TOP FIVE EMERGING WORLD TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

Our choice of top 5 world destinations showing a northward trend on the popularity graph, poised to become popular getaways in the not too distant future

Check out our selection of the top five emerging world travel destinations based on discussions with several travel bloggers who make it their business not to miss out on even the remotest of destinations the world over.

While these destinations may not be completely off-the-beaten-track, they are still a bit overlooked. However, with tourist activity on the rise, they are hovering on the verge of becoming popular getaways of the future.

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN

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At 92 feet below sea level, Azerbaijan’s capital and its largest city, Baku, is the lowest lying national capital in the world.

The city is an architectural cross between Dubai and Paris with a bit of Moscow thrown in for good measure. Dazzling skyscrapers seem to have been plucked straight out the Dubai skyline; neoclassical architectural beauties and cobblestone squares are sure to remind you of romantic Paris; and the Soviet influence can’t be missed, albeit half-camouflaged in the background.

Baku is an emerging travel destination where tourists are still somewhat of a novelty – a fact that becomes even more conspicuous as you enter the UNESCO World Heritage site of the well-maintained walled Old City (Icheri Sheher) at the heart of the capital.

The 15th-century Palace of the Shirvanshahs and its surrounding alleyways are bereft of thronging tourists, or even locals for that matter. It will make you feel as if you have the place all to yourself – a shove-and-nudge-free tourist experience.

However, with the popularity of the city growing as rapidly as it is, it won’t be long before the place is bustling with noisy, jostling tourists.

Some of the must-see landmarks of this beautiful city are:

Palace of the Shirvanshahs – The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is a restored 15th-century palace complex housing a mosque, a museum, and burial vaults.

Fountains Square – Fountains Square is an upscale public square known for its ornate fountains and the surrounding high-end shops, boutiques, fine restaurants, and cafes.

Azerbaijan Carpet Museum – The Azerbaijan Carpet Museum is, basically, dedicated to the art of carpet weaving with a well-stocked display of carpets and rugs of various weaving techniques and material. The museum is also home to Azeri ceramics and costumes.

National Museum of History of Azerbaijan – The National Museum of History of Azerbaijan is a 19th-century mansion-turned-museum, home to a diverse collection of historical artifacts.

Baku Museum of Miniature Books – Situated in the old section of the Azerbaijani capital, the Baku Museum of Miniature Books is home to a unique collection of tiny books from more than 60 countries. It is one of its kind in the whole world.

Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature – Named after the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, the 1939-established Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature is the country’s national museum featuring Azeri art, as well as works by International artists.

Absheron National Park – The Absheron National Park is a protected nature reserve with a coastline and an abundance of flora and fauna, including land and marine animals, over fifty bird species, and lush vegetation.

Ateshgah of Baku – The Ateshgah of Baku, or the Fire Temple of Baku, is a Zoroastrian
temple complex once used as a place of worship.

Yanar Dag – Situated on a hillside on the Absheron Peninsula, Yanar Dag is a natural gas fire that is continuously ablaze.

Baku Museum of Modern Art – The Baku Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to contemporary Azeri art as well as works by Dali, Picasso, and Chagall.

Maiden Tower – The Maiden Tower is a 12th-century Zoroastrian structure, now home to a museum of local history.

ISTRIA – CROATIA

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Located between the Kvarner Gulf and the Gulf of Trieste, Istria is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea.

Croatian Istria is bordered in the north by Slovenia and by the Adriatic Sea in the south and west. Towards the east lies the Kvarner region of the country.

As far as natural, unspoiled beauty is concerned, picture-perfect Istria deserves a place among the top destinations in that category.

Istria boasts some of the most amazing vistas on the planet. Here’s what you can expect to see and experience in this emerging fairytale-land getaway.

  • Gently rolling hills overlooking valleys and fields and clusters of houses perched atop peaks.
  • Streams flowing into the Adriatic after carving paths through deep gullies and valleys.
  • Breathtaking, camera-worthy panoramas of swaying wheat fields, snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, and plateaus.
  • Olive groves and vineyards and blossoming cherries hugging the hillsides.
  • Beautiful church facades, portals and narrow winding alleyways of the small villages with native architectural influence.
  • And, of course, the vast expanse of the sea.

LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA

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Langkawi, or Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah, as it is officially known, is an archipelago comprising 104 islands in the Andaman Sea. The largest of the islands, Palau Langkawi, is fast becoming a preferred international tourist attraction in the region, what with its forested hills, romantic white sand beaches, and crystal-clear waters.

Located 30 kilometers off the north-western coast of the Malaysian mainland, Langkawi is also known as the “Legendary Island” because of ancient myths linked to its unique topography.

Enjoy some of the best cuisines at the vibrant night markets; hike to the spectacular waterfalls, or take a professionally guided dive into the underwater marine park to marvel at some of the marine wonders the place has to offer.

LANGKAWI ATTRACTIONS

Langkawi Cable Car – The Langkawi Cable Car, also known as the Langkawi Sky Cab, is gaining popularity as the island’s major tourist attraction. The gondola-style cable cars with glass bottoms afford sweeping vistas as you ride to the peak of Manchincang Mountain.

Temurun Waterfall – The Temurun Waterfall is a stepped waterfall with deep and shallow pools surrounded by a lushly forested park with plenty of monkeys.

