There are many villages around the world that draw tourists due to their uniqueness. This article is a compilation of 30 such villages from around the world which every traveller must try to visit at least once in a lifetime.
1. FLOATING VILLAGES, HALONG BAY, VIETNAM
Halong Bay is located at the shore of northern Vietnam. The bay is famous for its beauty and mysterious allure. Halong Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site and it is also considered as one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the world. Dating back thousands of years, Halong Bay has been populated by small local communities living on floating villages tucked away in between the karst, sunken mountains. At the centre of the bay lies an area of 330 sq.km that consist of islands, caves and its famous floating village. People have inhabited the area for centuries but made no damage to the heritage. In fact they preserved the unique beauty of the bay. The beauty of the bay is remarkable enough to make it to the big screen. Filming of some movies have been done in the Halong Bay area. What’s unusual about the karst towers at Halong Bay is that the beautiful place inspires not just geologist but also artists, scientists and painters to come together to explore and understand the landscape.
2. BIBURY, ENGLAND
Bibury is a charming village, nested in the eastern hills of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, just a short drive from the capital of Cotswolds – Cirencester. It has also earned its title as ‘the most beautiful village in England’ by William Morris, the famous artist. In Bibury, Arlington Row is regarded as England’s most iconic and photographed site. It is famous for its honey-coloured stone cottages with their steep pitched roofs. Other most attractive spot in Bibury is the Bibury Trout Farm. It is one of the oldest and most attractive trout farms in England. The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, a Saxon church, is delightful to see with its medieval windows and stained glasses. Moreover, Bibury comes under one of the most famous locations in Cotswolds as well as in England also, because the quintessential cottage and pretty riverside location comes under the must visit spots. Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful gardens at Barnsley House at Barnsley, 3.3 miles away.
3. AIT-BEN-HADDOU IN MOROCCO
Ait-Ben-Haddou, located on the foothills in the Ounila Valley is an Ighrem or Ksar (fortified village), along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Recognized as a UNESCO site, the Ksar is one of the most extraordinary Kasbahs in Morocco. This giant fortification, which is made up of six kasbahs and nearly fifty Ksours (individual kasbahs), is a great example of clay architecture. The village sitting on a hilltop is decorated with a labyrinth like series of sandstone colored towers and walls. The village is divided into two parts. The modern part is filled with souvenir shops and parking lots and the traditional part is full with Kasbahs, small streets and alleys, palm trees and decorated motifs. The community areas include a mosque, a public square, grain threshing areas outside the ramparts, a fortification and a loft at the top of the village, two cemeteries (Muslim and Jewish) and the Sanctuary of the Saint Sidi Ali or Amer. Climb to the top of one of the neighboring hills to get a magnificent view of the village. Sunrise is best time to get a photo shoot from the neighboring hills.
4. HALLSTATT, AUSTRIA
Hallstatt, one of Austria’s oldest and possibly most photographed villages and an UNESCO heritage site, is located between Stalberg and Graz in the Salzkammergut Lake district of the country. This was once a quiet and inhabited place but in recent years Hallstalt has become one of the most popular places to visit in Austria. There are a few options for arriving in this spectacular Alpine village, but the best way to experience this famous location is with a ferry ride across the lake. This village is a very small one and you can walk from one end to the other in a few minutes but there are handful of sites located inside the village which will take few hours to explore. The world first salt mine is also located here and there are few stunning salt caves which can be visited by tourists. The Hallstatt Ossuary, also called Charnel House or the Bone House, is the most unusual spot to visit in Hallstatt. In this small cave-like room, over 2,100 skulls and various other human bones are perfectly stacked along the walls. The World Heritage Skywalk above 350 meters over the top offer panoramic view of the entire region.
5. JUZCAR, SPAIN
Juzcar is located 113 km away from Malaga and 25 km from Ronda in Spain. Juzcar is the first ever Smurf town in the world. The transformation of the village is owed to the fact that every single building here are painted blue; the houses, the church, the cemetery and the town hall, embrace the premier of the world renowned film The Smurfs 3D. Once with the village dramatic transformation into a fairy tale realm, tourism started flourishing. After the positive reactions the residents voted to keep their homes blue permanently. In Juzcar not only the buildings are still blue, but they are still accompanied by the giant murals and portraits of Smurf characters, with statues of The Smurfs also standing on street corners. So, as you walk through the village you may meet many characters of The Smurf on your way. The walls are adorned with Smurf scenes and giant toadstools which makes for a great fun activity for children. Hence, this village is a must visit for those who love art.
