Features // Off the beaten track

Marvellous Mexico: 8 insider tips from our authors
Marvellous Mexico: 8 insider tips from our authors

Surviving 42ºC (107ºF) desert heat, tramping hurricane-battered Pacific beaches and scaling lofty volcanoes, our hard-travelling authors have visited every corner of this vast, magnificent country – from the ancient caves of Baja California to the dense rainforest of the Lacandón Jungle. To celebrate the publication of the new Rough Guide to Mexico, we’re sharing a few…

These six European-style towns are actually in Shanghai
These six European-style towns are actually in Shanghai

Wherever you go in downtown Shanghai, you’ll be struck by international influence both past and present. From the leafy avenues of the former French Concession to the modern malls on Nanjing West Road, this is a city that grew up with globalisation. For a different – and less crowded – take on cosmopolitanism, head to…

Okinawa: Japan’s best-kept secret
Okinawa: Japan’s best-kept secret

Snow-white beaches, giant coconut-eating crabs and karate-loving grannies: Okinawa is Japan but not as we know it. This alluring chain of sun-kissed, hibiscus-draped islands offers a blend of Southeast Asian heat, unique ‘un-Japanese’ culture and delicious, life-extending food. Andy Turner explores how to make the most of a trip to Japan’s subtropical paradise. Find the…

The best places to get off the tourist trail in Rome 
The best places to get off the tourist trail in Rome 

Ticked off Rome’s big sights and wondering where to go next? Natasha Foges picks some of the city’s off-the-beaten track highlights. Lose yourself in the Quartiere Coppedè There’s so much to grab tourists’ attention in central Rome that a magical spot like the Quartiere Coppedè can go unnoticed. Tucked away in the Trieste quarter (tram…

17 striking portraits of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley tribes
17 striking portraits of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley tribes

Renowned the world over for its decorated tribes, the Omo Valley is a stop on many a tourist route in Ethiopia. But visits to the area can cross ethical boundaries, and few tourists are allowed the pleasure of a genuine experience with local people. Here, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper tells us about his experience photographing…

11 tips for travelling in Greece
11 tips for travelling in Greece

Although the news has been full of negative stories about the financial and immigrant crises which have engulfed Greece in recent years, there are still many reasons to visit this delightful country. From its stunning beaches and superb mountain scenery to great food and, above all, its warm Hellenic welcome. Here, co-author of the Rough Guide to Greece,…

11 fascinating French châteaux you might never have heard of
11 fascinating French châteaux you might never have heard of

There are few more quintessentially French views than castle turrets stretching up into a clear blue sky. From the gracious châteaux of the Loire to majestic palaces like Versailles, the country’s castles mark its landscapes, reveal its history and draw visitors from around the world. To celebrate the publication of the new Rough Guide to…

7 must-visit places in Spain you’ve probably never considered
7 must-visit places in Spain you’ve probably never considered

Spain’s massive size means that it’s thankfully not as hard as you might expect to wander off the well-beaten tourist track. Whether it’s quiet coves, tucked away old villages or eerie landscapes you’re after, here are seven places that you’ve probably never heard of but really should visit in Spain. 1. Las Alpujarras, Andalucía South…

13 tips for backpacking India
13 tips for backpacking India

Whether you’re hurtling along in a rickshaw, eating fantastic curries, kicking back on the backwaters or hiking in the mountains, backpacking India will always be an adventure. You’ll need your wits about you, and preparation is key – here are our top tips to making your journey as smooth as possible. 1. Eat where the locals eat Restaurant…

10 of the world’s most epic marathons
10 of the world’s most epic marathons

Running along the Great Wall of China, jogging across the African savannah and racing through the Amazon are some of the exhilarating marathon experiences now on offer around the globe. From coastal routes in Jamaica and California to challenging courses in the blazing Sahara and freezing Polar Circle, a growing number of endurance events provide…

10 big first-time travel questions answered
10 big first-time travel questions answered

The world is flat. Or so the thinking went, until someone actually went off to circumnavigate it. You may not make such a colossal discovery during your own global journey, but what awaits you “out there” is something only you can find: your very own adventure. Who knows, you may just find a best friend,…

20 things to do on your first round-the-world trip
20 things to do on your first round-the-world trip

Planning your first trip around the world can be daunting. There’s an awful lot to discover out there, from retina-burning white beaches tapering off into gin-clear waters to mountain ranges hiding echo-bending canyons and fascinating wildlife. To celebrate publication of the new edition of the Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World, packed with tips and…

