Between hectic work schedules and a packed social life, it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. Quiet times are rare, few, and precious—and so they’re best spent where you can reconnect with yourself, focus on people who matter to you, and do what liberates you the most. And perhaps, this is what vacations were truly made for.
Despite what whirlwind tourists say, the most blissful holidays are set in places that allow you to slow down, take in its enigmatic beauty as much or as little as you'd like, and recharge your batteries without the over-stimulation of crowds. Often, these destinations take secluded to the next level with secret isles, indie bookshops, and silent jungle retreats. If you have the heart of an introvert and a passion for adventure, these captivating landscapes are where you belong.
Can Cau (Lào Cai, Vietnam)
Lào Cai’s remote location—an 8-hour train ride away from Hanoi—has kept its delicate patchwork of verdant paddies and cultural traditions largely preserved. Make your way up to the far north and into the misty mountains that border Yunnan, China to see Can Cau. The purpose of your visit is to immerse in its open-air, isolated weekend market, where keen tourists and traders from the Flower Hmong and Giay tribes gather. Witness the exchange of colorful Vietnamese clothing, handmade goods, jungle herbs, vegetable brocade, and bowls of slurp-worthy noodle soups. While you sip on rice wine, relish the intoxicating splendor of nature unobstructed by the madding crowd you’d encounter at its more famous neighbor, Sapa Love Market.
Bukchon Hanok Village (Seoul, South Korea)
Don’t have time and energy to see all of South Korea? Get a foretaste of its culture, art, and architecture in a less intrusive and more immersive way at Bukchon Hanok Village. At this old hilltop village in Seoul, you’ll stumble upon rows of contemporary museums and traditional Korean homes (called Hanoks) with open doors for those who want to learn the art of tea brewing, doll making, gold leaf printing, and other intricate artisan crafts taught by residents who practice them in everyday life. In between workshop-hopping and trying on a hanbok, soothe your soles at Cha Masineun Tteul, where you can delight in a cup of homemade tea with views of the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Visit the Bukchon Hanok Village and other cultural landmarks in South Korea with Golden Eagle Travel & Tours, Inc.’s 5D/4N Seoulfully Yours in Autumn for 1, which includes plane tickets and hotel accommodations.
Railay (Krabi, Thailand)
There is something calming about foamy waves, golden sands, and sunny skies put together—the mere idea of a beautiful beach far from the chaotic city causes an involuntary sigh. At the petite peninsula of Railay (also spelled as Rai Leh) in Krabi, you’ll have three beaches to call your own. With sands that stretch as far as the eye can see, it’s easy to find an empty spot to get your tan on, listen to your chill out playlist, thumb through a magazine, or savor a picnic lunch. As the sun sets, head to the fringe of Phranang Beach to enjoy refreshing cocktails, an exotic fruit platter, and alone time with your sweetheart at The Grotto, a clandestine restaurant that juts out from the mouth of a limestone cave.
Fujin Street (Taipei, Taiwan)
Taiwan may have made its name as a tea-drinking nation, but it’s no rookie to the coffee movement either. If you love book dates and deep conversations with a friend in a quaint café, make a beeline for Fujin Street. Framed by shabby chic townhouses and flourishing trees, this hidden neighborhood has seen a glut of coffee concepts in recent years. There’s Kao! Beans & Beats where you can sift through vinyl records in its underground record store while your coffee is being brewed, and Fun Fun Town that offers pies and pastries alongside postcards, mini potted plants, intricately woven handbags, and long-sleeved tops simply because they can.
Wander around Taiwan with Jeron Travel & Tours Corp.’s 3D/2N Taiwan Free & Easy. The package includes plane tickets, hotel accommodations, and airport transfers only so you can design the itinerary however you want to.
Luang Prabang (Louangphabang, Laos)
One of the best places to catch Luang Prabang in its full glory is at the al fresco restaurant The Belle Rive, especially at sunset when the sky is awash in peach and dusky blue, coloring the otherwise lonely river of Mekong. Indulge in a typical Lao meal here, before taking advantage of its location in the historical center: bask in the serene atmosphere of the beautifully gilded temples like Wat Pa Phai, traverse the French-laneways of The Old Quarter on a rented bike, or reflect on Laos’ war-ridden past at UXO. This UNESCO World Heritage town takes on a different kind of magic at sunrise, too, during the alms giving ceremony at the main street where local monks collect donations to help feed the poor—a practice that dates back to the 14th century and shows just how generous Lao culture is.
