Features // Off the beaten track

On the road again – travel thoughts from Simon Reeve
On the road again – travel thoughts from Simon Reeve

Bestselling author, TV presenter and insatiable traveller, Simon Reeve has visited more than 110 countries in his time. Drawn to far-flung, mysterious and often troubled places, he is an expert at chronicling the lives of the people he encounters along the way. He is best known for the BBC series Tropic of Capricorn, Tropic of…

Santa Cruz: gateway to an alternative Bolivia
Santa Cruz: gateway to an alternative Bolivia

A new direct flight route from Europe to Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia could open up another side to the country writes Neil McQuillian. Travellers setting off on a South American tour rarely make Bolivia their first port of call. But as non-stop flights between Europe and the county restarted again last November (with Air Europa),…

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…

Travelling the Silk Road in Uzbekistan
Travelling the Silk Road in Uzbekistan

While the Chinese stretch of the Silk Road is world famous, the central Asian section is far less travelled but has no less to see. Kiki Deere describes travelling the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, from post-Soviet Tashkent, through the beautiful blue-tiled city of Samarkand, to unspoilt Bukhara. I peered out of the window of our…

Extreme mountain biking in Ladakh, India
Extreme mountain biking in Ladakh, India

Mountain biking at altitude in the Himalayan region of Ladakh in northern India takes your breath away, writes Alasdair Baverstock. At the truck thundered towards us on the narrow dirt road, tossing boulders down the steep mountainside in its wake, Sonam Norbu took both hands off the wheel and fumbled for his lighter. Unimpressed by…

11 pictures of Morocco at its most magical
11 pictures of Morocco at its most magical

Our roaming author and photographer Anthon Jackson has travelled to over eighty countries, from journeying across Iran and Egypt to researching for Rough Guides in Indonesia and India. Here he shares some of his favourite images of Morocco, a country with “plenty of dreamy spots to wander around with a camera.” “On my first visit to Morocco it…

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 –…

Camel trekking into the depths of the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia
Camel trekking into the depths of the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Following in the footsteps of the late explorer and travel writer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, Rough Guides writer Anthon Jackson takes to the back of a camel across the Danakil Depression, in pursuit of Lake Abhe Bad on the Ethiopia-Djibouti border.  Just after dawn on our fourth day in the dusty frontier town of Asaita, Go’obo,…

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

The good news for travellers to Greece is this: ignore the crisis headlines. Away from the grim scenes in central Athens, life goes on as normal; there’s little sign of impending doom, instead it’s consistent blue skies, clear water and good cheer. These tips are the accumulated wisdom of avid Hellenophile Marc Perry, after three trips…

Ten unforgettable things to do in Namibia
Ten unforgettable things to do in Namibia

From a deserted town to enormous sand dunes and sunset cocktails above the city, here are ten unforgettable things to see and do in Namibia. Hike Fish River Canyon Second only in size to America’s Grand Canyon, Namibia’s Fish River Canyon is one of Africa’s unsung wonders. Starting just south of Seeheim, it winds 161km…

Uncovering France’s hidden charms in the Dordogne
Uncovering France’s hidden charms in the Dordogne

During three weeks in the Dordogne and the Lot researching The Rough Guide to France, I clocked up over three thousand kilometres on the road – equivalent to driving from London to Istanbul – climbing up steep single-lane tracks to isolated hamlets, negotiating bizarre one-way systems, and zipping down empty country roads where every corner revealed…

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…

Getting technical: the best travel apps and websites for 2014
Getting technical: the best travel apps and websites for 2014

Smartphones and tablets have become an essential item in our backpacks nowadays, especially as wi-fi is pretty much everywhere and roaming charges are soon to be scrapped in Europe. If you’re going away in 2014, make sure you’re in the know with the best travel apps and websites for your trip: 1. CityMapper Got a…

Puerta Cerradas: eating with locals in Buenos Aires
Puerta Cerradas: eating with locals in Buenos Aires

Think Argentina is all rump steak and raunchy – not to mention randy – gauchos? Then it’s time to discover the latest craze in buzzy Buenos Aires as puertas cerradas are revolutionising the city’s eating habits. “You get together in their living room and talk to all these people you’ve never met while the home owner is cooking…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Up and coming: Savamala, Belgrade
Up and coming: Savamala, Belgrade

