Tagged in: Arizona

5 of the Most Underrated Places in the World

When most people think of traveling, they think of traveling to the most extravagant, beautiful places around the world. According to Travel and Leisure, Kyoto, Japan was the world’s best city of 2014. Although the entire world is beautiful and has so much to offer, travelers tend to follow the status quo and visit what is known to be a good visit.

Each city is different from the next, offering a variety of foods, cultures, races, languages, fashions, and more. There are so many places in the world that fly under the radar simply because not enough people know, or talk about them.

Taipei, Taiwan

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Back in the 1980-1990’s, Taipei was home to about three million and enough smog to clear every single one of them out. Today, Taipei is one of Asia’s most beautiful cities to visit. The city has come a long way since the smog issues after adopting a more environment-friendly route. Taipei is now covered in acres of greenery, hiking trails, and bike paths along the mountains. This city is perfect for the outdoor and adventure lover! The public transportation system is very easy so there are no more worries of a smog overload. Taipei is known to have some of the world’s best Chinese food, which also makes this the perfect place to visit for a foodie! Locals tend to be very friendly and resourceful for those that don’t speak their language, so don’t be shy.

Tucson, Arizona

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Most people, especially Americans, never think of an American city to be an extravagant place to visit. Tucson is surrounded by mountains and Saguaro National Park, which gives this city so much of its beauty. The city of Tucson also has a rich heritage and cultural roots implanted so deep that nowhere else is like it. Downtown Tucson is filled with historical buildings that have been brought back to life, including the theater The Rialto that was built back in the Roaring Twenties. Downtown holds a large variety of shops, restaurants, and bars, so you will surely never run out of things to do! On every second Saturday, a few blocks are closed off for the street fair. There are artisans, street performers, some live music, and plenty of good food.

Glasgow, Scotland

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Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the third largest city in the United Kingdom. People tend to think that London and Manchester have the best music scenes in the UK, but Glasgow has them both beat. Performers like Franz Ferdinand and Belle and Sebastian started their road to success in Glasgow’s clubs. Keeping the artsy theme, Glasgow is the perfect city for an architecture enthusiast. The city’s architecture is astounding, and the Glasgow School of Art holds a bright and promising future. Glasgow is also known for having the cutest little vintage shops, so don’t forget your wallet!

Nara, Japan

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As mentioned earlier, most people travel to Kyoto, Japan since it was named the world’s best city of 2014, but many will never get to experience the beauty of Nara. While Kyoto is home to beautiful gardens, shrines, and Buddhist temples, Nara is filled with just as many gardens, shrines, and temples. Nara also has a large amount of machiya, which are traditional wooden townhouses. Nowadays, a lot of machiya have been transformed into restaurants and cafes. This creates more business for the city, but also keeps the beautiful, serene atmosphere that you can only find here, making it a one of a kind experience.

Adelaide, Australia

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Adelaide is nicknamed “the city of churches,” so to some, that can a bit off-putting as a vacation destination. Most visitors tend to travel to the bigger, more well known cities of Australia, so Adelaide is often left as an afterthought. If you ever get the opportunity to visit here, you will see some of the most beautiful art and scenery you can lay your eyes on. Adelaide is very well known for its 125-acre botanic garden that’s open all year round. This city holds a variety of art festivals at the beginning of the year, and also has several art galleries that you can enjoy any time of the year. The cafe scene is very lively and gives Adelaide a specific ambience that you can only find in this city. A lot of Australia is hot, but Adelaide was graced with a mild climate so you can enjoy virtually everything year round, making it a great place for anyone.

 

 

Tourist Traps: Here’s 6 You’ll Actually Love!

Tourist traps are basically tourist attractions that have been created or re-furbished for the purpose of attracting tourists, and their money, with the various services and facilities they provide. The term ‘trap’ may impose a negative vibe on many, but some of these tourist traps are actually viewed as fun and adventurous destinations. Some of them are usually overcrowded, probably overpriced, even over-hyped, but despite the hassles, they are worth a visit! Below are just some of those we recommend.
 
Stonehenge, United Kingdom
 
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If you happen to pay a visit to the UK, it would be incomplete without visiting the Stonehenge, or so they say. For some, it’s considered a major tourist trap. It is included in most of the guided tours.
 
If you love historic architect marvels, you will surely feel the ambiance provided by the Neolithic prehistoric rocks. You are not allowed to touch them, naturally to preserve them, since they are the oldest man-made structure that has survived to date. It is also one of the modern wonders of the world and the most renowned prehistoric monument in Europe. There is a visitor center where you can view around 250 objects from the ancient era. You can also discover the remains of a 5,500 year old man! The guided tours are expensive and the whole trip takes you on the outskirts, therefore it consumes your time as well as your money, but if you love historical architectures, you will surely enjoy it!
 
