There is certainly no shortage of “Hot Travel Destinations” or “Best Places to Visit in 2019” lists circulating these days. But, we find that most of these lists include many of the usual or well-known travel destinations. As we field questions about our own favorite destinations, most memorable experiences and where we recommend people to travel, we thought we’d add a twist to the traditional travel destination lists and share some unusual, lesser-known or unconventional destinations that might not be on your travel radar — but maybe should be.
In travel marketing speak, one might call these emerging, recovery or even under-discovered destinations. But in our experience, they are simply fascinating places that travelers are either unaware of completely or sometimes actively avoid from a travel perspective because of certain stereotypes or fears.
They are the sort of destinations that push you emotionally, sometimes physically, and always challenge you mentally — all with the result of returning you from your trip with a different view of the world, and quite often with a different view of yourself.
Here's the caveat. These places are not for everyone; they are not a universal fit for travel goals and style. They are the sorts of destinations in which things may not always go as planned; hotels and transport can even be a bit rough. Much time is spent outside the proverbial comfort zone in attempts to immerse yourself in a new culture, comprehend challenging socio-economic circumstances and process the stimuli swirling about you. Some days can even feel difficult.
But there is a payoff. If you were to sit down with us over a beer and ask: “I want to go somewhere different from what I'm accustomed to. I'd like a place that will make me think, feel and question some of my assumptions about the world and myself. Someplace not very well touristed, with a bit adventure and the unknown. Where would you suggest I go?”
Here's where we might suggest you go.
Note: This article was originally published on January 7, 2015, but was updated in January 2019 with even more destinations, travel recommendations and sustainable tourism advice.
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