These are the perfect countries to fire away your own trail and explore the hidden gems of our beautiful world. Some of these countries are difficult to get into, but once you’re in, you'll totes get a unique cultural and geographic experience. Just getting to some places and chilling there can be expensive, so add your favorite to your bucket list and save some for it. You can read about them until then, there is no charge for awesomeness… or attractiveness.
1. Brunei Darussalam, Southeast Asia
On the island of Borneo, Malaysia sits a small country called Brunei, the Abode of Peace. Brunei is ruled by King Hassanal Bolkiah, whose family has ruled the country for the past six centuries. Their cultural apex was between the 15th and 17th centuries when they controlled large coastal areas. Brunei is home to nine mountain peaks that range from 775 feet to 3,772 feet and many forest reserves for the hiker and adventurer. While you’re visiting, you can catch a baseball game at Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium or spend part of your day checking out the Malay Technology Museum.
This is also a rally good place to quit smoking as the government has banned the sale of most forms of tobacco throughout the country. You can't even bust out your e-cigarette to curb that nicotine craving, because their advertising, sale, and use in public places have been banned as well. If you’d like to visit the country, the best times to go are between October and February, as the rest of the year is extremely hot and humid.
2. Vanuatu, Oceania
Vanuatu can be found in the South Pacific Ocean. It was settled more than 3,500 years ago and was visited by the legendary explorer James Cook in 1774. If you decide to visit the island like Cook, you can explore beautiful beaches and waterfalls, snorkel or scuba dive shipwrecks, hike Mt. Yasur and eat at exotic and exciting restaurants. The best time to travel to the island is between May and October. There are many festivals and sporting contests going on between these months.
3. Kiribati, Micronesia, Central Pacific
Located in the Micronesia region of the central Pacific Ocean, Kiribati has an impressive population of over 100,000 people. Changing sea levels as a result of climate change threaten the survival of this tropical nation as the country becomes inundated with salt water, risking disappearance altogether if sea levels continue to rise. Kiribati is known for their many WWII Relics along with world class fishing and cultural experiences. The weather is naturally hot year-round. So be sure to bring sunscreen and drink a lot of margaritas on the beach to cool down.
4. Tajikistan, Central Asia
Tajikistan is a mountainous landlocked region in Central Asia. Surrounded by China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, it is the perfect destination for trekkers and other adventurous travelers. You can explore Wakhan Valley, Penjikent, and the Fan Mountains. For adventure seekers and nature lovers, the best time to go is during the early Spring and summer when the southern part of the country is in full bloom.
5. Azerbaijan, Asia
Resting between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, but belonging to neither, Azerbaijan is known as the Transcontinental Presidential Republic. The country is very rich in oil and has an imperial history dating back to 4,000 BC. Azerbaijan has many amazing historical sites you can visit, including Maiden’s Tower and Khan’s Palace. The best time to go is between April and June when the flowers are beginning to bloom.
6. Mayotte, France
This Island’ name isn’t even registered in the word processor dictionary it is so unknown. In 1843, France gained control of the Island. It remains under French rule to this day. Mayotte is known to be an expensive place to stay, but if money isn’t your concern, you can have an amazing trip snorkeling, sailing, diving and relaxing on white sand beaches. It’s best to visit between June and November.
7. Nauru, Micronesia, Northeast of Australia
A nautical neighbor of the Island of Kiribati and once known as Pleasant Island, due to the amount of wealth the citizens had, the Island is now called Nauru. The tiny island has a lot to offer when it comes to sites and scenery. There are old phosphate deposits (which made the country rich) and Command Ridge, where Japanese soldiers kept watch during World War Two and, of course, beautiful beaches. The best time to go is after February and before November to avoid the heavy rain falls.
8. Ivory Coast, West Africa
The Ivory Coast borders Burkina Faso. The coast was once an important trade route between 1,000 and 1,500 AD when many kingdoms and cultures emerged. Much later, the Ivory Coast was a trade port used by European nations and was claimed by France in 1893. The native inhabitants eventually gained their independence in 1961. The Ivory Coast is home to dense rain forests and white beaches, which are sure to add fun and excitement to your visit. The best times to visit are between November and to early March.
9. Andorra, Europe
Nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains, Andorra shares its borders with France and Spain. Despite being the sixth smallest country in Europe, over 10 million visitors flock to this country each year. With the highest life expectancy in the world as of 2014, it is possible that these tourist trips have been devised in order to discover the Andorran’s secret to a long life. Perhaps it involves frequent hikes to the country’s capital city, Andorra la Vella, which is located at over 1000m above sea level, making it the highest capital city in the Europe, height-wise. Andorra is also known for its excellent culinary culture, restaurants and drinks. It’s best to visit between April and October.
10. Liechtenstein, Europe
Liechtenstein is also a landlocked country located in Central Europe between Austria and Switzerland. If the name isn’t indication enough, their primary language is German. Once a member of the German Confederation, it left to become independent in 1866, shortly after it abolished its army in 1968 and has remained neutral since then. What’s truly amazing is that the micro-state is only 62 square miles or 160 square kilometers. If you want to go snowboarding and skiing in the winter, Liechtenstein is world renown for its slopes, or you can enjoy hiking and mountain biking in the summer.
11. Palau, Oceania
Located in the Western Pacific Ocean, the island country is spattered with beautiful smaller islands. Many countries have claimed Palau as their own, including Spain, Germany, and Japan. Palau is considered one of the top diving and snorkeling destinations in the world with a number of coral reefs, shipwrecks from the many wars that were fought off its coast, hidden caves and tunnels, dozens of vertical drop offs and an amazing diversity of water life. The best time to explore what Palau has to offer is February and March.
12. South Ossetia, Russia
Found in the South Caucasus, this Russian-speaking micro-state is so unknown that even Google doesn’t have many entries for it. Of all the countries in this list, South Ossetia may prove to be the hardest one to travel to, as it is a contested Autonomous Oblast of Georgia. It offers the political explorer much in the way of interesting stories and intrigue.
13. Futuna, Pacific Ocean
The tiny island of Futuna has 5,000 residents and spans just 50 square miles or 80 square kilometers. The country is in the middle of Polynesia and is paired with an equally unknown country called Wallis. The culture of Futuna hasn’t changed much over the years as the modern world has seemingly forgotten to corrupt it. If you want to take a step back in time, the best times to go are between April and October but expect to see a good amount of rain no matter when you go.
14. Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia
Another landlocked region in the South Caucasus, Nagorno-Karabakh is surrounded by Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Iran. The region is very mountainous and is covered in beautiful forests. There are many museums you can visit that detail the history of the country, which include a war with Armenian. Nagorno-Karabakh is perfect for the history traveler.
15. Falklands, Britain
A British territory and a favorite of many travelers, the Falklands are an archipelago in the Southern Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The Falklands are home to penguins, seals, albatrosses and other interesting antarctic creatures. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy from museums to war memorials. Pack warm clothing as the weather year-round rarely gets above 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius.
16. Tuvalu, Polynesia, Pacific Ocean
Tuvalu is another island in the Pacific Ocean, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, which is halfway between Australia and Hawaii and was once a British protectorate. The land is just barely above the water level, making the current global warming crisis a very serious threat to the longevity of the island. The highest point is just 16 feet above water level. Mangrove trees, sandy beaches, and palm trees scatter this island oasis. The island’s capital, Funafuti, was almost 90% submerged as a result of Cyclone Bebe in the 1970s and extreme weather events are only becoming more frequent – making Tuvalu not such a great place to take a vacation. The best time to visit Tuvalu is between May and October to avoid the wettest season and to make the most out of the tropical climate.