6. EZE, FRANCE
Eze, located between Nice and Monaco, is a hilltop village in France that dates back to the Middle Ages. It owes its name to an ancient Egyptian goddess, Isis. The village surrounds the ruins of a 12th-century castle. It was shaped by the Romans, Moors and the House of Savoy. The village was built on top of the rocky outcrop for security reasons, and its stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea. As you wander through the cobblestoned sloping streets you will find ancient fountains, archways, superbly restored stone houses, shady square and quiet courtyards. The structures here are several hundred years old, and the oldest building in Eze is the beautiful Chapelle de laa Sainte Croix built back in 1300s. The village of Eze is also famous for its greenery, like you can visit the exotic Jardin Exotique, the botanic garden where an impressive collection of cactus, plants and rare vegetation surrounds the remains of an ancient chateau. This botanical garden has spectacular panoramic views of the Mediterranean, Monaco, Monte Carlo and the hills below. Do have a drink or a lunch during the day time at Chateau Eza. The restaurant here has some of the best views and picture opportunities.
7. INLE LAKE, SHAN STATE VILLAGE, MYANMAR
The villages around Inle Lake are located in the middle of Myanmar in the western Shan state. The lake is shallow, 13.5 miles long and 1 mile wide. This lake is famous for its floating villages and gardens. Here, the local people live in a unique way with their living communities based entirely on water. There are ten different Shan ethic groups living in the villages around the lake. In these villages you will find wooden houses which are built on stilts and the fisherman steer their one-man boats with a characteristic rowing style, wrapping one leg around their oar. Hydroponic tomato farming is also big here, based on an aquabiotic system in use since the 1960s. Cruising along channels hemmed in by floating gardens is simply sublime. Numerous monasteries can be found on the land and its shores. You will find many handicraft workshops also as handicraft is an important part of the local economy apart from fishing. The natural and unpolluted scenic beauty of the Lake and its surrounding villages makes it as one of Myanmar’s most popular destinations for travellers.
8. LAMAYURU, LADAKH, INDIA
Lamayuru is a small village between Kargil and Leh in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. The whole region has moonlike landscape carved into the greater Himalaya. It is home of one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh. It is believed that this place was once a lake that dried up. The village has around 100 houses scattered around the Lamayuru Monastery. The tranquil ambiance and scenic location of the monastery is mesmerising. It is one of the most intriguing places to visit for sure. Being one of the oldest and largest Monasteries it has many stories and legends associated to it. Lamayuru is also known as ‘the moon land of Ladakh’. Tourists are attracted because of its extraordinary and incredible landscape. The best location to view the moonscapes of Lamayuru is to climb up what is known as a Meditation Hill. Stones lay strewn on the way up the Meditation Hill. These centuries old prayer rocks are an important part of the Buddhist culture. Carved meticulously with the beautiful Tibetan script, these stones are a piece of art. Although the place is quite remote, it is favourite hunt for photographers and trekkers.
9. ISLA DEL SOL, BOLIVIA
A short boat trip from Copacabana, Isla De Sol is an archeological marvel. Believed to be the birthplace of the Sun and Inca dynasty, remnants of these old civilizations is spread over several small villages in the rugged 70 km island in which only 800 indigenous families live. Without cars and telephones, you will feel as if you have taken a trip back in time. Wifi is a rarity. The village of Yumani, located on the south side, Cha’llapampa, on the northern side and Cha’lla, on the central east coast, are the main tourist spots. Isla del Sol itself boasts a stunning landscape that juts up in dramatic fashion out from Lake Titicaca, which is not only South America’s largest lake but also the largest navigable lake in the world. While hiking the rocky and hilly trails, you’ll pass by agricultural terraces, serene beaches, tiny settlements and giant eucalyptus trees. There is a noticeable swell of visitors between 10.30 am and 4 pm. But when trekking around the island in the morning and late afternoon hours, you may feel like you’re the only person around. It’s not possible to fully experience the serenity of this special place during a rushed day trip to Isla del Sol. So the best idea is to spend a night and enjoy a view of stars and planets on the night sky and if you are lucky, may even spot a shooting star.
