1 Kathmandu, Nepal

A hub for hippies for decades, Nepal’s capital city is a delicious fusion of East and West. Nestled at the heart of the Kathmandu valley, a mystical ‘mountain bowl’ setting in the shadow of the soaring Himalayas, Kathmandu has been shining a welcome beacon to travellers ever since Nepal opened its borders to foreigners in the Fifties.

The first visitors, geographers and mountaineers, who came here to survey and climb the highest mountains on Earth, were soon joined by hippies in search of the ultimate Shangri-la at the end of the overland – or ‘hippy’ – trail.

Indeed, Kathmandu still has a road nicknamed ‘Freak Street’ (real name Jochen Tole) in memory of the many thousands of hippies who passed through. And, to this day, travellers come to Kathmandu in search of enlightenment, though they share the city with legions of trekkers and well-heeled tour groups.

However, hosting seven Unesco World Heritage sites, produced by a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism, the city’s spiritual side remains well and truly alive. The white dome of Swayambhu, one of Buddhism’s holiest sites, surmounted by a golden spire and festooned with prayer flags, is not only the place to go to get your bearings, but also to take a breather from the hubbub below.
Meditation and yoga retreats are everywhere. It’s still possible to weed out palm-readers and the like, and the holy Hindu men, known as ‘sadhus’, are not hard to find at the city’s ancient sites for words of wisdom.

So, while the extreme sports industry has been something of a 21st-century bohemian stand-in in Kathmandu, it just takes a more intrepid traveller, prepared to hunt through its hectic tangle of streets, to find the quarters that remain untouched.
Don’t shun what you see at the face of it, though. Arguably, Kathmandu’s Western influences are all part of the appeal. A live classic rock cover band with Nepalese accents, and Mexican restaurants with curry specials, anyone?
See: welcomenepal.com

Click for more top bohemian cities

2 Tulum, Mexico

Tulum, with its ramshackle charm, possesses an enviable combination of magical coastline, fascinating history, and a charming town that developers haven’t got to yet.

Besides the appeal of being able to swim to Mayan ruins, Tulum’s restaurants and bars are relaxed, as are the craft markets, where locals sell pottery, brightly coloured blankets and religious trinkets. This could be the most placid place on Earth.

See: visitmexico.com

Click for more top bohemian cities

3 Dali, China

A city of antiquity, Dali is a mellow oasis in the heart of the southwestern province of Yunnan.

In amongst its town walls is a tourist-friendly strip of hippy cafes, and a bohemian vibe engendered by alternative types and student dropouts, who have flocked here for solace from the big cities.

The dramatic, mist-shrouded Cangshan mountains provide the bewitching backdrop.

See: cnto.info

Click for more top bohemian cities

4 Goa, India

Goa has been a hippy haven since hippies existed. Still unabashedly chilled out, and sporting the grey-dreadlocked remnants of the Sixties Goa Freaks scene, it is without the hustle, bustle and haggling that pervades most of India.

With a varied landscape ranging from thickly forested mountains to the beaches of its 75-mile-long coast, it offers lungfuls of fresh ocean air and bowlfuls of spicy vegetarian curries for the budget-conscious traveller.

See: goatourism.gov.in

Click for more top bohemian cities

5 San Francisco, US

Known as the City by the Bay, San Francisco is arguably the most cosmopolitan and bohemian city in
the great US of A.

A city of icons, including the Golden Gate Bridge, and steep winding streets lined with bright, pretty houses, San Fran has, for decades, been home to a thriving gay scene and anyone with a penchant for alternative free-thinking.

Visit Marin County on the outskirts, known for its liberal politics – and, of course, people.

See: sanfrancisco.travel