Tired of the usual sights or craving a break from the travel herd?
These five travel spots may be the getaway you’re looking for.
Adventure travel company Intrepid Travel’s new “Not Hot” list is out — spotlighting overlooked travel spots around the world.
The company’s annual list attempts to combat overtourism by helping travelers “beat the crowds and … inspire them to seek out different and unique experiences around the world in communities that can truly benefit from visitors,” Matt Berna, president of the Americas at Intrepid Travel, told CNBC Travel.
The 2024 list calls attention to two destinations in Asia, two in Europe and one in Central America.
Corsica, a mountainous Mediterranean island and territorial collectivity of France, is a self-proclaimed “Island of Beauty.”
Unlike Italy’s tourist-saturated Positano, travelers visiting Corsica can “enjoy a more authentic, tranquil, and immersive experience … without the overwhelming crowds,” according to a press release by Intrepid Travel.
But the island’s allure extends beyond its coastlines. Corsica is also known for its 180 kilometer (112 mile) hiking trail — the GR20 — and numerous historic landmarks, France’s tourism website showed. The island is home to six nature reserves, including the Scandola Nature Reserve — a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its red volcanic rocks.
Corsica’s “unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance … sets it apart from popular destinations like Positano,” according to Intrepid.
Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul are the three most visited Asian cities in 2023, according to market research company Euromonitor International.
Tokyo welcomed 31.8 million international tourists in 2019, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. In the same year, 17.5 million international tourists visited Seoul, Korea, statistics by the Korea Tourism Organization showed.
“Tokyo has been a popular travel destination for a long time, so its product offerings are more varied, attracting a larger spectrum of audiences especially families and more mature travelers,” Nick Lim, Asia CEO of The Travel Corporation, told CNBC.
Tokyo’s bookings from January to November 2023 rose by 234%. But Seoul’s popularity is rising. This year, flight bookings to Seoul increased 191% — double that of 2022, a representative at Trip.com told CNBC Travel.
“Younger travelers may choose Seoul over Tokyo because the city offers a mix of traditional and modern culture,” Lim said. The rise of Korean pop music and dramas have also boosted the city’s appeal, he added.
Nonetheless, Seoul and Tokyo remain vastly different. Both cities are “culturally rich with authentic and unique experiences … the choice between them ultimately depends on individual preferences and interests,” Lim said.
Panama, a Central American country bordered by Costa Rica and Colombia, is home to one of the world’s most sophisticated engineering works — the Panama Canal.
The city has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites — two archaeological sites, Panama Viejo and Casco Antiguo, and three national parks, the Coiba, Darien and La Amistad national parks.
Intrepid Travel recommends Panama for those who wish to “immerse themselves in local traditions, folklore, and contemporary arts … that differs from the more European-centric cultural landscape,” the press release stated.
Greece is known for its beaches, coastal caves and island hopping.
But away from Santorini and Mykonos, the islands from Kefalonia to Corfu are “a serene haven for travelers seeking a tranquil escape,” according to Intrepid.
Kefalonia and Corfu are two of the largest islands in the Ionian Sea, while 12 others are scattered across the west coast of Greece.
The Ionian Islands’ “unspoiled landscapes and pristine beaches … offers a serene haven for travelers seeking a tranquil escape, unlike the more crowded destinations” like Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia, Intrepid Travel’s press release stated.
Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia, is divided among three countries — Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
Kalimantan, the Indonesian region of the island, takes up two-thirds of the island, while the Islamic country of Brunei lies between two Malaysian states — Sarawak and Sabah.
“While Bali is undoubtedly a stunning destination with its beautiful beaches and rich cultural heritage, Borneo offers an entirely different experience that is unmatched in its own right,” the press release stated.
Although the islands may be close to each other, they are vastly different.
Bali is considered a well established “drop and flop” beach destination — where tourists often drop their bags and spend the day at the beach — but Borneo is focused on nature and eco-tourism, Lim told CNBC Travel.
“Borneo is definitely not an alternative to Bali … [but] it has everything to be an up-and-coming hotspot,” he said.
The island, the largest in Asia, is home to the world’s oldest rainforest and Southeast Asia’s tallest mountain — Mount Kinabalu, travel operator Borneo Eco Tours’ website showed.