Going to tourist spots to mingle and party is one thing; relaxing is another, and for some, noisy and overcrowded places just defeats the purpose of it all. If you want to discover some hidden gems that are often overlooked by tourists, look no further than this list. And a friendly note: Don’t spread the word yet if you don’t want too many people flocking these places.
Though small, this European country has a stunning charm and beauty. Ljubljana, with its Medieval fortress known as Ljubljana Castle, is worth at least a day of your trip. Sitting atop Castle Hill, it dominates both the landscape and your attention, presiding over the capital city of Slovenia. Lake Bled and Visitation of Mary Church are also beautiful places to spend some time. As one visitor mentioned, “This small European country has stunning natural beauty, including the Julian Alps, and is worth every consideration for a great vacation.”
While Georgia, the southern state in the United States, is beautiful, we’re talking about the small country of Georgia. You might remember it from a 2008 war with Russia over its Western-leaning plans to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia’s plan to have no further participation in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Nowadays, this small European country is certainly a diamond in the rough. As one commenter said, Georgia has “a rich history, diverse landscapes, and delicious cuisine, including the famous Georgian wine.” Imagine sipping world-famous wine while you look out at the city center of Georgia and some of the prettiest mountainside architecture in the world.
Bordered by Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, this landlocked country has much to offer in cultural greatness. Visit La Paz, the Bolivian salt flats in Altiplano, or satiate your tastebuds with authentic Bolivian cuisine in Sucre. And as one contributor said, “You can’t miss the splendor of Lake Titicaca in the mountains.” That’d be the section of the Andes Mountain range that sits between Bolivia and Peru.
4. Sri Lanka
Floating in the Indian Ocean, this beautiful country boasts a rich, unique history and culture. Spend some time at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic or spend a day at the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens scoping out the massive Giant Java Fig tree near Kandy. Someone with experience knows Sri Lanka also offers “pristine beaches, ancient temples, wildlife sanctuaries, famous tea plantations and delicious cuisine.”
History runs deep in the veins of Vietnam. This country offers much, from Hanoi’s gorgeous Red River Delta to Ho Chi Minh’s vibrancy. Take a tour of Saigon, order some delicious street food, or take a trip through the Cai Rang Floating Market for a sense of Vietnam’s quiet charm. One participant said that Vietnam is “home to the beautiful Ha Long Bay, ancient cities like Hoi An, and bustling cities along with stunning scenery, a rich culture, and delicious cuisine.
Sitting on the edge of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, this culturally rich country bestows a wealth of opportunities for visitors to its capital city of Muscat. Whether you tour the city at night, spend a night in the desert on a private Muscat safari, or catch up on Omani culture at the National Museum, there’s something for everyone in Oman. Somebody said Oman is known for “known for its warm hospitality and delectable food, stunning desert landscapes, historic forts, and beautiful beaches.”
Hugging the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga, Estonia is a small Northern European country. Between Tallinn, Pärnu, Tartu, Narva, Viljandi, Rakvere, Kose, and Valga, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy on a trip to this pretty country. This little country is eager to please whether you crave art and culture or an up-close experience with Estonian nature. One respondent said this about this European diamond: “This small Baltic country has charming medieval cities and beautiful natural landscapes like Lahemaa National Park. It’s also known for its tech-savvy culture and innovative startups.”
If New York City is difficult, Tokyo will blow you away. The capital city of this small island country boasts a vast population of just over 37 million people. Enjoy the majesty of Mount Fuji, soak up the art and culture of Japan in Tokyo, or meditate in the breathtaking bamboo forest in Kyoto. One interested party was particularly fond of Yokohama. They said this about the district in the Kantō region of Honshu: “The Yokohama Noh Theater is well known for producing traditional performing arts and new works through international collaborative programs. Noh and Kyogen are both forms of classical drama performed in this theatre.”
The world’s third largest island, Borneo, is a region in Malaysia. Once under British rule, in 1963, it joined with Malaya and the island of Singapore to become Malaysia. If you’re interested in traveling to Borneo, you’ll want to pack for the wet, especially if you plan to visit their beautiful rainforest, as one contributor said. “Even when you’re not slogging through a deluge, the heat and nearly 100% humidity will ensure you’ll stay soaked with sweat.”
10. Czech Republic
Adding a food tour to any foreign country trip is almost a no-brainer. Knowing what to choose regarding the delectable culinary arts can be a serious hit or miss if you don’t have someone to light your way. But in the Czech Republic, a food tour is a fantastic way to spend a day, tasting your way around the country. A sightseeing tour and a trip to Prague Castle might also be a great addition to a trip to this beautiful country.
Whether you want to visit Ancient Mesopotamia or the heart of what was once Persia, Iraq and Iran have much to offer in history, rich culture, and mouthwatering cuisine. As one respondent mentions, however, “There is a complex system of politeness that calls for the initial refusal of things you want (such as an additional helping of food) before accepting. Similarly, if an Iranian refuses to take your money for a service, it’s polite to insist until payment is accepted.” Learning cultural and legal rules for countries you plan to visit is exceptionally important lest you receive harsh punishment for an accidental, even harmless, blunder.
A Word of Caution
As with any unknown experience, knowledge is power. If you plan to visit or even take a day trip to a foreign country, you must learn what is acceptable and what isn’t. Etiquette for some countries might mean covering your hair or wearing foot coverings. For another, it might be greeting your host with a bow. Either way, you’ll be safer and less conspicuous with some research on the places you expect or plan to visit.
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