Even if you haven't hit all the world's most touristy travel destinations, it's likely that you know all about them nevertheless. Whether it's London or Tokyo, most casual travelers tend to craft an itinerary that hits the expected spots. And although these places are incredible in their own right — don't get us wrong — there are tons more unique, insider destinations close by that are way worth exploring. Check out eight awesome off-the-beaten-path alternatives to consider.
1. Instead of Bangkok... Try Bagan
Bagan is rich in history and visitors are allowed to step right into it... literally. In this archaeological area of Myanmar, there are more than 2,000 temples that visitors are invited to walk into. Just a heads up: Since these temples are so old, visitors are required to take off their shoes to prevent further damage of the temple. It might sound a little skeevy at first, but after your first visit to a temple, you'll find it freeing.
2. Instead of Ho Chi Minh City... Try Nha Trang
Although this city isn't filled with the exciting (and terrifying) frenzy of motorbikes, it presents the beachy side of Vietnam that many travelers might not know exists. Vietnam is the home of inexpensive massages, but Nha Trang provides tranquil, even cheaper ones. In comparison to the hustle and bustle in the city, Nha Trang is a gorgeous, laid-back destination in an otherwise bustling country.
3. Instead of Tokyo... Try Nara, Japan
The bright lights and Shibuya crosswalk in Tokyo are quite the experience, but Nara provides tranquility that most wouldn't associate with Japan. Nara attracts visitors for its plethora of temples, including Todai-ji, home to the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha. Besides its temples, this section of Japan is known for Nara Park, which is home to over 1,000 wild deer that are taken care of by locals. These deer love attention, but are polite enough to bow and greet visitors to the park.
4. Instead of Cape Town... Try Port Louis
When thinking of islands off of the coast of Africa, Madagascar might come to mind. But its neighbor, Mauritius, is a gem that seems to go below the radar. Port Louis, Mauritius is a beach destination filled with rainforests, catamaran rides and rum coconuts. It's an African equivalent of the Caribbean without crowds of tourists.
5. Instead of Agra... Try Kochi
The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason, but it is most definitely not representative of an authentic experience in India. Instead, take a visit to Kerala, the southern-most region of India, to visit the coastline city Kochi. What makes Kochi so interesting is the unique combination of rural nature and city hustle and bustle. With just a small boat ride, any visitor can experience streets filled with three-wheeled taxis called autos (the local lingo for what neighboring countries call "tuk tuks"), try authentic food with a kick, and visit custom-made saree shops.
6. Instead of Hong Kong Island... Try To Kwa Wong
Most visitors to Hong Kong opt to visit the top of Hong Kong Island, filled with shops, big bright lights and great nightlife. To get a city feel without being smack dab in the middle of Hong Kong Island, To Kwa Wong is perfect. With little shops and bustling streets, this area of Hong Kong feels a bit like New York, but a little friendlier. With a quick ride on the Star Ferry, you can explore the outdoor markets during the day, and bar hop or join a pub crawl in SoHo at night.
7. Instead of London...Try Kensington
London is a hub for shopping, sightseeing, and food — of course — but is always crammed with tourists. Kensington is in West London and has a small town feel. It's home to neatly organized flats and hotels, which are perfectly arranged to fit the cityscape. This area is filled with local businesses worth visiting to grab a bite to eat, including bars and breakfast spots galore. With only a 15-minute train ride to Big Ben and all of the main attractions, it's hard not to love Kensington.
8. Instead of Marrakesh... Try Ouarzazate
The endless, winding markets of Marrakesh are worth visiting, but so is the captivating landscape of Ouarzazate. Situated at the edge of the Sahara Desert and neighboring the Atlas Mountains, Ouarzazate's views are incredible. Called the "Hollywood of Morocco," this area has been a film location for Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, Gladiator, and most recently, Game of Thrones. This part of Morocco is more quiet and low key, but has plenty of cool opportunities for any visitor.
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