We’re pretty sure some of you (just like some of us) will have made a New Year’s resolution to visit new places in 2013 – so we’ve put together this list of destinations you’ve probably never heard of, but really should visit, by way of inspiration!
A sleepy and relaxed atmosphere pervades this beautiful part of the world, where you can admire the ruins of the 15th-century city of Vijayanaga, once the capital of an Empire. Where once 500,000 people lived, today the banana plantations and lush greenery is re-asserting itself and the ruins have taken on a magical quality. Don’t miss the Virupaksha Temple either, which dates back to the 7th Century. You can get here with a Mumbai flight and an onward connection to Hubli.
Mesa Verde, Colorado, USA
This National Park is home to one of the most astonishing and well-preserved archaeological sites in the world, and here you’ll be able to explore the way of life of the indigenous population, who started building cliff dwellings in the 12th Century. These were ingeniously placed under clifftop overhangs and in caves – and there’s even a clifftop palace!
Central America is not short of Mayan ruins, and this one in Guatemala is bound to impress. In fact, that’s the very reason it was built – and the astonishment is still there today. Six temples, each rising up to 212 feet, dominate the skyline, and hieroglyphs document the Mayan history. Nobody knows why this important Mayan city was abandoned though, to be left dormant from 900BC to 1848 when it was found in the jungle. Grab your cheap flight here.
Zen Garden of Kyoto, Japan
You’ll find this impeccable garden at the Ryoan-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple. These are known for their Japanese rock gardens, which are all about simplicity and serenity. It’s designed to inspire meditation, and its diminutive size – about the same size as a tennis court – belies its profound effects. Raked sand and carefully arranged rocks and moss have been said to look like a whole range of things from the sea to a tree, a heart or even a tigress carrying her cubs across water. What will you see? Get there with our flight search here.
Fallingwater, Pennsylvania, USA
Frank Lloyd Wright is perhaps America’s best-known architect and near the end of his career he created Fallingwater, a house that is literally in a waterfall. The sounds of the water permeate throughout, the building is cantilevered so it appears to float in the falls and boulders jut into the house and double-up as household items. Described as the closest you can get to a building that is one with nature, perhaps a trip to the Allegheny Mountains is a must-add to your USA road trip!
Formerly called Pagan, this city in Myanmar was the seat of the Pagan Kingdom. Today called Bagan, the remains of this kingdom are clearly visible, with over 2,200 of the Buddhist temples and pagodas remaining of the over 10,000 that were originally built. These temples are over 1,500 years old and the most popular ways to see them are by bicycle or rickshaw, as there is plenty of open space to cover between them. Don’t forget to take a visit up to Mount Popa, both for the spectacular views as well as for a visit to the beautiful hilltop monastery – only 777 steps to the top! One thing’s for sure – cheap Myanmar flights are set to be more popular than ever in 2013.
Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures, Uzbekistan
The second largest city in Uzbekistan, Samarkand sits in prime position along the Silk Road, which runs between China and the Western world. It’s also a huge centre of Islamic learning and in the 14th century it became the capital of the Timur Empire. This stunning city has a range of important sights and landmarks including Registan Mosque and madrasas, a modern replica of the the Bibi-Khanym Mosque and the Gur-Emir mausoleum. The Ulugh-Beg Observatory is also a must-see. The mix of cultures is visible throughout, making for an exciting and intriguing place to visit.
Volcanoes of Kamchatka, Russia
On the Pacific coast of Russia, bordering the Bering Sea, lies the Kamchatka Peninsula, home to some of the world’s most impressive volcanoes. You’ll find the most active volcano in the Northern Hemisphere, the most perfect volcano ever seen and the highest volcano in the Northern Hemisphere too. The Geyser Valley is a must-see as well, although it was partially destroyed in a recent mudslide.
Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps
Explore the Alps in 2013, and trace the footsteps of the prehistoric people who made them their home. There are 111 separate sites dating from 5000 to 500 BC showing how our ancient ancestors lived during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. The sites stretch from France, Austria and Switzerland into Germany, Italy and Slovenia, so you probably won’t be able to see them all! Why not start with a cheap flight to Geneva.
Kondoa Rock Art Sites, Tanzania
With more than 150 sites boasting rock paintings over 1500 years old, this area in Tanzania isn’t very heavily visited, although the paintings are pretty remarkable. The central themes are women, showing a change from hunting and gathering to the start of food cultivation. Charmingly, to see these paintings you have to visit the Antiquities Department Office in the nearby village of Kolo, where the cave paintings guide will show you the way.