Ten must-sees that beat the winter blahs
by Monica on 24.03.
Cure coronavirus' cabin fever with some winter travel planning
Right now, we’re all doing the right thing — staying home to “flatten” the coronavirus curve. Hopefully, we’ll soon be back to exploring the world like we did before. Until then, fight off boredom by making some winter travel plans. Here are ten ideas to kickstart your imagination.
1. Guatemala -"Land of Eternal Spring"
For adventurous travelers, Guatemala is a glorious buffet. The Central American nation is home to awe-inspiring Mayan ruins at Tikal. It covers about 2.5 km2 today but about 1,400 years ago 50,000 people lived in the 15.5 km2 area. Lush jungle weaves its way around the area. This area and other northern Guatemalan forests are homes to the Guatemalan black howler monkey (or Yucatan black howler monkey). They are nature’s scariest alarm clock. Some say this monkey’s roar is akin to a passing subway - a subway that takes an hour to pass. Cities and towns are bursting with color and ripe with a seemingly endless number of festivals to celebrate. Guatemala City has a reputation for being dangerous and daring. Moving around Guatemala is easy and cheap. With little effort and small budget, visitors to Guatemala can visit bold galleries in the capital, touch ancient history, hike a volcano, see exotic flora and fauna in a rainforest and relax on the beach. Having trouble finding some adventurous travel companions? Find travel mates down for anything at JoinMyTrip. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in Guatemala costs about 93€/$104.
A sweeping view of Mayan ruins.
2. Uruguay - The Economist's 2013 Country of the Year
A green interior and beachfront coast combine to make Uruguay a special place. This laidback South American nation features hot springs, horseback riding on the vast plains that dot the country and affordable prices. The Salto del Penitente park has days of activities, including ziplining, trekking, rappelling and swimming in waters plunging from a 60-meter-high waterfall. Culture vultures can choose between Montevideo and Punta del Este. Punta del Este was recently modernized, so fans of skyscrapers and contemporary houses will be happy here. While the capital holds onto both its historic architecture and design. Both are bursting with amazing restaurants, festivals, museums, live music, dancing and beaches. However, Punta del Este is a bit cheaper. Uruguay takes beef as seriously as its neighbor Argentina. Small towns and big cities grill up prime beef in its various incarnations. They pair well with a glass of Tannat wine from one of Uruguay’s well-respected wineries. If you can’t think of travel buddy, try JoinMyTrip. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in Uruguay costs about 175€/$195.
Palacio Salvo is a Montevideo landmark
3. Crete - The oldest place in Europe
It makes sense that, Crete, the southernmost Greek island is a self-contained world. For millenia, Crete had its own cuisine, language and leadership; it officially joined Greece in 1913. Of course, there are beaches, steep gorges and impressive relics but there’s also singular ruins, olive groves, imposing White Mountains and wineries in this affordable paradise. All comes with a tiny price tag. Amazing dining is affordable. Towns, such as Rethymno and Lisithi, have held onto their ancient footprints, so visitors can have adventures in the maze of narrow streets. Heraklion is a delightful mix of dirt and beauty. Great restaurants produce Mediterranean cuisine, food loved by doctors and foodies. Budget travelers can experience ancient history, rustic yet vibrant dining and world-class museums. You can always find like-minded travelmates at JoinMyTrip. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in Crete costs about 159€/$177.
Waterfront scene in Heraklion on Crete in Greece for winter tourism
4. Sri Lanka - Exquisite teas and natural beauty
Tucked between India and popular Southeast Asian nations, Sri Lanka is easily overlooked. Big mistake. With very little effort, travelers can experience an interesting and affordable adventures. Visitors can relax on a lush beach, soothe their souls in 2,000-year-old temples, see a myriad of exotic birds and wildflowers, trek through rainforests and dine of aromatic dishes. Surfers and divers have a lot of outstanding options, none of which are standing room only. This affordable island nation boasts eight World Heritage Sites. Adventurous travelers can get up close to elephants and tigers in Udawalawe and Yala national parks, at a price that won’t break their budgets. If this locale is too exotic for your friends, don’t give up. Hit up JoinMyTrip for travelers looking for the road less traveled. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in Sri Lanka costs about 80€/$89.
A golden resident of Yala National Park.
5. Puerto Rico - Birthplace of Reggaetón
After hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico could use some love. The affordable and diverse American territory is open for business and for volunteer opportunities. Fun Fact: In El Yunque National Forest, the United States’ only rainforest, it does, indeed, rain frogs. To be more precise, frogs fall from the sky. The indigenous Coqui frog climbs to the forest canopy. On the way up, predators eat it. To avoid them on the way down, many of these amphibians launch themselves into the air. Culture vultures and bargain hunters can soak up amazing performances and exhibitions in San Juan. History buffs can sit in a session of the Puerto Rican legislature. Puerto Rico is a budget traveler’s dream. Looking for someone to share the experience? Check out JoinMyTrip. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in Puerto Rico costs about 496€/$553.
