5 undiscovered destinations to explore now
Off the beaten track
Set high in the Alborz Mountains, a short ride north of Tehran, Dizin is one of the country's most famous ski resorts and amongst 40 of the world's highest ski resorts. With ski season here (between December and late May) lasting longer than many European alps thanks to an altitude of 3,600 metres, you'll find around 459 hectares of skiable terrain for you to work up a sweat. It's also perfect for hiking and biking in summer, with amazing views of one of the highest volcanoes in the world, Mount Damavand.
Hang Son Doong Cave, Vietnam
Vietnam has become increasingly popular as an Asian destination, but up until now, the focus lay in the larger cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Set deep in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam, this ancient cave was carved from the Annamite Mountains almost three million years ago. Today, it is so vast that it's 200 metres tall and even plays host to tropical forests growing within. Hailed as the largest of its kind in the world, it has only been extensively explored in 2009 by the British Cave Research Association. Just how undiscovered is it? Let's just say that more people have set foot upon Mount Everest than they have here.
Perched high on the Tibetan Plateau, Kekexili is the third least populated area on the planet. Sprawling between Tanggula and Kunlun, it sits at 4,700 metres above sea level. Characterised by rolling grass plains, volcanic cinder cones, and framed by huge walls of snow-capped mountains, it's only recently been open to tourists by China. Within, you'll find 230 species of unusual – and some endangered – species of wildlife roaming free. Think wild yaks, white-lipped deers, brown bears and the elusive Tibetan antelopes.
An off-the-beaten-track alternative to Srinagar and Gulmarg, its natural environment is spectacular. This picturesque region is home to the alpine Tangnar Valley and filled with pines and babbling mountain streams on the edge of the Himalaya. Hailed as the Valley of Milk for its farming traditions, rolling green meadows and grazing sheep add to the complete serenity here. Those who visit rent temps and camp in the wilds during May to July, when temperatures are in the mid-teens and flowers in full bloom.
Dakhla, Western Sahara
Under the Moroccan administration, Dakhla is slowly becoming a surfing mecca, famed for its wild Atlantic rollers. The desert seemingly sinks into the sea on the narrow peninsula which is famous for its consistent wave breaks between October and February. The best spots are the beach breaks in Lâayoune and Bojador, and also Pointe de l'Or. Nouâdhibou is one of the most undiscovered surfing and coastal gems in the region, and features a curious mix of Mauritanian and Senegalese cultures.
- Image: Getty Images; Images of Hang Son Doong Cave courtesy of Carsten Peter
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