By Sam Ehrhart | Staff Writer

When people think of countries to visit for a vacation, they usually end up traveling to France, Japan, Germany, Australia, or some other well-known country. In this process, many countries end up being overlooked. These overshadowed nations each hold unique and interesting forms of leisure that many people don’t even know about.

Lace up your shoelaces, buckle up your backpack, grab your sunblock, and let’s get ready for an adventure throughout the world.

Bhutanis often regarded as “one of the happiest countries in the world.” This country is a tiny, landlocked nation nestled up high in the Himalayan Mountains, located between India and China. Bhutan is often overlooked, because access to the country is extremely difficult due to its high elevation and rural geography.

However, this ruralness is what makes Bhutan such a hidden gem. Throughout this country, snow tipped mountains lie in your vision no matter where you travel, climates change from subtropical in the southern portion to an Arctic climate in the Himalayas, and unique animals call this gorgeous country home. Tigers, snow leopards, and red pandas can all be encountered by hikers as they scale up mountainous trails through snow, green jungles, or chaparral ecosystems. Adventure is possible at every corner of this small country, and no matter where you travel, the local people will welcome you with happy, smiling faces.

Suriname is a small South American country wedged between Guyana, French Guiana, and Brazil. This country is famous for throwing huge parties in its cities along with its natural splendor. Suriname is an ethnically diverse nation that expresses its differences by holding cultural festivals, street food sales, and public events like marathons on a regular basis.

This nation also lies in the Amazon rain forest and borders the Atlantic Ocean. Surfing, swimming with sea turtles, fishing, and boating can be done from Suriname’s shoreline, while inland you can journey into the Amazon and encounter toucans, tapirs, jaguars, and other unique fauna. You can see rare plant species, with leaves bigger than your body. Suriname is a country brimming with historical, cultural, and natural adventures.

Brunei is a small country location on the island of Borneo. This country is surrounded by Malaysia and the South China Sea. Brunei is covered in virgin forests, which have never been cut or touched by humans before. In these lush rain forests, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a Proboscis monkey, a unique primate with funny-looking noses. Brunei has impressive Islamic architecture, which towers into the heavens and hosts a wide spectacle of beautiful mosques and museums that show off Islam’s art and ideas. If you’re a shopping junkie, then Brunei must be on your next traveling list. This nation’s tax levels are extremely low, meaning you can buy top-grade technology, clothes, and street food for a relatively cheap price.

Belarus is a European country between Poland and Russia. The majority of this country remains as rural forestland. Hiking through medieval era forests, fishing, hunting, skiing, and snowboarding (during the winter) are all leisure activities to enjoy there. If you’re more into the bustling city life, the capital city of Minsk possesses impressive buildings that were designed during the Soviet era of the nation. The city’s former Soviet Union monuments are a must see. A short trip out of Minsk will take you to some of Belarus’ Medieval Age castles towering over the sky – such as Niasviž Radziwiłł Castle.

Liechtenstein is an extremely small European country situated between Switzerland and Austria. While this country is the sixth smallest nation in the world, Liechtenstein is entirely in the beautiful Alps. It holds bragging rights as one of the most gorgeous hiking destinations in the entire world; trails in this country will take you scaling up the Alps and throughout picturesque flowering valleys. Liechtenstein holds an interesting history, with its dozens of Medieval era castles dotted throughout the country, which are always ready to whisk you hundreds of years ago, back to a time when lords and ladies ruled the land. If you’re into tall mountains and bitterly frigid temperatures, then Liechtenstein’s ski slopes might be the place for you. Malbun Skiing Range will take you down a mile-tall mountain at incredible speeds, while all around you are breath-taking valleys. While Liechtenstein is small, it makes up for it by all of its adventures.

Niue is a small island nation located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As a Pacific island, Niue boasts multiple beautiful beaches and offers top-notch scuba diving, snorkeling, dolphin watching, sea chasms, and cave exploring. Many of these caves include tidal pools to swim in. Fishing is a must in this tiny country of only 1,600 people. Blue Marlin, tuna, wahoo, and sea bass await you as you paddle on an outrigger canoe to go catch your dinner. Inland, you can explore Niue’s rain forests and spot the local flora and fauna of the island, none of which are poisonous. Niue is an overlooked country radiating with unlimited potential and enjoyment.

Burkina Faso is an African nation nestled between Mali and Ghana. The most popular tourist attraction in this country is the Nazinga Game Reserve. This area is protected environment for many of Africa’s top fauna: elephants, rhinos, lions, zebras, giraffes, crocodiles and cheetahs. If you visit the Nazinga Reserve, there’s a good chance you’ll see these animals in their natural habitat. The Sindou Peaks, another must-see sight, are a chain of tortuous looking cones that were created by Earth’s elements. There are also hiking trails through these cones.

Togo is a small African country located next to Ghana and Burkina Faso. Known for its amazing palm tree-lined beaches and its cute hilltop villages, Togo is a country that combines traditional African environments with that of tropical beaches. In Togo’s Fazao Makakassa National Park, some of Africa’s most popular wildlife are up close and personal. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot some of the park’s rare, exotic butterflies. The Atlantic Ocean at Togo’s coastline has a high amount of stuff to do. From the shore, you can experience class A snorkeling, surfing, kiteboarding, fishing, and water skiing.

Gabon is a tiny African nation located next to the Republic of Congo. Like other countries in Africa, it is best known for its variety of wildlife and fantastic beaches. Gabon contains 113 national parks in the country, all of which are populated with water buffalo, wildebeests, hippopotamuses, hyenas, and gorillas. The beaches in Gabon are perhaps the best beaches in the entire African continent. The water is like turquoise-blue glass, with dolphins, whales, and hippos routinely playing in the white-crested waves. Inland, the country’s lakes are a true spectacle. By renting a pirogue (a local traditional canoe), you can paddle across the majestic lakes in this country.

Moldova is a European country wedged between Romania and Ukraine. This country (like Belarus) remains mostly rural and forested, but it still contains cities to explore. In Moldova’s cities are hundreds of Russian-style churches, each decorated with unique artwork and characteristics that distinguish them from other buildings. The country boasts some of the best wine in the entire world. While hiking trails through green mountains and valleys populate this country, Gothic style castles dot the landscape. Monasteries with amazing religious artwork are located throughout the country.