Monthly Archives: December 2017

The World’s Most Underrated Travel

How popular a country is as a travel destination, has as much to do with image as it has to do with how interesting a place is to visit or how accessible or affordable it is. Some simply want to go somewhere because it looks nice while others are drawn to specific locations – whether it’s Tuscany, India or Mauritius – as the image presented by these destinations fits their own personal aspirations. While popular tourist magnets, such as Australia or New Zealand, excel at self promotion, other equally deserving destinations fare less well in the image stakes; they may be a little of the beaten track, have suffered from poor leadership, or simply have failed to sufficiently promote their own attractions. Nevertheless, some of these less appreciated destinations have far more to offer curious independent travellers, than their more adeptly promoted rivals.

Here are some of the world’s most underrated destinations:

Uzbekistan

The three great Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva are architecturally outstanding, incredibly atmospheric and great value for money. Majestic mosques and medressas, and huge, ornately tiled minarets seem to reach for the bright blue sky from every other winding alley way. Apart from the members of up-market ‘cultural’ tours from France and Germany, hardly anybody seems to visit them. This situation has hardly been helped by the notoriously corrupt Karimov regime, which insists that visitors pay for a pointlessly expensive ‘letter of introduction’ before even being allowed to apply for an equally overpriced tourist visa. The government’s tendency to massacre protestors and boil alive political opponents, can’t have helped either. Despite the country’s fearsome reputation, the people themselves are incredibly warm, friendly and welcoming. Even the once notoriously corrupt militsia are far more friendly and helpful than you might expect.

For a long time, Uzbekistan may have been well off the beaten track but it is now possible to fly into Tashkent, the capital, on Latvia’s Air Baltic budget airline, from most major cities in Europe. It is also now relatively easy to obtain your letter of introduction and tourist visa through specialist travel agencies such as Stan Tours.

Taiwan

It doesn’t occur to many people to visit Taiwan. It’s a little bit off the Far Eastern backpacking trail, and it’s certainly more expensive than Thailand or Indonesia, but it still has plenty to offer the independent traveller. The Portuguese sailors, who were the first Westerners to visit, named it Ilha Formosa (meaning ‘beautiful island’). After visiting the spectacular Toroko Gorge National Park, you’ll soon understand why. The gorgeous gorge is known for its towering marble cliffs, its rock hewn tunnels and the spectacularly snaking Liwu River. It can easily be visited on a day trip from Taipei but many prefer to base themselves outside of the relatively expensive capital city. Taipei, itself, is bright, lively and fun. As well as Taipei 101 (formerly the world’s tallest building), it also known for its museums, markets and temple complexes. The atmospheric Lunshan Temple is particularly popular and still plays host to ancient Buddhist rituals. Taipei is also renowned for its varied and delicious street food; the Shilin Night Market is always busy and bustling and overflowing with strange new street food to sample such as pig’s blood cake, deep fried stinky tofu and rubbery grilled quails eggs.

It used to be relatively costly to get to Taiwan but with the new generation of budget Asian airlines such as Air Asia and Cebu Pacific, and cheaper flights on Taiwan’s own EVA Air, it is now more affordable than ever. It’s also incredibly safe and easy to visit and Westerners don’t even need a visa.

Tunisia

Tunisia has been a well established package tour destination for Europeans, for some time, but still receives relatively few independent travellers. This may partly be because Morocco and Egypt are cheaper, but Tunisia is still far better value than Western Europe and there’s a lot to see in such a small country. The vast majority of tourists stick to the busy coastal resorts such as Hammamet, Sousse or Jerba, with only the occasional day trip inland, but Tunisia has far more to offer than simply sun and sand. As well as magnificent desert and mountain scenery, there are also ancient Roman ruins, rock hewn troglodyte villages, and lush oases and palmeraies set between desolate Saharan sand dunes.

The recent troubles have badly damaged the tourist industry but most (non government) reports seem to suggest that Tunisia is still a very safe country to travel in. It’s possible to get great value flights through BA.com – especially if you’re willing to book ahead and fly mid week – and once you are there, it’s easy to make your own way around. Perhaps Tunisia’s greatest strengths, however, are its close proximity to Europe, and the huge variety of experiences to be had with so little travelling time between its many attractions.

Georgia and Armenia

Few travellers ever think about visiting the Caucasus, and yet both Georgia and Armenia are crammed full of magnificent mountain scenery and the architectural remnants of millennia of civilisation. Both countries have somehow managed to retain their unique characters over thousands of years of history despite having been conquered at various times by Romans, Mongols, Persians and Ottoman Turks. The people of both Georgia and Armenia are renowned for their warmth and hospitality, and despite the many historical and political tensions that remain across the region, foreigners are almost always made to feel welcome. There still remains a strong Soviet feel within the region, and many within the more rural areas are still very poor, but the larger cities are rapidly modernizing as they struggle to catch up with the more affluent former Soviet nations on the edge of Western Europe.

