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8 Favorite Off The Beaten Path Destinations

Farflung is all about being somewhere without seeing other outsiders. For example, Katra, India is a place we’ve been where honestly every person there was Indian. Many of them were India tourists, but for this list it would count (not that I’d recommend it really).

I guess this is a compliment to the 7 most “unique” destinations, I did over a year and a half ago. But these are the destinations we’ve been to that were farflung and had less tourists- that we’d actually recommend.

1) Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a less traveled version of southern India. Our two weeks traveling around the country is still some of the best travel experiences we’ve had.

It started with a protest that shut down the roads.

Sri_Lanka_negombo_protest_army

We went along the south coast until we got to do a safari.

Then we went up to Trincomalee.

Trincomalee

 

Sri_Lanka_Trincomale_Shipwreck_festival_cliff_temple_coconut_smashing
Sri_Lanka_Trincomale_Shipwreck_festival_fireworks

 

There they had an all night festival where we happened to be the only tourists. It was incredible, people were smashing firey coconuts and receiving blessings from the altar that was paraded through every street. People were super friendly, and the food was amazing.

It might have to do with the spots we chose to visit, but we rarely saw other tourists.

 

2) Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Trebinje

Trebinje

Trebinje has some tour buses that stop in the center of town, but otherwise it’s a pretty authentic experience.

But it’s not just this one town, it’s the road up to Montenegro. You’ll pass interesting villages, buildings sunk underwater, and the mountains on up to the border. Even into Montenegro, on the way to Podgorica, you’ll find incredible but empty sites.

While the city itself is relatively small, there are so many things around that are unique only to this area. The aftermath of the war still evident.

Montenegro to Trebinje

 

3) Myanmar

As I mentioned earlier, we recently went to visit our NGO friends and got to stay with them and see daily life there. We got to see the milk man walk down the street yelling “milk!”, or the same with the person collecting trash.

It was a fantastic experience, and one of the rare experiences where I felt like I went back in time. I feel as if the next time I visit though, Yangon will have progressed a lot. I highly recommend getting there now and experiencing their way of life!

Myanmar1

Myanmar 5

 

4) Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Bulgaria is such an interesting country. Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe (the oldest?), and Bulgaria has the mountains and the beaches.

I was interested in seeing Veliko Tarnovo because of it’s uniqueness. An ancient wall and old town on a cliff that is divided by a winding river. It’s really impossible to get a shot of the entire town because the river snakes around the town so much.

It is definitely an odd small Bulgarian town. It has more tourists than I’d expect, but it’s still a small number of small hotels. If you’re looking to go there, don’t count on finding something on points.

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5) Namibia

You may recall that we did a road trip across Namibia with other bloggers this fall. And while the places we did stop had tourists, the number of tourists in each site was tiny. In fact, the number of people we saw was tiny.

Namibia is mostly desert, but suprisingly it’s ever changing scenery.

If you’re looking to go somewhere where not a lot of other people have been, Namibia could be on that list.

rhino etosha 2 namibia

Desert Variety Namibia

sossusvlei dunes Namibia

 

6) Ukraine

We’ve spent a lot of time in Ukraine, we spent a month this year helping with Carrie’s sisters adoption. So, I’m kind of biased now, but Ukraine is cool, and it’s different.

But even being in the popular cities like Kiev and Odessa, it is truly a local experience.

Kiev in particular is a fabulous place to be in the summer. There are tons of parks, and all the parks are hopping. Lot’s of sites, and things to do. We went to the Ukraine Cup and got to sit in row 20 for $3 – which was crazy enough to involve fans throwing fire/fireworks on the field.

But the best part of Kiev is the liveliness in the summers (otherwise grim and grey in the winters).

 

7) Colombia

Colombia, like much of Eastern Europe or Myanmar, was a country that had enough conflict in it’s history to scare off many tourists. But now tourism is growing super quickly, year over year.

