• 1. Cuba
    1. Cuba
  • 2. Myanmar
    2. Myanmar
  • 3. Rwanda
    3. Rwanda
  • 4. Saint Vincent and The Grenadines
    4. Saint Vincent and The Grenadines
  • 5. Moldova
    5. Moldova
  • 6. São Tomé and Príncipe
    6. São Tomé and Príncipe
  • 7. Kazakhstan
    7. Kazakhstan
  • 8. Antarctica
    8. Antarctica

For discerning travelers who relish being the first to plant their flag in untouched foreign soil, we’ve scoured the globe for eight off-the-beaten-path destinations that should be next on your list. Some have been recently opened to tourism and some are just hidden gems, but all of them generating buzz and poised to become the next hot ticket. Take the road less traveled, and be the first to say “I’ve been there” about one of these up-and-comers—before they get overrun with holidaymakers.

Cuba

1. Cuba

Cuba has officially been open for business since the beginning of the year, and the color-saturated and vintage car-filled images pouring in from those who are already enjoying the unique culture of this Communist country are making us want to pack our bags right now. Americans still have to meet one of 12 special exemptions, though, like visiting family or educational activities—so if you qualify, go now before everyone leaps at the chance to experience those Havana nights. Which, according to travel advisor Annette Love McCormick, may be soon: “Early 2016, realistically will probably be the first – as far as a U.S. citizen flying out of the United States into Havana and going to a beautiful resort.”

2. Myanmar

Whether you know it as Myanmar or Burma, you’ve probably considered it off-limits until recently. But since the once-tumultuous political situation has cooled off in recent years, backpackers doing the SE Asia loop have added Myanmar as a destination. In 2012, tourist numbers hit the 1 million mark for the first time, and the government is aiming for 7.5 million by 2020—so book a flight to Yangon and enjoy the picturesque beaches and golden temples before they become another Angkor Wat.

Myanmar

3. Rwanda

Though tourism won’t be the first that comes to anybody’s mind when they hear the name “Rwanda”, the nation’s violent past isn’t deterring the steadily rising number of travelers who are witnessing the Land of a Thousand Hills’ transformation. Tourists have the opportunity to support the country’s wildlife conservation efforts while trekking with the estimated one third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas which live in Rwanda’s equatorial jungles—just don’t bring along any plastic bags, which are completely banned.

Rwanda

4. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

If you’re not sure whether Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the name of a hip indie band or a country, you’re not alone—this little-known hideaway has long been one of the least-visited Caribbean islands. But with the opening of a new international airport slated for the end of this year, a summer carnival that’s not to be missed, and growing fame as the shooting location for the Pirates of the Caribbean series, this 32-island nation’s beaches are likely to get crowded soon.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

5. Moldova

Teeny Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, and it’s hard up for tourists, too—in fact, it was Europe’s least-visited country in 2014. But the landlocked nation is rich in more than just throwback Soviet architecture; there’s loads of tradition, especially when it comes to wine-making. The Moldovan vino scene is experiencing a renaissance worth sampling. American, Canadian, Japanese and Swiss sommeliers will especially appreciate the country’s visa-free borders.

Moldova

6. Sao Tome and Principe

With miles of pristine beaches, untouched wildlife, a distinct lack of gaudy resorts, a squeaky-clean safety report card, and some of the finest dark chocolate in the world, it’s a wonder that Sao Tome and Principe was the 2nd least-visited African country in 2014. The country was ruled by Portugal until 1975 and has the colonial architecture to prove it, so add to all this the fact that there’s a direct flight from Lisbon, and the secret will probably be out on Africa’s best-kept-secret soon.

Sao Tome and Principe

7. Kazakhstan

You might be shocked to learn that in 2013, Kazakhstan had the second highest percent growth in tourism out of any country in the world (after Japan, which unsurprisingly has a thriving tourist economy). Blame it on Borat, but tourism is booming in the Central Asian country, mostly thanks to visitors from the surrounding region. But travelers from all over the world will be thrilled by Kazakhstan’s virgin national parks, authentic villages and awe-inspiring steppe.

Kazakhstan

8. Antarctica

The reason to visit Antarctica is less superficial than a desire to be the first or beat the crowds. With climate change hitting Antarctica the hardest out of any place in the world, ice cover is melting, wildlife is disappearing, and the stunning glacial scenery may be lost forever. Andrew White of Quark Expeditions says, “If there’s one destination you need to see now, it’s Antarctica.”

Dream it, Book it, Live it. 

Antarctica
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