10. LARUNG GAR, TIBET
Larung Gar is the world largest Buddhist institute and one of the most significant sites in Tibetan Buddhism. The village is spread around hills in Serta country in Kardre in eastern Tibet. When you reach this place your mind is sure to get blown by the strange beauty of this place. Larung Gar is built in a very unique way. It seems like a maze when you walk around and it is very easy to get lost in the small alleys and streets of this village which is quiet fun experience too. There are several monasteries which welcome monks, nuns and students from Tibet, China as well as as other countries. Larung Gar is one such place which you visit and experience for yourself as it is full of charm as well as historical past and traditional stories. Despite the restrictions imposed on Tibetan Buddhism under the Chinese occupation, Larung Gar has contributed greatly to the spread of the religion and to the preservation and international spread of Tibetan culture.
11. MARSAXLOKK, MALTA
Marsaxlokk is a charming fishing village situated in the south-eastern part of Malta. Surrounded by green vegetation, this port is totally sheltered and has deep water. It is very quiet village compared to others, but at the same time it has become a very touristic location with many fish restaurants and cafes lined along the promenade. At present Marsaxlokk has the largest population of active fisherman with many traditional fishing boats of all sizes anchored in the port. The village is famous for its big Sunday fish market and its many decorative boats called Luzzus. It will be an fascinating opportunity to mix with locals and experience Maltese life if one wanders in and around the market. Marsaxlokk has a small sandy beach on the eastern side and stunning St. Peter’s pool at Delimara which is a 20 minutes walk away. St. Peter pool’s bay is excellent for diving, snorkelling and cliff jumping down into the natural pool. Visit the Parish Church, which is worth seeing for its majestic interiors. Also one must see the St. Lucian Tower, which is one of the largest watch towers in the Island.
12. OIA, GREECE
Oia is the most scenic village on the north-west edge of the Santorini island. In fact, its beauty is so unsurpassed that it is almost impossible to describe in words. The natural beauty of Oia village in combination with its traditional architecture which consist of white washed houses, old mansions, narrow streets and blue domed churches, which makes the village unique and extremely popular among the tourists. The whole village is built along the cliffside and the beaches are located on a flat side of the island. Its streets have plenty of tourist shops, taverns, cafes and other shops. Oia is one of the most photographed place in Greece. Its beauty has inspired artists, poets and visitors who visit Santorini. It is best known for its breath-taking sunset. Everyday thousands of people gather to see the famous Oia sunset. But if truth be told the sunrise at Oia is also very magical. There are some notable restaurants here like the Golden Chef’s Hat, Ambrosia, Ochre, Dimitris and Katrina where you can have delicious Greek cuisine. Do not miss Kastro, the old Venetian castle, Atlantis Bookshop and the Maritime Museum.
13. NAVALA VILLAGE, NADI, FIJI
One of the most picturesque villages in Fiji is the Navala Village where people are still living in thatched roofing ‘bures’. It is a home to roughly 1000 people. Navala is very special because all the houses here are of the same size. Located near the mountain of Ba, it is only a three hours drive from Nadi / Denarau. You will get a Kava welcome ceremony once you reach the village. Get firsthand knowledge about the traditional Fijian lifestyle by mingling with the locals and listening to the old folklores about this ancient village. Take a dip in cold water of the upper source of Ba River. Climb up to the top of the adjacent hill to have a great panoramic view of Yasawa Island Group. Witness coconut tree climbing and enjoy fresh coconut juice from freshly picked coconuts. Visit the village market and learn how the locals harvest wild fruits and yams. Join the local people on hunt for wild pigs in the jungle. Visitors must spend at least a night in the village to have a lifetime experience but remember consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited in the village.