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay
 
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Previously known as one of the most notorious prisons, some of the visitors do not regard this tourist attraction as a trap. In fact, the tour is quite an adventure! Just the fact that it was once a military fort turned prison turned tourist attraction makes it quite an interesting visit. There is also a boat ride included which can get you some good views around the bay. If you are on a short visit, this trip might take a lot of your time, almost 2 to 3 hours exclusive of the commute. It is best if you plan an early trip over the weekend.
 
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
 
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To enjoy the most enthralling shopping experience, the Kapali Carsi, aka the Covered Bazaar, is a must-visit for those visiting Istanbul. The place is always crowded – always! It is one of the oldest and largest covered markets existing to date. It spans an area of 61 streets covered! There are around 3,000 shops populated within these 61 covered streets! The crowd of visitors peak up to 400,000 in a day! The outside shops are cheaper compared to the shops inside which offer expensive products specifically meant for tourists. Bargaining is allowed and it is possible to buy an item for less than half the listed price, depending on your bargaining skills and knowledge of the quality of the merchandise of course! The ambiance is friendly as the shopkeepers offer warm welcomes and some even serve you energizing tea while you enjoy your shopping experience. The huge crowd of visitors may be a setback, but it is definitely worth a visit.
 
Taj Mahal, India
 
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Another wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal attracts millions of visitors each year. The huge crowd seen at all times may set it as a major tourist trap, but this is a world heritage site that really is worth a visit, and may not have been so overhyped! If you want to visit when the crowd is at a minimum, it’s best to visit at sunrise or maybe around sunset. The views at these times are also ideal for photography. The white marble that decorates the mausoleum is a Mughal architectural marvel. You may be charged hefty amounts by the photographers offering you a great picture with Taj Mahal as the backdrop. Be careful about your sandals that you leave when entering the holy area. You might not find them back again! Don’t bring your fancy or expensive footwear when visiting, just in case.
 
Grand Canyon, Arizona
 
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There’s a lot you can do once you visit the Grand Canyon. This natural formation of layered rocks attracts many tourists each year. The area is mostly surrounded by National Parks and managed by some tribes like the Hualapai, The Navajo and the Havasupai tribe. The SkyWalk trip is a pretty rough commute traveling 10 miles on a stretch of dirt road – it’s a bumpy ride. You cannot drive to the SkyWalk, there’s a tour bus that takes you there. If you wish to take a walk on the SkyWalk, it costs around $30, which makes it quite expensive if you are traveling with your family. There are recreational activities also organized for the visitors like the tribal dances. The food options are quite pricey as well. Nevertheless, it’s worth a visit. However, it’s best to avoid peak summers. Due to the high temperatures and scorching heat, rising up to 39 degrees, the canyon bed gets pretty hot. If you’re sweating profusely you may not be able to enjoy it, especially if you happen to travel from colder climates. The heat may be unbearable for you. Therefore, it’s best to travel in off seasons as well as during the cooler times of the year.
 
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
 
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When you visit Egypt, the only two main attractions in Cairo are The Pyramids of Giza and The Great Sphinx which speaks volumes about their historic presence. The Pyramids are also part of The Ancient wonders of the world. It is hard to find honest and helpful guides as most of them are there to fill their pockets and may charge exorbitant amounts of money for their services. If you happen to take a picture with a camel, the herder might pester you with charges for taking a picture with their camel. Some vendors sell fake papyrus and charge you for it. The vendors don’t leave you easily and you might find it quite difficult to ‘free’ yourself from the constantly bargaining vendors! Once you finally reach the pyramid, you will be able to witness a magnificent structure. The inside of the pyramid comprises of a narrow tunnel that leads to a Grand Entrance. You can observe the masonry skills and hieroglyphics and all about the ancient Egyptian historical presence. It will definitely take you back to those ‘mummy’ movies we all adore!
 

 

Get A Tremendous Experience At The Grand Canyon

There are many people who go all the way to Arizona just to get a view of the Grand Canyon, a gaping 277 mile long chasm that is one of nature’s beautiful miracles. Formed by the Colorado River, this formation is a mile deep and is truly spectacular, but it would be a great mistake to ignore the activities the rest of the state has to offer especially when it comes to those related to the Grand Canyon itself.
 

