August 2023

Looking for an adventure that can take you above and beyond a typical vacation? If yes, then get ready to wander off-the-beaten path — starting with these best underrated destinations in Bhutan and Africa for the perfect getaway in nature.


Underrated destinations in Bhutan

1. Taktsang Palphug Monastery, Paro

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Located high in the mountains, the remote Tiger’s Nest Monastery is quite possibly the most famous destination in Bhutan. In this small, independent nation on the eastern edge of the Himalayas, no sacred religious site measures up to Tiger’s Nest.

Built in 1692, this cliffside monastery has fascinated pilgrims, adventurers, and photographers alike. A challenging hike awaits all those who wish to see the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, as it sits over 2,500 metres above sea level. 

You’ll want to bring a sturdy pair of walking shoes, plenty of water, and some snacks. On your way up, you’ll be able to spot Lungdhar, which are Bhutanese prayer flags that have been strung up along the path. The walk up to Tiger’s Nest Monastery takes about two hours, with resting spots along the way for you to enjoy the spectacular view.

At the monastery, be astounded by the surrounding lush green forest and hilly landscape. After breathing in that sweet, crisp mountain air, you might never want to leave.


2. Punakha Dzong, Punakha

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A dzong is a unique architectural structure that is unique to Bhutan and Tibet. Each one is a hybrid between a fortress and a monastery. Though there are many dzongs to be found in Bhutan, Punakha Dzong is definitely one of the more important ones. After all, this is where all of the kings of Bhutan have been crowned over the years.

The impressive architecture of Punakha Dzong is complemented by the beauty of its surroundings. Sitting between two rivers and surrounded by Jacaranda trees, Punakha Dzong is no stranger to lush, green hills bathed in soft sunlight and the sounds of water flowing nearby.

That said, it’s really no wonder that the name ‘Punakha Dzong’ translates to ‘the palace of great happiness or bliss’. Today, this building serves as the administrative centre of Bhutan’s Punakha District.


3. Dochula Pass, Punakha

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When in Bhutan, you’ll find picturesque mountain landscapes everywhere, too. Also located in Punakha, Dochula Pass is a great place to take in the natural splendour of Bhutan. On a clear day, you can actually see the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas from here!

Along the mountain pass, you’ll also see the Druk Wangyal Chortens. These are 108 memorial stupas that were built under the patronage of Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. They stand to honour the sacrifice of Bhutanese soldiers that gave their lives during Operation All Clear in 2003. 

Nearby, you can visit the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang Temple and admire the intricate traditional architecture.


4. Phobjikha Valley, Gangtey

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If you love nature, then visiting Bhutan’s Phobjikha Valley is an experience that can’t be missed. Located on the borders of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, this glacial valley is home to dozens of unique animals and is one of Bhutan’s most important wildlife preserves. 

Phobjikha Valley serves as a migratory location for the black-necked crane, which is the rarest species of crane in the entire world. This bird is sacred to the nation of Bhutan, having made its way into Bhutanese folktales and songs. Every year, the migration of this majestic bird is celebrated through the Black-necked Crane Festival, an annual one-day event held on 11 November.


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While you’re in Phobjikha Valley, you can also visit the Gangtey Monastery. Built in 1613, this ancient building is also known as Gangtey Goenpa; it’s also the reason the surrounding region is called Gangtey. Besides that, the valley is also an excellent place for hiking, camping, and taking photos for the ’Gram.


5. Motithang Takin Preserve, Thimphu

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To understand the value of visiting the Motithang Takin Preserve, you first have to understand exactly what a takin is. Best described as a cross between an ox and a goat, these beasts are gentle by nature, and are actually the national animal of Bhutan! Legend goes that a 15th-century saint created the takin after he agreed to conjure up a miracle in exchange for lunch.

Up until 2004, Motithang Takin Preserve was actually a small zoo. Now, the takin roam free among the trees of this carefully preserved forest. Besides watching takin roam in their natural habitat, the preserve is also a great place for hikes. Remember that you’re not allowed to feed the takins, so just enjoy their company and the beauty of the surrounding grounds.


6. Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park, Thimphu

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Welcome to the most-visited nature park in Thimphu, Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park. All 493 acres of this park make it a great location for jogging, hiking, and other outdoor activities. However, no highlight stands out as much as Buddha Point

This area houses the Great Buddha Dordenma, a 160-feet-tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha that was built in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk. Also within the nature park are the ruins of the ancient palace of Sherab Wangchuck, a Bhutanese ruler from the 17th century.

