The more I find myself traveling, the harder it becomes to narrow down my next destination. While there are plenty of popular, iconic countries I’d love to visit (ex: Ireland, Germany, Japan, to name a few), I find myself becoming more drawn to the off-the-beaten path and exotic destinations. Not only are these places known for fewer tourists but they also have diverse cultures that are completely different from the western world. In no particular order, here are my top five exotic countries I’m hoping to visit within the next few years (ASAP)!
Oman just recently opened its doors to the world for tourism during the 1970’s and has since become one of the most tourist friendly countries of the Gulf region. Despite the western world’s negative views and perceptions of the Middle East, Oman is actually one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world. With its beautiful 1700 km of coastline, the country is known for having marine life and some of the best scuba diving.
In addition to diving, Oman has some gorgeous mosques, forts, and palaces to explore, as well as markets and beaches to check out. I’m hoping to visit during March or April 2020 and get my open water scuba certification while exploring the capital of Muscat! I am also hoping to piggy back my trip to Oman by also visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi for a few days in United Arab Emirates and a day layover in Doha, Qatar.
I believe most people have never heard of the micro-nation of Kiribati (pronounced “Kir-ee-bahs,”), let alone can locate the country on a map. And to be honest, I had never heard of the country until I read Gunnar Garfor’s book “198: How I Ran Out of Countries” and immediately fell in love with the country. Composed of 33 islands (only 20 are inhabited), Kiribati is located in the South Pacific Ocean.
Besides being relatively unknown, one of the major reasons the country is one of the least visited countries in the world is due to how isolated the islands are. Only a few scheduled airlines arrive and depart in Kiribati, from Fiji, Hawaii, and Australia. However, all the more reason to visit and see multiple islands at once (hello Hawaii and Fiji!)! The country is also in danger of being lost due to climate change and ever rising sea levels, which is also a major reason I want to visit ASAP.
Located in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is known for its stunning architecture and fascinating history of the Silk Road. From every picture I’ve seen of this landlocked country, it seems impossible not to take a stunning photograph in this nation! Uzbekistan is also a very safe country with crime rates against tourists being particularly low. Gender equality is also much stronger in this predominantly Muslim country and is a very safe place to visit for female travelers.
The city of Samarkand is high on my list for photogenic opportunities with its beautiful mosques and mausoleums. The country also includes stunning landscapes with its iconic mountains and lakes.
This quirky country has caught my attention with its bizarre natural phenomenon Darvaza gas crater, aka “the door to Hell”. This natural gas field collapsed into an underground cavern and has been burning in the Karakum Desert since 1971. You can book a camel and camping tour to the remote sight.
In addition to this remote hole, the least visited of Central Asia’s countries is an ancient land filled with incredible art and statues, as well as natural beauty. The capital, Ashgabat, which means “the city of love” is home to about five million square miles of white marble and government buildings lacquered with gold. I’m hoping to visit both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan someday soon, with a tour like this Intrepid adventure.
I honestly didn’t know anything about Malawi until my 15 hour flight en route to Kenya with our in flight magazine covering tourism in Malawi. This landlocked country located in East Africa, Malawi is a small but diverse country filled with stunning landscapes, incredible wildlife and culture. For outdoor lovers (like me), it sounds like a true paradise! Plus the country is known as the “warm heart of Africa” and have some of the friendliest locals. And from what I’ve seen, Lake Malawi is absolutely stunning!
Are there any “off-the-beaten path” countries or destinations you’re dying to visit?!