The popularity of a country as a travel destination has as much to do with image as with how interesting it is to visit a place or how accessible or affordable it is. Some just want to go somewhere because it looks good, while others are drawn to specific places, be it Tuscany, India, or Mauritius, as the image presented by these destinations fits their own personal aspirations. While popular tourist magnets, such as Australia or New Zealand, excel at self-promotion, other deserving destinations do not perform as well in the image; They may be a bit off the beaten track, suffered from poor leadership, or simply not sufficiently promoted their own attractions. However, some of these less-appreciated destinations have much more to offer curious independent travelers than their more cleverly touted rivals.

Here are some of the most underrated destinations in the world:


The three great Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva are architecturally exceptional, incredibly atmospheric, and great value for money. Majestic mosques and medressas, and huge ornate tile minarets seem to reach up into the brilliant blue sky from every other winding alley. Apart from members of the luxury "cultural" tours of France and Germany, hardly anyone seems to visit them. This situation has hardly been helped by the notoriously corrupt Karimov regime, which insists that visitors pay for a uselessly expensive "cover letter" before they are allowed to apply for an equally expensive tourist visa. The government's tendency to massacre protesters and boil political opponents alive may not have helped either. Despite the country's fearsome reputation, the people themselves are incredibly warm, friendly, and welcoming. Even once notoriously corrupt militsia are far more friendly and helpful than you might expect.

For a long time, Uzbekistan may have been off the beaten track, but now it is possible to fly to Tashkent, the capital, on Latvia's low-cost airline Air Baltic from most major cities in Europe. Now it is also relatively easy to obtain your cover letter and tourist visa through specialized travel agencies such as Stan Tours.


A lot of people don't think of visiting Taiwan. It is a little off the beaten track of the Far East, and certainly more expensive than Thailand or Indonesia, but it still has a lot to offer the independent traveler. The Portuguese sailors, who were the first Westerners to visit it, called it Ilha Formosa (which means "beautiful island"). After visiting the spectacular Toroko Gorge National Park, you will soon understand why. The beautiful gorge is known for its towering marble cliffs, rock-cut tunnels, and the spectacularly meandering Liwu River. It can be easily visited on a day trip from Taipei, but many prefer to be located outside the relatively expensive capital. Taipei itself is bright, lively, and fun. Besides Taipei 101 (previously the tallest building in the world), it is also known for its museums, markets, and temple complexes. The atmospheric Lunshan Temple is particularly popular and still houses ancient Buddhist rituals. Taipei is also famous for its varied and delicious street food; Shilin's night market is always busy, bustling, and overflowing with new and strange street food to sample, like pig's blood pie, deep-fried stinky tofu, and grilled quail eggs.

It used to be relatively expensive to get to Taiwan, but with the new generation of budget Asian airlines like Air Asia and Cebu Pacific, and cheaper flights on Taiwan's own EVA Air, it's now more affordable than ever. It is also incredibly safe and easy to visit and Westerners don't even need a visa.


Tunisia has been a well-established package travel destination for Europeans for some time, but it still receives relatively few independent travelers. This may be partly because Morocco and Egypt are cheaper, but Tunisia is priced much better than Western Europe and there is a lot to see in such a small country. The vast majority of tourists stay in the busy seaside resorts like Hammamet, Sousse or Jerba, with only a few day trips inland, but Tunisia has much more to offer than just sun and sand.

Author's Bio: 

The world's most underrated tourist destinations