Revealed: the world’s top hidden gems (just keep it to yourself)

Following a survey, a leading tour firm have listed top 20 destinations which, when we find somewhere exclusive and special, we tend to keep to ourselves.

Traveller looking into the distance
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The world’s best-kept travel secrets are out – but they won’t stay secret for long.

Why? Because a leading tour firm have listed their top 20 following a survey when found that, when we find somewhere exclusive and special, we tend to keep it to ourselves.

Little-known destinations such as Jaffna in the North of Sri Lanka, El Nido Pangalusian Island in the Philippines and Mexico’s ancient Mayan city of Yaxchilan are among everything from tiny towns to palm-flecked beaches named in a list of the world’s top 20 hidden gems.

Bukchon Village in Seoul, South Korea
Bukchon Village in Seoul, South Korea

They were revealed in a study which found that eight in 10 British holidaymakers were more interested in escaping the usual tourist traps than the more well-known destinations on their next holiday.

Just one per cent of the UK has heard of Indonesia’s Gili Meno Island, selected by Kuoni due to its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters. While its neighbouring island Gili Trawangan is now a hotspot for backpackers, the island of Gili Meno remains firmly off the beaten track.

View of the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh, India

Three quarters said they wanted to go somewhere none of their friends have been and a fifth of them thought it would make them appear more worldly.

When asked for examples, a tiny 0.1 per cent had heard, for example, about the tranquil garden complex of Mehtab Bagh, which sits on the banks of the Yamuna River in India behind the Taj Mahal, according to the survey by Kuoni.

No surprise given that many people admitted that, while they enjoy visiting lesser-known places friends have recommended, they were less likely to tell others about them.

Kuoni’s spokesman Rachel O’Reilly said:

While the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal attract thousands of visitors per year between them, a generation of travellers are now seeking more secluded beauty spots.

Six in 10 of our respondents said they’d never share a travel secret with anyone else, suggesting that hidden holiday gems are very personal.

Global travel is accelerating, and many well-known sights have a huge volume of visitors, while other equally beautiful places provide seclusion, with jaw-dropping beauty and in some ways create stronger personal experiences.

People’s travelling lifespan has expanded – from a very young age people are used to travelling to new places with their families and continue to explore the world as they seek new experiences well into their seventies and eighties – so people want fresh perspectives and new inspiration which, is what our new list is all about.

And we are happy to pay for privilege. UK holidaymakers said they’d be happy to pay an average of £300 extra for their holidays, if it included an unforgettable secret sight.

The hike between OIA and Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece
The hike between OIA and Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

The top 20 best kept travel secrets in the World

  1. Views of the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh, India
  2. The island of Gili Meno, Indonesia
  3. El Nido Pangulasian Island, Philippines
  4. Jaffna, north Sri Lanka
  5. Con Dao Island, Vietnam
  6. The hike between OIA and Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece
  7. The island of Bequia, the Grenadines
  8. Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve, Costa Rica
  9. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, Virginia, USA
  10. Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flats), Bolivia
  11. The town of Matera in the Basilicata region of Italy (find out more: Matera – from shame to chic in 50 years)
  12. The koalas of Kennet River on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
  13. Farewell Spit, New Zealand
  14. Bukchon Village in Seoul, South Korea
  15. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
  16. Omodos Village, Cyprus
  17. KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa
  18. Yaxchilan, the ancient Mayan city in the state of Chiapas, Mexico
  19. Margaret River, Western Australia
  20. Zebra migration in Botswana

Do you have a hidden gem you discovered during your travels? Leave a comment (or will you keep it to yourself?)