Skip Europe: The World's Greatest Overlooked Destination Cities
Posted on 25 November 2017
Luang Prabang, Laos
Drinkers won’t be disappointed in Oaxaca, as the region produces some 90% of Mexico’s mezcal. You’ll find it poured by passionate, knowledgeable barkeeps at excellent mezcalerias such as Mezcaloteca, Archivo Maguey, and In Situ.
Queenstown, New Zealand
The idyllic snow-capped mountains look like the backdrop of a painting against the clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. This serenely stunning town, located in the South Island of New Zealand, boomed in a 1860s gold rush and has since been a destination for film crews, wine lovers, and travellers who like vertical drops.
It’s known as the birthplace of bungee jumping and jet boating, but you can also downshift with mere white water rafting, skydiving, skiing and ziplining. Jumping off bridges works up an appetite, so don’t leave without trying a “big-as-your-head gourmet burger” from the town institution, Fergburger.
It’s not only for adrenaline junkies. Queenstown is also known for its rejuvenating spas, gorgeous mountain lodges, and quite possibly the freshest air you’ll ever breathe. Treat yourself to Onsen Hot Pools for a soak in natural spring while you sip on some local wine and revel in the sprawling views.
In Amman, you will find yourself at the doorstep of world wonders: The stupefying ancient metropolis of Petra, and the multi-hued Wadi Rum, one of the earth’s most scenic deserts. But the city itself is nearly as timeless, and in its peaceful blend of cultures, surprisingly reassuring.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
One trip down Buenos Aires’ cobblestone streets, taking in the art-nouveau apartment buildings and Italian Renaissance-style palaces, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into an electric Old World party, and that everyone showed up. So grab a power nap and hydrate.
BA is all about the secret addresses - speakeasy staples like Frank's, closed-door dinner parties, and members-only 24-hour club pool parties at spots like Mansion Boreo or The Clubhouse. Once you’ve properly lost track of time, you'll find yourself topping off the night with helado (a cross between hard frozen ice cream and gelato). More than 2,000 heladarias (ice cream parlors) dot the city - the only way anyone here knows how to cool down for even a moment.
When heading to India, the only part of New Delhi you should see is the airport when internally connecting for Jaipur, the capital’s laid-back little brother. Otherwise known as the Pink City, owing to a centuries-old tradition of painting the centre’s facades to give it a welcoming and romantic hue, Jaipur is an oasis of sterling architecture and wonder in the desert region just south of New Delhi.
Africa’s northernmost city is an idiosyncratic melting pot of Arab, French, and progressive Muslim influences. It’s not uncommon to see Tunisians walking around in soccer jerseys, carrying loaves of French bread, singing in English.
Get lost in Medina (Old Town) and its snaking labyrinth of market-teeming alleyways, then scale the encircling high wall for reorientation. Outside these walls, the Ville Nouvelle (New Town) hurls you into the lavish belle époque architecture where chic French cafés invite a caffeine buzz. Outside the city center, find the evocative ruins of ancient Carthage. They prove once again that the Romans knew the value of real estate, as the Mediterranean views won’t disappoint.
If you want to work up an appetite in Tasmania’s capital, look to the 3,000ft Mount Wellington. Not as if you can miss it: Even amid the city’s lakes, wine valleys, epic drives, and Michelin-starred restaurants, you’ll want to tackle the enchanting backdrop of it all. A half-hour’s drive (or full-day hike) from the city, the panoramic views from the mountain -- where winds can top 108mph -- are well worth it, even if you have to hold on to the nearest traveller to keep your ground. You’ll gaze out over Hobart and out to Bruny Island, despite possible warm-season snow flurries at the peak.
The mountain now conquered, the hungry city of 220,000 beckons. Australians consider Tasmania the country’s seafood capital. Stop by Barilla Bay Oyster Farm -- a five-minute drive from Hobart International Airport -- for some of the freshest oysters you’ll ever have, as well as the most delicious Blood Mary oyster shooters in the Southern Hemisphere. A million people a year visit this city. Tell the folks back home where you went, and you’ll sound terribly exotic. You don’t need to tell them it was so cheerfully comfortable.
A key starting point in Yangon is the basic but inviting Friendship Restaurant (across the street from the Business Alliance Hotel) where ingrained expat teachers and day-off diplomat types drink cheap drafts side-by-side with mellow locals. The city’s centrepiece is Shwedagon Pagoda, the country’s most sacred site and home to eight sacred locks of Buddha’s hair. A radiant hilltop campus of Buddhist shrines surrounds a 300ft-tall golden dome visible from virtually anywhere in town.
As a flight hub, Yangon collects culinary and cultural influence from all over the region: Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand. But because British rule lasted until 1947, Yangon’s also a swell place for tea time. On nearly every street, people huddle in establishments or on sidewalks, perched atop 10 inch stools around mini-tables supporting a teapot.
Cape Town, South Africa
In the Mother City, as it’s known, travellers can drink up any sort of wanderlust -sophisticated city living, foodie and cultural expeditions, coastal playtime, or an intoxicating cocktail of it all. Some districts vibe almost European; others are distinctly African in spirit. If you’re into the finer things, there’s designer shopping on Waterfront, and ample beach clubs and restaurants full of beautiful people with amiable Afrikaans drawls. Or get closer to locals’ lives and find delicious home-cookery, African goddesses with invincible grill skills and the pastel houses and call to prayers of the famous Muslim-Malay neighbourhood known as Bo-Kaap.
Spaces also feel infinite, whether scaling up Table Mountain or rambling around sprawled out Wineland estates with a buzz (fair warning: impulsively shipping a case of red home only to be slapped with a stiff duty later is no urban myth). Cape Town’s known for being sunny year-round, but the best time to go is February and March.
Think of Tainan as Taiwan’s version of Kyoto: an ancient city with its own unique culture, thriving in the shadow of a more renown metropolis. Arriving by the country’s high-speed rail (seemingly one of the few things modern day has touched) you’ll find a charming, lively city so dominated by old temples and monasteries that anything less than century-old looks almost tacky by comparison.
Yet from the past you can bring yourself firmly into the present. To view ornate, beautifully preserved buildings, head to Tainan Confucius Temple, Chikan Tower, and Grand Queen of Heaven Temple. Meandering through Hai’an Rd and Shennong St is a trip through hip cafes, bars, and art venues. At night, it’s thronged by live bands and a spectrum of locals, packed into small shops that serve traditional and modern twists on Tainan delicacies.
Original article from Thrillist