There you are: sitting behind a desk, frantically replying to emails, when that feeling strikes again. That sensation of being stuck, of wanting to run away. We’ve all been there. Here’s a virtual vacation to chase the cubicle blues.
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10. Pai, Thailand
The entire town has conspired to make this the love capital of Thailand; love is simply everywhere! You see it on the signs, the quirky cafes, mailboxes, and even at the local bank! Hop on a motorbike and go chase waterfalls. Soak your worries away at the hot springs. Fall in love at Coffee in Love. Watch the sunset at the Pai canyon. Take a spin on a wooden Ferris wheel. Huddle around a bonfire at night and get a taste of Edible Jazz. Whether you stay for a few days, or linger for a month, you’re bound to find something new.
Related Article: Best Backpackers Hostel in Thailand.
9. Lombok, Indonesia
Bali’s lesser known cousin, Lombok is barely 5 hours away by ferry and 30 minutes by plane. Although Bali has the legendary waves and the Hollywood famous rice fields, Lombok has surf spots for all kinds of surfers—from beginner to kamikaze. It also offers scuba diving, mountain climbing and trekking. Lombok is a place where travelers can have a vacation from their vacation, where they can choose all sorts of outdoor activities or just have a coconut by the beach.
8. Penang, Malaysia
Georgetown in Penang is the perfect place to waste the day away. You can walk around with a camera and go on a tour of their museums, art cafes, and historical sites. Other activities can include checking-in at a quaint boutique hotel, having coffee and banana roti in little India, reveling in the Blue Mansion and eating the famous bak kut teh for lunch at a roadside stall.
Did we mention food & museum? In Penang, you can pair these two and eat and drink at the Chocolate and Coffee Museum! And I assure you that after days full of activities, watching the sun set from the jetty and having a seafood dinner at a restaurant on stilts will relax you even more.
Related Article: 7 Awesome Things to do in Penang, Malaysia
7. Vang Vieng, Laos
Vang Vieng has been notorious for its crazy parties and river tubing; but insiders know that there’s so much more to this place than whiskey by the buckets and hedonistic excesses. You can bike around the hillside, climb limestone karsts, and jump into the inviting waters of the Tham Pu Khao Blue Lagoon. You can meet new people every day and still stay connected because most restaurants and cafes offer free Wi-Fi. And if that doesn’t get you stuck, try Beer Laos or banana chocolate roti and you would never want to leave!
Related Article: Best and Cheapest Backpackers Hostel in Laos
6. Hoi An, Vietnam
We chanced upon this lovely town en route from Nha Trang to Hanoi. We knew so little about it and expected even less. But what greeted us were picturesque riverside coffee shops, boutique hotels and roadside vendors selling handmade souvenirs. Rent a bike and find yourself mesmerized by the landscape and the warmth of the people. Have a dress or suit made for very little from the best tailors in the country. Snack on bahn mi (French baguette filled with ham, liver spread and spices) and a sweet ca phe su da (Vietnamese iced coffee) while watching the river go by. The next day, repeat.
Related Article: Best and Cheapest Backpackers Hostel in Vietnam
5. Cebu, Philippines
Cebu is paradise in a place of convenience! Its central location gives you the comforts of malls, restaurants and free internet access. But you can escape modernity just by taking a boat ride to some of the best beaches like Bantayan, Camotes, Moalboal or Malapascua. Cebu also has a rich food culture: you MUST try lechon (whole roasted pig), siomai (dumplings) or lansiao (soup no. 5) all served with puso (rice wrapped in coconut fronds). You’ll find yourself exploring different places- from museums to bars, markets to churches. If Cebu doesn’t keep you, you’ll find yourself back there in no time!
Related Article: DIY Travel Guide Series
4. Banmaw, Myanmar
This town was not on our itinerary; it was supposed to be a short stop on our river journey to Myitkyina but we couldn’t get on the next boat and ended up staying for a few days. Although, it was very fortunate because we discovered one of Myanmar’s most relaxed and attractive towns. We walked around without a map and found the huge complex of Theindawgyi Paya with its gilded, bell-shaped stupa. We stumbled across it from a pond lined with concrete monk statues. There was even a group of girls who befriended us and treated us to a cup of tea!
3. Muang Ngoi, Laos
Muang Ngoi is a lesser known destination in northern Laos, a secluded village with hardly any electricity, internet or roads. It is only possible to reach it by boat. I felt so disconnected from the modern world here—but happily so. You can enjoy a daily vegetarian buffet, swim in the river and go hiking in the nearby villages. It’s also the best place to stay with a local family, cocoon in a hammock and just be in the present moment.
Related Article: Best and Cheapest Backpackers Hostel in Laos
2. Ban Lung, Cambodia
Ban Lung is the capital of Ratanakiri Province but the town itself is small and the surrounding area is deeply forested. At first glance, the place didn’t seem to have much to offer. But with the help of a local guide and his motorbike, we discovered elephant treks, hill tribe villages and a 700,000 year old volcanic crater lake. The clear, blue-green waters is the perfect spot to cool yourself down on scorching afternoons.
Related Article: Best and Cheapest Backpackers Hostel in Cambodia
1. Batanes, Philippines
I literally got stuck here for a week! I was on a trip with a local TV network and we were filming an episode about these enchanted islands. Because of a misunderstanding, my backpack which contained my laptop and clothing got stuck in Itbayat. The weather didn’t cooperate and there was no boat trip that could bring it back. So I stayed with a local family, borrowed their bike, and explored Basco. This is one of the last few untouched paradise in the country; I would bike for miles without seeing another person, often stopping at cliffs overlooking the sea. To complete this serene experience, I ate fresh seafood at roadside restaurants plenty in the village. I loved it so much I wish I could live there. Perhaps one day…
Related Article: DIY Travel Guide to Batanes, Philippines
Consider this fair warning: going to any of these places may cause you to abandon your travel plans, family or earthly possessions!
About the Writer
Lois has traveled extensively and have lived in Asia, the United States, and Europe. She is currently based in Portugal with her husband and baby girl. She is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of We Are Sole Sisters.
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