I think everyone who enjoys travelling gets a particular thrill from 'discovering' somewhere that hasn't been explored before. You won't find it in every travel brochure, it’s not full of tourists and you won't be able to find anywhere that serves a full English breakfast (there'll probably be an Irish pub though - there's an Irish pub at the end of the world). If you want to really get away from everything for your holidays this year, take a look at the places below - and visit them before they're on every magazine and blog 'must-see' list.
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This is where I'm hoping to visit this year; I've heard amazing things from friends who've been travelling here and now is the ideal time to go. Formerly Burma, it's only recently opened for tourism. That means getting around, finding somewhere to stay and connecting to Wi-Fi will be considerably more difficult than usual. But the beautiful temples, deserted paradise beaches and welcoming people will make it more than worth the effort.
There aren't many places where you can go from sub-tropical to sub-Antarctic whilst staying in the same country, but Chile is one of them. Visit the capital city, Santiago, and continue on to the beautiful Torres del Paine national park. Finish by gazing at the stars, with a trip to the Atacama Desert, one of the most arid places in the world and one of the best places to go star-watching - there are clear skies 340 days a year.
3 Sibiu, Romania
Eastern Europe is a great place for travellers on a budget, but places like Krakow and Prague are becoming more and more dominated by stag parties and are no longer as cheap as they used to be. Romania is still relatively quiet, and this town boasts some of the most well-preserved medieval buildings in the world. Situated in Transylvania, the buildings are straight out of a fairy tale - or a horror story, if you've read Dracula.
4 San Sebastián
Whilst not particularly exotic - it’s in Spain - or cheap, I've heard incredible things about this place, but it doesn't seem to get the exposure it merits. Whilst I haven't come across many people who've been, those that have say it’s one of their favourite places in the world - amazing food, lovely weather and perfect beaches. Spain is a beautiful country, but I think British tourists have ruined many places; there's something very appealing about a hidden gem in such a well-travelled country.
Located just west of Fiji, these islands are breathtakingly beautiful - it would be perfect for honeymooning couples (and me). Make sure you plan to visit Espiritu Santo (Island of hidden treasures) and swim in a blue hole; crystal clear pools surrounded by tropical rain forests. They look like what my dreams are made of - just google it and you'll see what I mean.
6 North Korea
For those who REALLY went to go off-piste, be one of only 2,000 Westerners allowed into the country per year. Make sure you visit the capital and do as much as you can - it might be the only chance you ever get to go. It'll definitely be an experience to remember.
7 Arctic and Antarctica
Ok, so this is one where you'll have to take a guided tour, even if, like me, you prefer making your own way round (if not, you shall almost certainly perish). These are the most untouched places in the world - in a time where we are always connected and nothing is surprising or new anymore, can you imagine anything more wonderful? Go when it's light for 24 hours a day, and come back knowing you've seen the midnight sun.
I read a review of this kind of trip a couple of years ago, and haven't been able to get it out of my head. America is so developed and so much a part of our global consciousness that we often forget the wide open, beautiful expanses of land it has to explore. Spending some time on a ranch, riding horses and sitting around a campfire surrounded by nothing except the stars and silence sounds like heaven.
For those of you who like adventure holidays, Iceland would make an excellent choice. With some of the most dramatic landscape in the world, you can go swimming in geothermal pools, go snowmobiling and kayaking, safari across volcanoes and relax in the artistic, culture-soaked capital, Reykjavik.
I hope that list inspires you to book somewhere a little different from a beach holiday this year – although I will definitely be incorporating beaches into my holidays somewhere! I think travelling is so important – it makes us open-minded, fair-minded, educated people. Where would you recommend going to get away from it all?
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