As the world gradually returns to normal after what feels like a century of travel limitations, there’s no feeling quite like planning one’s next vacation. Many countries closed off to globetrotters are reopening their borders to foreign guests once again, which leaves jet-set starved explorers with one burning question: where to go? The usual bustling tourist traps will be overflowing with visitors in no time, however, what about those that are off the beaten track? Out of all the roads less traveled, cities less visited, and islands, forgotten, which are the most perfect underrated destinations to discover in 2022?
Oman’s tourism has seen growth in recent years, however, it’s still one of those mysterious destinations that most people never even consider, never mind being able to point out on a map. This beauteous Middle Eastern nation is, in fact, a glorious contender that rivals the likes of Dubai and Egypt, knocking them both off the grid with one particular advantage: zero crowds. Offering everything that the most popular nations on the Arabian Peninsula promise – such as undulating orange desert sand dunes, caves cause for curiosity, pristine beaches, crystal clear water, unreal hiking and biking trails, lavish resorts, and inviting weather – it bewilders why Oman is less famous than its highly visited neighbors.
Oman is safe, bewitching, relaxed, and the people are super friendly, and a brilliant way to explore the land and its jewels is by renting a car and hitting the road. Oman is very safe to drive around, and almost everything in the country is within a few hours by car. From impressive gorges, sandy desert spots, and historic villages, to staggering mountain peaks and jaw-dropping scuba diving sites, Oman truly has it all and deserves more attention than it receives.
The lovely landlocked Laos is, more often than not, overlooked by Southeast Asia vacation hunters in favor of tropical beach destinations like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. But this alluring Southeast Asian republic can rival the rest of the region thanks to its ravishing rainforests, ancient Khmer temples, sprawling rice terraces, rural villages, and, unsurprisingly, its unstoppable cuisine that leaves nothing to be desired.
As told by experienced backpackers who’ve explored Southeast Asia, unspoiled Laos today is said to be what Thailand was decades ago before its tourism surge, and although it may lack the mega metropolises of Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand, it more than makes up for it with its tranquillity, underdeveloped infrastructure, and untouched nature-laden lands – which are all part of the charm that makes the place so special. If Laos is indeed what Thailand used to be in its former days before it caught the world’s attention, then the answer is simple: go and see it now before it becomes a tourist magnet.
8 The Loire Valley, France
Skip Paris’s hoards this summer and head to central France’s Loire Valley, where fairy-tale towns, rustic villages, and centuries-old chateaus beckon charmed tourists to experience what real France is all about. This divine pocket of “l’Hexagone” is an alternate reality by comparison to Paris, where Francophiles can inject some quintessential joie de vivre and French romance into their holiday away from the tourist hubs.
Just ponder it for a moment: is anything more français than wearing one’s prettiest dress and sipping authentic French wines made from the very vineyard one just strolled through? If the answer is no, and the idea sounds like heaven, then it’s time to answer the Loire Valley’s calls. When one is fatigué by all the wonderful wine tasting tours, medieval history, exquisite art, and endless vineyards in this dreamy haven, the delicious French cuisine served up by the region’s multitudes of restaurants with chic terraces await. And the accommodation is just as romantic as the area’s food and culture; think illustrious castles, cute inns, and characterful French hotels that wouldn’t look out of place in a medieval fantasy show.
7 Georgia And Armenia
Georgia (the country, not the state) defies expectations considering it’s a post-Soviet nation. The welcoming, charming, and quirky capital of Tbilisi is a beautiful pocket of history and culture and is overflowing with life (and some superbly sublime food too). The city, which was a significant stop on the traders’ Silk Road connecting China and the rest of Asia to Europe, offers a delightful day out amidst an array of pretty architecture, endearing churches, magical cathedrals, and sumptuous restaurants, and is an ideal base to start at and get an initial feel for one’s venture through Georgia. Meanwhile, in contrast, the mighty Caucasus mountain range provides entirely different experiences, including photogenic landscapes and memorable hikes.
Throw in gorgeous traditional Georgian villages with ancient defense towers, and this highly underrated nation is an appealing all-rounder. Adding a tour of neighboring Armenia is also a great opportunity, and although it’s poorer and less developed, it boasts inescapable heart-catching energy that flows through all of its pretty towns, villages, and historic monasteries – some of which are built inside caves. Plus, Armenia’s capital Yerevan’s adorable café culture alone makes a visit worth it.
6 Cape Verde
A tropical set of islands off the coast of Africa unknown to even the most seasoned travelers is the riveting Cape Verde, with its beguiling scenery, cities overflowing with music, happy atmosphere, and stupendous hiking trails – particularly on Santo Antão Island. The entire archipelago is a theatrical show of nature, showing off what mighty planet Earth can do, and those that leave the comfort zone of popular Sal Island’s all-inclusive resorts and take the backpacker road can witness its glory. Intrepid explorers to this remarkable collection of tremendous islands can expect to gaze upon vivacious volcanic landscapes, thriving kaleidoscopic reefs, and unspoiled isles perfect for island-hopping – and those are only the beginning.