On a walking tour through the city, travel writer Mary Novakovich discovers regeneration in one of Belgrade‘s oldest neighbourhoods, Savamala. From buzzing clubs to a new four-star hotel, Savamala is picking itself up after years of leaving its buildings to decay.  Heavy lorries rumble noisily past, adding to the dust rising from the road works…

Discovering musical stars in rural Rajasthan
Discovering musical stars in rural Rajasthan

The state of Rajasthan – a land route for trade and culture between the Arab world and Asia – could obsess a musicologist for an entire lifetime. With the right guidance, at every five paces you can meet singing genealogists and poetic percussionists, flute-playing farmers and dancing snake priests, living alongside child stars and living…

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…

Quirky Tokyo: the top 10 things to do
Quirky Tokyo: the top 10 things to do

With its sushi and sumo, pop culture and age-old tradition, serene gardens and traffic hell, Tokyo bombards the senses like no other city. Ordered yet bewildering, Japan’s pulsating capital will lead you a merry dance – but being lost has never been so much fun. The planet’s largest metropolis is Asia at its weirdest, straightest,…

10 reasons to pack your bags for Tasmania
10 reasons to pack your bags for Tasmania

Tasmania has shaken off its reputation as a sleepy backwater. Australia’s smallest state is buzzing with art, nurturing an exciting foodie scene and cutting the ribbon on new hiking trails – all against a backdrop of rich history and remarkable wildlife. Here, Anita Isalska gives ten reasons why you should give in to the island’s lure. …

Exploring Slovenia’s diverse coastline
Exploring Slovenia’s diverse coastline

The third part in our Slovenia In Four Seasons feature sees Senior Web Editor Tim Chester explore the country in August. Check out our trips from the winter and the spring too. Think of the northern Adriatic and you’d be forgiven for thinking of Italy – of Venice, Rimini, and Trieste – or Croatia, whose…

17 things you must see and do in Croatia
17 things you must see and do in Croatia

Planning a trip to Croatia and wondering which 17 things you shouldn’t miss? Always thought about Croatia for a holiday but never knew what it had to offer? Allow us to present our favourite things to see and do in the European gem.

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?…

Kashmir: paradise with imperfections
Kashmir: paradise with imperfections

After an unforgettable first trip to Kashmir, India, in 1990, Nick Edwards returned to research the area for recent editions of the Rough Guide to India and found some things unchanged, while others quite different. Ever since being mesmerised by the symphonic juggernaut of Led Zeppelin’s epic track in the mid-seventies, the name Kashmir held a…

9 famous explorers whose travels put yours to shame
9 famous explorers whose travels put yours to shame

You may be well-travelled, but can you call yourself an explorer? From circumnavigating the world along its polar axis to trekking across the Australian outback, these famous explorers really know how to make the most of their time on earth. They’re brave, bold and fearless – the perfect inspiration for the trip of a lifetime.…

12 tips for backpacking through Europe
12 tips for backpacking through Europe

Taken from the Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget, these are our top 12 tips for backpacking through Europe. Europe has it all: sprawling cities and quaint villages; boulevards, promenades and railways; mountains, beaches and lakes. Some places will be exactly how you imagined: Venice is everything it’s cracked up to be; springtime in…

5 magical getaways fit for an Airbnb king
5 magical getaways fit for an Airbnb king

Airbnb continues to excite travellers in their quest for the perfect accommodation. With scores of rentals across the globe, kipping on someone’s sofa or crashing in the spare room is no longer the only option available to weary travellers. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live like a Lord or Lady, you…

In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica
In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica

Kris Griffiths takes a tour of the birthplace of reggae, following in the footsteps of Jamaica’s most famous son, Bob Marley, on what would have been his 70th birthday. Reggae music was born in the downtrodden townships of this Caribbean island. It’s a genre that has managed to captivate most of the globe with its bouncing…

A titillating tour of the world’s finest sex museums
A titillating tour of the world’s finest sex museums

Sex museums are nothing new. Dozens were erected across Europe during the Swinging Sixties when the sexual revolution was in full swing. These days the orgy of sex museums has slowed to a mere mouthful, though they have been stimulated by a new breed of ‘erotic’ museum that aims to steer more towards art than…

