If you’re looking for inspiration for your next holiday, and want to step out of your comfort zone and impress your Instagram followers, why not check out these unusual destinations? You might have to learn a few words of the local language and be prepared to dive into some unknown delicacies, but what is travel without a little adventure?
Romania is steeped in a culture so rich and varied, that any visit to this beautiful country will be an experience you are unlikely to forget. Spending time volunteering in Romania is a great way to learn more about the people that call this land home, whilst ensuring you leave it a better place. Homes and schools for orphans, abandoned or neglected children are always in need of English-speaking volunteers who can offer so much in terms of education, fun, and love to forgotten kids. As well as spending time with these resilient young people, you’ll have a chance to socialize with their teachers, exploring the local area and learning more about their traditions and customs. You’re sure to come home with more than just memories, you’ll have lifelong friends and a deep appreciation of a world very different from your own.
Mystical Borneo is sure to captivate even the wildest imagination. You’ll be ticking off bucket list items daily as you explore this exotic island. The Malaysian state, Sabah, is rich with incredible experiences, as well as a delicious array of food and some truly gorgeous beaches. Climbing Mount Kinabalu is a surreal experience. At almost 4100m, you’ll experience shortness of breath for sure, and that will just be the views. When your legs have recovered, your next stop is the Kinabatangan River, a microcosm of the jungle that used to cover Borneo. It is here that with a bit of luck you’ll be able to spot orangutans, pygmy elephants, crocodiles and proboscis monkeys in the wild. Continue the nature excursions on Sipadan, a world-renowned dive site where reef sharks, turtles and every color of tropical fish are guaranteed.
For a culture that could not be further than your own, a holiday to South Korea is sure to impress. A melting pot of ancient traditions and sparkly pop culture, everything from the food, to the shopping and the music will get those senses stirring. The capital city, Seoul, is a throbbing metropolis that is home to as many traditional teahouses as soaring skyscrapers. Next stop is seaside city Busan, famed for its seafood, the Jagalchi market is a must-do. The nearby Gamcheon Culture Village is a fantastic introduction to the indigenous religion, based on the principles of yin and yang. End your trip on Jeju Island, where you’ll be marveling at craters, a lava tunnel, waterfalls, and Mount Hallasan.
Few people think of Namibia when they think of Africa. But with some of the best safari in the continent as well as a wealth of other sights and attractions, it’s an adventure waiting to happen. The big five are all roaming Etosha National Park, and luxury safaris offer the best chance of checking in with these magnificent beasts. No trip to Namibia would be complete without a hot air balloon ride over Sossusvlei, followed by a day learning to surf on the Skeleton Coast. End your holiday in Swakopmund to experience the colonial atmosphere and some of the finest food in Namibia.
Whilst visitors flock to nearby Mexico and Costa Rica in search of sun, sea and exotic nature, eclectic Panama remains somewhat overlooked. Wrongly so, in our opinion. With gorgeous beaches, untouched jungle and pristine coral, this stretch of land in Central America is the ideal offbeat destination. For cultural immersion, take a visit to the San Blas islands. The indigenous tribes there have managed to remain on their home islands and self-govern. They raise funds by allowing tourists to spend one or two nights in paradise with them. Sleep in a traditional hut on an island no larger than a football field and learn how your hosts find food, cook and of course how they have fun. A short flight away, Bocas Del Toro is a gorgeous archipelago that is perfect for escaping real life. Be sure to take the time to snorkel the crystal clear waters and take a few jungle treks in the hope of spotting some sloths.
For a holiday that will leave you with way more than a tan, consider one of these unusual destinations that really pack a cultural punch.
Sally is a freelance writer who left Britain’s cold shores in search of sun and adventure. Promising loved ones she’d be home within a few months, she’s still on the road over a year later. You’ll usually find her browsing local markets, photographing fabulous temples, or seeking out the coolest spot to watch the sunset.