Why are These 10 Travel Destinations Unusual?

By Rashmi Wickramasinghe | 16, Aug, 2019
Why are These 10 Travel Destinations Unusual?

Everyone wants to go to France, Maldives or the US for a vacation but if you would like to experience something slightly different from touristy destinations, we've collated quite a few amazing places that you could explore! Pristine, secluded beaches, historically rich cities, and a diverse range of terrains in one place – this list has got it all!

Keep reading to find out what are the 10 most unusual travel destinations off the beaten path.

 

1. Red Beach, Panjin, China

Credit: Wikipedia

Yes, you read that right – Red Beach – also referred to as “ Red Carpet Beach” by locals. The Red Beach national corridor is one part of the Liaodong coastline extending for 118kms. It garners more than 2 million tourists annually, so why not be one of that 2 million and enjoy the absolute splendour of this magical landscape.

The vibrant red colour is given by the seep weed which grows from summer to autumn. Panjin is a coastal town with a lot to offer to travellers – beautiful countryside, hot springs and ancient towns offer much for sight seeing and leisure.

You can get to this scenic coastal town by a long distance bus. You can even take a train from Beijing to Panjin. There are a few halal restaurants within the province such as Ming Mings Dumplings, Yifeng Moslam park and many more. Check the China foreigners guide for more restaurants.

 

2. Popeye Village, Malta

Credit: @popeyemalta on Facebook

This fun, quirky town was originally a film set for the famed “Popey” Musical starring the ever wonderful Robin Williams. So, this should be one of the top destinations to visit on your list!

Located next to the turquoise sea, this colourful town is for the young at heart, especially for all you Popeye the Sailor-man fans. The town hosts many events throughout the year and has many guided tours.

You can find accommodation at Melliha, there are many hotels and getting from there to Popeye village is very easy, you could just walk the 2Km distance or take a bus from there. The bus routes tend to change in Malta so refer the Malta Transport website for all the information you need.

There are many Halal restaurants scattered around the islands and it is very easy travel in Malta, since the islands are small and the distances aren’t that long. There are many Turkish restaurants and a few Indian restaurants which are Halal friendly.

 

3. Pamukkale, Turkey

Credit: @Pamukkale.Hierapolis on Facebook

Located in the picturesque southwest of Turkey, this pristine white locale is the stuff of dreams. From the white terraces to the crystalline green pools, Pamukkale, Turkeyis a dreamscape worth experiencing. Pamukkale translates to “Cotton Castle” and rightly so, it is also the home of the well preserved ancient Graeco-Roman city of Hieropolis.

An all in one location with its travertine limestone formations, hot springs, ancient temples, bathouses and necropolis all rolled in to one, this is a definite once in a lifetime adventure you should take. Bathe in the beautiful warm pools like the Romans once did, and explore the remains of a once great spa city.

The easiest way to get there is to board a flight from Istanbul to Denizli Cardak Airport, Turkish Airlines offers flights to Denizli. Denizli is 65km away from Pamukkale, you can opt for an airport shuttle, or you can get a bus from the Denizli bus station – the ride is 40mins.

There are many hotels in the city that suit all budgets, as well as many Halal friendly restaurants in the area, so you can easily find food without having to worry about Halal authenticity. Some of the best restaurants are Mhemet’s Heaven, Cadde Grill House and Yildiz restaurant; you can do a quick Google search and find many Halal friendly restaurants easily.

 

4. Giethoorn, Netherlands

Image by Michel van der Vegt from Pixabay 

Beautiful, serene, quiet, green, these are a few words that describe Giethoorn, a water village also referred to as ‘Dutch Venice’, however minus the crowds and commercialisation.

It is an idyllic village setting, with fewer roads and more canals, most areas are not accessible by car – it is either by foot or by boat. The canals are lined with pretty, traditional Dutch thatched roofed houses and almost each house has their own boat, even the mail man uses a boat! It is best explored by joining a canal cruise or by opting for a guided tour with the help of local skippers.

You can get to Giethoorn from Amsterdam in one and half hours if you are going by car, you can opt to hire a cab or rent a car and drive by yourself. There is no direct way you could get to the village by public transport, if you really want to however, you could get the train from Amsterdam to Steenwijk, and then catch a bus from Steenwijck to Giethoorn – this trip will take two hours.

