People Love Visiting These Places -- It's Like They've Traveled Back In Time!

RealClear Staff

            

Even in this fast-paced, wired world, there are still places on the planet you can travel to that aren't keeping up with modern times -- and thank goodness for that!

1. Smith Island, Maryland and Tangier Island, Virginia

Smith Island, Maryland

First mapped by Captain John Smith in 1608, These two islands, each with a population of a few hundred, practically face each other along the Maryland-Virginia border. They're so secluded -- you can only access it by boat, and there are few cars and stores, and no bars (alcohol is forbidden) -- that its people speak a unique English Restoration-era dialect of American English. The economy is based on its fishing and seafood industry -- just as it has for two centuries.

2. Masurian Lake District, Poland

Popular with boating enthusiasts, canoeists, anglers, hikers, bikers and nature-lovers, this network of more than 2,000 lakes about 125 miles north of Warsaw also features vast forests. It's a quintessential example of the pleasures of simple country life.

3. Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido is the northernmost point of Japan, an island about the size and population of Ireland. Base yourself in the city of Sapporo (above), which has a 1960s-like feel to it. But as soon as you broaden out from there, time regresses. Lots of cool opens spaces, winter sports, centuries-old castles, undisturbed forests and 12 national parks are among the draws outside of Sapporo. 

4. Greenland

The world's largest island has an ice sheet twice the size of Texas -- the only contemporary ice sheet outside of Antarctica -- and spectacular views of nature's light show, the aurora borealis. Geographically it is in North America, but is ruled by Denmark. The population of about 55,000 is largely made up of native Greenlandic Inuit.

5. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

From the late Middle Ages to 1803, Rothenburg ob der Tauber was a Free Imperial City (in other words, it was self-governing) in the Bavaria region of Germany. Now it’s a tourist destination well known for its well-preserved medieval town and architecture. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1" was partly filmed there.

6. The Philippines

More than 7,000 islands make up the Philippines, with only about 2,000 inhabited. This beautiful country is far more than jam-packed Manila. Take the Chocolate Hills (above), a geological formation that is a big tourist attraction in Bohol province; or the pristine beaches and scuba diving in islands such as Palawan, Boracay, Apo and Siargao.

7. South Georgia Island

Still owned by the British (Captain James Cook claimed it for Britain in 1775), this island is only 1,600 miles from Argentina, and reachable from there via a five-day boat trip. Penguins, elephant seals and whales are the inhabitants; scientists and the occasional tourist are the only humans. 

8. The Seychelles

The archipelago of 115 islands 1,100 miles off the coast of Kenya in the Indian Ocean, is the smallest population of any independent African state (about 92,000) and is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, with gorgeous beaches and a nature preserve, the Vallee de Mai, that looks like something out of "Jurassic Park."

9. Xinye Village, China

Founded in the Southern Song Dynasty (960-1279), Xinye is noted for its well-preserved Ming and Qing era architecture and ancient residential buildings. Villagers also hold ancestor worship ceremonies during the annual Shangsi Festival, an ancient tradition that is only practiced by a few communities in China today.

10. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

You can't get much more primordial than this -- KÄ«lauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world's most massive subaerial volcano, spewing lava, remaking the landscape with fresh molten lava and bringing the Pacific Ocean to a boil. A tourist attraction since the 1840s, the national park turns 100 in 2016.

11. Okavango Delta, Botswana

One of the last places to see the Big Five of African safari -- elephants, lions, buffalo, leopards and rhinoceros -- it can be explored on horseback and canoe, just like the old days. Its chances of continuing that way were enhanced in 2014, when UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site.

12. Eastern Bhutan

It's hard enough to get to the main part of Bhutan, the once-isolated Buddhist country in the Himalayas. It's only reachable by air via a small plane -- no jets allowed. But then there's eastern Bhutan, which largely is as it has been for centuries, with quaint agricultural villages and sellers of silk wares. No airports there; the east is a two-day drive by 4x4. No hotels; you depend on the kindness of the villagers, who take you into their homes.

13. Inle Lake, Myanmar

The Nyaung Shwe township of Myanmar surrounds Inle Lake, where a fascinating and specific culture has gone unchanged for years, including leg-rowing and floating gardens amongst the reeds. Most residents are devout Buddhists, and live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo on stilts; they are largely self-sufficient farmers.

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