Why you should choose a road trip for your next adventure
Why you should choose a road trip for your next adventure

After a road trip through Uruguay, Greg Dickinson discovers the joys of self-drive. Alright, hands up. Fuel is pricey, driving abroad is stressful and travelling long distances by car is damaging to the environment. You may as well just do what you always do; book up some flights, buses and trains and be done with it.…

Video: top 5 things to do in Kerala
Video: top 5 things to do in Kerala

We sent Rough Guides editor Rachel Mills to the southernmost tip of the Indian Subcontinent to research Kerala for the upcoming Rough Guide to India. From tea estates in lush green hills to sultry palm-fringed backwaters, plus a host of deserted beaches, she dove beneath the surface and immersed herself in the region’s natural wonders, lavish festivals and heavenly South Indian…

Nanyuki: the Kenyan town where your Valentine’s roses are grown
Nanyuki: the Kenyan town where your Valentine’s roses are grown

When you receive your Valentine’s bouquet this year, will you wonder where it came from? Probably not, but it’s possible your flowers are better travelled than you. Sitting just below the horn of Africa, Kenya is the largest exporter of flowers to the European Union, meaning your pretty petals may have crossed equators and oceans…

11 of the world’s hardest mountains to climb
11 of the world’s hardest mountains to climb

It’s not just height that makes a mountain mean. Different routes can make one side of a mountain a cinch and the other side nearly impossible. The weather can turn a technically easy climb into a deadly expedition. But whatever the weather, many aspire to tackle the world’s hardest mountains to climb. Here’s our ranking of the 11…

Beneath the Mountain of God: Tanzania’s Lake Natron
Beneath the Mountain of God: Tanzania’s Lake Natron

Just a stone’s throw from some of Africa’s most celebrated safari destinations, the astonishing Lake Natron remains irresistibly isolated and under-explored. But with so much to offer and with the world outside drawing ever nearer, Christopher Clark is left wondering what the future holds for this hidden highlight. The air seems hotter and drier with…

6 reasons to visit Bogotá: South America’s underrated capital
6 reasons to visit Bogotá: South America’s underrated capital

Polluted, rainy and business-orientated. Let’s face it, a trip to Bogotá hardly sounds appealing. And many travellers don’t bother to probe much further than this bleak reputation, seeing Bogotá either as somewhere to be skipped out altogether, or as merely a logistical blot on a more exciting itinerary. Other Latin American cities such as Buenos…

Why now’s the time to visit Nottingham, England
Why now’s the time to visit Nottingham, England

It may not feature on top of everyone’s British city bucket list, but it’s time to see this East Midlands city in a new light. Nottingham boasts a slew of new attractions for 2016, a recently expanded tram network and a burgeoning independent arts scene. Plus, in the year when the stalwart British fashion designer…

Emilia-Romagna: Tuscany without the crowds
Emilia-Romagna: Tuscany without the crowds

Blame Frances Mayes. Ever since she penned Under the Tuscan Sun twenty years ago the region has seen an unstoppable influx of English and American tourists descend on the area, which has left neighbouring regions, with just as much to offer, decidedly in the shade. Emilia-Romagna, home to an officially designated ‘Food Valley’, the majority…

16 captivating pictures of hill tribes in Laos
16 captivating pictures of hill tribes in Laos

Professional travel photographer Tim Draper has shot images for 24 Rough Guides guidebooks, visiting far-flung corners around the world. Here he shares some of his stunning shots taken in northern Laos, where he spent time with the Akha people. I‘d been trudging steadily uphill through dense jungle in heavy rain for over seven hours when I caught…

10 of the best weekend breaks in the UK
10 of the best weekend breaks in the UK

From city breaks to romantic countryside escapes, options for short trips in the UK abound. Whether you’re looking to get active, overindulge or just chill out, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our pick of the best weekend breaks in the UK. Need more inspiration? We’ve also rounded up 20 of the most memorable places to stay. Best for romance:…

Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?
Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Situated at the northern and southern extremes of this long, thin country, Vietnam’s two main cities lie over a thousand kilometres apart. Southern Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), formerly Saigon, was the US base during the Vietnam War and since the country’s unification has transformed into a thoroughly modern, thriving metropolis. The somewhat less modern…

Why the Northern Cape is one of South Africa’s must-see destinations
Why the Northern Cape is one of South Africa’s must-see destinations

The Northern Cape, home to diamond mining capital Kimberley and wilderness of the Kalahari Desert, remains South Africa’s least visited province. But it just doesn’t make sense, according to writer Meera Dattani. Here she tells us why it’s one of South Africa’s top destinations. So why should I go? If empty roads flanked by saltpans, sand dunes,…