Accommodation wise, there are a number of hotels within the village, or you could even opt to stay just outside the village. It may be a little difficult to find Halal friendly places in this area, however, there are a few restaurants scattered around the Overjissel province where Giethoorn is located.

 

5. Socotra, Yemen

Image by danielshimmin0 from Pixabay 

An island that is a part of an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, a surreal, alien landscape that is sure to leave you mesmerised. It was recognised by UNESCO as a world heriatage site in 2008, and is referred to as “the most alien looking place on Earth”.

It is so isolated that it’s wildlife is unique to the island and have evolved to adapt to its dessert environment, it is home to a very distinct species of tree known as the Dragon’s Blood Tree, aptly named as it oozes blood red sap. The Bottle Tree is a quirky tree that looks like the foot of an elephant with pink flowers on the top, referred to as desert rose.

The island has its own version of birds, such as the Socotra Sunbird, Socotra starling and Socotra grosbeak. The only native mammal on the island is the bat. It is best to book a tour to better explore the island and get more insight.

You can reach the Island via Sanaa, the capital of Yemen; get a flight to the Sanaa Airport and from there a get flight to Socotra. You could even go for a direct flight to the island through the Arab Emirates, Felix Airways has scheduled flights from Sharjah to Socotra and back.

Don’t expect luxurious resorts and hotels here, it is mostly eco-friendly and you will find five hotels, one eco lodge and many eco-camp sites. Since the island belongs to Yemen, their cuisine is mainly Halal, so you don’t have to worry about trying to find authentic Halal fare.

 

6. Taha’a, French Polynesia

Credit: Tahaa

Whilst Bora Bora garners most of the crowd, Taha’a is almost overlooked, but that doesn’t mean this flower shaped island has nothing to offer.

If you are looking for a romantic escape or just a few days of pampering, Taha’a will definitely fulfil your dreams. A true island paradise with rolling hills, and valleys covered with banana, watermelon and coconut groves. It is the home of the world’s most priced Tahitian Vanilla, making up for 80% of the export from French Polynesia.

The whole island is intoxicated by the scent of vanilla and will draw you in with its white sandy beaches, coral reefs, and absolute seclusion. The only way to access Taha’a is by boat from her sister island Raiatea. You will have to take a flight which may have stop overs at Paris, Auckland, or Los Angeles, from where you’ll fly to an airport closest to Taha’a depending on the airlines.

There are many resorts and hotels to stay at in Taha’a, the more reputed hotels can be on the pricier end of the spectrum. It may be difficult to find Halal food in Taha’a, however, their cuisine mostly comprises of fruits of the sea and fruits of the land, therefore most of the food are Halal friendly.

 

7. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Credit: @IsleofSkyeScotland on Facebook

The mystical Isle of Skye which translates to “Cloud Island” from ancient Norse, it is the second largest of Scotland’s islands and the most beautiful!

Magical and mysterious, the island boasts deep lochs, towering cliffs and moors, as well as incredible wildlife – a nature lovers dream! Rich in history and culture Skye is a great place to explore, with places like the Mealt Waterfall and Kilt Rock, the Old Man Storr, the Fairy Pools of Glenbrittle, Dinosaur footprints at Staffin Beach, Dunvegan Castle and many more.

The closest airports are the Glasgow Airport and the Inverness Airport, from which you can opt to drive to Isle of Skye or take a bus. There is no railway on the island; instead it offers buses and local coaches.

The island is full of quaint little cottages that you can rent out; some offer self catering whilst others offer bed and breakfast. The town of Portree is where most tourists stay at; it is the capital of the island and has many hotels, cafes and supermarkets. If you really want to experience Skye, then opt for camping.

It is fairly easy to find Halal food in the Island as there is a population of Indians and Pakistanis who live there. They are quite a few good Indian and Pakistani restaurants, as well as some Bangladeshi ones.

 

8. Bagan, Myanmar

Credit: @WonderBaganMyanmar on Facebook

This Buddhist temple city was once the capital of an ancient Kingdom, however, now it is an important archaeological zone. Bagan is often compared to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and may even be a rival to Machu Pichu, however, this ancient city has a charm of its own.

