Article by John McGovern
Yunnan? Hainan Island? Thailand? It’s time to think again. There’s so much more to do with your well-earned time and money, so here’s my Top Five alternative holiday destinations for 2020!
5 North Korea
Okay, you may have expected this one. But here at YPT, we love travel to unusual destinations and we love football, so what could be better than a football tour to North Korea! In June, we’ll be watching the World Cup qualifier against Turkmenistan, played in the 150,000-seater May Day stadium, visiting the football college, and playing 5-a-sides with local Pyongyangites. If you’re into footy, then join us in Pyongyang!
Now that we’re already talking about Turkmenistan, there are few destinations quite as bizarre and unforgettable as this Central Asian nation. See the “dictator’s playground” of Ashgabat, with its marble façades and gold monuments; an abandoned ghost town sea resort at Avaza; and of course – the main attraction – the Gates of Hell, a gas crater sinkhole which has been burning since 1971.
Speaking of the bizarre, head back to the era of the USSR with a visit to Transnistria – the place that didn’t get the memo about the fall of the Berlin Wall. This unrecognised country within Moldova is full of statues of Lenin, tanks, and KGB, and this May is the aforementioned 75th anniversary of Victory Day – the end of WW2, in May in Europe, and in August the 30th anniversary of Transnistria’s Liberation Day in the war with Moldova. If you like a military parade, this is the place to be.
2 Papua New Guinea
Back on China’s side of the world, check out Papua New Guinea, where you can come face to face with head-hunters, witch doctors, and fierce tribal warriors at the Mt Hagen Festival in August. Taking you deep into the interior of one of the least visited countries of the world. What could be a better summer holiday than eating earth-roasted pig with the PNG village locals?
But for 2020, the number one destination is Syria. I can almost hear you recoiling from the page, so bear with me. Starting in Beirut, we cross the border with Syria and tour Damascus, the war-torn old town of Aleppo, the UNESCO site Krak des Chevaliers, and the breath-taking Palmyra. Is it safe? Well, we only visit government held areas, but we don’t advertise dates and the itinerary online. Is it ethical? Although you could say our tourist dollars are heading straight to the pockets of Assad, we think that the economic benefits of tourism for the local economy and meeting, and listening to, local people not often given a voice by the mainstream media outweigh the negatives.
Get to experience the Syrian hospitality or find out information on any of these tours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org