Open to tourists since 1974 and largely accessible only by foot, few visitors make it to Bhutan. Independent travellers are prohibited so guided tours are the only way to explore ‘the land of the thunder dragon’. Untouched by much of modern life, the people of Bhutan have only been able to watch TV since 1999. But who needs it when you can watch the drama unfold at the Namkhe Nyingpo Goemba monastery? Every afternoon 300 monks battle it out, arguing various theological points in the courtyard. Expect lots of foot stomping and heated debate.
Since declaring independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia has attracted a trickle of intrepid travellers with its Balkan mountain beauty. For an alternative winter ski spot, try Popova Sapka in the Tetovo region, which boasts over 43 peaks and many mountain lakes. The locals will recommend Rakija, a traditional tipple similar to brandy that’s 60% proof, sure to keep you warm on the slopes.
Any budding David Attenboroughs should cross the border from Brazil to explore Guyana’s rainforest trail. Rarely taken, you may just discover a new plant species, or spot a spotty jaguar. If you prefer people to plants, then simply hang out with the locals, in a bar or over food - an activity known as ‘liming’. Your new friends might even feed you some 'cook-up rice', Guyana’s national dish, a variation on Caribbean rice and peas.
Tajikstan is the smallest nation in Central Asia, visited by few Brits but rock climbers and snowboarders. Just don’t expect the opulence of Aspen - you may need to go well off-piste to find the best slopes here. Make a pit stop in capital Dashanbe for some traditional 'choy' tea before a stimulating night at the Ayni Opera & Ballet Theatre.
Forget the Olympics. On national holidays, over 100,000 gymnasts crowd the May Day Stadium in Pynongyang to perform an event aptly named the Mass Games. North Korea's second largest city, Hamhung, with its grand theatres and co-operative farm, only opened to tourists in 2010. To see it all it’s best to get on your bike. Koryo Tours runs week-long cycling holidays that take you all the way from Pynongyang to Mount Paekdu.
The new Oman (we made that up), Arab Emirate Ras Al Khaimah is sandwiched between the Arabian Gulf and the Hajar Mountains. With 43km of golden Gulf-side sands, park your beach towel wherever you like, while away from the dunes you could indulge in precious stone treatments at Khatt Hot Springs. For thrills, catch the camel racing held between September and April each year on the 10km track at the Manar shopping mall.
Venture to the west coast of Africa and discover an intoxicating mix of French colonial heritage and African tradition in Togo. Take a trip to the city of Lomé’s infamous Fetish Market for souvenirs with a difference from 'the land of voodoo'. Bring back your loved ones a hyena head, or feed the local holy man’s pet monkey. Surely a photo opportunity not to be missed?!
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