Nancy B. Varghese
Given a choice, are you the kind of person who would volunteer to see the fiery Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan that has been burning for over four decades? Or are you the kind of person who would fancy a hike in Dominica to take a look at the steaming vapours of the stunning Boiling Lake? Yep, these places totally exist and they’re located in some of the most exotic and sheltered corners of the planet that not a lot of explorers would dare to visit. Are you one of the few who would brave the odds for the love of travel? Take a look at some of the least visited countries in the world that you should be picking as your next holiday destination!
Why it isn’t visited enough: Quite honestly, it’s because it’s not as popular as its neighbours, namely Australia and Papua New-Guinea! But as a tourist, you need to take precautions as well, because malaria is prevalent and can be pretty common in the area.
Why you should visit anyway: For all kinds of secluded spots, crystal clear lagoons, and the least known diving spots in the world, as well as beautiful beaches and rainforests. Visit the outdoor fish market in Honiara, the capital city, or take a trip to Biche, a traditional village on Gatokae Island, where you can feed eels.Hop on to Skull Island on Vona Vona Lagoon, and if you have the time, get in touch with Bilikiki Cruises for the best dive sites that the islands have to offer!
How to get there: Take an international flight from either Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, or Bengaluru to Sydney Airport in Australia. From there, hop onto one of the flights connecting to Honiara International Airport on the island of Guadalcanal.
Where to stay: Rekona Lodge for Rs 1,239 per night
Why it isn’t visited enough: Turkmenistan was known for its severe dictatorship regime under Saparmyrat Niyazov, who died in 2006. He covered a large part of the country with grand monuments and gold statues of himself, and even though they’ve been taken down, tourists still think of the place as foreboding and tend to visit friendlier countries.
Why you should visit anyway: To take a look at The Gates of Hell - when a natural gas field broke away and crumpled into a cavern, a crater was formed. To prevent the spread of methane gas, geologists set the crater on fire in 1971, and it is STILL burning! Köw Ata Underground Lake - in a country where 80% of the land is desert, this underground swimming spot has high amounts of salts and minerals and the closest thing you’ll find to a geothermal spa!
How to get there: Ashgabat International Airport in Turkmenistan is accessible through all international flights from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Ahmedabad.
Where to stay: Gypjak Hotel for Rs 2,070 per night
Why it isn’t visited enough: Travelling to the country is a tad more difficult when compared to a number of flights that are easily available for other islands and Caribbean hot spots. Unless you have your own private jet, of course!
Why you should visit anyway: Apart from the reason that there are fewer tourists to put you off, Dominica should also be a priority on your travel list to take a look at the second biggest hot spring - Boiling Lake - at Morne Trois Pitons National Park with temperatures ranging from 82 - 91 degrees Celsius. Visit the colourful capital Roseau and take a walk on the cobblestoned streets by the Old Market.
How to get there: While getting direct flights to Dominica is not easy, you can take two-stop flights from either Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, or Bengaluru (subject to availability) that will take you to Douglas-Charles Airport in Dominica.
Where to stay: Wale’s Yard for Rs 2,135 per night
Why it isn’t visited enough: Would you look at the long name of the country? It’s no wonder the place is not the first to show up at the top of your head when you consider a holiday destination! But jokes aside, this Caribbean nation is rather expensive to get to, especially when it comes to airfare. But, with a new airport in place, the number of tourists is on the rise.
Why you should visit anyway: For the ultimate sailing experience, head to Bequia - a mecca for yachters and avid sailors, alike; the St. Vincent Botanical Gardens are a treat for all flora and fauna lovers, with a conservation history of over 250 years, which is situated at the edge of the capital, Kingstown; brave the hiking trail that winds its way up to the massive La Soufriere volcano where the path takes you through grass plains and palm forests, with a beautiful view of the Caribbean Sea!
How to get there: You can take two-stop flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru via Caribbean Airlines and LIAT Airlines, as they currently provide services at the Argyle International Airport, with Air Canada scheduled to begin towards the end of 2017.
Where to stay: Buttercup Cottage Apartments for Rs 3,559 per night
Why it isn’t visited enough: A tiny German-speaking country lodged between Austria and Switzerland, it’s easy to forget Liechtenstein when its neighbours take all the credit for the beauty of Europe. Quiet and peaceful, the country doesn’t have a lot of hip and happening places at night either.
Why you should visit anyway: The breathtaking scenery is your biggest incentive! Visit the Gutenberg Castle that was built in the Middle Ages, but still stands tall and graceful in a strategic location, over the village of Balzers, to protect it from impending danger back in the day; with winter around the corner, visit Malbun, for the best snowboarding and skiing experience and scale the slopes suited for all kinds of skiers; the Historical Eschenberg Trail is a prime spot for all you enthusiastic hikers out there, as the trail offers a breathtaking view of the gorgeous Alpine backdrop, and picturesque valleys and woodlands just waiting to be explored!
How to get there: Liechtenstein doesn’t have an airport of its own but is accessible through St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport in Switzerland and Friedrichshafen Airport in Germany, which have a few regularly scheduled flights to the destination
Where to stay: Hotel Linde - Backpacker Linde for Rs 2,134 per night
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