Colombia is a happening culture, where we saw Salsa dancing groups on the streets. I’m not saying the vibrant culture will die off as the tourism grows, but I enjoy cultures when there is less tourism rather than more.

Cali, Colombia

 

8) Amritsar, India

Amritsar’s Golden Temple is the main religious site for Sikhs, and it is one of the most unique places we’ve been. It is a main site where you’ll see some other tourists, but nothing like you’d expect for something so spectacular.

Even staying at night, floods of people making their pilgrimage to the temple while inside, there is a band playing traditional Indian styled songs. There’s something majestic about it.

And right outside the temple is the “free kitchen” where they feed people by the thousands… for free. We joined and sat on the rug and enjoyed the dahl and curry.

 

Conclusion

Probably the places with the least Americans are places I wouldn’t recommend for tourism. By far, Jingzhou, China would win. But a number of places ranging from Katra, India to Belgorod, Ukraine, have been totally without outside tourists.

Also, there are many many places I’d love to go but haven’t made it to yet.

Places I still want to go:

  • Sumatra, Indonesia
  • West Papua, Indonesia
  • Borneo, Malaysia
  • Iran
  • China – so many places!
    • Chengdu, Kunming, Huashan, etc…
  • Albania and Macedonia

That list can go on forever, but those are some particularly interesting locations for me.

The two I’d love to go back to most would be Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Extremely unique and only a certain few spots overrun with tourists.

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16 Comments

  1. You sent out one newsletter in the past 7 months. Not exactly “monthly” is it?

    Reply
  2. Gotta say, Kunming is not so awesome. Everywhere you go through Kunming to get to is awesome. (E.g. Dali, also Weishan and Jianshui are cool). But Kunming is kind of dreary and the restaurants suck. Aside perhaps from Guandu Old Town.

    Reply
    • Ditto on Kunming, though there’s a cool giant tea market worth checking out. Dali can be chill though touristy, Lijiang is a tourist madhouse but I really loved it. You MUST go to Tiger Leaping Gorge. Shangrila is also cool, Tibetan culture without dealing with administrative nonsense of Tibet.

      Reply
  3. What is the draw to Sumatra and West Papua, Indonesia? I’m a huge Indo fan and have really yet to scratch the surface but am looking to explore more! Thanks!

    Reply
    • For me it’s some of the best birding in the world. For most people, it’s the diving. There are unique cultures like the Dani as well.

      Reply
  4. Go to West Papua, it is amazing! And it’s cheap to travel around as independent travelers. If you want to know a great OWB for around $35 you know where to look! 😉

    We’re going to Colombia next year as part of a larger trip, can’t wait!

    Reply
    • Any leads on how to find a $35 own there?

      Reply
    • Thx for the tips! What’s a OWB?

      Reply
    • I think OWB is over the water bungalow

      Reply
  5. Agree with you on Sri Lanka; it’s awesome!! Now, the big question…where is one of the most traveled couples spending this New Year’s Eve?

    Reply
  6. We have friends from Samarkand who have offered to help us find rooms and guides there – it sounds amazing, and while it’s a major city, it’s certainly off the beaten path and pretty exotic for us!

    Reply
  7. Go to Iran!

    We went in September for 9 days and it was hands down the most amazing place I’ve ever been. So underrated and misunderstood. The people, culture, food, architecture, and history are all second to none and we cannot wait to go back!

    Reply
  8. Very cool you discovered Trebinje, well done, many places like this in the Balkans, and full of kind people

    Reply
  9. Awesome. Keep exploring the world my friend.

    Reply
  10. Drew, I can’t believe you have not been to Sumatra since you’ve been to Indonesia quite often. Sticking with Indonesia theme, Belitung island off Sumatra is supposed to be very nice. It starts to take off now as the ‘in’ destination. Also, have you ever considered Karimunjawa Islands off Java’s north coast?

    Reply
  11. Having been to Borneo, I felt it to be quite touristy so do your research to avoid those tourist traps.

    Reply

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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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