Try These Worldwide Alternative Iconic Beauty Spots
Tired of the Taj? If queuing under the hot sun for hours to be rushed past an architectural icon is your idea of fun, you'll love the Taj Mahal. If you prefer to linger, soak up the atmosphere and not be hounded by aggressive touts, however, head to Humayun's Tomb in Nizamuddin, Delhi.
Built in 1570, it might not have the milky white dazzle of the all-marble Taj, but its symmetry, red sandstone and manicured gardens will not disappoint. Visit at sunrise and find yourself alone in the pavilions, safe in the knowledge that this structure was the inspiration for the Taj Maha, completed about 80 years later.
Delhi by Cycle has a ten-mile cycling Nizamuddin tour that takes in Humayun's Tomb, Lodhi Garden and Khan Market.
GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING IN NAMIBIA
Had your kicks on Route 66 and looking to upgrade to a (much) wilder road trip? Look no further than Namibia, a country fast becoming the No. I choice for adventurous types eager to hit the open road.
'Namibia has open, empty roads and some of the most ravishing and diverse scenery on Earth: mountainous sand dunes, craggy rockscapes, wave-battered coastline and flat salt pans,' says Alexandra Matts, founder of travel company Extraordinary Africa. 'Plus an elephant or two thrown in too.'
Extraordinary Africa has a 14-night self-drive Naimibian adventures taking in the country's best bits, stating with the desert landscapes of Sesriem and Sossuvlei and finishing with a self-drive safari through Etosha National Park, home to lions, elephants and springboks.
HAVE A WHALE OF A TIME IN NINGALOO
Forget the Great Barrier reef; now it's all about Ningaloo Reef in north-western Australia. Unlike its counterpart I Queensland, the world heritage-listed Ningaloo is one of the world's most isolated places, and about as far from the crowds as you can get down under. Swim in blissful isolation through Clear turquoise water, drifting past dolphins, manta rays, turtles and humpback whales. Between March and July, all eyes turn to whale sharks, gentle giants of the sea that migrate here to feed.
The area has a handful of places to stay but the ultimate spot is Sal Salis, sand dunes - a stone's throw from the sea. It's not cheap but this wild bush camp is unique. And you'll have kangaroos as neighbours.
TRANQUIL TEMPLES JAVA
If you love Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple but hate the crowds, try Borobudur in central Java. One of the world's finest and largest Buddhist monuments, it has an intriguing history that competes with Angkor's.
The bell-shaped towers, Buddha statues and stone platforms were built about 1,200 years ago, but abandoned in the 15th century when the population converted to Islam.
Later it was lost, covered by volcanic ash and shrouded in jungle, until the 1800s when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, a British governor of Java, has the site excavated. today, having survived all of that, not to mention earthquakes and bombs, Borobudur stands proudly above lush rice paddy fields and palm trees.
Exodus ha a 17-day tour exploring central Indonesia, including time at Borobudur. The trip also takes I tiny villages, the volcanoes and palm-fringed beaches.
GO ZEN IN MONTENEGRO
Everyone loves Italy's Amalfi Coast, which is why it's best to look elsewhere if you hanker after peace and quiet. Serene in comparison is the port resort of Kotor in Montenegro, on the Adrian coast.
Like Amalfi, Kotor's cultural landscape - twisting stone-paved street, old squares and hidden palaces - is a Unesco World heritage site, but here you'll have lots more of it to yourself.
The hotel Hippocampus is housed in a medieval stone building within Kotor's historic Old Town walls, next to the atmospheric 12th-century Church of St Anne.
The decor is Balkan chic with distressed oak floors, and there's an inviting courtyard where you can cool off at the end of the day.