Jaffna in the North of Sri Lanka, El Nido Pangalusian Island in the Philippines and the ancient Mayan city of Yaxchilan in Mexico have been named as some of the world’s best-kept travel secrets.

With locations spanning the globe, from tiny towns to palm-flecked beaches, the top 20 list of the world’s best-kept hidden gems has revealed some lesser known beauty spots.

The study found that eight in 10 wander-lusting Britons expressed an interest in escaping the usual tourist traps on their next holiday.

The list of under-the-radar travel secrets was compiled by worldwide travel experts Kuoni, whose spokesperson 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.

“Beyond the main tourist attractions the world has so much to offer and we’re seeing a trend for people looking for alternative places and experiences away from the famous well-trodden hotspots.”

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.

A minuscule 0.1 per cent of the nation know about the tranquil garden complex of Mehtab Bagh, on the banks of the Yamuna River in India, just behind the Taj Mahal.

Three quarters of British travellers say that they like to visit travel destinations that none of their friends have been to before.

A fifth of respondents reckon that travelling somewhere none of their friends have been makes them seem more worldly.

And over half say that they simply like to make their own minds up about a place, rather than go by someone else’s opinion.

Something that you’d never see at home is the most common reason to seek out a hidden holiday gem, followed by seclusion and the feeling that you were experiencing it all for yourself.

UK holidaymakers say that they’d be happy to pay an average of £300 extra on their holidays, if it included an unforgettable secret sight.

Rachel O’Reilly said: “Although many people are happy to visit lesser-known holiday sights based on friends’ recommendations, it seems they’re less likely to tell others about them.

“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.”


  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
  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
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