If you can’t stop thinking about amazing food, exciting excursions and Insta-worthy pics, then you’re probably craving a vacation. Badly. But if tourists, crowds and lines make you anxious, why not take the road less traveled? (You are a trendsetter, after all.) Here, the best destinations, according Lonely Planet, for an off-the-beaten-path vacay.
While everyone’s trying to ride elephants in Thailand, you’ll be sprawled out with all the room in the world on a pink-colored beach on Lombok Island (we also hear you should rent a motorbike to get to Tanjung Aan beach, which is especially gorgeous and super secluded), taking a private hike up a volcanic peak in Bali, freaking out over komodo dragons in Flores or exploring the 14th-century Hindu temples of the Sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud.
Travel tip: Fly into Jakarta or Bali by way of Singapore, then take budget flights or local ferries to any of the surrounding 13,000 islands.
Game of Thrones fans can keep their Dubrovnik. The less-touristed ancient cobblestone village of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the medieval castle of Bran in Romania and the Accursed Mountains of Albania (yes, that’s their real name) feel just as steeped in history as King’s Landing Croatia. Yep, these Eastern European countries on the Balkan Peninsula have all the old-world charm and breathtaking scenery of a fairy-tale, but with fewer tourists than their Western counterparts (no offense, Italy).
Travel tip: Skip the slow-moving trains and commit to the widely used bus system, which connects many of the bigger towns as well as the smaller villages.
The tiny island just east of China is largely underrated by travelers, but don’t be fooled: The place is the perfect surf and turf, so to speak, for folks who can’t make up their minds. It’s got the beauty of the lush, green landscape of Yangmingshan National Park to the north, and the serene and placid waters of the more tropical Fulong Beach in the south stand in stark contrast to the cosmopolitan and skyscraper-filled city of Taipei.
Travel tip: Avoid going from June to August during the height of typhoon season. Instead, the best months for travel are October to February.
Floating in the Dead Sea, exploring the ancient stone ruins of the “Rose City” of Petra and temple ruins of Jerash and riding on camels in the desert oasis of Wadi Rum are not to be missed. But travelers hoping for a more tropical vacay won’t be disappointed by the luxurious seaside resorts of the port town of Aqaba and the world-class snorkeling of the crystal-clear Red Sea.
Travel tip: Head to the world-wonder Petra, the ancient city that’s built into the canyon walls, as early as possible (it opens at 6 a.m.) to avoid the scorching heat of the afternoon.
Cancun and Cabo can keep their spring breakers and crowded beaches. We’ll just be over here learning to surf on Starfish Beach in gorgeous Bocas del Toro; touring the coffee farms, volcanoes and cloud forests of Chiriquí; and exploring the cobblestone plazas and historic cathedrals of the Old City while dining on local fare of empanadas and ceviche.
Travel tip: Try to avoid the extensive rainy season, which can last from April to December.