In a recent survey, we asked travellers to lift the lid on the world’s most underrated travel destinations. We’re talking about stand-out locations that are often overlooked in favour of well-travelled roads.
It came as no surprise that many readers responded to our request with a firm "no way!". It's natural for travellers to want to keep their favourite places to themselves, especially as many are mindful of over-tourism. That said, hundreds of you did chose to share, and there's plenty of travel inspo to be found in the 10 most cited underrated places.
The words of one respondent pretty much sum up the reasons: “I loved Montenegro, which is friendly and fascinating. The country and coastline were stunning and the history of the country is incredible too”.
With gorgeous beaches, medieval villages that exude fairy-tale charm, and spectacular natural attractions – think towering mountains and lily-speckled lakes – it’s fair to say Montenegro won’t stay underrated for long.
If this sounds like your kind of destination, you might want to act fast. Before taking the plunge, wise up with our first-timers guide to Montenegro and find inspiration in our run-down of things not to miss in Montenegro.
The country certainly offers an abundance of experiences and beautiful areas to explore.
While we suggest visiting the Mekong Delta in 2023, one reader praised “Đà Nẵng in central Vietnam — fantastic beach, great food and nightlife”.
Meanwhile, other travellers shared lasting memories of immersive travel experiences, such as “a homestay in the mountains of Vietnam”.
From safariing in style in Etosha National Park, to finding shipwrecks on the Skeleton Coast, Namibia boasts a richness of unforgettable experiences that saw you rank it one of the world’s most underrated destinations.
One respondent enthused: “Namibia’s landscapes are incredible - and the sunsets are something else. There’s nowhere better on the planet for a sundowner.”
Namibia was described as a place that's "serious about conservation", and the place to go to experience "the joy of being on the open road".
It's certainly a fabulous destination for an epic self-drive trip, with a plethora of parks and reserves celebrated for their wildlife and extraordinary wilderness landscapes.
Rough Guides tip: if you’re tempted by safari in Namibia, note that only Etosha National Park hosts large numbers of “big game”.
With over 650 species, Namibia is also a dream destination for bird-watchers. Peak times for avian activity are during the Nov–April rainy season. Meanwhile, migrants from Europe and other parts of Africa usually arrive in October and stay until April.
- To get a sense of Namibia’s breadth, browse our self-drive itinerary.
Find out for yourself
“Totally friendly people, good healthy food, and beautiful, peaceful scenery”. These are some of the reasons travellers ranked Guatemala as an underrated destination.
A few respondents highlighted, “Tikal, Guatemala. Just fantastic to view from the air!”
Designated by UNESCO as one of the most important archaeological complexes left by the Maya civilization, Tikal isn't exactly undiscovered. But, in the grand scheme of global attractions, it’s fair to say it remains relatively lesser visited.
Beyond Tikal, Guatemala offers visitors plenty of one-of-a-kind experiences.
How about cruising the jungle-cloaked gorges of Guatemala’s “sweet river” (Río Dulce), or being wowed by Volcán de Pacaya — one of Central America’s most active volcanoes? It's fair to say, Guatemala is an extraordinary destination.
Memories of enjoying outstanding adventures in the great outdoors saw Argentina hailed the world’s sixth most underrated holiday destination.
Among the natural wonders you highlighted, Iguazu Falls was praised for being “magnificent and awe inspiring". And we can’t argue with that.
Straddling the border between Argentina and Brazil, and comprised of over 250 cascades, these might just be the most dramatic waterfalls in the world.
A number of you also waxed lyrical about Perito Moreno National Park. Like Iguazu Falls, visiting the eponymous glacier here is one of the most spectacular things to do in Argentina.
Back on the more beaten track, Buenos Aires was rated for being beautiful and buzzy.
Feeling inspired to visit Argentina? Don’t overlook the fact that this diverse country also boasts a number of beautiful beaches.
South and Central America certainly fared very well in our survey, with Chile pipping Argentina and Guatemala to be ranked the fifth most underrated holiday destination in the world.
And, as with Argentina, it was Chile’s awe-inspiring natural attractions and relaxing atmosphere that stole travellers' hearts, “, especially their fiords”.
It really is a jaw-droppingly epic destination for explorer types, with the twin-peaked Cerro Monte Almirante Nieto at its glacial heart.
- Our Wild Patagonia trip covers Torres del Paine, Chile, and Perito Moreno, Argentina.
Find out for yourself
4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Not only is Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia the world’s biggest temple complex, but it also garnered a stack of glowing praise in our survey: “it’s amazing and fascinating, more than matched my expectations”.
Scattered over four hundred square kilometres between the Tonle Sap lake and the Kulen Mountains, the temples of Angkor are remarkable for their size, number, and incredible artistry.
As a result, it’s easy to see why visiting this extraordinary site is one of the best things to do in Cambodia.
Unsurprisngly, this is also Cambodia’s most popular tourist attraction, but – armed with the right know-how – it's possible to see Angkor Wat without the crowds.
If escaping crowds is one of your travel priorities, find out why you should visit Battambang, Cambodia — it's quiet, creative, and loaded with lush countryside.
Fascinating culture, and awe-inspiring architecture and landscapes loomed large in respondents' appraisal of Jordan as one of the world’s most underrated holiday destinations.
Bagging third place, many travellers especially loved Petra for being “a beautiful site with lots of opportunity to explore hidden trails”.
Given that this magnificent ancient city is a unique marvel, it goes without saying that visiting Petra is one of the best things to do in Jordan.
Rough Guides tip for Jerash: time your visit to coincide with the Roman-style chariot racing that’s staged in the hippodrome.
Where to begin?! Respondents waxed lyrical about many areas of Peru, with one overriding theme emerging from your passionate remarks — authentic travel experiences.
We're talking immersive homestays far from the madding crowds. Discovering your new favourite fast food in a local market. Visiting the country’s pre-Incan sites in the company of a local guide.
Rough Guides tip: when visiting Lake Titicaca, don’t pass up the chance to visit the Uros islands – it’s one of the best things to do in Peru.
Back on the more beaten track, a number of you shared postive experiences of Lima. Home to over nine million people, with a UNESCO-listed core, it's diverse, dynamic and presents a fascinating unfiltered version of Peru.
1. Indonesia — the world’s most underrated holiday destination
And now for the top spot — you voted Indonesia the world’s most underrated holiday destination.
You also endorsed Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, with one respondent waxing lyrical about “spending the day with the Komodo dragon in Surabaya Zoo!”
Bali was another beloved spot, with a few of you well and truly bowled over by “Ubud in Bali — just wow!”. You also really rated Garuda Vishnu Cultural Park.
Unsurprisingly, many respondents also expressed love for Bail's beaches.
For balance, discover the world's most overrated tourist attractions — as voted by Rough Guides' readers.
And for more insights from your fellow travellers, discover the friendliest countries in the world.
Looking for inspiration for your 2023 travels? Read the Rough Guide to the best travel destinations for 2023.
Not keen on spending hours trip-planning? Check out our tailor-made trips — we'll match you with a local expert who'll do all the research and booking for you.
Header image: Banda Islands, Indonesia © Shutterstock