Thursday 22 August 2019

Six bucket list destination swaps to beat the crowds

Overtourism is a growing problem, so why not try something new? Sarah Marshall has six alternatives to popular hot spots...

The old bridge of Le Vigan in Gard, France. PA Photo/iStock.
The old bridge of Le Vigan in Gard, France. PA Photo/iStock.
The Zanzibar islands. PA Photo/iStock.
Tblisi, the capital of Georgia. PA Photo/iStock.
Palenque, the ancient Mayan site in Mexico. PA Photo/iStock.
The Palawan islands in the Philippines. PA Photo/iStock.
Paros.PA Photo/iStock.

Sarah Marshall

We all want to visit the places that everyone's talking about - that's human nature.

But when numbers swell, destinations lose some of their lustre. It's true you can never have too much of a good thing, but a good thing can have too much of you.

The solution lies in putting an alternative pin in the map; finding somewhere with similar attributes that's not as well known. After all, our planet is vast - so surely there are enough hidden corners for us all to explore?

Swap #1: Bali for El Nido

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The Palawan islands in the Philippines. PA Photo/iStock.

Bali has long been a staple for travellers looking for a getaway with a reasonable price tag. But if you've ever been to Indonesia's busiest island, you'll know how crazy it can get. For a similar getaway at a comparable price point (but without the crowds), consider El Nido on the Palawan islands in the Philippines, known for its gleaming beaches, radiant coral reefs and multiple dive sites.

Swap #2: Zurich for Tbilisi

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Tblisi, the capital of Georgia. PA Photo/iStock.

Zurich, like much of Switzerland, is a city with high standards - and it has a price-point to match. If you're looking for photogenic towns set amongst soaring peaks and idyllic mountains, consider Georgia, which was once part of the USSR. Today, it's capital Tbilisi is a buzzing blend of cafes , theatres, restaurants, and nightclubs attracting world-famous DJs.

Swap #3: Provence for Le Gard

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The old bridge of Le Vigan in Gard, France. PA Photo/iStock.

Bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, Provence has everything travellers dream of when planning a trip to the south-east of France. The trouble is, you're sharing those dreams with travellers all around the world. A two-and-a-half-hour drive east, the Le Gard region has equally impressive landscapes and fine dining - but you won't have to jostle for views, or book months in advance for a table.

Swap #4: Santorini for Paros

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Paros.PA Photo/iStock.

A favourite with Instagrammers, Santorini is the supermodel of the Greek islands. Don't expect to win too much of her attention, however, because you'll probably find yourself at the back of a very long queue. If you're after something less high maintenance but equally good looking, consider heading for Paros. Also in the Cyclades archipelago, the laid-back island has the same white cube houses and arresting sunsets.

Swap #5: Zanzibar for Pangani Beach

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The Zanzibar islands. PA Photo/iStock.

Zanzibar's star has been in ascendance for the last few years, and for good reason; its idyllic pristine sands and welcoming resorts make it one of the ultimate beach getaways. But if you're really looking to get away from it all, consider Pangani Beach, also in Tanzania. This under-the-radar coastal town is perfect for an authentic beach break.

Swap #6: Chichen Itza for Palenque

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Palenque, the ancient Mayan site in Mexico. PA Photo/iStock.

There are few places on earth quite like Chichen Itza, but whilst the sight of the pre-Columbian city's ancient Mayan ruins should be experienced by everybody, it's also one of Mexico's main tourist hubs. Whilst most travellers couldn't pinpoint Palenque on the map, its ruins are equally stunning and ancient, but without the maddening crowds. You'll find the Mayan temples swathed in mist in Mexico's Chiapas region.

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