By Vincent Stokes
When people think of taking vacations abroad, images of places like Paris, France and London, England often come to mind, but there are also lesser known places that make for fantastic vacation destinations. While you can essentially create a vacation out of a trip to almost anywhere, here are just some of the most commonly overlooked locales that make for amazing vacation spots.
Japan, also known as the land of the rising sun, is generally overlooked by western tourists due to its rather isolated geography. However, its location should not be a reason why you should not consider visiting. In fact, its isolated location has made it one of the most unique places on Earth, as isolated geography generally creates self-contained cultures. With that said, there are plenty of things to do in Japan, from visiting the country’s various Buddhist temples and other religious architecture to walking through the various beautiful gardens and parks. If you are a fan of Japanese anime and manga, visiting Japan also gives you the opportunity to shop for memorabilia that may have not yet come to your home country.
Taiwan, while a small country, is quite a beautiful one. Occupying only about one percent of the world’s land, Taiwan is home to locations influenced by the Japanese, Chinese, Dutch and aboriginal cultures. While visiting Taiwan, it is essential that visitors take a walk through Taipei, the country’s capital city. The city is home to the National Palace Museum, which holds over 700,00 historical artifacts. If you are more of a nature lover than a history buff, it is highly recommended that you visit Taroko Gorge, a gorge containing beautiful marble cliffs and incredible views of the Liwu river. Speaking of bodies of water, another highly recommended tourist attraction is Sun Moon Lake, which is often designated as one of the most stunning lakes on the planet. For other ideas of where to spend your time in Taiwan, you can always ask a tour guide on one of the country’s Taiwan tours.
New Zealand, which is generally overlooked due to the popularity to the nearby Australia, is also a prime place to visit. One of the most prominent tourist destinations that this country hold is Queenstown. Essentially, Queenstown has something for almost everyone. The adventurous type can partake in the city’s various white-water rafting, hiking, skiing and bungee jumping opportunities, while those who just want to take a walk in the park can do so at the Fjordland National Park World Heritage area. Tolkien fans can even visit the location where the Shire portions of the “The Lord of the Rings” films were shot. With this said, visitors who venture outside of the Queenstown area can also locations full of native Maori influence like Kaikoura. In short, while New Zealand may be small, there is no shortage of things to do in this sometimes-overlooked destination.
One of the less thought of Scandinavian countries, Iceland, is simply a paradise for those who hold unique landmarks and outdoor activities in high regard. The country is chock-full of unique formations and natural wonders such as the Strokkur geyser and the Reykjadalur Hot Springs. Some of the country’s aesthetically unique black sand beaches are also a sight to behold and similar beaches cannot be seen almost anywhere else. In addition, one of the most common reasons that people visit Iceland is the nation’s unique level of visibility of the Northern Lights. In short, Iceland is a country of unrivaled sights.
While this is not a complete list of every unique but overlooked travel destination, the aforementioned locations are some of the most worthwhile. Tourists should keep in mind that many of these countries have just as many reasons to visit them as more common vacation spots. But, with that said, you should now be well-equipped with some ideas of what to do in these under-visited locations.
Image credit: Japan, Iceland, Japan
Author: Vincent Stokes is an outdoor enthusiast and an experienced world traveler. He also writes writes for the National Parks and works to promote pride in homegrown travel destinations. You can also connect with Vincent on G+ or twitter (@TravelingGlobal).
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