5 Off the Beaten Destinations You Need to Visit 

A guide created with the support of Expedia TAAP © 2023

It’s a weird and wonderful world out there.

We’re all looking for a trip that offers a new, unexpected experience, far removed from the traditional hotel and resort vacation1.

Imagine remarkable animal encounters and breathtaking natural wonders miles from other tourists. Picture visiting once-in-a-lifetime destinations and staying in unique properties you won’t find anywhere else.

We’ve thought way outside the box to bring you unconventional travel ideas to make you feel you’ve landed on another planet. So get ready for jaw-dropping adventures

1. Sao Tome & Principe 

Welcome to a biodiversity mecca2 not unlike Jurassic Park (minus the life-threatening dinosaurs). Off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea3 sit two volcanic islands with more native species per square mile than anywhere else on the planet4. Encounter endemic flora and fauna on jungle hikes5, take a boat around the island to deserted beaches6, and taste incredible chocolate and coffee exclusive to the islands.

International flights land in Sao Tome, the bigger of the two main islands7. Here, you can hire a vehicle (a 4x4 is wise) and head south for a peek at the amazing Pico Cao Grande volcanic plug8. There are no chain hotels here. Instead, stay in sustainable beach resorts, guesthouses, or rainforest eco-lodges9 . To really immerse yourself in remote nature, take an inter-island flight to Principe, home to postcard-perfect Banana Beach10. Tourists are few and you can stay in elegant former plantation houses11 for a glimpse into Principe’s past.

2. Ethiopia 

A country rich in dramatic landscapes12, ancient wonders13, and traditional festivals unlike any you’ve seen before, Ethiopia builds memories to last a lifetime. Fly into Addis Ababa, at the foot of the Entoto Mountains14 - a bustling city filled with restaurants, museums and galleries—for a hint of the rich cultural experiences outside the capital.

Take an internal flight to Lalibela to visit the remarkable 13th century rock-hewn churches connected via tunnels15. Travel on to Gondar, the Camelot of Africa, filled with crumbling palaces and castles16. The city of Harar is a maze of alleyways17 where you might bump into a hyena18. Eco-lodges offer a fantastic and rustic place to rest, with ones in the majestic Simien Mountains giving you close encounters with friendly gelada monkeys19.

3. Bhutan 

The Kingdom of Bhutan in the Eastern Himalayas20 only opened its borders to tourism in 197421. Still to this day, tourist numbers are carefully controlled to protect the country’s rich Buddhist culture, village traditions, and pristine landscape22. You’ll probably travel on a pre-planned, guided package tour or travel program23, but once there, you can design your own itinerary to ensure you get the trip you want.

Visit beautiful Punakha Dzong24 and hike up to Taktshang Goemba Tiger’s Nest Monastery perched precariously on the side of a cliff25 for a truly magical experience. Perhaps most surprising are the many phallus paintings on homes and buildings, used to drive away evil spirits and attract good luck26.  There are hotels and guesthouses, but you can also spend a night on a farm and in a traditional village home for a unique insight into daily life27. You’re in for an extraordinary trip.

4. Liechtenstein 

5. Mongolia

Liechtenstein, also known as the Principality of Liechtenstein, is the 6th smallest country in the world and is nestled in the heart of Europe. Despite its size, this small and captivating country offers an incredible array of extraordinary experiences for every traveler. Picture-perfect mountain vistas, fairy-tale castles, and picturesque medieval villages await your exploration.

Prepare to be enchanted by the majestic Vaduz Castle and the medieval fortress of the Gutenberg Castle with its ancient walls, courtyards and towers. If you are an art enthusiast you shouldn't miss the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein home of an impressive collection of contemporary and modern art. These iconic landmarks offer a glimpse into this country's rich history, architectural beauty, and artistic heritage, making them mustsee destinations for any visitor seeking to truly experience the essence of this enchanting country.

Known as the “land of the blue sky,”28 Mongolia is a place of vast grasslands, blazing Gobi Desert dunes, and glacier-tipped mountainscapes. It’s one of the few countries where many people still live a semi-nomadic life29, and you can join them when you stay in a ger camp30. Tourist numbers are small, so now is the perfect time to visit.

While the city of Ulaanbaatar has some wonderful cafés, shops, museums, and throat-singing displays galore, stepping out of the city drops you into an epic and remote landscape. Golden eagles fly in the west31, rare snow leopards roam the mountains32, and camels wander through the Gobi Desert33. Sleep in Mongolian gers along your route and stay warm round a stove and under thick yak wool throws as the expanse of blue sky turns into a blanket of stars at night.

Tempted? Let Us Help You! 

The road less traveled doesn’t have to be hard work. As specialists, we can smooth your path to these incredible destinations or help you find more undiscovered and unusual places to visit.

So get the inside scoop on hidden corners of the world where mysterious and utterly magical trips are yours for the taking. Get in touch today.



2 https://www.calacademy.org/explore-science/biodiversity-and-community-in-s%C3%A3o-tom%C3%A9-epr%C3%ADncipe

3 https://www.worldatlas.com/maps/sao-tome-and-principe

4 https://africageographic.com/stories/sao-tome-principe-africas-undiscovered-paradise/

5 https://hikingsaotome.com/

6 https://www.saotomechoice.com/activities/boat-trips/

7 https://www.worldatlas.com/maps/sao-tome-and-principe

8 https://whenonearth.net/the-pico-cao-grande-sao-tomes-needle-shaped-volcanic-plug-peak/

9 https://www.hotelpraiainhame.com/en/

10 https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/article/most-romantic-adventure-trips-world

11 https://www.saotomechoice.com/activities/plantation-visits/

12 https://www.brilliant-ethiopia.com/natural-beauty

13 https://www.tatlerasia.com/culture/travel/ethiopia-travel-feature

14 https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-is-the-capital-of-ethiopia.html

15 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/18/

16 https://www.africanstatearchitecture.co.uk/post/gondar-camelot-of-africa

17 https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2017/6/25/the-walled-city-of-harar-in-eastern-ethiopia-14

18 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-africa-40667513

19 https://www.awf.org/blog/geladas-extraordinary-monkeys-bringing-tourists-ethiopia

20 https://www.worldatlas.com/maps/bhutan

21 https://www.bhutan.travel/index.php/tour-operators/1042451

22 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/bhutans-limit-tourists-promotion-happinesshas-made-top-place/

23 https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/bhutan

24 http://www.punakha.gov.bt/en/tourism/punakha-dzong

25 http://www.parotaktsang.org/

26 https://www.cntraveller.in/story/why-this-bhutan-town-has-phalluses-everywhere/

27 https://bhutan.com.au/village-farm-home-stays/

28 https://www.discovermongolia.mn/blogs/discover-mongolia-land-of-the-blue-sky#:~:text=As%20one%20 of%20the%20highest,two%20thirds%20of%20the%20year.

29 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10745-021-00256-7

30 https://www.viewmongolia.com/mongol_ger.html

31 https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/the-eagle-hunters-of-mongolia

32 https://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?1748466/Mongolias-confirms-the-number-of-snow-leopard-- population-in-the-country

33 https://www.discovermongolia.mn/about-mongolia/destinations/gobi-desert-mongolia/Mongolian-camel