There are a lot of places in the world to see, but some are more worth the effort than others. This is a list of some lesser known places and others that are quickly changing and deserve to be seen as they currently are.
10. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is the poor man’s Berlin. It has all the beauty and charm you’d expect to find in an old European capital city, and like Berlin, it has one hell of a party scene, but it’s sooooooooo much cheaper. Top all this off with the fact its parliament building is arguably one of the most beautiful in the world and fantastic food is available everywhere, and the reasons to go start to really add up. (BTW, rumor has it Michael Jackson tried to buy the parliament building because he liked it so much.)
9. Koh Lanta, Thailand
Hate to tell you, but if you haven’t been to Thailand, you’ve missed the boat on a lot of places like Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao. Don’t get me wrong, these places are still beautiful. They’re just overrun with tourists. Koh Lanta, however, is still largely untouched. It helps that it has 30 plus kilometers of beaches and will likely always have a few you can have to yourself. You can also get your scuba on while you’re there.
I would love to be more specific here, but truthfully, I loved every place I went to in this country. While there are still a few small troubled regions there, Colombia’s war-torn, drug cartel reputation is about 20 years out of date and there is nothing unreasonably unsafe about heading to any of its major cities like Bogota’, Medellin, Cali and Cartagena.
7. The 4,000 Islands, Laos
This is a large group of tiny islands right in the middle of the Mekong river in southern Laos. When I went there three years ago, the main island, Don Det, had just gotten its first credit card machine the week before. This turned out to be a life saver for me because I ended up staying there a week longer than expected and the closest ATM was four hours away. The reason I stayed so long was because of the ultra chill vibe, the beautiful sunsets, the great kayaking and the fresh water pink dolphins.
6. Manali, India (Old Manali)
Because this is in the Himalayas, I can say this town is both high up in some beautiful alpine mountains and is simultaneously surrounded by snow-capped alpine mountains. It is beautiful. It is unbelievably chilled out and it is full of delicious, cheap food from all around the world. That said, I personally recommend the tandoori trout.
5. Belgrade, Serbia
While I strongly recommend timing your trip to coincide with summer so you can take full advantage of the numerous party barges parked on the Danube, any time of year is good to go. The people are nice, the party is good, the city is small and easy to navigate, it’s very inexpensive and every weekend there seemed to be a rave or special event popping up.
It’s one of the smallest countries in Europe, but its also one of the cutest I’ve ever been to. Its capital city, Ljubljana (Lube-Lee-Ana) is truly as lovely as it gets. And then, just an hour and half away is Lake Bled, which is one of those kinds of places you won’t believe exists if you don’t see it with your own eyes. And if all this isn’t enough for you, Venice, Italy is just another four hours away.
White sand beaches, crystal clear blue water, centuries old Portuguese architecture and a quickly developing economy make this a place to visit and visit soon if you want to do it on the cheap and while you’re still be able to get an entire stretch of beach to yourself. However, if you have the money to spend, there is a seven star hotel, that’s right, seven star, just off the coast of Maputo.
When Myanmar first opened up to tourism in 2010, it only had 300,000 visitors. In 2014, it is estimated to have had 3,000,000. While I can say from my trip there last year, this huge influx hasn’t affected the people there too much as I found them to be among the friendliest and most welcoming of any country I have ever seen, Coke-Cola has just arrived and a new attitude towards tourism and tourist can’t be too far behind. So get there as soon as you can and while you still have the chance to enjoy walking around the 4,000 temples of Bagan alone, and can still feel like the only tourist boating on Inle Lake.
Mark my words, Havana will turn into Miami overnight. Yes, there are a lot of details to iron out before the transformation really gets going and the Castro brothers are going to try to drag their feet on letting that happen, but with Obama normalizing relations, the clock has officially started ticking. If you wanna say you saw the old Cuba, you had better get there ASAP. I haven’t been there, so I can’t advise you on what to do while there, but I get the feeling between its beaches and just walking around Havana, many days can effortlessly be spent there without boredom setting in.