14. ENKERI VILLAGE, MASAI MARA, KENYA
Enkeri Village is situated within 3 km (approx) of Olololoo main entry gate of the Mara Conservancy. A drive of 3-4 hours or a flight of less than an hour duration from Nairobi will take you to this village via the Game Reserve. Make a plan to stay here for a couple of nights to learn about the culture and traditions of Masai tribe, who have been beautifully harmonizing their life with wildlife and environment for centuries. Stay in a local hut mostly made up of mud. There is no electricity or running water, so hurricane or solar lamp will be available for use. Take traditional meals including rice, maize porridge vegetables and meat. Water is precious here and so try to carry enough bottles of water. Participate in local village activities like grazing cattle, ploughing the field in primitive way, carrying water on your head, milking the cows, etc. Also try to learn how they make fire using nothing more than two sticks. Spend the day with the tribal women and learn the art of making of Masai jewellery. It is also possible to participate in the famous ‘Adumu’ dance with the enchanting tribal songs. Enjoy the traditional singing and dancing in the evening around camp fire under the starry sky.
15. NUBIAN VILLAGE, ELEPHANTINE ISLAND, EGYPT
Nubia’s history can be traced as far back as 2,000 BC. An area between northern Sudan and southern Egypt is what is left of the ancient Kingdom of Nubia. Less than a 10 minute Felucca ride from Aswan Centre, 3 hours drive from Luxor, and a 1 hour flight direct from Cairo to Aswan are the two Nubian villages of Siou village and Koti village, both of which run across the center of the Elephantine island. The two villages nestling amid lush palm groves are connected by a footpath, and collectively, they are remains of three distinct settlements. The village features mud brick alleys. Houses painted sky-blue, pink or yellow and often decorated with hajj scenes. Walls are painted with scenes from everyday life or nature. Henna is an important part of Nubian culture. Visitors usually leave with tattoos of reddish-brown flowers and geometric shapes. Nubians also traditionally made necklaces and bracelets from camel bones. The village has many places to buy souvenirs, handicrafts and aromatic herbs. Crocodiles are also a feature of village life here. This is a tradition that dates back to ancient Nubia. Crocodiles are taken in as pets and still live in some households, though only a few houses have them now, most people use these to attract tourists.
16. NUUK, GREENLAND
Greenland’s capital Nuuk, sits atop a barren grey rock and moss landscape. Though Nuuk is the capital and largest city of Greenland it is built slightly isolated. You can reach here by boat, plane or a helicopter. The peninsula is surrounded by bare rocks and mountains. Nuuk is home to many historical sights. In the picturesque old harbour you will find dreamy wooden homes, which are nested like pearls along the water’s edge. Nuuk is full of experience that won’t be found anywhere else in Greenland. It mixes the fascinating lives of old traditions with modern twists and diverse influence. Imaneq Street is a must go destination for traditionally made goods where most shops offer items of local need, thus giving the chance to find something unique and authentic to carry back home. Tourists must visit National Art Museum housing notable collection of artifacts. Most iconic piece here is the bronze sculpture ‘Mother of Sea’, the most revered statue in Greenland. In recent time, Nuuk is quickly shedding its old image and transforming into a Nordic cultural capital. During winter the whole village is buried in snow.
17. PARIANGAN, WEST SUMATRA, INDONESIA
Pariangan village is located on the slopes of Mt. Merapi, in Tanah Datar at west Sumatra, Indonesia. It is the oldest village, thought to be the cradle of the Minangkabau culture. Pariangan is one of the best-preserved traditional Minangkabau villages, containing many ‘rumah gadang’ or traditional houses. The oldest of these are said to be three hundred years old and feature beautiful wood-carving. The surrounding of the village with paddy fields, traditional houses and one of the oldest mosque is very beautiful and charming. This historical village still reflects the pure social structure of the Minangkabau concept of village. It also has some historical relics, such as stone basurk and long grave. Apart from these is a hill, called Sirang Kiang, which is a perfect place for the tourists to enjoy the breath-taking view of the scenery along the foot of the mountain and the hot spring. Pariangan has a natural beauty that provides comfort and a traditional atmosphere which is appreciated by the tourists who visit this village.
18. PALANGAN, IRAN
Palangan (which means ‘leopard’) is located at the north-western part of the city of Kamyaran in the Kurdistan Province. It is one of the most beautiful and amazing villages in Iran. Palangan is a must-see and a unique place especially for those who seek to spend some days off in a natural environment. This village has much to offer to its tourists like scenic nature, tasty food, authentic village life, unique architecture and mysterious history. According to the latest census, about 1000 people live here, mostly employed in the local fishing industry. The village is spread over both sides of a steep valley. In the middle flows the Tangi Var River. Connecting both sides of the village are several narrow bridges. But Palangan is most famous for the distinct terraced structure of the stone houses. The roof of each house is the yard of the one above it. Without a doubt the best time to visit Palangan is during the annual Nowruz (Iranian New Year) celebration, usually held in the middle of March. In short, this village is a hidden gem or treasure in Kurdistan region of Iran. This place has become popular for the tourist, not only because of its beauty but also for its polite and welcoming local people. Far away from the endless distractions of big cities, Palangan offers visitors a glimpse of a lifestyle that is different from the modern world but filled with calm and tranquillity.
