7 underrated places to visit this year

SINGAPORE - Why go to where the crowds are at?

Come peak season, the usual haunts will be flooded by a tidal wave of tourists, hampering any possible photo opportunity for scenic landscapes.

While some may not mind the squeeze, others who prefer the peace and serenity away from bustling crowds will appreciate lesser known destinations.

Online travel website Trafalgar reveals seven underrated places where travellers can explore without jostling with a million selfie sticks and tripods.

See also: Traversing Shikoku on 2 wheels

See the full list on the next page: 

1. The Seto Islands, Japan

The sheltered Seto Inland Sea lies between the lush mountainous island of Shikoku, and the coast of mainland Honshu, where Hiroshima looks out across the water. As many as 3,000 islands and islets can be found in the waters here.

The Seto Island Bridge stretches between these five islands, making it possible to travel all the way from Shikoku to Honshu across the remote islands and suspension bridges, while taking in panoramic sea views.

Famed for its many shrines and panaromic coastal views, the island is best explored on a bicycle.

Check out AsiaOne's cycling expedition through Shikoku here: Traversing Shikoku on 2 wheels

2. Boquete, Panama

Within Panama's lush mountainous highlands lies the small rural town of Boquete, where coffee, flowers and fruit all flourish in verdant natural surroundings. The area is best known for its coffee plantations, where visitors can gain an insight into the coffee-making process.

In this region the indigenous Ngobe-Bugle people make a living from the plantations, picking the red coffee berries when they ripen.

3. Terra Nova National Park, Canada

Situated on the east coast of Newfoundland, Terra Nova National Park is home to four hundred square kilometres of forest, meadows, ocean inlets, and a coastline dotted with bays and rocky cliffs.

Lucky visitors kayaking around the bay can spot the occasional seal, whale among other marine creatures. Due to its proximity to the Arctic region or iceberg among other marine creatures.

4. El Cajas National Park, Ecuador

Standing at an altitude of between 3,100 and 4,450 metres above sea level, El Cajas National Park is a rugged expanse of forested mountains, valleys, glacial lakes and lagoons.

Endemic and rare wildlife, such as the giant hummingbird and the elusive puma thrive within this environment, drawing wildlife enthusiasts.

History buffs will also be glad to know that the park features 28 archeological ruins from the Incan period. 

5. Rocamadour in France

Tucked into a forested cliff-face, the historic commune of Rocamadour overlooks a lush gorge where a tributary of the River Dordogne flows through.

The commune's monastic buildings are a revered pilgrimage site, with important historic sites to visit like the wooden Black Madonna carving. Try the region's goat's cheese that has adopted the Rocamadour name, along with the local organic walnuts.

6. Connemara, Ireland

Untamed, wild and rugged coastline. Connemara, a district in Ireland's west coast overlaps a section of the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the famous coastal drives in the area.

The coastal town of Clifden lies on Connemara's windswept coastline, looking out across the Atlantic Ocean and the small islands that lie off its coast. Within this countryside sits Kylemore Abbey, which was founded by Benedictine nuns.

7. Lake Orta, Italy

While Lake Orta is one of the least known of northern Italy's great lakes, it has long attracted those in the know for its surrounding landscape of mountains and woodland. The lake's rich history stands tall in its Romanesque and Baroque architecture.

Locals affectionally refer to it as Cinderella, a testament to the pristine beauty of the area. Lake Orta is also a draw for devotees who visit the region's 21 historical chapels.