Popular Culture

The 10 Coolest Vacation Destinations


Thinking about going on vacation but no idea where to go? Then we’ve got some great ideas for you. These destinations aren’t your standard fare but rather places that are up and coming and awesome; you want to go before everybody else gets there and they become just another part of the tourist trail.



Bhutan’s the country which measures its gross domestic product in happiness rather than in money. It’s also starting to change fast – thanks to the mighty tourist dollar the roads are being transformed from dirt tracks to fully paved expressways. They’re building a lot of new accommodation to enable more budget focused travelers to visit the nation. Worse, the traditional arts are slowly beginning to be eroded in favor of cheap imports from China. If you want to get most from this tiny nation; it’s time to get on a plane before it becomes overrun with backpackers clutching copies of the Lonely Planet.



The time to visit Cuba is now. The hippest tourist destination of them all is going to see huge amounts of change over the next decade. The trade embargo has been lifted and there’s a U.S. Embassy in Havana. Travel to Cuba is now easy and that means that people will soon start arriving in droves. For the moment the beaches are still relatively unspoiled and the cities are still full of their vibrant and exciting architecture but it can’t last – that’s the price of “progress”. See it before everything gets a makeover and Cuba becomes yet another tourist mecca.



The peace pact with FARC fell through and that means there’s a chance that Colombia might soon return to its constant fighting. Yet, the country has improved during the time that the peace process was ongoing and there’s a huge energy to be felt in Colombian cities. They haven’t seen many tourists in Colombia yet and that means there’s still an “old school” vibe to the place where tourists are welcomed rather than resented. Get there before the developers do and you’ll be able to say you saw it first.

Quito, Ecuador


Some parts of Ecuador are already hip retirement destinations but the capital has generally been passed over by retirees and tourists alike. The city has seen some renovation which is a good thing as it means there’s some good quality but good value hotels and the local restaurant scene has been completely reinvigorated. There’s a buzz about the place which is slowly becoming a meeting point for cultural experiences and awesome night life.

Ladakh, India

Ladakh, India 06

If you need to get away from it all and truly switch off then it’s time to get off the grid in India. Ladakh, India has no Wi-Fi, no TV and no mobile phone signal either. A trip to Ladakh means getting in touch with your spiritual side and seeing how people in the Indus Valley live in a modest but beneficial way. There’s even a decent chance that you might get invited to meet the royal family while you’re there – where else in the world can give you that?

Boracay, The Philippines


The Philippines has long been a great vacation destination for Americans as it offers a low cost of living combined with friendly, English speaking locals. Boracay is a little bit further off the beaten path and it’s a relaxing beach destination which is at genuine risk of transforming from the traditional chill out zone into a massive resort complex. They’ve just built an airport there anticipating the arrival of the resorts; there’s still time to beat the rush and enjoy miles of unspoiled beaches but you’ll have to hurry.

The Zambezi, Zambia


The Zambezi River region of Zambia is an incredible place for safaris and adventure holidaying. There’s a new airport in the region which means that it’s easier to get there than it once was but the place hasn’t yet caught the attention of the masses. That’s a good thing for safaris because the fewer tours that are out there – the more likely it is that you’ll see the animals you want to see. We can also strongly recommend a kayaking experience in the Zambezi itself.

Lisbon, Portugal


Lisbon was once a shabby shadow of the other Southern European cities but in recent years it’s become a much more interesting place. It has a very low cost of living and a vibrant art scene. You can find galleries galore in the attractive streets. The waterfront has seen a complete transformation from seedy dock district to swanky bar district where the parties are full of the coolest people in Europe. The restaurant scene is incredible and you can even find Michelin starred food at a very reasonable price. Lisbon has become so much more than the sum of its parts, for the moment at least.

British Columbia


British Columbia is somewhere you need to visit immediately if you want to get the most out of your trip. It’s not because it’s likely to become the next “big thing” on the tourist trail but rather because the area is under severe threat from man’s encroachment and from climate change. The glaciers are melting. The rain forests are suffering. The orcas are in decline. Logging is taking its toll on the landscape. If you love the beauty of nature then British Columbia has it all but for how much longer?



With Iranian and American diplomatic relations slowly thawing and a new era of détente on the horizon; now is a great time to visit Iran. The dormant tourism industry in Iran is gearing up to attract the attention of American tourists and will do all it can to ensure that visits to the country are memorable for all the right reasons. Tehran’s not much to look at but the ancient capital of Persepolis is very much worth a visit as are the traditional mud-brick villages and the Shiraz region which was once famous for its wine and is still famous for its grapes.


Melissa Stenson
Melissa Stenson is a senior writer at PopCrunch. She covers movies, tv, and music news. She also writes engaging and fun lists about various pop culture events.

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