19. PUNJI, BANGLADESH
Magurcherra Punji is a tribal village located in Sreemangal Upazila, Maulvibazar District in Bangladesh. It is located on the Sreemangal–Kamalganj Highway. It is the larger of the two villages located within Lawachara National Park, the other being Lawachara Punji. These are inhabited by the Khasi ethnic minority. These tribal villages are located within the tea plantations of the Sreemangal region of Bangladesh. While Sreemangal with its green hills, tranquil atmosphere and bird-and gibbon-filled Lawachara Forest is an attractive region for visitors, these tribal villages offer a glimpse into the cultures of the Khashia and Monipuri people. The Monipuri village of Ramnagar is located near the Tea Research Institute and Tea Factory. Those who wish to visit a Khashia tribal village, like Magurcherra on the road to Kamalganj, must take permission from the local chief. Tea plantations are located in these villages and surrounding areas. It is assumed that the entire internal parts of that Park are the residences of these tribal.
20. PYGMY (BATWA) VILLAGE, MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH WEST UGANDA
Batwa, more commonly known as pygmies, used to be known as the ‘Keepers of the Forest’ because they lived in harmony with the jungle in small huts made out of branches and leaves for over 50,000 years. These indigenous people, who are about 120 centimeters tall were given the name ‘Pygmy’, which means ‘dwarf’, by the Europeans. Pygmy men are approximately 10 centimeters taller than their women. With their curly hair and fuzzy bodies, Pygmies differ from other groups. They live in small groups and construct temporary cottages to live in by using bamboo trunks and large leaves they gather from trees. Still leading a primitive life, Pygmies spend most of their time hunting in the deep forests and gathering fruit and plants. In 2011, Uganda Wildlife Authority started the now famous Batwa Cultural Trail in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, where members of the Batwa community lead tourists through the forest in the shadows of the Virunga Volcanoes and show them their old way of hunting and living. On your way you will learn how to make fire without matches, you will fire an arrow with a bow, extract herbal medicines and learn a lot about Batwa traditions and legends. Also by the end of the tour they will do a local dance performance for you which is yet another great experience.
21. SHIRAKAWA-GO, GIFU, JAPAN
The Shirakawa-go is located in a mountainous region of Ono district, Japan. The old gassho-zukuri style houses (about 112 in numbers) are spotted in this mountain village and some of these are more than 250 years old. The name ‘Gassho-zukuri’ means ‘hands together’ as in prayer, referring to the steep roofs that keep the snow off in the winter. Processing the most original and beautiful scenery in Japan, Shirakawa-go was chosen and enlisted as one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. This village shows different faces in four different seasons - cherry blossoms in spring, bright green rice fields in summer, autumn leaves in autumn and snow-clad in winter. This means you can enjoy a trip to Shirakawa-go throughout the year and to see all its faces, one has to make at least four trips during four different seasons. There are various attractions within the village, within them the key attractions are the Wada House and Nagasa House. Visitors are given a rare opportunity to enter these traditional houses that were built as early as the Edo period. There are several beautiful natural landmarks nearby. One is the Mount Haku, one of Japan’s three famous mountains, surrounded by a virgin forest at its foot. The Three Amo Waterfalls: Taka falls, Naka falls and Ki falls can also be seen along the pass leading to the Amo highlands. This beautiful traditional village is the definition of picture- postcard perfection and is a ‘must visit’ if you are around.