Georgia and Armenia may be at the very edge of European civilisation but they are now more accessible than ever, and offer a taste of something genuinely different. Flights from the Latvian budget airline, Air Baltic, fly into Tbilisi and Yerevan from all over Europe (via Riga) and there is only a modest visa fee for Armenia (which is straight forward to buy on entry) and there’s no visa fee at all for Western nationals in Georgia.

The Philippines

Like Taiwan, the Philippines are a little off the well worn backpacking trails around the rest of South-East Asia. It’s a bit more expensive, and a little less safe, and it used to take a lot more effort and patience to make your around even a fraction of its 7000 islands. Many visitors are less than impressed with the bigger cities but what really makes the Philippines worth visiting, are its many natural wonder. As well as the stunningly beautiful rice terraces of Banaue, there are also numerous world class beaches, 37 volcanoes, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, and the Underground River National Park in Palawan. If its wildlife you’re into, then there’s always swimming with whale sharks off of Donsol, the peculiar Tarsiers of Bohol, and some of the best diving in the world.

Top 10 Travel Destinations

European travellers have an upbeat outlook on tourism despite the risks involved in aviation travel in the midst of global political uncertainty. In fact, the past two years have shown that the attitudes of Europeans towards travelling have been positive and they prefer to travel and spend their vacation in traditional tourist scenic spots. Although majority of them are conservative in their choice of destination, there is a significant increase in the number of travellers opting for more exotic locations. This means that the activities would vary from one place to another; which makes the issue of security and safety even more pronounced. Travellers are advised to observe safety precautions when travelling to foreign countries. The level of uncertainty when travelling is high and a safety net in the form of a travel insurance would provide a peace of mind. This can never be overemphasized especially when scenic spots are calling out and resistance is futile.

If bitten by the pesky travel bug and there just too many choices, the top 10 travel destinations for EU residents would help narrow down the list. It’s interesting to note that loyalty seems to be the emerging trend for Europeans as they prefer to travel within Europe. Knowing the most popular destinations would also help you decide which travel insurance coverage to get.

Spain leads the pack boasting of historical and religious sites. On the downside, getting accommodation in Spain could be challenging because of the sheer number of tourists especially during peak season.

France and Italy follow closely in terms of popularity. The Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa should be enough to keep tourists booking the next plane out. Language barrier may be an issue so it’s good to brush up on French and Italian.

London, UK is a perennial favorite and rightly so because it has all the elements of a perfect travel city. The mix of historical sites and modern architecture is enough to stimulate the senses. It’s a must-see city, if you don’t mind the overcrowded streets, the rains and the cold weather.

Copenhagen, Denmark sits quietly in the list but it offers new ways to enjoy the capital city – biking! The city has comprehensive bicycle paths, with free bikes to boot. Even the gloomy climate won’t dampen the spirits of the traveller.

Vietnam, India, and Abu-Dhabi, UAE are the Asian locations that made the list. This shows that EU residents are willing to go to exotic countries to experience new cultures. Knowledge of do’s and don’ts will come in handy to avoid unknowingly breaking any sacred rules.

Rounding up the list are Florida, USA and Mexico City, Mexico. Florida beaches are the biggest draw in the city, and come summertime, the sandy shores are packed with beautiful people strutting their stuff. All is well in the Mexican front after the city was embroiled in one crisis after another. Tourists are now back in droves to enjoy some of the best food and resorts the city offers.

The Best Travel Destination

There are numerous travel destinations you can visit today to enjoy attractive landscapes and fascinating attractions, but not every travel destination offers seclusion. If you are interested in visiting a destination that offers a remarkable amount of seclusion, you should consider taking an affordable flight to the Exmouth Gulf. Along with the remarkable amount of seclusion to be found here, you will also be able to enjoy a multitude of activities while you are here as well.

The Exmouth Gulf is a highly desirable travel destination due to the abundance of marine life that lives here. Many species of wildlife are presently thriving in and around the gulf. Whether you travel by boat, plane, or car while visiting, you will have many chances to see beautiful landscapes and wildlife throughout your vacation.

There are also many activities for tourists to savor. Vacationing families commonly snorkel around the gulf. The abundant sea life found here is often a tremendous source of entertainment for tourists who love to snorkel.

While snorkeling, you will have the opportunity to see eels, many tropical fish, and astoundingly beautiful coral. The hundreds of species of fish found in the gulf will surely entertain you. If you do not go snorkeling, you will still have the opportunity to see sharks, turtles, and whales while traveling by boat too.

Visitors generally enjoy whale watching activities and they are often surprised by the abundance of thriving populations of sharks, turtles, and whales that call the Exmouth Gulf home. Once you are finished viewing the thriving sea life, you can take the time to enjoy the many remote beaches this destination has to offer. Calm waters and sparse groups of tourists allow for visitors to soak in the sun without being disturbed.

Once you are done swimming in the peaceful waters surrounding the empty beaches, you can go hiking too. While hiking, you will be able to see the birds that make this remote destination their home. A remarkable number of birds come to this portion of Australia to feed and their abundance provides tourists with countless opportunities to enjoy their presence.