Witness the majesty of the golden stupas in the temple plain and catch the sunset over the Irrawaddy River. You can witness the beauty of Bagan by Hot Air ballon, the ancient city is a sight to behold 2000 feet up in the air. You can even get more close and personal by biking it on the ground, exercise and a view! Don’t forget to check a local market as well, and get as many souvenirs as you want, also add local festivals to your itinerary as you will be able to taste the best of Burmese hawker food.

Flights arrive at the Nyaung-U Airport and it is a 10min taxi ride to Nyaung-U town centre, whilst it’s a 20 minute ride to Old Bagan or New Bagan. When travelling to Bagan it is advisable to go through a travel agent, as they will make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience. However, if you do want to travel independently, do a though search on travel requirements and hotels.

The more luxurious hotels and resorts are located in Old Bagan, whilst more mid range and budget hotels are found in Nyaung-U and New Bagan. Nyaung-U is Bagan’s largest town, this is where you will find most of the restaurants and hotels, however, it tends to get quite crowded.

There are few high end restaurants that serve Halal food, whilst other restaurants will be willing to serve Halal food on request. Most stalls or small restaurants may not have the regular Arabic Halal sign but instead will indicate the availability of Halal food by the number “786” (this is a substitute used within South Asia), therefore look for this sign when looking for Halal eateries.

 

9. Lake Baikal, Russia

Credit: @baikalia on Facebook

Known as the “Pearl of Siberia”, Lake Baikal is a crescent shaped lake which is a whopping 1637 metres deep and contains a fifth of the world’s water! It is the world’s deepest lake, and is bigger than Belgium. Due to these properties it has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Summer is the best time to visit Lake Baikal, you will be able to see its natural beauty in all its glory, with the lake’s clear blue waters, and the mountains. Some areas have remained the same since the ancient times – almost untouched or changed by weather. During the winter the lake turns into an expanse of powder white ice and snow, you can enjoy a fun dog sledge ride over its hard surface.

You can get to Lake Baikal by flying to Moscow and then boarding a plane to Irkutsk which is 65km away from Lake Baikal or Ulan-Ude which is 150km away from the lake. If you want to have a more interesting journey, you can use the Trans-Siberian Railway and hop on a train from Moscow to Irkutsk which is 3 days, Beijing to Irkutsk which is 2 days, or the train from Vladivostok which is 2.5 days. After which you will have to board a bus from Irkutsk bus station to Lake Baikal, the journey takes 10mins. The best route to take is Mosco -Slyudyanka, it takes 4 days and you will be dropped off right at the shoreline of Lake Baikal.

You can stay at the hotels and hostels located around the shoreline of the lake or even camp out or stay on a boat. Finding Halal food may be difficult especially if you are travelling by train; therefore it is better if you pack your own, like instant noodles and other small snacks. When booking a room make sure they provide a stove or small kitchen as you can prepare your own meals that way. You can get grocery shopping done at nearby cities like Irkutsk, which is just a 10min bus ride away from Lake Baikal.

 

10. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Japan

Photo by Satoshi Hirayama from Pexels

Located in Kyoto, the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is a must see place before you die, photographed multiple times, but you have to really be there to experience it’s green mystique.

The bamboo grove is a great spot for a quiet walk or bike ride, rows of bamboo swaying in the light breeze is not a sight to be missed. Absolutely beautiful and pure, it should be a must visit when in Kyoto.

The best way to get to Kyoto is by Kansai Airport, afterwards you can board a train to Arashiyama. You can use the Japan Railways, Keifuku Railways, or Hankyu Railways. There are many hotels and guest houses in Arashiyama, and they are available for every budget.

There are quite a few Halal restaurants scattered around Arashiyama, as well as shops. You can find a full Halal menu at the Yoshiya restaurant just 10mins away from the Japan Railway Saga-Arashiyama train station. They introduced this Halal menu in 2018, and have served Japanese Halal food since.

 

Book your flight and pack your bags, your unusual adventure awaits you!

An introverted old soul who loves writing, reading, art, music, food, and cats.