22. XIDI, CHINA
Xidi Village is located at the south foot of Mt. Huangshan, China. Its original name was Xichuan. The old merchant village was cited in 2000 by the UNESCO World Heritage List for its well preserved old architecture and water systems. Xidi is an outstanding representative of Huizhou traditional culture, building techniques, agriculture and landscaping. The village has historical, artistic and scientific value. There are about 124 Ming and Qing houses (dating from the period between 1368 - 1911 AD), dining places, sightseeing options and shop for souvenirs and country products. Among the residences, only some are open to the public including Linyun Pavilion, the Eastern and Western Gardens, Ruiyu Courtyard, Taoli Garden, Da Fu Grand House and Lufu Hall. Carvings on wood, stone and brick are an important part of these residences. The clan made an ingenious use of the local water resources to provide running water to all the houses. The ancient halls and houses attract many student artists here to do sketching. If you are interested in history and culture, Xidi Village is a good place for you. The best time to visit Xidi Village is spring and autumn. If you visit in March or April, you can appreciate plenty of flowers around the village. Yellow Mountain and Hongkun Village are the added nearby attractions.
23. SWAT VALLEY, KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA, PAKISTAN
The Swat Valley is located in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Swat lies in the lap of the Hindukush Mountain Ranges. The larger part of Swat is covered with high mountains and hills, the crests of which are hidden by everlasting snow. Swat was home to the last isolated pockets of Gandharan Buddhism, which lasted until the 11th century, well after most of the area had converted to Islam. The charm of the valley attract thousands of tourists; hence it has become a popular tourist destination. Swat is also known as the Switzerland of Pakistan. One who will visit the valley will get amazed by its scenic surroundings. Its roaring rivers, waterfalls, meandering streams, glacier-fed lakes, pine forest, fruit laden orchards, flower filled mountain slopes and above all the friendly Swati people makes this valley one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Pakistan as well as in Asia. One should spend a few hours at local Mingora Bazar to mingle with local people. Spend the night beside River Swat in Fiza Ghat. Visit Malam Jabba, the most famous ski resort in Pakistan which is only 40 km away from Swat. Swat with its magnificent scenic beauty and rich historical past is a must visit destination that must feature on every tourist’s bucket list.
24. TAMAKI MAORI VILLAGE, ROTURA, NEW ZEALAND
Situated in the midst of ancient Tawa Forest in Rotura, the Tamaki Maori Village will give you a glimpse of the Maori way of life, which dates back to an era before European settlement in New Zealand. When you arrive, you will not be permitted to enter the village until a formal welcome ceremony named ‘haka’ takes place. It is a traditional war dance which will show the strength and power of the Maoris. It is accompanied by a chant and, in some cases, by fierce facial expressions meant to intimidate, such as bulging eyes and the sticking out of the tongue. Then a peace offering will be made and you have to listen to ‘karanga’, a welcome call. Finally you will to watch ‘powhiri’, a welcome dance which would permit you to enter the village. One can get a crash course in war dancing here. Take part in the daily life of a Maori such as planting and tending crops in communal gardens, fishing or gathering seafood and hunting moa, other birds or seals. Ride on the ‘wakas’ and hear about the ancient stories of the great Maori warriors. Take traditional ‘hangi‘ meal, which consist of meat and vegetables cooked underground for hours. At night enjoy a cultural performance with harmonious singing and traditional dances.
25. WENGEN, SWITZERLAND
A scenic village, located in the canton of Bern, Switzerland, Wengen is a part of the Jungfrau region. Wengen is located on a south facing plateau at 1,274m above the sea level with many nostalgic timber houses, dispersed holiday chalets and hotels dating from Époque Period. This village has all the characters of a picture-postcard mountain village. This car-free village has age old Alpine summits with inherent Swiss culture with white floral pastures, lush green countryside views and the picturesque snow–drenched Alpine ranges forming a wonderful fairy tale backdrop perfect for holiday. The village is a perfect base to explore the Jungffrau region. As Wengen is located high enough, the place gets plenty of snow in winter. Hence, it is the best place to enjoy winter sports activities and other snow activities. A special cultural feature of Wengen is the so-called ‘Pfeifende Lurch’ (German for ‘whistling amphibian’). It is a legendary creature from myths and tales that only exists in Wengen.
