If you’re reading this article, there’s a chance you have a pretty long bucket list when it comes to travel, and with so much to do in such little time, you might question whether the trend of “slow travel” where one spends a reasonably long time in one place, for example, a month, often working and fully integrating with the culture of the destination… is a viable way to squeeze more from your travels or whether slow travel is actually just slowing you down.
The thought behind “slow travel” is that by spending more time in one location, be that a few weeks or a few months, you can experience the city in more depth and more authentically. The term “like a local” is often used to describe the experience of getting beneath the surface of a city and living more like a local – however, to do this in a weekend isn’t realistic, no matter what guidebook you possess.
Whereas, if you have a month to integrate with the local culture, and genuinely live like a local, where for the same price of a basic hotel you could have a luxury apartment rental and perhaps even get a part-time job; you will experience a whole new side of the city that is much richer than the typical tourist trail.
Here are three trendy places worth checking out in 2018:
- CHIANG MAI (Thailand)
Chiang Mai is known as the “capital of the north”. Many would describe Chiang Mai as a mystical land of temples, rice paddies, monks and natural jungle; though whilst this is true for areas around Chiang Mai, the town turned city itself, is pretty bustling and at times resembles a more relaxed version of Bangkok.
Chiang Mai is a digital nomad’s paradise with a high concentration of freelancers working from the many independent coffee shops and restaurants scattered around the city’s walls. There’s also a large university meaning the city has a young, vibrant, and aspirational feel to it.
Finding somewhere cheap to live in Chiang Mai is pretty simple. There are several modern condos available, for exclusive rent, on AirBnB at a cost of just $10 per night if you are renting for a month or more. In terms of finding a more traditional short term lease, there are property agents but the majority require three to six months minimum stay.
Chiang Mai is a great place to have as a long term base, in which you can explore the rest of Thailand. With direct flights to Krabi, Phuket and Koh Samui you are able to have a base in the North of Thailand (much cheaper than the south) and go on mini breaks to more exotic locations.
- ISTANBUL (Turkey)
Istanbul has unfortunately received a lot of bad press in recent years, with terrorist attacks, political instability and social unrest bombarding the headlines. The truth is, that whilst there are pockets of unrest, Istanbul is a place where people get along with each other very well, there is a sense of community and brotherhood that instantly makes you feel part of the culture. Yes, there are the occasional demonstrations but on the whole, Istanbul is a very safe city, due to its police presence and security measures now in place.
Istanbul is much like London, New York and Paris – in that it is is one of the world’s greatest cities yet comparatively cheap to it’s western counterparts. The joy of Istanbul is the city retains a traditional and authentic feel yet is superbly modern, design oriented, relaxed, and friendly.
Istanbul is unlike any other city in the world due to being separated by the Bosphorus Strait which divides Istanbul into two sides, on two different contents, the European Side and the Asian Side. The European side offers the more modern side of the city, with well known brands occupying prime real estate on the busy high street whilst independent hipster bars and coffee shops can be found near the river. Indeed, the European side has a feel of San Francisco about it, with all its unique and creative independent stores, cafes, restaurants and watering holes.
In terms of finding a property, this side of the river is where you’ll find trendy loft apartments at a quarter of the price you would pay in New York. The Asian side, however, is a little more shabby, and this is where you’re likely to find a great deal on a property. The Asian side has a much more “local” and rustic feel to it.
- MARRAKECH (Morocco)
Marrakech is an incredibly colourful and vibrant city. The majority of people visit for just a short while, as there is an element of endurance to be had with exploring Marrakech, due to the frenetic pace, the hustle and bustle, and in summer at least – the sweltering heat.
Marrakech, for some, may feel like stepping into Disneyland, in that it is such an overwhelming delight/attack on the sense. Whilst it provides a stark contrast to the Western World, it is only a short hop on a cheap flight to Mainland Europe and the “new city” offers some very luxurious accommodation at an incredibly cheap price.
Whilst you may not choose to live in Marrakech for a number of months, it can be a fantastic place to base yourself for a few weeks whilst exploring the gems of Morocco such as the Sahara Desert and Atlas Mountains. A more relaxed alternative to Marrakech is Essaouira that has a more chilled out coastal vibe to the city.