Want to avoid the crowds? Head to a city or country on the State Department watch list. Want to avoid crowds and stay safe? Head to a city that used to be.
History moves faster than the travel industry and the best places to visit are often yesterday's war zones. The main reason the pendulum swings so far so fast is that tourists are a tremendous boon to struggling economies and are generally welcomed with open arms in places where unrest has led to instability. That makes traveling to formerly dangerous places smart for both selfish and humanitarian reasons.
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Why You Didn't Want to Go: This Sri Lankan beach town was a major tourist destination before the battles between Tamil separatists and the government turned it into a war zone during the nineties and early aughts.
Why You Want to Go Now: Trincomalee boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on earth, some of the best surfing, and astounding whale watching. One of the few places on the planet where boaters can predictably find Sperm Whales, the city is thick with researchers and SCUBA geeks. The old Dutch ramparts and local Buddhist shrines are also attractive and Pigeon Island is a major snorkeling destination. Check into the Jungle Beach Resort and you're bound to feel at home.
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