26. JUKKASJÄRVI, SWEDEN
Jukkasjärvi village in Kiruna region of Northern Sweden is home to only about a 1,000 inhabitants; it is rather known for the Ice Hotel. There are lot of winter activities involving snow and ice available here for tourists. Temperature in winter can go down to – 55°C at night. Daylight is very limited during winter, with darkness until around 10 in the morning and a pale twilight until around 3 in the afternoon; the sun does not rise for two months between mid-November and mid-January. One can still find here the traditional husky sleighs for transport, however, mostly for tourists and competitions now-a-days. 8 to 10 dogs pull each sleigh (depending on how heavy the tourists are), and they are eager to get going, yelping and tugging at the reins. The paths are quite narrow and surrounded by fresh, loose snow; often the sleighs topple over when going round a bend or over a mound, leaving you to fight your way out of the thigh-deep snow. The dogs would carry on regardless of it until the handler can stop them; so you may have quite some distance to walk to catch up with them. The Sami are indigenous people who live in tents here and still have a fairly traditional and nomadic lifestyle; they herd their reindeer for weeks across the wild tundras in the frozen north. The tents are quite basic inside, with reindeer skins creating the seating area around the edge, and a fire in the middle to keep you warm.
27. KASH GOZ, AFGHANISTAN
In the hotbed of conflict and terror, the villages of the Kyrgyz and Wakhi people are nestled peacefully in the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. Modernisation and technological development is a far cry in this remote corner of the world, although the people here live peaceful life amidst nature. There is a Kyrgyz yurt camp at Kash Goz at an altitude of approximately 4,150m. Like most camps this nomad camp has five yurts and one mud house which is home to the mosque of the clan. An enclosure formed by mud walls also gives shelter to the sheep and goat herd. Yaks move around the yurts freely at night. There are no trees or bushes at that altitude. The high plains receive a lot of water but extreme altitude and tough weather conditions do not allow any farming on this arid land. The arctic winter lasts for six months and can badly decimate the livestock, which is a big problem since Kyrgyz nomads completely depend on their cattle. All types of daily needs are covered by stock farming or by trading in their products like wool, ropes, yurt cover, clothes, milk, yoghurt, quark, cheese, meat and leather. These are traded for flour, tea, sugar and all other goods the Kyrgyz cannot produce by themselves. A yak caravan to the closest Wakhi settlement takes a troublesome 5 day’s march. The region being surrounded by the Hindu Kush, Pamir and Karakoram Range of mountains, is remote and difficult to reach. However, this is accessible for mountaineers.
28. GIETHOORN, THE NETHERLANDS
This is a car-free village in Overijssel Province of the country that is known mostly for its waterways in which boats are the main transport. It is often referred to as the Venice of the North. The village has a population of about 3,000 people. The centuries-old thatched roof houses, cycle paths and greenery add to the charm of the place. There is a national park and a museum for tourists. The marshy Weerribben-Wieden National Park is interesting to explore. Adjacent to it is the Giethoorn’t Olde Maat Uus which is a farm museum illustrating the history of the region. There are quaint canalside restaurants for dining and spending time in the beautiful environment. The peaceful ambience of the village and its sheer beauty makes it look dreamy. There are day trips to this place from Amsterdam.
29. GÁSADALUR, FAROE ISLANDS, DENMARK
This is a scenic village on the western side of Vágar in Faroe Islands. It is named after wild geese which are said to be found in abundance here. From this village one can have panoramic views over to the Mykines Island of the Faroe archipelago. The village is surrounded by the highest mountains of the region like the Árnafjall, Eysturtindur, Tindhólmur and Gáshólmur and this adds to its pristine beauty. Despite the beauty of the place, the population here has been declining due to the difficulty in transportation. As of now, only about 16 people still live here. However, a tunnel was blasted recently in one of the mountains thus making a road for easier entry. This makes it easier for tourists to reach the place now.
30. FREUNDENBERG, GERMANY
This is a village in North-Rhine Westphalia region of Germany that seems to come straight out of the fairy tale books. The village is full of beautiful half-timbered houses that add a Medieval charm to it. The village is situated in a valley surrounded by picturesque mountains that provide hiking trails for adventure tourists. There are also other sports options. The Altstadt or the Old Town area dates back to 1605 AD and has a single road to explore. There is a museum that has exhibits relating to the local history and especially interesting here is the collection of clocks. There is also a museum of technology that displays exhibits relating to the industrial history of the place and the biggest attraction here is the steam engine dating from 1904. There are also ruins from a former castle and a church dating back to the 14th century. The village has served as backdrop of films due to its sheer beauty. Around the place are a few accommodation options for tourists who come here to spend some time away from the crowds of citi
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