7 must-visit places in Scotland you’ve probably never heard of
7 must-visit places in Scotland you’ve probably never heard of

Scotland sports such a strong selection of tourist attractions – from castles and cabers to kilts and whisky – it’s easy to forget that there is much more to this land. Venture away from the cities and you’ll find that Scotland holds over ten percent of Europe’s coastline and almost 300 mountains over 3000ft-tall. Ready to explore?…

Trekking in Thailand: the best routes
Trekking in Thailand: the best routes

Thailand is ripe for trekking. From its dripping, pristine rainforests to its towering, mist-enveloped mountains, there is a landscape that just begs you to get out on two feet and explore. But the real joy of trekking in Thailand here is nothing to do with the scenery, it’s the people that make every step count, from…

10 great reasons to visit Northern Ireland
10 great reasons to visit Northern Ireland

It has often had to play second fiddle to its southern neighbour, but Northern Ireland offers a diversity of attractions that frequently confounds first-time visitors. Rejuvenated and irrepressible, Belfast now rivals any of the UK’s capital cities, but in addition, the country manifests superb natural heritage – including one of the world’s great coastal road…

6 incredible journeys in South America
6 incredible journeys in South America

South America is blessed with some of the most astonishing landscapes on earth. This dynamic continent has enthralled travellers for centuries with its array of natural wonders, ancient ruins and modern metropolises. It holds some of the world’s most impressive beaches, most fascinating cultures and most thrilling adventure activities. But one of the greatest joys…

Strange lands: the eternally-burning fires of Central Asia
Strange lands: the eternally-burning fires of Central Asia

In far-off lands, largely undiscovered by travellers today, there are fires eternally burning; some natural and some man-made. These impressive fire craters can be found across Central Asia, fed by the vast oil reserves that lie beneath this region. They’ve featured in both local folklore and Hollywood movies as the entrances to Hell. If you’re…

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand
Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Thailand is the quintessential backpacker destination. Here you can make the first footprints on secluded sands, dance shoeless under a full moon and swim beneath cascading waterfalls. Running through Thailand’s rainforests and temples and looping around its islands and beaches is the so-called “banana pancake trail”, a well-worn, tried and tested backpacker route that has…

The other Bali: an alternative guide to the Island of Gods
The other Bali: an alternative guide to the Island of Gods

Beyond the mystical sounds of gamelan and the intricate craft of batik, Bali boasts a world of subcultures often overlooked by visitors. The art makes bold statements, nightlife sometimes involves a new tattoo, and music is anything but serene. On an island where locals are often denied entry from bars and clubs, an experience off…

15 beguiling pictures of Uganda
15 beguiling pictures of Uganda

I’m an Aussie girl and have been living and working in Uganda for the past fifteen years. Apart from my “regular” day job, I’m also a freelance photographer. I arrived in Uganda in August 2000, with my husband, after an eight-month 4×4 overland journey we started in London, in December 1999. It was during this journey I…

Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors
Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

A country in the throes of massive change, Sri Lanka’s heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle has only cropped up on travellers’ radars in recent years, following the end of the country’s 26-year-long civil war in 2009. With more tourists…

Copenhagen’s best kept secret: Retro Bobby’s arcade barbershop
Copenhagen’s best kept secret: Retro Bobby’s arcade barbershop

Bobby’s mullet blows in the wind as he pilots his dinky motorcycle down Copenhagen‘s cobbled backstreets. Wobbling past kebab shops and contemporary design stores on his way to work, he looks like a living relic from a bygone era: the 1980s. A turtleneck peeks out from beneath his blue denim jacket, which perfectly matches the…

Your Southeast Asia itinerary: 8 ideas for exploring the region
Your Southeast Asia itinerary: 8 ideas for exploring the region

You can’t expect to fit everything Southeast Asia has to offer into one trip – or two or three or four, to be fair – and we don’t suggest you try. So, to help you start planning, we’ve put together 8 ideas for your Southeast Asia itinerary from The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget. For those taking a big, extended…

Bolivia’s most beautiful journeys
Bolivia’s most beautiful journeys

As T.S. Eliot once said, “The journey, not the arrival, matters,” and nowhere is this truer than travelling in Bolivia. Here, we’ve picked five of the most beautiful travel routes through the country. Follow these to witness some of the finest scenery Bolivia has to offer. For magnificent mountains: La Paz to Copacabana Mode of transport: Bus…