Tanjung Sanctuary – Located at Pantain Kok on the west coast of Langkawi, the Tanjung Sanctuary is a resort spread over 62 acres of forested land, boasting a large sandy beach, five private coves, and freshwater streams.

Seven Wells Waterfall – The Seven Wells is a dramatic waterfall with seven natural pools – a great swimming and hiking spot, indeed.

Art in Paradise – The 3D murals & paintings on display at the Art in Paradise museum are known for their optical illusions.

Beras terbakar- It is a fenced-in area of historic importance where, once, rice was burnt after a battle with the Siamese army.

Tiger! Tiger! Langkawi –Tiger! Tiger! Langkawi is an animal park and nature center where you can get to see tigers up close.

Elephant Adventures – Take a ride on a trained Asian elephant through the tropical forests of Langkawi offering excellent views of a rich birdlife, monkeys, and the unique flora of the region.

Payar Island – Payar Island is a protected marine park in Kedah, known for its amazing marine life and coral reef – an ideal place for snorkeling and scuba diving
Skytrex Langkawi Adventure Park – The Skytrex Langkawi Adventure Park is located within the pristine enclosure of Burau Bay, with the beautiful landscape of Gunung Mat Cincang offering a dramatic backdrop.

MADAGASCAR

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This unspoiled island country of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa, covers 587,000 square km of amazingly beautiful and marvelously diverse country, roughly the same size as France.

Vast tracts of uninhabited and largely unexplored terrain with its overabundant flora and fauna attract adventure seekers and wildlife lovers from different parts of the globe. The diversity of the landscape is truly amazing where lush rainforest can turn into desert country in a matter of just 300 km.

Five percent of the island’s plant and animal species are unique to Madagascar – not to be found in the wild elsewhere in the world.

MADAGASCAR’S FLORA AND FAUNA

Fossa – A sinister-looking cat-like predator endemic to the island.

Lemur – Over 100 lemur species exist on the island and almost all of them are rare, vulnerable or endangered. Lemurs have been classified as “Madagascar’s flagship mammal species” by Conservation International.

Birds – Out of the 300 recorded species of birds, 60% are unique to Madagascar.

Reptiles – Madagascar boasts 260 reptile species out of which 90% are native to the island. Two-thirds of the world’s chameleon species thrive on the island including the smallest known.

Fish – Over 100 indigenous species of freshwater fish inhabit the rivers and lakes of Madagascar.

Invertebrates – All 651 species of terrestrial snail are indigenous, as are a majority of the island’s butterflies, scarab beetles, lacewings, spiders, and dragonflies.

MADAGASCAR ATTRACTIONS

  • Isalo National Park – Famous for its canyon and lemur population – ideal for backpacking and hiking
  • Avenue of the Baobabs – An extraordinary stand of huge baobab trees located 45 minutes north of Morondava on Madagascar’s west coast
  • Ranomafana National Park – Features a forest, rainforest, lemurs, and a hot spring
  • Analamazaotra Special Reserve – Nature Reserves, Protected Area, and Eco-Tourism
  • Amber Mountain National Park – Known for its lemur population, rainforest, nature reserves, and waterfall
  • Zahamena National Park – Rainforest, Park, and Nature Reserve
  • Parc Ivoloina – Zoo and Park
  • Pirates Museum
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Namorona River
  • Libanona Beach
  • Maromokotoro Beach

MADAGASCAR MUST-Dos

  • Deep sea fishing
  • Kite and windsurfing
  • Guided kayaking

MARTINIQUE

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North of St. Lucia and south of Dominica, lies the enticing island of Martinique, a French outpost in the Caribbean Sea. West Indian warmth and color combine exceedingly well with French finesse to give you an excellent finished product – Martinique.

This mountainous island is volcanic in composition with Mont Pelée – the volcano that obliterated St. Pierre in 1902 – looming large over the rugged landscape.

While the capital Fort-de-France and its urban surroundings can be chaotic because of overcrowding, the surroundings become increasing pleasant and serene as you make your way north or south through some of the most beautiful scenery you can ever hope to set eyes on.

While the northern part of Martinique is resplendent with lush mountainsides offering great panoramas of the surrounding areas, the south boasts amazing bays and coves and miles of pristine sandy beaches.

MARTINIQUE ATTRACTIONS

Mount Pelée – Mount Pelée is an active volcano at the northern end of Martinique, an island and French overseas department in the Lesser Antilles island arc of the Caribbean. Its volcanic cone is composed of layers of volcanic ash and hardened lava.

La Savane – The La Savane is a large green space with a central lawn and shaded walkways not too far from cafes and restaurants.

Fort Saint Louis – Fort Saint Louis is a seaside fortress in Fort-de-France, Martinique. The historically significant site features a zoo and plenty of common iguanas all around.

St. Louis Cathedral, Fort-de-France – The St. Louis Cathedral is a late 19th-century Romanesque Revival cathedral with a 187-ft. steeple & a large pipe organ.

Château Dubuc – The Château Dubuc is the ruins of a 17th-century castle featuring scenic bay views & a museum with related history exhibits.

ZOO Martinique HOUSING LATOUCHE – It is a small wildlife park in a picturesque setting with winding trails & colonial-era ruins.

Jardin de Balata – The Jardin de Balata is a botanical garden with exotic plants from around the world, a treetop walkway & dramatic mountain views.

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