For as long as those with backpacks have travelled, the most enticing places to visit have been those that remain untouched by mass tourism. The places where the locals are intrigued by visitors and are happy to chat away and share their knowledge of their country and find out why you are there.
As places become more popular they slowly lose some of this magic, prices rise and the crowds take away some of the thrill that comes from that sense of unknown. Locals also start to turn from intrigued friends to travel industry professionals who want to squeeze you for every dime.
Places like that rarely exist in today's increasingly shrinking world, but you can find them if you look hard enough. Here are five destinations for every backpacker's wish list that are still at the brink of discovery by tourists.
After almost 50 years of an unofficial tourist boycott and little influence from the western world, some of Burma can feel like you have stepped back in time. Whilst much of Asia has somewhat lost the ability to give backpackers that sense of exploration, much of Burma still feels very exciting and new. Highlights of the country include the thousands of stunning temples in Bagan, Inle Lake and its captivating culture of the Intha people and the glorious palm fringed beach of Ngapali.
For a country like Burma, which has such cultural richness and appeal, it won't be long before people catch on. Already the big hotel chains are edging their way in, and with that will come the tour groups. Get there soon to be enchanted by this magical place.
"Bagan Temples" by KX Studio is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Another emerging destination on the backpackers map is Nicaragua. With the government investing in the infrastructure and services it won't be long before the crowds start to flood in to see it's dramatic volcanoes, incredible colonial cities and beautiful Caribbean beaches with their glistening white sands.
For the time being though, it is a place for the adventurous backpacker to seek out unique experiences. The cheapest place in Central America, backpackers can enjoy fantastically luxurious accommodation options, great food, and fantastic attractions at next to nothing prices.
"Otto Beach - Little Corn Island - Nicaragua" by Brian Johnson & Dane Kanter is licensed under CC BY 2.0
For the intrepid traveller Algeria is a haven. Cheaper than its more popular neighbours, Tunisia and Morocco, the largest country in Africa is as diverse as it is big with an endless Mediterranean coastline to explore, the magnificent Sahara desert, dramatic mountain scenery and the city of Algiers with its Roman ruins and French colonial architecture.
A ten year brutal civil war took Algeria off the map for tourists and indeed even very recently, only escorted trips with official guides were permitted for foreign travellers. Things are slowly changing though and whilst it would be an overstatement to say that there are going to be masses of crowds arriving in the next couple of years, it surely won't be long before the people of Algeria identify the potential that this fantastic country has for tourists.
"Algerien_4_0035" by Patrick Gruban is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Macedonia, a landlocked country in the Balkans, has for years been overlooked as a destination in favour of neighbouring Turkey and Greece but it has recently got people talking and is very much an up and coming destination for travellers from all over the world.
Macedonia has some beautiful destinations such as the vibrant capital city Skopje and Ochid, a stunning town that nestles alongside the 34km Lake Orchid with over 300 churches. The country has incredible natural beauty and is great for the outdoors lover with three incredible national parks and stunning mountain ranges.
The Macedonian government are aware of the potential that the country has for tourism and have recently given the capital city of Skopje a controversial makeover in order to make it more visitor friendly. Get to this fantastic country, which is affordable, beautiful and accessible, soon before prices rise and its popularity begins to soar.
"Abandoned Church" by Rilind Hoxha is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Sri Lanka has everything for the backpacker; incredible culture, beautiful beaches and plenty of cheap accommodation. Being a small country it is easy to get around with some of the most scenic train journeys in the world through stunning tea plantations and quaint colonial towns. The people of Sri Lanka are warm and kind and always want to chat and know where you are from and where you are going.
Though tourism has steadily been increasing in the country for several years now, for the time being Sri Lanka still remains free of big crowds. However, new roads, and a shiny new regional airport and conference centre near Yala National Park have recently been built to help increase the appeal of the country after decades of civil wars and regional disasters have put travellers off visiting. As more and more people see the beauty of this country, word will surely get out and the country will begin to draw in the crowds.
Photo by Tom McLoughlin
Whilst it's almost impossible to find anywhere in the world which is totally untouched by tourism, these countries still offer a taste of the explorer to go with their unmissable attractions. Make sure they're high on your backpacking bucket list as they might not stay this way for much longer...Suggest a correction