15 things everybody learns backpacking in Southeast Asia
15 things everybody learns backpacking in Southeast Asia

From psychedelic milkshakes to overloaded tuk-tuks, there are some things everybody comes across when backpacking in Southeast Asia. Whether you spent the brunt of your time beaching, boozing, motorcycling, meditating or trying to see it all – here are 15 things you likely learned. 1. Getting from A to B is surprisingly fun All-night bus rides with bad action movies…

Isla de las Muñecas: Mexico’s terrifying island of haunted dolls
Isla de las Muñecas: Mexico’s terrifying island of haunted dolls

They hang from trees and clothes lines. Bits of plastic bodies jammed onto fenceposts and nailed to cabin doors, decaying heads strewn among the island’s greenery, gazing at visitors through insect-infested eye-sockets. Welcome to Mexico‘s Isla de las Muñecas, or Island of Dolls. Located deep in Xochimilco, a borough just 28km south of Mexico City, the Isla de las Muñecas…

10 things everyone learns travelling solo
10 things everyone learns travelling solo

Ask anyone who’s ever travelled solo, and they probably wouldn’t want to adventure any other way. It might be daunting at first, and it’s certainly simpler for some people than it is for others. But spending time alone on the road is among the most rewarding travel experiences out there. Whether it’s a long trip…

Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks
Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks

On the face of it, Scandinavia isn’t a very sensible place for a holiday. For one thing, it’s almost always going to be colder than the place you’re leaving behind. And when it comes to basics like food and accommodation, it’s probably more expensive too. But if you don’t mind throwing a few warm jumpers…

A trip to remember: 7 uniquely Scottish experiences
A trip to remember: 7 uniquely Scottish experiences

There’s nowhere quite like Scotland. This epic land of mighty mountains, plunging glens and surging rivers offers a sweep of experiences that you just cannot find anywhere else. If you’ve ever wanted to have your own kilt fitted, canoe down a river fuelled by a wee dram or hop on Europe’s only scheduled flight to land…

21 pictures of Iceland to make you swoon
21 pictures of Iceland to make you swoon

Iceland‘s landscapes look different from every angle and at every time of day. Whether it’s a late-morning sunrise in the middle of winter, or the aurora borealis dancing in the skies above a glassy lake, the country produces vistas that make even the most travel-weary adventurers say “wow”. The climate can be challenging, but the rewards are plenty –…

7 signs it’s time to book your next trip
7 signs it’s time to book your next trip

Is life at home getting you down? Each day starting to feel like a track repeat? Perhaps you’re thinking about giving it all up – selling the worldly possessions you’ve accumulated in exchange for the freedom of the road? We feel for you. But before you actually do quit your job, sell your house or abandon your beloved…

Biking the Balkans – the video that will kickstart your wanderlust
Biking the Balkans – the video that will kickstart your wanderlust

Have you ever wanted to just set off? To grab your bag and go – with no map, no partner, no fixed address. In our video of the week, online entrepreneur Jacob Laukaitis does just that. Travelling from Lithuania to Greece and back with a GoPro Hero 4 strapped to his chest, Laukaitis journeyed across…

Undiscovered Southeast Asia: 9 places to get off the tourist trail
Undiscovered Southeast Asia: 9 places to get off the tourist trail

Southeast Asia is the quintessential backpacker destination – all noodle stands, grungy hostels and full moon parties, right? Not necessarily. There are still plenty of authentic Southeast Asian escapes. You just need to know where to find them. Start here. 1. Trek the path less followed in Umphang, Thailand Want to trek Thailand in peace?…

9 of the best road trips in Europe
9 of the best road trips in Europe

From the sunny shores of Portugal to the darkest dungeons of Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, the following itineraries can be easily combined, shortened, or altered to suit your wayfaring tastes. If you’ve got wheels, wanderlust and a spot of time, here’s some adventure fuel. Start your engines: these are the best road trips in Europe.…

Quiz: where should you go on your next road trip?
Quiz: where should you go on your next road trip?

Is the open road calling you? Are you craving a holiday behind the wheel? If so, we’re here to help. This quiz will help you pick the perfect road trip, whether you want to embark on one of the world’s most famous drives or strike out into the wilderness.

The best places to catch late summer sun in Europe
The best places to catch late summer sun in Europe

The days might be getting noticeably shorter and the crowds might be dispersing – but that doesn’t mean summer in Europe is coming to close. There’s still plenty of sun to be found if you know where to look. Whether you’re after balmy beaches or a relaxed city break, this is our pick of the best places for late summer sun…

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