Havana: the city where time stopped short
Havana: the city where time stopped short

Gilly Pickup discovers the enduring allure of Cuba’s bright and breezy capital, Havana, the island’s cultural heart. Havana’s effervescence is palpable. The city is reminiscent of an old picture postcard come to life – awash with faded grandeur and crumbling ice-cream coloured buildings. Bartenders mix up mojitos in time to the hip-swaying, hypnotic sounds of salsa…

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…

The untouched coast of southern Myanmar (Burma)
The untouched coast of southern Myanmar (Burma)

While researching the new Rough Guide to Myanmar (Burma), Jo James discovered the Tanintharyi Division – a blissful corner of the country that has only recently opened up to travellers. As we coasted downhill towards the village I tried, briefly and unsuccessfully, to suppress a grin. The road ahead curved along a soft sweep of sand.…

Derby: the unsung hero of the Midlands
Derby: the unsung hero of the Midlands

Lottie Gross puts her preconceptions aside and discovers why Derby might be one of the UK’s most misjudged cities. When I told my friends I was planning a trip to Derby I got one of two reactions: mocking laughter, or looks of utter confusion. I have to admit, it’s never even been a consideration on…

Hidden New York: 5 little-known sights
Hidden New York: 5 little-known sights

We’ve just published a brand new Pocket Rough Guide to New York City, and thought we’d share a sneak preview. Want to shun the crowds? Here are five places to explore hidden New York.  No superlative, no cliché does New York City justice. It may not serve as the official capital of the US or even…

Chefchaouen: Morocco’s best-kept secret
Chefchaouen: Morocco’s best-kept secret

Morocco’s tourist track isn’t well-beaten, it’s been thumped flat. Ask anyone who has been and the chances are they’ll have visited some combination of Marrakesh, the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains and Essaouira – and they’ll probably have a small stuffed camel and a leather purse to prove it. These are all worthwhile destinations in…

6 enticing alternatives to Italy’s big sights
6 enticing alternatives to Italy’s big sights

You’ve hiked the Cinque Terre, gondola’d down Venice’s Grand Canal and got Renaissance art fatigue in Florence’s Uffizi. So what’s next? Italophile Natasha Foges picks six less-known places that offer all the charm of Italy‘s big sights. If you like Lake Como try… Lake Iseo Of the six Italian Lakes, it’s Garda and Como –…

14 essential Burmese experiences
14 essential Burmese experiences

Wherever your itinerary takes you, travel in Myanmar (Burma) is sure to provide a wealth of new experiences – whether you’re air-kissing at your waiter in a city teahouse or witnessing your first nat ceremony. To mark the release of our first guide to the country, co-author Jo James shares fourteen of her essential things…

The eeriest ghost towns in the USA
The eeriest ghost towns in the USA

Emerging above the rolling tumbleweed of prairies or hidden below modern cities, hundreds of eerily desolate former towns are scattered across the United States. Many of the USA’s ghost towns were once thriving settlements: they grew quickly, but disappeared just as fast in the boom and bust Gold Rush years, while others have a more shadowy…

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…

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…

10 reasons why Manchester is the UK’s new cultural hotspot
10 reasons why Manchester is the UK’s new cultural hotspot

Manchester is Britain’s new cultural capital. No, really. The city may have been built on the heavy industry of the Industrial Revolution but since the 2002 Commonwealth Games, it has re-invented itself as a world capital of the arts. Today Manchester dominates the headlines with a slew of galleries, venues and festivals. It’s home to some of…

5 reasons why Ladakh offers the best trekking in India
5 reasons why Ladakh offers the best trekking in India

Co-author of the Rough Guide to India, Nick Edwards, explains why the trekking in Ladakh is among India’s finest. Ladakh is quite unlike any other region of India, both geographically and culturally. A rugged and arid high-altitude desert, set between the mighty Karakoram and Great Himalaya ranges, its very name means “the land of high…

10 reasons why you need to visit Tirana
10 reasons why you need to visit Tirana

Albania’s capital used to regularly top lists for Europe’s worst city. Decades of Stalinist rule left Tirana grey and grim, lacking in both infrastructure and services. The collapse of communism in 1992 only worsened the situation, as chaos engulfed the city and crime started to rise. All that has now changed. Today Tirana is –…

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…

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