There’s little worse feeling than arriving somewhere which you believed to be a hidden gem… only to find out there’s already horde of other tourists who also all had the same “original” idea. Avoid this from happening next year by checking out these guaranteed underrated destinations.
5. Sentinelese Islands
Travellers frequently describe the places they vacation to as somewhere “to die for”, but in the case of the Sentinelese Islands this sentiment could not be any truer. The tropical islands, which are part the Andaman archipelago in the Indian Ocean, are bound to give the more famous and luxurious Maldives a run for its money in the very near future.
On first impression, the local islanders may appear to be somewhat standoffish and not necessarily the friendliest to new faces. It’s certainly not uncommon to be welcomed upon arrival with an initial volley of arrows and a few spears lobbed at your boat. Although once you’re ashore, it’s only a matter of time until they warm up to you.
Accommodation on the islands, which is still quite limited, could be described as rustic and very much authentic. Nevertheless, you can always opt to sleep “al fresco” on the soft sandy beach with a clear night sky, unpolluted by city lights, to keep you company. Furthermore, cellular coverage and WiFi connectivity tends to be spotty, so you might as well seize the opportunity to do a technology detox.
Life is generally much simpler on the islands, with the Sentinelese preferring the more old-fashioned ways of doing things. The cuisine you’ll find here is always 100% organic, locally grown, and fully sustainable, with freshly caught wild fish a regular staple.
Those visiting on a shoe-string budget can rejoice as currency is seldom used with the bartering system being the standard system instead for the exchanging of goods and services. Therefore, be sure to stock up on a few of the most in-demand goods not commonly available on the island before departing (i.e. booze, cigarettes, and crisps). While you’re at it, feel free to top up on some life insurance… just to stay on the safe side.
4. eSwatini, or the country formerly known as Swaziland
The digital age is truly transforming every aspect of the world and how we go about living our lives. Those willing to embrace these sweeping changes are bound to reap incalculable rewards that will no doubt pave the way towards a prosperous future.
No nation seems to have taken this concept quite as literally as the Kingdom of Swaziland has. Much like a Fortune 500 company, the country believes that the most important step in implementing any sort of material change is a flashy PR campaign and a bold rebranding.
Back in April, Swaziland officially ditched its dated 20th century identity in favour of a new name that is fully fit for the electronic era: eSwatini.
It’s clear that 2019 is posed to be a watershed year for the small southern African nation, when this big bet on “digitalisation” will undoubtedly pay-off. Mbabane, the country’s capital, has already seen a measurable uptick in the number of visiting tourists and investors alike; all of them certainly scrambling to visit what will assuredly become “Silicon Valley South”. Several of the major American tech companies are even rumoured to have already short-listed the city as the prime location for an HQ2.
Be sure to visit this once overlooked land as soon as possible, before the presently unspoiled hilly savannah landscapes and quaint villages make way for glass skyscrapers and world-class infrastructure. Time is definitely running out until the current trickle of visitors to eSwatini becomes a raging flood.
Nestled in the mountains of central Europe, this small and oftentimes forgotten country could arguably be considered the Continent’s best-kept secret.
The hordes of tourists, who have overrun some of the more famous neighbouring countries like Austria or Hungary, have fortunately largely disregarded Slovenkia. However, exactly how long this period of tranquility lasts is anyone’s guess, as the nation is likely only an article on a popular travel blog away from mainstream discovery.
In the capital, you will find a fairytale-esque pedestrianised old town with a gleaming river and a majestic castle upon the hill. Countless traditional pubs, cosy cafés, and shops selling artisanal wares line the charming streets. The locals in the city remain approachable, having not yet grown weary to the effects of mass-tourism. Don’t be surprised if you soon find yourself in the company of some friendly Slovenkians gulping cup after cup of the locally famous “Tatratea”.
That being said, Slovenkia’s real beauty lies in its pristine nature. It’s away from the cities, where you will be treated to awe-inspiring mountain vistas and breathtaking lake scenes. Specifically, be sure to visit the little-known “Church on the Island” before it inevitably becomes a regular fixture on your Instagram feed!
It seems to be on everyone’s lips these days that Central Asia is the new Southeast Asia. Mystical locales, exotic cultures, and dirt-cheap prices make visiting this region an absolute must for any traveller. No country appears to be better suited as an introduction to the “Land of the Stans” than the one previously dubbed the “North Korea of Central Asia”: Turkmenistan.
To be fair, this moniker does not do justice to the many marvels this former Soviet Republic offers to visitors. The myriad of white-sand beaches along the Caspian Sea shores, which put even the Mediterranean’s best to shame, will surely satisfy the pickiest of beach-goers. On the other hand, weekend warriors looking for a city break are also bound to be inspired by Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s cosmopolitan capital city.
The country’s hottest attraction is unquestionably the massive burning fire pit, affectionally referred to by the Turkmens as the “Door to Hell”, in the middle of the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert. What began as a simple collapsed natural gas field, has become a revered icon of a nation and people; symbolic of the collective struggle to rise up from the ashes of a storied past to burn brighter than ever before.
Putting the banal symbolism aside, there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on exactly how long this fiery gaping hole will remain ablaze. As such, it’s therefore strongly recommended to book your trip ASAP before it becomes nothing more than a smouldering crater.
Quite logically Nauru is the most underrated country to visit in 2019. With approximately just 200 tourists ending up on this tiny island nation located smack bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, no other country on Earth receives less visitors.
Such a place represents the ultimate prize for many travellers; a dream destination. The mysteriously attractive and captivatingly seductive prospect of planting your feet somewhere few individuals before you have… local inhabitants notwithstanding.
Some might interpret this as just a major stroking of one’s ego. However, perhaps it rather alludes to something deeper inside of us. The inextinguishable burning desire for discovery that has been ingrained in the fundamental fibres of humanity since our very inception. An inherent need to further expand the perceived boundaries of possibility and to drive our species forwards towards the great unknown.
If that notion doesn’t tickle your fancy, then there honestly aren’t many compelling reasons to spend an exorbitant amount of money and countless hours travelling to Nauru. In fact, it’s recommended that you specifically avoid this location as the less tourists who wind up here, the greater the allure and more lustful we’ll become for it.