Extraordinarily, Cape Verde isn’t actually that well-known amongst the English-speaking community, but it is indeed favorable with Western European travelers, such as the French, German, and Portuguese, who choose this enchanting bijou as a sunny winter escape throughout Europe’s colder months.
Everybody flocks to Mexico for sun, sand, and sea. However, just below Mexico’s Quintana Roo is the tropical striking tropical paradise of Belize, which boasts all the beauty of Mexico and more, along with the best of both: high-end luxury travel options, and a splendid, budget-friendly backpacker scene.
This largely crowd-free island gives way to sugar-white beaches with velvety soft sands, and glimmering turquoise water housing an unbelievable wealth of diverse marine species flourishing on colorful reefs. And if those alone aren’t enough to tempt paradise-seeking travelers, then the marvelous Mayan Ruins – that feel relatively off the radar when compared to those in Mexico – situated in Belize might just inspire them to book that ticket.
4 Seville, Spain
Picture Spain, and Madrid or Barcelona probably first come to mind. Criminally, though, most Spain-bound tourists forget about the attractive city of Seville, which is an ideal setting to experience an authentic, local side of this shining European land. It’s warm and vibrant, and esteemed for its historic churches and palaces, Moorish buildings, flamenco dancing, and fabulous food, and is overall the perfect spot to take a break from the crowds accumulated in more popular Spanish metropolises.
Here, beer and wine flow like the city’s river, and a top pastime is to savor some tasty tapas at Seville’s many restaurants. Add in the fact that it’s irresistibly inexpensive, and it’s difficult to understand why this Spanish gem is considered off the beaten trail.
3 The Philippines
This nation of over 7,000 islands never fails to dazzle visitors, who, more often than not, return more than once. If world-class snorkeling, idyllic beaches, epic surfing, and fun island hopping are on the bucket list, the Philippines should be the next paradise to cross off. What likely prevents the Philippines from seeing similar popularity as other Southeast Asian countries – like Thailand and Indonesia – is that it doesn’t really conform to Asian stereotypes. There are no temples, no notable cultural costumes, and no particularly spicy foods, but after having been colonized by both the USA and Spain, there’s a loud mix of cultural influences that’s as unique as it is fascinating. And since most Filipinos speak English, guests have no trouble getting involved with the locals – who are famously warm, friendly, and incredibly welcoming.
In terms of where to go in this vast archipelago, the more celebrated spots like Palawan can see crowds in the high season, but there are more than enough islands for everyone to find their piece of paradise in peace. To escape the masses, travelers should consider Bohol (Chocolate Hills galore), Cebu, Negros Island, Malapascua Island, and Luzon amongst several other islands when planning a vacation, for these are definitely some of the most underrated highlights in the country whilst offering plenty of attractions, amenities, and activities.
Alongside breathtaking beaches and sensational sandbanks, there are historic towns with Spanish influences, cascading waterfalls, and lush mountainous jungles all to explore. Plus, home to show-stopping reefs and a diverse plethora of marine creatures – all big and small – scuba diving in these regions blows others out of the water, and is acclaimed to be representative of the world’s absolute best.
2 Big Island, Hawaii
The volcanic Big Island promises an adventure incomparable to anywhere else, and surprisingly, despite, it’s the least visited of all Hawaii’s major islands, eclipsed by Maui’s luxury resorts, Oahu’s fame, and Kauai’s scenic landscapes. Other sought-after Hawaiian islands suffer heaves of people, however, a retreat to Big Island allows an escape from all the hustle and bustle. Adventure here, and one shall be greeted by expansive lava fields, live volcanoes, some of Hawaii’s most transparent water, eventful grand hikes, and photography-worthy dark sandy shores – one of which is the planet’s only green sand beaches.
1 Wyoming, USA
Many wouldn’t really consider Wyoming a holiday hotspot – notably, non-Americans – however, those that take the time to indulge this magnificent state are well-rewarded with mountainous landscapes, vast plains, twinkling lakes, and heart-stopping untouched expanses in renowned national parks. The state is truly the epitome of the USA Rockies, where Americans and globetrotters from all corners of the Earth seeking to confront the authentic, raw, and real American outback need look no further.
This simply stupefying wild west wilderness represents American authenticity; old-world towns illustrated with old-west and native American history; freely roaming Bison; awesome ranches; floral fields with mountain backdrops; and hearty restaurants serving gut-packing US delicacies, all of which are merely the tip of the iceberg of what’s on offer in Wyoming. The main spectacles albeit, of course, are the Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Jackson Hole, opening up an extensive, untamed wonderland of wildlife, skiing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, and adventuring, with Instagrammable scenes straight out of a David Attenborough nature documentary at every turn. Don’t forget to visit the heated natural hot springs here, as well as the globally-famed, frequently spouting geyser – Old Faithful – whilst enjoying a wonderful Wyoming escapade.