8 epic places you'll wish you'd been to before everyone else!

10 April 2015

You've probably got a bucket list as long as a pole vault stick. And that's in 6-point font.

But that list just got longer. You can add these eight awesome places straight on – even though you've probably never heard of them.

Plain of Jars

In remote northern Laos, thousands of large stone jars scatter the landscape. The jars are hewn out of rock, range from one to three metres wide, weigh up to a tonne each, and date from the Iron Age – but that's just about all we know about them.

We don't really know what the jars are or why they were created. The leading theory is that they were used for burial practices, but there are plenty of other ideas – like the legend that says the jars are for storing alcohol for the local race of giants. Wandering amongst the jars, you'll be utterly mystified – and the giants theory will suddenly look like a pretty decent contender. Keen to explore?

Ciudad Perdida

A classic Lara Croft-style lost city in the Colombian jungle – Ciudad Perdida is an archaeologist's dream.

It was an ancient Tairona city and the intricate rock terraces and platforms that remain tell of an important political centre. The city was revealed to the modern world in 1972, when looters found the overgrown site and started selling its artefacts on the black market. Naughty looters.

It's a four-day trek through the stunning Colombian rainforest to visit Ciudad Perdida. After a tough day's walking, take a swim in a clear mountain pool and jump into your hammock for the night – before setting off to do it all again the next day. The final 1200 stone steps up the the city are gruelling, particularly after the rest of the strenuous, remote and muddy trek. But the adventure is in the journey, right? And having a lost city as your destination makes up for a lot of leg pain.

Arches National Park

The Colorado Plateau of south west USA holds a whole rocky range of natural wonders beyond the Grand Canyon. Arches National Park in Utah is up there on the list of weird rock formations. The park is home to an array of naturally formed sandstone arches – thin and delicate, holding their unlikely arched structures above the red landscape.

We wont bore you with the geology (which we totally understand, it's just, like, we don't want to take up too much of your time, you know?). But the arches are out-there odd and strangely beautiful. Explore the park on foot – hike around the arches, climb up under and through them where you can – but treat this delicate, balanced landscape with respect. Walk in Arches National Park with Tours from My Adventure Travel.

Ait Benhaddou

If you ever watch tele, you will have seen Ait Benhaddou. This fortified city made of mud is such a remarkable location that it has been the set for countless movies – like Babel, The Living Daylights and The Mummy. More recently, it featured in Game of Thrones as the slave city of Yunkai that Daenerys Targaryen attacks (in case you've forgotten, she's the blond hottie with the dragons).

The city is located in the Moroccan Sahara Desert, on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains, nearly 200 kilometres from Marrakech. It's nothing short of spectacular. Our tip: buy yourself a Moroccan souvenir while you're there – it wont be as cheap as in the souks of Marrakech, but then, any time Ait Benhaddou comes on tele, you can casually say, “I bought this rug there.” Loads of travel kudos. Explore Ait Benhaddou with us!

Yoho National Park

If wilderness is your cup of tea (that is, tea brewed on a little portable stove), the Canadian Rockies are calling you.  Yoho National Park is right next door to Banff National Park, so you'll find a lot of visitors choosing the popular kid on the block, Banff, and leaving the little brother, Yoho, relatively quiet. Thank you, other people, for staying out.

Yoho has over 400 kilometres of hiking trails, so you wont be short of somewhere to go. There's rocky cliffs and gushing waterfalls, and the melting glaciers give the streams and lakes a stunning milky, turquoise colour. Positively spectacular. Spend 15 days exploring the Canadian Rockies.


Jerash is a city in northern Jordan – the modern city sits right next to the remains of the ancient Roman version of the city. The ruins of Jerash are incredibly well-preserved –  you can understand what the city was and imagine people going about their life here. You can almost see Gladiator's Russell Crowe striding around like a peacock with his big metal shoulder pads and sword.

Urgh. Shake off that arrogant Russell Crowe image and re-focus. Jerash. The city flourished in the first century BC and the remains show us lavish temples, a huge oval plaza, colonnaded streets, a public fountain and a glorious city gate. And Russell Crowe will not be there. Just forget we mentioned him. Explore the ruins of Jerash!

The Golden Temple of Amritsar

This place is actually called Harmandir Sahib, but it's commonly known as the “Golden Temple”, which pretty much sums it up. It's a temple and it's golden. Soooo golden. This intricately decorated Sikh gurdwara (that's a place of worship for Sikh people) sits in the middle of a large lake of holy water. It's lit up at night, and the light glistening off the temple and reflecting in the pool makes the place look like a magical glowing fairy castle.

It's a busy place that radiates energy, love and happiness. There are four entrances to the gurdwara, which symbolises the fact that everyone is welcome here, regardless of their religion, race or gender. Isn't that nice? And speaking of niceness, one of the largest free food kitchens in the world operates from the gurdwara, serving chapatis and dahl to 100,000 people a day.  You'll go there for the gold-ness of it but you'll take away a warmed heart. It's golden temple filled with golden ideas. Visit the Golden Temple!

Dun Aengus

If you like things rugged and wild, this one's for you. Dun Aengus is a stone fortress built slap on the edge of a 100-metre cliff on the Aran Islands. The windswept islands are located off the west coast of Ireland, with the North Atlantic battering at the base of the towering cliffs.

The remains of the prehistoric fortress consist of four concentric semicircles of stone wall. Between the second and third walls there are a series of sharp stones, laid point upward, providing an extra barrier of defence. Four walls, pointy stones and a 100-metre cliff – no-one was getting in here, no matter what kind of sturdy bearded Viking they were.

The view across the islands and the churning sea is spectacular. There's no rail at the cliff edge, so leave small children and height wimps behind. And it's not a busy place – hike or bike ride into the fortress and you might find that you are the only one there. Hike to Dun Aengus!

Talk to us for off-the-beaten track adventures and inspiration.