If you’re looking for a hot destination or somewhere a bit more unusual, take a look at our hot list for 2017.
One thing with travel is you can often feel like you’re chasing the hoardes, going to see the sights just because that’s what you’re expected to do.
If you’re an experienced traveller you will have seen this when you’ve arrived at Macchu Piccu, Angkor Wat or Venice. Thousands of tourists taking the same pictures in the same places. So if you’re looking to find that new or unspoiled spot before everyone else does you’ll find our unusual destination guide for 2017 ideal.
We have taken into consideration safety (we won’t send you to a war zone, don’t worry!) and the selfie factor plus the choices of things to do in a given place.
Stunning landscapes with intriguing ancient buildings? A rich cultural history? Friendly locals and amazing cuisine? Why would Ethiopia not be on your bucket list?
Add in some exceptional safari options that aren’t packed full of cruise shippers plus loads of wildlife and you’re good to go.
Addis Ababa is a modern teeming city with a multicultural demographic and a surprisingly vibrant scene for food and nightlife. It’s also a cheap destination and a good springboard into the rest of Africa with good airlinks courtesy of Ethiopian Airlines.
Must see: The rock hewn churches of Lalibela are a must. Head to Omo National Park for awesome safari options and camp out in the Simien Mountains.
Often overlooked by Peru’s cultural hotspot or Brazil’s carnaval vibe, Chile has much to offer. From the volcanoes of the lake district around Volcan Villarica, the isolated glaciers and tundra of patagonia or the Atacama desert.
Go mountaineering, skiing, surfing, rafting and climbing or simply sun worship and party – Chile has it all. The cities of Valparaiso and Santiago have a vibrant nightlife scene and Chileans are on the whole a friendly bunch.
Must see: The glaciers and mountains of Torres del Paine and the volcanoes and lakes around Villarica.
Travellers to Asia often overlook Taiwan, but they’re missing a trick. Taiwan is China in microcosm but much more approachable and westernized.
Being compact you can travel around it in relative ease and see traditional temples, lush forests full of wildlife and quaint villages nestled in the mountainous interior. You can then head to vibrant bustling cities such as Taipei or Kaoshuing and experience fantastic food and friendly
Taiwanese who often speak very good English. It’s also a lot cheaper to visit than Japan or mainland China.
Must see: Trek Taroko national park for some stunning mountain valleys and marvel at Taipei 101 which was, for a brief period, the world’s tallest building.
If you believed the global media you’d think Iran was extremely dangerous, but in fact the opposite is true. Iranians are extremely friendly and welcoming and currently the country is perfectly safe to visit if you respect local traditions and customs.
Tehran isn’t the nicest city in the world but venture out into the country and you’ll be taken by the history, the culture and the food! The ancient city of Persepolis is a must see and the modern city of Shiraz is much more relaxed than Tehran.
There’s stunning mountains to explore around Mount Damavand and Lar National Park or just outside Tehran in the Alborz region.
You can also get stuck into skiing north of Tehran, Shemshak or Dizin are the most popular resorts.
Must see: Persepolis is an essential if you visit Iran. And grab a Perisan rug from one of the many bazaars across the country.
This little country nestled between Italy, Austria and Croatia isn’t really a secret any more but it is a fantastic alternative to the hustle bustle of Italy or the crowds along the coasts of Croatia.
Ljubljana, the capital city is a compact student town full of amazing restaurants and excellent nightlife.
Head north to Lake Bled for picture postcard scenery with a mountain backdrop. In summer, cycle or hike the mountains or in winter ski or snowboard some of the most affordable slopes in Europe.
Must see: Lake Bled is the postcard image of Slovenia. Kranj near Ljubljana is a compact old city with fairytale spires.
The secret is out about Costa Rica, but somehow Panama has slipped under the radar. Famous for the canal, it also has a fun and bustling capital city and, like most of central America, coasts on the Pacific and Caribbean.
There’s hill trekking, rainforests, surfing and diving aplenty across this compact country. And if you’re looking for quiet and unspoilt beaches this might still be the place.
The location also makes a convenient springboard into the rest of central and south America with Colombia and Costa Rica on the doorstep. Panama City has good air connections to the rest of the region.
Must see: Obviously the canal but see also Gatun Lake and the rainforest around it for diverse wildlife experiences.
Thanks to TV shows like Game of Thrones, Northern Ireland has had a bit of a surge in tourism over the past few years.
For olde world charm it is a great place to explore and easy to get around.
Craggy coastlines, surf whipped beaches (but very cold seas) not to mention castles (the ruins of Dunluce are a great postcard scene) and cool cities like Belfast and Derry.
Must see: Giants Causeway is a must visit, grab a Bushmills whisky from the distillery while you’re nearby.
If you’ve seen Mad Max: Thunder Road then you were no doubt blown away by the stunning scenery. Well, that was Namibia.
Massive and sparse and packed full of all the amazing wildlife of the rest of Africa, Namibia has all kinds of natural marvels.
The Skeleton Coast is an eerily beautiful destination and you can spot all of the big 5 in Namib desert or Etosha Pan.
Must see: Tick off the big 5 in the Etosha National Park.
It’s been on the backpacker trail for a few years since the previously hardline military junta eased up. Still relatively untrodden, make tracks for Myanmar and experience the tranquility before it’s saturated.
From the bustling and faded colonial majesty of Mandalay to the stunning temple dotted landscapes of Bagan, Myanmar is the quintessential Asian experience.
Burmese food is also fantastic, kind of half way between Indian and Chinese. You will end up eating a lot of rice (of course) but the curries and salads are fantastic. Get stuck into a tea leaf salad (lephet) and see what we mean.
Remember, things move slowly in Myanmar so get your zen head on and just go with the flow.
Must See: Bagan is the Angkor Wat of Myanmar, but currently without the thronging masses (not for long though). Inle lake is a serene world where a few days easily turn into weeks.
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