There are some destinations that simply exude luxury. The Maldives, Paris, Fiji, the Amalfi coast… the list goes on. They’re the places that immediately come to mind when you want to plan a luxurious vacation.
But such popular destinations also tend to have crowds, and they can be lacking when it comes to having an authentic experience. So, if you’re in search of somewhere you can bask in the lap of luxury while still enjoying a feeling of exclusivity, why not try one of these more under-the-radar options?
Luang Prabang, Laos
Bali has been a go-to spot for luxurious (and affordable) travel in southeast Asia for a while now, and Luang Prabang is poised to take its place. The villages of Luang Prabang sit in a valley at the intersection of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, where old colonial architecture and Buddhist temples mix with new luxury hotels. It’s a charming, laid back town where visitors can spend their days sampling local delicacies at the many vibrant food markets, visiting temples and monasteries, and taking a walk through the jungle to the magnificent, turquoise Kuang Si Falls. There are various local festivals throughout the year, including Lao New Year in April and the Festival of Lights in October.
Despite its remote location south of Australia, Tasmania has much to offer the luxury-seeking travelers who make the effort to get there. Hobart, the capital of the one-time penal colony, boasts beautiful parks, colonial cottages, galleries and restaurants, a weekly market, and a harbor with stunning views. Beyond the city, though, lies seemingly endless nature waiting to be explored. The East Coast is a must-see scenic drive, taking visitors through seaside villages, rocky shorelines, and award-winning vineyards. Hire a local driver who can take you to the best spots! Travelers in the area from May to November may also have the chance to spot migrating humpback and southern right whales.
José Ignacio, Uruguay
Uruguay has long flown under the radar compared to Latin American destinations like Argentina and Costa Rica. But those in the know adore the upscale surf town of José Ignacio, which sits about two hours from the capital city, Montevideo. With state-of-the-art wineries, incredible culinary creations, private clubs, and stunning views from just about anywhere, José Ignacio is the ultimate luxury escape. There are plenty of boutique retreats to choose from, but it’s noteworthy that most businesses are only open from mid-December to the end of January, with some stretching into February. It’s off-season through the rest of the year, and therefore not a good time to visit.
Often referred to as the ‘St. Tropez of Turkey’ and compared to places like Mykonos, Bodrum is very much the new destination to see and be seen. It’s a place where old meets new — luxury hotels, beach clubs, and shiny superyachts sit alongside white-plastered streets, markets with vendors selling everything from dried fruits and herbs to local cheeses and oils, and the 15th-century castle that the area is known for. Bodrum sits on the shores of the Aegean on the southwest coast of Turkey, and while it’s easy to fly there, those with the time and resources may want to consider hiring a boat and sailing into the port city — an especially lovely option if combining Bodrum with a visit to the Greek islands.
Though it’s been popular among backpackers in search of a safe, laid back island hideaway, Belize is still somewhat undiscovered when it comes to luxury travel. Though it’s not the ideal destination if you’re in search of strolls on white sand beaches, those seeking adventure will find it here. The country sits on the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere and is a great place for snorkelers, divers, kayakers, and fishermen. Accomodation-wise, there is a range of beautiful villas and boutique resorts that cater to a more upscale clientele — as well as some private islands if you’re in the mood to splurge.