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Top 5 Offbeat Cities

Fellow traveler and blogger Alan Perlman has assembled a collection of photos from five of the world’s most unfrequented cities. Check out his unique look at five cities that are truly off the beaten track for most Western travelers!


I’ve always loved looking at a world map. So many countries, so many borders and rivers and climates. While the world may feel small at times—like when you run into a friend in a city thousands of miles away—it’s quite large and diverse.

Take Africa, for example, a continent with fifty three different countries. That means fifty three different governmental structures, fifty three flag designs and fifty three languages. No, wait, hundreds of languages. Our world is much more complex than the borders we demarcate.

I think about all of these cities in all of these countries. Sure, I can place some of them onto a map. But as a visual-minded person, if I haven’t seen the way these cities look, the way the people look, I have a harder time retaining information about the location. We read about cities like Baghdad and Pyongyang in the news, but very few of us can talk about the way these places actually look and feel.

By visually exposing people to more of the world, I believe we’d increase tolerance and understanding of other cultures. That being said, here are images from five of the more offbeat cities around the world—places that often have a negative connotation to Westerners.

Baghdad, Iraq

Image Source: Flickr user egon voyd

Baghdad Sadr City Market

Notes: Baghdad Sadr City Market

Behind Cairo, Baghdad is the second largest city in the Arab world. It’s also one of the hottest, with average maximum temperatures in the summer as high as 111 °F (44 °C). The war-torn city is experiencing both residential and commercial reconstruction efforts.

Mogadishu, Somalia

Image Source: Flickr user ctsnow

Mogadishu, Somalia

Notes: Pictures from an armed convoy trip.

“The sandy beaches of Mogadishu,” according to Wikipedia, “are reported by the few Western travelers to be among the most beautiful in the world, offering easy access to vibrant coral reefs.”  Despite high crime and the traditional unrest associated with the Somali Civil War, Mogadishu is a commercial and financial center and serves as a major international seaport.

Monrovia, Liberia

Image Source: Flickr user Jason Judy

Monrovia, Liberia

Notes: “The city swelled from 500,000 to 1 million people during the war, and the combined impact of the destruction and population swell is very evident. This street is empty compared to the majority of Monrovia.”

Named in honor of U.S. President James Monroe, Monrovia is similar to Mogadishu in that it’s an important seaport and commercial center. If you want more information on Monrovia—and why it’s one of the most ridiculous cities in the world—check out the work by VBS.TV called The Vice Guide to Liberia.

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Image Source: Flickr user a.phasia

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Notes: Palace of Turkmenbasi on left, Kopet Dag mountains in the background.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to visit Ashgabat in my travels. Notable memories include visiting the annual Oil and Gas exposition (and scoring a free hat!), walking through the large Russian bazaars and learning about Turkmenistan’s megalomaniac dictator, Turkmenbasi, who renamed the days of the week and months of the year at his leisure.

Oh, and the Ashgebat streets are clean enough to eat on. They sparkle at night; the moon bounces off of their shiny stones. It’s really wild, actually.

Pyongyang, North Korea

Image Source: Flickr user Pricey

Pyongyang, North Korea

Notes: Pyongyang – Ryugyong Hotel

The elusive Pyongyang is also featured on VBS.TV. It’s called The Vice Guide to North Korea, and it’s certainly worth checking out. As an American, it’s very difficult to get into North Korea. Have any of you readers out there gotten in?


Thanks, Alan! Very interesting photos, and a thought-provoking look into these offbeat cities. For those who wish to read more by this blogger, you can read Alan Perlman’s blog, or reach Alan on Twitter.

Note: Alan has received special permission to repost these Flickr users’ images. Please do not copy them without similar express consent from the original photographers.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post, feel free to contact me using the link in the left sidebar!

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Posted in World Travel 12 years ago at 3:44 pm.


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3 Replies

  1. Thanks again for this opportunity, Dave!
    .-= Alan´s last blog ..Lusaka- Zambia- Billboards- Mobile Phones- and a Serbo-Croatian Lunch =-.

  2. Hi Alan, thanks for the cool post! You make some really good points about visiting these “taboo” cities.

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