for dinner. For the academics, the past and future collide in this land of transition, where hundred-year-old traditional boat junks share the waters of the world’s most photographed harbor (Victoria Harbor) alongside ultramodern super-speed hydrofoil boats.

Varanasi
Varanasi_Indianout

India’s holiest city is not for everyone. It is not a place for those seeking nature, luxury, or comfort. This is a place for the soul seekers, the learners, and the most genuine of travelers. Varanasi is a city of death. Hindus come here to either be cremated or to die, because it is believed that if one perishes in Varanasi, their soul will go straight to nirvana, skipping out of the eternal cycle of rebirth. This historic city is located on the banks of the Ganges, where giant cremating sites known as “Ghats” line the holy river. Spending a day in Varanasi will forever change your perception on life and death. It is a pilgrimage of intimate spiritual development.

Morocco
Morocco_wallpaperup
An Islamic land of sand and sun, Morocco is a sublime slice of North Africa. Shaped like their famous Berber patterned rugs, the dunes of the Sahara offer travelers a transcendent experience in the world’s largest land desert. In Morocco, you can watch the sun rise over the Atlas Mountains, take a camel ride along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, bike within a palm oasis, partake in a traditional public steam bath, or enjoy some famous Moroccan hash and tea in the hectic downtown Marrakech. By shopping, eating, and joining the locals here, visitors will follow in the tradition of Arabic and Berber nomads and traders that stretches back for centuries.

Bhutan
bhutan_trulyjuliechan

To visit Bhutan is to go back in time. It is a mystical land where globalization was completely rejected until the new millennium. Although the country has opened up a bit to the outside world, it remains incredibly pure to its cultural roots. In fact, as a way of protecting its environment and society from too much external influence, travelers must pay a $250 a day to visit. It is worth it, though. Nowhere else on Earth is there a country that still has 100% of its original forest cover and work actively to preserve its pure Buddhist culture. The mighty Himalayan mountain range dominate the area, making it a visual high altitude paradise, ideal for climbers and hikers. If Shangri-La exists, it is here in Bhutan. – Ping Zhou


Photo credits: Bhutan-trulyjuliechan, Croatia-villasigurata, Varanasi-Indianout, Morocco-wallpaperup, Bolivia-1ms.net

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2015 7:16 pm

    I want to use one of the pictures here, but you didn’t properly site them, and I can’t find it. 😦

    • November 25, 2015 7:18 pm

      Photo credits: Bhutan-trulyjuliechan, Croatia-villasigurata, Varanasi-Indianout, Morocco-wallpaperup, Bolivia-1ms.net

      With the exception of the Hong Kong photo, all of the rest are my personal photos.

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