I know traveling these days means a staple trip around South East Asia, followed by a compulsory stint in Australia (camper van, west coast – you know the route) but backpacking can mean so much more, all we need to do is venture a little further, stretch those comfort zones just a little extra and experience something truly genuine – that’s really traveling. If waking up with no plan floats your boat, then you’re welcome to join me anytime. Here are 5 of the more obscure destinations I’ve hit up over the last year or two:
Arguably my furthest delve off the beaten track, North Korea is one of the least visited countries in the world. I’ve blogged about my awesome experiences in North Korea here, here, here and here but to sum it up – this place was a fully fledged time warp. A country where the people have never heard the words google, facebook or email.
No one has any idea who Tom Cruise, David Beckham or Nelson Mandela are. If you manage to make it here it’s a step back in time in every way, food, fashion, architecture and it’ll be one of the most surreal experiences you ever have.
According to the UN I’ve been to Somalia but the northern Somalians would disagree thoroughly. The north of Somalia is a self-declared republic, called Somaliland, which is generally accepted to be much safer (aside from the odd land mind, and kidnapping, and the fact that you still need an armed guard when you leave the capital!). I’ve previously written a quick guide about backpacking in Somalia before so feel free to check that out.
Somaliland is a great place to visit, if you have an adventurous heart and enjoy the prospect of literally potentially being the ONLY tourist in a whole country, then this is one of your few opportunites. And the locals are the friendliest people you’re ever likely to encounter. Also, check out my story about Fast Eddy, the terrorist and a few chicks in Burkas all wedged into a range rover late at night, quite the story!
The world’s newest country until South Sudan recently was granted independence. East Timor has a bloody past during its struggle with Indonesia. There is a huge UN presence here, which has created an entire false economy but if you’re happy to deal with that, East Timor is a wonderful place to wander around.
I wrote a quick recount about backpacking in East Timor previously, if you end up here as a tourist be prepared to be the only one! Word will quickly get around that there’s ‘new folk’ in town. Also, East Timor’s very own ‘Christ the Redeemer’ wannabe is a cool highlight to the trip.
Khartoum probably isn’t top of the list of most people’s dream destinations, but this promises to be a very unique cultural experience. From witnessing a camel sacrifice in Khartoum (warning: graphic video) to visiting the Sudanese pyramids in the desert, Sudan is a backpacking gem.
The visa is a hassle, and registering with the police isn’t much fun – but deal with all the pitfalls and you’ll really be racking up some backpacking points! Check out my quick guide to backpacking in Sudan if you’re interested.
Not quite as famously dangerous as North Korea, Sudan et al but off the tourist trail still, Bangladesh is an awesome place to cut your ‘real backpacking’ teeth. Cheap, friendly and very, very authentic Bangladesh will offer experiences like you could never predict.
I nearly got arrested for (not) having sex with a prostitute there (madness!), ended up eating a feast with a family in the Bangladesh slums, visited the top 5 sights in Bangladesh, and took a rocket steamer boat down to the bay of Bengal.
There are 5 of my most obscure backpacking trips, pretty cool memories. Stay tuned for my next article – 5 obscure destinations I’ll be visiting in 2012. Happy travels!