Arizona has long been associated with danger, rebellion and risk taking, and even today those who live there are often up for an adventure or two. Over a century ago, cowboys who crossed the deserts in the hopes of seeking their fortune ended up establishing saloons and having shootouts, making Arizona the place to be if you needed a thrill. These days, the west isn’t as wild as it used to be, but the appetites of state residents for thrills and adventure still don’t seem to have gone away. They surf the waves of the water, swing from tree tops, and cycle around the rim of the Grand Canyon just for kicks. Thus, many tourists come to the state to take advantage of all that it has to offer in terms of getting your adrenaline pumping.
 
Kayak Into Underground Coves
 
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If you drive all the way up to Watson Lake Park, you will see huge boulders of granite and exposed bedrock making you wonder whether you have wandered into alien territory or something out of a science fiction movie. Situated right adjacent to these formations, you can explore mangrove nooks and corners and rock pools that have been evolving ever since the reservoir was formed over a century ago. Park your boat and take a hike along one of the trails located close to Prescott. You can even camp under the stars if you bring an RV or tent along if that’s something up your alley. There are several facilities for campers including showers, picnic armadas, and bonfire pits.
 
How can you do it? A Park entrance fee is $2. You can rent a kayak from Prescott Outdoors for $15 for the first hour, followed by $10 for every hour after that.
 
Experience The Adrenaline Rush of Wake Surfing
 
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If you travel north of Phoenix to Lake Pleasant, you can sample several activities like nature spotting, kayaking, scuba diving, and hiking. You can also find speedboats zipping around carrying behind wakeboards and doughnuts. But what has become very popular over the years has been wake surfing. This is the process of hitching behind a speedboat and riding the wake like a wave that is large enough for you to surf on without a tow rope. This allows you to combine the speed and rush of wakeboarding along with the freedom and weightlessness of surfing.
 
How can you do it? You can rent a sports boat for $570 a day and a wake surf board for $45.
 
Explore the Iconic West
 
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Westerns over the years have used the rock formations in Sedona as backdrops to instill awe in their viewers. You will recognize these backdrops and iconic scenery from some of your favorite Western movies. You can go along on an extreme off-road adventure in order to experience this terrain for yourself. Dirt tracks traverse between protruding rocks, desert plants and cliff dwellings in Red Rock State Park. You can spot deer and lizards along the way and also get to see chipmunks, desert cats, and elks first hand, many varieties of which you will not find anywhere else in the world. Rocks in the region have every interesting names such as Rabbit Ear Rock, Twin Nuns, Snoopy Rock, and Coffeepot Rock. It’s very commonly believed that one of the Sedona peaks is the inspiration behind the name of Thunder Mountain, the famous Disney theme park ride, after Walt Disney himself visited the Grand Canyon and was visibly impressed. You can either take advantage of a guided tour, which is highly recommended for newbies, or try your hand at it alone, by parking or camping in the desert and hiking up the gorge.
 
How can you do it? A tour organizer known as Pink Jeep Tours offers two hour guided tours for $95 a person.
 
Take a Bike Ride Along The Rim of the Grand Canyon
 
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The Grand Canyon is lined with several hiking paths, and each path is guaranteed to blow you away, but to experience all of it, you will need several weeks. If you lack the time to take in the view on foot, or the budget for a helicopter ride, you can experience it on a bicycle. Cycle along for three hours on the Hermit Road route and you will wander far away from the tourists and their cameras and end up with some of the best views on the South Rim, which you can enjoy with very little disturbances from others. The views here are enough to induce shivers, but there are many paths that you can take according to your own comfort level. Be careful though, as many parts of the trail do not have safety nets or even safety rails. You don’t want to fall in the canyon and meet a very gruesome end.
 
How can you do it? Coordinate with one of the many tour operators for a guided tour, or rent a bike and go at your own speed for a much lower price. You can save even more money by bringing along your own bike. Make sure that your own bike is well equipped to handle the rough terrain though and that the tires give you a good grip.
 
Navigate a Treetop Obstacle Course
 
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It may not look like it, but Fort Tuthill County Park is almost like a slice of heaven for those who want to get their adrenaline pumping. It looks like a regular woodland area at first glance, but when you get closer, you realize that this is actually full of zip lines and obstacle courses which enable you to navigate the tree tops like a monkey. Climb cargo nets, travel through tunnels or navigate wire courses as you hang on by nothing but a safety clip that prevents you from falling. If you would like more thrills, you can go to any one of three BMX parks where you can ride to your heart’s content.
 
How can you do it? Sign up for one of the Flagstaff Extreme courses for a very memorable ride.