Destinations to move to the top of the bucket list

Our experiences traveling are obviously shaped by the destinations we choose, the people we meet and our own outlook on the world. But each place that we get to experience was changed by the visitors before us, as communities adapt to accommodate tourism. This is not necessarily bad and most times it makes travel easier but, sometimes, the transformation is so extreme that it affects the environment.

If you’re anything like me, you seek the rawness in the places you travel to. So here are five destinations that are still authentic, culturally enriching and visually exciting that are worth visiting. If you already have them on your bucket list, make sure you move them all the way up cause NOW is the time to go.

1. Iran

the intricate mosaic on the arches of Shah Mosque, Esfahan, Iran
the intricate mosaic on the arches of Shah Mosque, Esfahan, Iran

Why go:

The embargo isolated Iran not only economically but also touristically. This makes the locals extremely friendly, very curious about foreigners and open to striking a conversation. Here, you’ll find no Coca-Cola or McDonalds, not that you’ll miss it, cause Persian cuisine is exquisite. And if you have a soft spot for architecture, this country will leave you speechless.

Why now:

The Gulf has been notoriously unstable in the last decades and the relationship with the USA is getting rosy on one day only to turn back sour the next. So why wait? Whatever happens next is either more tourism or more instability.

2. Myanmar (Burma)

life on the streets of Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar
life on the streets of Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar

Why go:

Oh, the land of stupas and smiles!  The golden roofs of the pagodas at every turn of the road, Bagan – the world-class archaeological site that competes with Angkor Wat, some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, yummy food (with obvious influences from neighboring India, Thailand, and China) are just some of the reasons to put Burma high on your travel list.

Why now:

In the last 10 years, Burma has seen a constant rise in tourism and for good reason. Considering how popular South East Asia is and everything Myanmar has to offer, it’s only a matter of time till it gets saturated.

3. Cuba

Cubans playing domino on the streets of Trinidad, Cuba
Cubans playing domino on the streets of Trinidad, Cuba

Why go:

Another embargoed country that is walking the fine line between maintaining its heritage and pushing for progress. Lose yourself on the streets of any town and you’ll find drivers proudly polishing their old cars, impromptu salsa parties and friendly locals living life as they did decades ago. Or go to the beach. There’s no way you can go wrong.

Why now:

Cuba has seen increasing number of tourist and, recently, US cruise ships added it to their itinerary. Next item on the globalization agenda is that McDonald’s opens their first outlet here.

4.Eastern Europe

medieval fortress, Belgrade, Serbia
medieval fortress, Belgrade, Serbia

Why go:

If you like Europe, you will LOVE it’s eastern countries. My favorites are Romania, Slovakia, and Serbia for the rolling hills, mountains, and forests, for the villages where life slows down and the food is full of flavor, and for the picture-perfect medieval towns. Spend a few weeks here and you will never want to leave.

Why now:

Because you deserve to enjoy a holiday that doesn’t require a lot of planning, away from your busy daily life or tourist crouds.

5. Antarctica

the shades of blue of Antarctica's icebergs, water and sky
the shades of blue in Antarctica’s icebergs, water, and sky

Why go:

This one is hard to explain or rationalize because I can’t wrap my head around the idea that somebody could *not* want to go to Antarctica. With its landscape untouched by humans, majestic icebergs, whales that spend their time in the immensity of the ocean but come to say “hi” to the ship, clumsy penguins and moody weather, the place is bound to make an impression that will last a lifetime.

Why now:

Global Warming. ’nuff said.

 

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