Tourism is a thriving economic sector. The number of tourists is constantly increasing all over the world and will continue to increase in the years to come. The problem with this tidal wave of tourism is that not all destinations are ready for it, and some places, city centres and national parks are already saturated with tourists. Although the most popular destinations can always be improved locally, other destinations may benefit from this situation. We have selected five places that are notable for their authenticity and relative tranquillity (at present).
This small country in Asia has been open to tourism since the end of the 2000s after being closed for a very long time, to protect its model and culture from the influence of the Western world. Trapped between two giants – China in the north and India in the south – Bhutan is a country that protects access to its territory. You generally have to go through a specialised agency to gain entry to its borders and tourists are accompanied by a guide and a chauffeur throughout the trip.
Very few travel agencies are able to sell holidays to Bhutan: you have to contact adventure travel specialists to organise your trip. In light of its restrictive policy, high prices and not always adequate infrastructure, there are not often many tourists here. However, Bhutan is an incredible country where you can explore the lifestyles of the inhabitants, their spiritual values and travel in a protected, natural, authentic region. From monasteries perched on the edge of cliffs to wild valleys and ancestral traditions, travelling in Bhutan means going out of your comfort zone to discover a wonderfully rich, varied country.
Although it’s impossible to ignore the modern dramatic history of Rwanda, which is deeply rooted in our memories, the country is nevertheless opening up to tourism and developing its infrastructure, particularly in the high-end tourist segment.
Exploring the local wildlife is one of the essential experiences of Rwanda. Famously, the mountains in the national volcano park are home to one of the last populations of wild gorillas. Rwanda also offers the chance to explore some magnificent beaches and cities you simply must visit – in particular Kigali and Butare – to understand the history of the country.
By travelling in Rwanda, you can stay off the beaten track of the major tourist routes, come into contact with the warm, welcoming and genuine local residents, and discover the national parks, wild animals and extraordinary experiences.
In addition to the ancient city of Petra, immortalised in so many films, Jordan has many other treasures and discoveries for travellers, which are well worth a visit. Although the geopolitical context in the Middle East is complex and can change rapidly, Jordan is still relatively safe and a great country to explore. You are however recommended to plan your trip carefully in advance and be accompanied by a guide or a chauffeur when possible, both for logistical reasons and also to benefit from their practical knowledge and familiarity with local customs.
The places to explore are of course Petra, and the capital, Amman, the Wadi Rum desert where you can discover the rich Bedouin culture or take a swim in the Dead Sea, where the high salt content means you can float without effort. Finally, although this might seem obvious, you are strongly recommended not to travel near the borders with Syria and Iraq.
Horses, steppes, yurts, yaks and the Gobi desert. This is a concentrate of what Mongolia represents to many tourists. This country, which has gradually opened up to tourism since the 1990s, has all the qualities needed to become an extraordinary destination. Still untouched by mass tourism, Mongolia is a country of wide open spaces, incredible landscapes and a traditional nomadic culture.
Although Mongolia’s tourist infrastructure is far from perfect, travellers go there to experience a unique adventure, reconnect with nature and encounter the warm, welcoming local population.
Less than three hours from Paris, Montenegro is a rapidly developing destination. A small Balkan country, Montenegro is an ideal playground for sports lovers and adventurers, with its canyons, mountains, cliffs and coastline perfect for hiking, mountain biking and water sports.
The capital Podgorica also offers a good overview of local history and culture. Despite its proximity to Europe, Montenegro is an exotic, lively, natural country. A hidden tourist treasure that will perhaps develop in the same way as its Croatian neighbour. All the more reason to enjoy it now!
Outside the usual major tourist spots, the emergence of new tourist sites opens up new options, sometimes not as easy to access, but more natural. These five incredible countries therefore represent a less conventional although just as exciting tourism, with some unmissable experiences.