If you’re interested in what you’ve read so far, it’s time to experience these places for yourself hassle-free with Chan Brothers Travel and UOB Cards!


Underrated destinations in Africa

Africa is home to one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems on the entire planet: the savanna. Start with Kenya and Tanzania, i.e. the best countries in Africa to experience the wild, unbroken expanse of true savanna.


7. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

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Adventure begins at Masai Mara National Reserve. It encompasses a sprawling ecosystem unlike any other in the world, home to various animals including elephants, leopards, gnus, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, and so much more. 

Remember the opening scene of The Lion King? You’ll get to experience that in real life. To experience the wild beauty of the Masai Mara National Reserve, hop on an all-day game drive. Your savanna tour on four wheels will be accompanied by a local guide at your side.

You can also go on a cultural visit to meet with the courageous Maasai tribe. Maasai warriors are known first for the red robes and proficiency with a spear. However, these are humble people, and they are always eager to teach people about their traditional ways and ancient heritage. Finally, you can also take in the Masai Mara National Reserve with an unforgettable hot air balloon ride.


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The Maasai Mara people are a Nilotic ethnic group found in Kenya and Tanzania. They have a distinct culture centred around cattle herding and a semi-nomadic lifestyle. They have their own language, wear colourful traditional clothing, and are known for their warrior culture. 

The Maasai value their cultural heritage and strive to preserve their customs and social structures. They engage in traditional dances and music, and many Maasai communities are involved in conservation efforts.


8. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania 

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Serengeti National Park is another massive ecosystem that’s unique to Africa, and it actually shares a border with the Masai Mara National Park. Many animals call this park home, including several endangered species like the black rhinoceros, wild dog, elephant, and cheetah. Similarly, the best way to spot some of these magnificent beasts is through a game drive.

You’ll also encounter more common, but equally majestic creatures like wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras. The Serengeti ecosystem (and the entire savanna) is also host to the Great Migration. This is an annual event when millions of wildebeest, zebra, and other herbivores make their journey across the great plains in search of food and water.

There are also plenty of opportunities to go on guided nature walks and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Serengeti from a hot air balloon. Besides that, you can also check out the Bologonja Springs, which provide water in the savanna year-round and attracts plenty of wildlife to spo


9. Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

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Even though Olduvai Gorge is located between Serengeti National Park and the nearby Ngorongoro Crater, it deserves its own mention on this list. That’s because this gorge holds the earliest evidence of humanity in our entire history! After all, there is a reason that Africa is called the Cradle of Humankind, or the Cradle of Civilization. 

Scientists have discovered fossilised bones and stone tools in the area that go back millions of years. It was this very discovery that led them to the fact that humans first came to evolve in Africa. Not many people have the privilege of visiting such a historical site, even if it might just look like a rocky valley on the surface.


10. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

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Nearby lies Ngorongoro Crater, aka the largest volcanic caldera in the world. Spanning roughly 250 square kilometres, this combination wetlands, forests, and grasslands was once the mouth of an extremely ancient volcano. 

The enclosed nature of the crater has basically allowed it to form its own ecosystem; and Ngorongoro Crater is now a sanctuary for the densest collection of large mammals in Africa! These include elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and many other species. It’s an amazing place to go on safaris, enjoy the beauty of the wilderness, and learn a little more about Africa.


11. Materuni Waterfalls, Tanzania

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Top off your nature odyssey with a visit to the picturesque Materuni Waterfalls. Cascading off the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, this waterfall might require a little bit of a hike to get to, but the results are totally worth it. When you get the chance to bathe in the cold, fresh waters flowing from the mountain, you’ll truly feel one with nature. 

Plus, as Materuni is one of the highest waterfalls in Tanzania, it’s also a fantastic place to take all the Instagram-worthy waterfall pictures you can ever wish for.

Are you ready to experience the best of Africa’s natural beauty with a hassle-free vacation? Check it out with UOB Cards!



When you’re travelling on your own, there are a lot of different things to keep in mind, aside from trying to enjoy your planned destinations. This goes double if you’re heading to places that are off-the-beaten path. Enter Chan Brothers Travel, a travel agency with more than 50 years of experience putting together hassle-free tours that will have you worrying about nothing else — except enjoying your trip. 


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