As travel bloggers for almost 3 years, we have seen our fair share of overcrowded tourist destinations. We have also witnessed the power of social media and its ability to draw attention to new and exciting places. However, it goes without saying, certain countries tend to attract more tourism than others.
For example, chances are if you are planning your first trip to Southeast Asia, Thailand or Bali will be your first stop. Europe, likely the UK, France, or Italy. Trends online often dictate these ‘popular tourist destinations,’ however, there’s something to be said for those lesser-known gems. These are the underrated destinations you must have on your travel list. The off the beaten path locations you will surely enjoy.
For us, finding these original destinations is the most rewarding. These are the places you hear of by word of mouth or the areas that are oftentimes overlooked on most people’s visit.
Below are some incredible underrated destinations you must have on your travel list.
Sa Pa – Vietnam
Vietnam is one of the longest countries in Southeast Asia and for that reason, it is home to a number of different climates and ecosystems. In the south, you can find beautiful beaches and in the north some of the most spectacular mountains and rice fields in the world. This probably one of the major reasons we made this underrated destinations list!
If you want to see Vietnam properly, our suggestion would be to carve out an entire month and work your way either from the north to the south, or visa versa. We spent a total of 2 months travelling in and around Vietnam, and the town that quite literally left us speechless was Sapa.
Sapa is a small mountain town in Lao Cai Province. It is located north of Hanoi and is extremely close to the Chinese border. It is a quiet Vietnamese town, home to different ethnic tribal groups known for their trekking.
When we tell you that the rice fields of Sapa put Bali to shame we mean it. This place literally blew our minds. It felt like we were in the Swiss Alps of Asia. Stunning mountain views, terraced rice fields, quiet, calming nature.
We loved it so much we stayed for over 2 weeks! It is hands down one of the most overlooked destinations in Vietnam, and if you have the time we highly suggest you visit!
If you have the budget for it, we highly recommend you book a stay at the Topas Ecolodge in Sapa. This hotel was one of our most memorable stays during our entire trip and had the most stunning infinity pool overlooking the mountains! Click to book here.
Malacca (Malaka) – Malaysia
Malacca was actually a happy accident on our trip, we had no plans of stopping there. In fact, we didn’t even know it existed until we met our good friend Jane in Singapore. She suggested that on our way to Kuala Lumpur we make a stop in Malacca and boy were we glad we did. This is one underrated destination you need to visit!
This stunning small Malaysian town is located right along the river. Known for its beautiful artisan antique shops, night market, and incredible food scene, Malacca stole our hearts. At the centre, Jonker Street, visitors can find one of the largest most incredible night markets! The food there is amazing, and out of all the markets we visited in Asia, this one was the most incredible. Additionally, you will see more locals than tourists! This was something we really enjoyed about our time in Malacca.
If you visit, be sure to try chicken rice and their delicious Peranakan food!
Khao Sok National Park – Thailand
Chances are if you’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia, Thailand is somewhere on your list. After visiting over 15 times ourselves, we like to think of Thailand as our second home. We know it all too well. However, one underrated destination we continually managed to skip, or miss, was Khao Sok National Park.
On this trip, we made the conscious effort to actually stop at this National Park. We had heard amazing things about it and people continuously talking about its beauty. Boy were they right!
The calming, peaceful nature of the National Park is unlike any place in the rest of Thailand. We highly recommend that you book a 2-night stay in one of the bamboo huts on the lake.
You can read about our experience of staying in the huts here. It was a once in a lifetime experience and waking up to see the sunrise is a memory we will never forget.
If you have the time to make a stop here on your trip to Thailand we strongly suggest you do.
Don Det – Laos
Don Det is a small island off the Mekong river. Also known as the 4,000 islands, Don Det is surrounded by 4,000 small landmasses rising above the river bank. Visitors can only get there via a wooden boat. The island itself is incredibly small; you can ride your bike around it in 45 minutes, and there are no cars on the island. It is home to a few shops, hippy cafes, and locals. Many people also visit for the chance to kayak and swim with dolphins.
But perhaps one of the most spectacular things about Don Det is the sunsets. We have seen sunsets all over the world, but the sunsets in Don Det were hands down the most spectacular. We found some pretty delicious restaurants overlooking the water and it was such a great romantic evening.
If you are looking for a quiet, remote, local, island life we suggest a visit to Don Det.
Siargao – Philippines
Let’s face it, the Philippines is a hard country to travel to. For most, it is a long ways away, and once there, there are thousands of islands to explore. Finding the right ones can be difficult!
Growing in popularity in recent years is an island that stole our hearts, Siargao, this island is definitely on our underrated destinations list. After spending an entire month in the Philippines, Siargao was the one island that left a lasting impression.
For us, Siargao felt like Bali 20 years ago before the tourism boom. Filled with plenty of incredible health cafes, restaurants, and bars. Beautiful beaches, hotels and an amazing surf community. However, not overly crowded and populated with thousands of tourists. Now, due to social media and word of mouth, this island has become more popular in recent years.
That’s why we highly suggest you visit this amazing island soon before it becomes the next new travel hot spot on everyone’s list!
These are just a few of the underrated travel destinations we suggest you add to your bucket list! We know as we continue to travel the world, many more locations will be added to this list. But we want to know, what unique destinations would you add to this list? Comment down below.
For more blogs on guide and places to visit be sure to check out our travel section here!