Niseko (Hokkaido, Japan)
As bustling as it may seem, Japan slides naturally into our list because it’s where capsule hotels are plenty, solo dining spots are preferred, and commuters are busy minding their own business. If absorbing the wild vibe of Tokyo and Osaka drain your energy yet you feel the strong urge for adventure, hie to Niseko. Depending on when you’ll go, you can engage in different laid-back activities like mountain biking, horse riding, golfing, kayaking, and fruit picking in summer, or ice cream, strawberry jam and soba noodle making at any time of the year. But if your idea of a perfect holiday involves sweater weather and a mug of hot chocolate with mallows on top, come around late November ‘til May during ski season when the place transforms into a whimsical winter wonderland.
Considering spending winter in Hokkaido with a loved one? Check out ATTIC Tours Phils Inc.’s 5D/4N Winter Festival in Hokkaido for 2, which includes guided tours, airfare, hotel accommodations, and a day at Niseko.
Tiong Bahru (Bukit Merah, Singapore)
With its seamless public transport system, free and fast public Wi-Fi, calm environment, gorgeous botanical gardens, and an overspill of “coffices”, Singapore is a great base for digital nomads, freelance creatives, and those who simply want to vacation in peace. At the sleepy neighborhood of Tiong Bahru, you’ll be greeted with flamboyant murals, art deco-style apartments, artisan bakeries, vinyl shops, boutique art galleries, and several hawker food stalls in every corner (bonus: secret bars if you look closely). The best part of visiting these former burial grounds? You can unearth its beauty on your own with a free heritage walking tour map created by the National Heritage Board. A must-visit for any bibliophile is the pocket-sized indie bookstore BooksActually, a treasure trove of classic and obscure literary works and the purveyor of book vending machines in Singapore. But if you prefer to get lost in a labyrinthine library, hop on a cab to see library@orchard just 12 minutes away.
Paro Valley (Paro, Bhutan)
A mystical kingdom with limited visitors per day, charming small towns, and inspiring Himalayan scenery, Bhutan is every introvert’s dream destination. The best way to experience it is to brave the Druk Path that starts at Paro Valley and passes through alpine tundra, cloud forests, clear mountain lakes, and fortified Buddhist monasteries including Tiger’s Nest. The journey matters here but so does the destination—when fear becomes fascination, and the pain from foot cramps and swollen knees dissipates in the presence of the Mt. Gangkar Puensum, the highest point in Bhutan and the highest unclimbed peak in the world. At the end of this exhilarating albeit peaceful 5- to 9-day journey (depending on your time, budget, and zeal), you can carry on with your self-guided tour to see the Bhutan Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, and Buddha Dordenma Statue in Thimphu or head back to Paro to behold the iconic Paro Dzong, cross a 700-year old iron bridge, or even stay in an authentic farmhouse.
Unlike most countries, Bhutan requires visitors to book their tour through tour operators. Experience a little bit of the Druk Path with a 3-hour trek to Tiger’s Nest included in Bhutan Sangay Tours and Trek’s 8D/7N Experience Bhutan Group Tour for 1.
Ubud (Bali, Indonesia)
Though Bali is fun with friends, it is also the perfect place to travel alone if you wish to find yourself. With serene nature, centuries-old tradition, and ancient wisdom to boost overall wellbeing and happiness, restorative rural retreats thrive in its quiet town, Ubud. Inspired by the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, many city-worn foreigners spend their days seeking sunshine, spirituality, and solace in an intimate and transformative yoga retreat like Gaia Retreat Center. It can last anywhere from three days to a week and may include daily yoga classes, guided meditations, healthy lifestyle workshops, cultural excursions, and luxury villa accommodations (in a treetop, against bamboo groves, fronting the ocean or terraced rice paddies—your pick). If you fancy yourself the next Elizabeth Gilbert, you can extend your stay to have your palm read and shop at the local market, or just surrender to a traditional Balinese massage.
Looking to explore other Asian cities while you’re at it? Check out our new International Collection for discounts on all-in travel packages, luxurious cruises, and airfare-and-accommodation bundles.
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