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5 alternatives to Ankwor Wat

Borobudur Temples, Indonesia

Alright, if you're looking for grandeur that's not mainstream, then Borobudur Temples in Indonesia is your jam. It's like a beautiful and exciting DVD extra of 'Indiana Jones' foundation set. So, here's what's up - this place is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and was built in the 9th century. Everyone talks about the sunrise there and trust me, it's no joke. You'll be perched on top of this gigantic pyramid-temple, enclosed by lush forests while the sky explodes in colors. Totally worthy of your IG feed. Hey, you might bump into groups of people for sunrise, so if you want a more peaceful experience, go for sunset.

As for must-see, the temple complex itself is a masterpiece with intricate carvings and a zillion Buddha statues. So it's not just a single temple, it's a whole puzzle of them. The way the temples are built is sort of like a journey from the everyday life to the enlightenment. Although there aren't any boho cafes like in Bali, Borobudur still has a certain vibe to it. It's more like a spiritual retreat away from touristy hustle. Bring a good hat and sunglasses, the place gets way too sunny.

Ask Layla about Borobudur Temples, Indonesia

Cholula, Mexico

Stepping a little off the track, let's find our way to Cholula in Mexico. Yes, we all love Cancun and Tulum, but we aren't about the typical tourist spots, right? Now here's the twist, Cholula has the largest pyramid known to exist in the world today. Not kidding! But it looks more like a hill than a pyramid really because it's mostly covered in grass and there's a church on top of it. Thing is, it's super crazy that you're walking on terrain and then boom, you realize it's an ancient pyramid.

So, for some trippy sights, you can go inside the pyramid tunnels, which is super cool and not something you get to do at most archaeological sites. Also, a big win - it's less crowded - so if you're not keen on long lines and too many selfie sticks, this is your spot. Take a Uber, it's far safer and not too pricey. Make sure to explore the city too, it's filled with vibrant streets and colorful buildings which are super aesthetic. Just imagine those insta pics!

Ask Layla about Cholula, Mexico

Uxmal, Mexico

Keeping the groove going, we switch gears to Uxmal, Mexico. Say goodbye to mainstream and say hello to Mayan magic. Uxmal is one of the best-restored and maintained ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula but somehow still stays under the radar. Cool, right? The best part is they let you climb some of the structures, and the view from the top, AH-MAZING. The intricate architecture, the legends of ancient civilization, it's like stepping into a different world.

In addition to being less crowded, this place has a more raw and authentic vibe as opposed to its more famous cousin, Chichen Itza. Not to forget, it's also a UNESCO Heritage site, so yeah, it's legit beautiful! So how about you ditch the bikini beach teams this summer and head over to this Mayan site? DON'T forget your insect repellent and a good pair of shoes. It's a lost jungle city, after all.

Ask Layla about Uxmal, Mexico

Lalibela, Ethiopia

For the last bet, let's roll to Lalibela in Ethiopia. This place is literally like something out of a fairy tale. Imagine this - 11 monolithic rock-cut churches from way back in the 13th century. These are not just small chapels, these are massive multi-level structures dug out of the solid rock ground. It's like the whole city is an art piece, you know?

The architecture is just bonkers, and you can't help but wonder how the hell they managed to build all of it. Make sure you take a guide, 'cause you want to understand how crazy-cool everything is. Dress appropriately, this is a sacred place for the locals. Oh, and December to February is the best time to visit, you'll catch some festivals - and who doesn't love witnessing cultural festivals, right? There's nothing like sipping Ethiopian coffee after exploring those church-caves. It's a vibe, you guys, totally worth every bit of journey.

Ask Layla about Lalibela, Ethiopia

Ellora Caves, India

Jumping across continents, let me drop the pin on Ellora Caves in India. This isn't your average temple scene, guys, it's a freaking architectural genius cooked up by ancient folks. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a mix of 34 monasteries, temples, and chapels, carved into the side of a basalt cliff. How insane is that? It's got Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples, all co-existing, and it's like centuries old. Totally non-mainstream and not regular on Instagram either.

Tip - you've gotta take a guide with you 'cause the carvings and architectures aren't something you want to miss out on. All that knowledge bombs around history, religion, culture, and whatnot. Also, another pro tip - try to visit during weekdays when it's less crowded. Remember, hydration is the key, carry water bottles. India can get super hot but the pictures you'll get, it's worth the sweat!

Ask Layla about Ellora Caves, India
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