San Juan’s Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzi is the resting place for many prominent Puerto Ricans.
6. Rwanda - "Land of a Thousand Hills"
Because of a devastating genocidal drive in 1994, Rwanda doesn’t spring to the top of most people’s list of must-sees. That’s a shame, because in the 21 years since the ceasefire, this budget-friendly country has become a technology hub on par with Singapore and an affordable natural wonderland. There is very little crime in a nation blessed with volcanoes, rainforests bursting with primates, birds, leopards, rhinoes and other native beasts and an amazing array of vibrant-colored wildflowers and butterflies. It takes its ecotourism seriously. This central African nation banned plastic bags six years before California. Rwandan cities are marked by bold architecture, greenery and lots of cultural outlets. All of this natural beauty, knowledge and culture comes with a tiny price tag. Find a running buddy at JoinMyTrip. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in Rwanda costs about 136€/$152.
A brilliant sunrise colors Rwanda’s forest
7. Ghana - Rich in cacao and generosity
You know you are in the right place when you’re in a place famous for friendly monkeys. Ghana’s Tafi-Atome Monkey Sanctuary welcomes any size donation. In return visitors get to feed monkeys bananas as they climb all over them and supply the village with electricity. Not far away, budget shoppers can buy textiles woven in front of them. Northern Ghana and southern Ghana are like two different countries. Mole National Park’s elephants and 93 other animal species and savannah attract animal lovers to the north. The southern half holds the modern capital, brimming with highlife music, traditional and modern arts and crafts, world-class sports, cool contemporary fashion, historic institutions and rainforests. Together both halves make an incredible whole. Discover JoinMyTrip and find people like you looking for the next adventure. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in Ghana costs about 20€/$22.
Kwame Nkrumah National Park and Mausoleum draws visitors to central Accra.
8. Málaga, Spain - Art is everywhere
The Phoenicians founded Málaga, Spain, in the 8th century. Eleven centuries later, this port city on Spain’s Costa del Sol created Pablo Picasso. The old and new coexist peacefully. Teatro Romano, a 1st-century Roman theater, and Alcazaba, a Moorish palace and fort built in the 8th century and extensively rebuilt 300 years later, are steps away from the 10-year-old Museum Revello de Toro. This affordable city starts at the Mediterranean and ends at the Malaga Mountains, whose peaks block wintry temps from reaching the city. Of course, there is a Picasso museum but the town is awash in innovative galleries. The inquisitive come for Malaga’s unrivaled street art scene. In 2001, Muelle Uno (Wharf One) opened the seafront to the public. The area features a promenade with an outlet of Paris’ Centre Pompidou, cafes, a cultural center, vertical gardens and shops. With its 300 days of sun each year, Málaga has something for every city lover and every budget. Family and friends not ready to leave the house? JoinMyTrip has lots of people ready to jump into something new. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in Málaga costs about 213€/$237.
A trip down a medieval lane in Málaga's old town
9. Vietnam - A coffee lover's paradise
For a nation ripped apart by a 21-year war, Vietnam’s recovery is commendable. No one will mistake it for Dubai but renewal can be seen in the brand new highway that connects northwestern and northeastern Vietnam, the construction boom has taken over cities and mountain villages, and cool cafes and restaurants popping up everywhere. Da Nang draws world-class surfers to its shores. Vietnam offers adventurers more than 300 caves, including the world’s largest; glorious mountain ranges, dazzling waterways; 4th-century ruins of the Cham people; and historic sites that are ancient and some hail from the times when China and then France ruled the nation. Vietnam has colorful history, food and architecture that fits every budget. If you’re having trouble finding someone to hang with on this trip, turn to JoinMyTrip. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in Vietnam costs about 95€/$106.
Massive trees fights for space in downtown Hanoi
10. New Zealand - Land of Hobbits
Visitors can make New Zealand what they want it to be. Fans of history can focus on the Maori culture. Learn how to carve a pendant from bone or pounamu (the Maori name for a jade-like stone only found in one spot on the South Island), tour forests the indigenous first called home or visit one of several museums dedicated to the Maori people. Travel the forests, mountains, beaches and bays that compose New Zealand. Wellington, the capital, offers a thumping music scene, innovative food trucks and a brilliant harbour. Film lovers can spend weeks scouting the locations used in all the Lord of the Rings films. Turn to JoinMyTrip if you are having trouble finding someone for the long flight. Including accommodation, food and transportation, one week in New Zealand costs about 247€/$275.
Wellington has New Zealand’s only funicular, which is a perfect way to travel during winter vacations
JoinMyTrip is the community that connects travelers and enables them to offer, discover and participate in unique trips around the world.