Just wondering if anyone has, either by accident or deliberately, stumbled across a place that is absolutely amazing but practically unknown to travellers or even locals. I'm not talking about a place buried somewhere in the back of a guide book, I'm talking about somewhere that guide book would never find out about. It could be a part of a well known city or it could be in the middle of nowhere. It could be a little town or villiage that no one has ever heard of or it could be a beautiful natural setting that hasn't seen a person in years. Where is your hidden little gem? What was there, why did you end up there and why was it so good?
I'll get the ball rolling. While I was travelling through Europe, I came across a stunning little town called Lazise. It's not too far north west of Verona, Italy. Sitting on the Lago di Garda, this pristine town that is built within the ruins an old castle was an amazing little find indeed. We were only there because we were travelling by camper van and it was a place on our way that had a camper van area. Apparently its quite popular in summer with local tourists so maybe its not quite what I'm asking for but at the same time it was a total surprise. When I got home I tried to find information on it but I could only find small snippits. A place I hope to go back to one day.
Hello Camo 😊
When I was in Bangkok I visited a prisoner in the Bangkok Hilton a few times. One time the temperamental prison guards would not let me in so I decided to walk around the area near the prison. Once I got past the street where the prison is I saw no foreigners. I hung out in a cafe in an outdoor market for a couple of hours drinking Thai coffee. Then I took a rickshaw back to the river and took the boat back to the Khao San Road(In case there is anyone who does not know, the Khao San Road is backpacker land.)
In Bulgaria I "found" an amazing petrified forest - weird rock formations - completely missing from any guidebooks by spotting a postcard, buying it and asking around until someone could finally tell me where it was and eventually how to get there.
I made the trip - took many photos - but haven't blogged about it - there were only a few Bulgarian tourists there - and one of the oddest formations I've found.
Mel: Completely agree - off the beaten track doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a long way from on the beaten track. Sometimes just exploring a few blocks is enough.
......the only danger with this is of course turning all these potential 'discoveries' for people in the future into another Khao San Road :-)
then again, the world is BIG....... :
- we loved the west-most corner of Zipolite beach on Mexico's Pacific coast (cosy cabins with white drapes wafting in the breeze; great bar and restaurant right on the (nudism-allowed) white sand beach)
- the El Retiro lodge in Guatemala is a most surprising find: great food, amazing location, with great nearby trips to green waters and underground caves, all very Indiana Jones; my Footprint guide mentioned not much more than the address of this place (perhaps trying to avert the Khao San Road effect?)
PS I've not yet been to Khao San Road, or Thailand in fact :-)
PPS Is it still worth it? (Of course it is, i hear you - all - say. Just need to go find new spots)
Yes, Thailand is worth it. But if you dont like it when you get there then Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and Malaysia are nearby so you dont have to stay. 😊
Juazeiro do Norte, Ceara, Brazil. I wouldn't say "no one" has ever heard of it as over a million people per year make a pilgrimage to Juazeiro do Norte, most of them from within the region (Northeastern Brazil). But foreign tourists rarely get there. The reason for the pilgrimages is Padre Cicero, who was defrocked early in the 1900s for his claim to have observed a miracle, then played a part in some political movements, even having a temporary alliance with Lampiao, a notorious bandit of the 1920s-30s. There is a 20 meter statue of him at the top of a hill and various representations of the stations of the cross on the way to the hilltop.
For the tourist it is a chance to see a bit of the unique culture of the sertao, the semi-arid backlands of the Brazilian northeast. A cattle/cowboy culture, but quite different from that of the gauchos of southern Brazil (and much poorer). I had heard there was a good center of sertao crafts but no one seemed to know where it was (not a language problem, I've lived in Brazil and speak Portuguese). We went to city hall where they suggested we ask the Minister of Culture. That office was in a different part of town. When we found the office, the Minister of Culture was so thrilled to see two foreign tourists that he called his driver and they drove us to the craft center.
Note: Don't confuse Juazeiro do Norte with Juazerio, which is in a different state (Pernambuco).