There’s nothing quite like veering away from the crowded tourist trails and discovering the uncharted territories of this fascinating world. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of six incredible off-the-beaten-path vacation destinations, from a relatively unknown archipelago in Thailand to a Caribbean fishing town and scuba diving haven in Belize.
With more than 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve also found the best accommodations for each place, ensuring your holiday is memorable for all the right reasons. These idyllic escapes range from coastal resorts with pampering day spas to budget-friendly hostels and city-centre hotels.
Why You Should Visit the Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
Located just off the south-east coast of Vietnam, Con Dao is an archipelago of 16 mostly uninhabited islands with white-sand beaches and vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. They offer true isolation far removed from the rest of the world. Your days can be spent hiking, scuba diving, wildlife watching and simply sunbathing on the beach.
Must-Do Experiences on the Con Dao Islands
- Explore the main town on Con Son, home to colonial buildings, markets and charming seafood restaurants.
- Rent a motorbike to explore the quiet roads and discover hidden beaches and coves.
- Hit up one or more of the 25 renowned scuba diving sites around the islands with Con Dao Dive Center.
Top Hotels on the Con Dao Islands
The beachfront Poulo Condor Boutique Resort & Spa offers 4-star luxury on Con Son, nestled between the soft sand of Vông Beach and the verdant jungle sloping up Chua Mountain. Vietnamese traditions meet French colonial heritage, resulting in understated opulence, from the mountain-facing infinity pool to the pampering Yen Spa.
You can dine on international and Vietnamese cuisine at Des Iles or sip cocktails and top-shelf liquor at the bars by the pool or beach. The suites and villas boast colonial-style decor and views of the gardens or lotus ponds. We particularly love the Pool Villas with private pools, king-size beds, outdoor rain showers and verandas.
- Miếu Bà temple (1.8 kilometres)
- Trail To Vinh Dam Tre Lagoon (2.4 kilometres)
- Bãi Suối Ớt lookout (1.8 kilometres)
Star Rating: 4.5*
Price: USD 222 – USD 789
Guest Rating: 9.5
Address: Suoi Ot Site, Con Son, Vietnam
Six Senses Con Dao offers an extraordinary world of 50 villas and residences with private pools and sustainable materials. You can choose a single-bedroom villa with ocean views from a balcony or a patio right onto the white-sand beach. Travelling with a group? Book one of the three or four-bedroom residences for spacious living and dining rooms.
The resort offers a range of activities to keep you busy while in paradise, including historical town tours, clam collecting, jungle and coastline hikes, boat charters and water sports. Kids love the children activities, such as cookie decorating and sandcastle competitions. You can also embark on a sunset cruise or go scuba diving.
- Lò Vôi Beach (3.3 kilometres)
- Nhà tù Côn Đảo war museum (4.7 kilometres)
- Bảo Tàng Côn Đảo history museum (4.9 kilometres)
Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 1,455 – USD 1,571
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: Dat Doc Beach, Con Son, Vietnam
Why You Should Visit Punta Gorda, Belize
Nestled on Belize’s Caribbean coastline, Punta Gorda is a peaceful fishing town. It attracts nature lovers and scuba divers because it’s a gateway to Port Honduras Marine Reserve and the turtles and whale sharks in the Belize Barrier Reef. Venture inland and you’ll discover the ancient Maya city of Lubaantun and cascading waterfalls in Rio Blanco National Park.
Must-Do Experiences in Punta Gorda
- Explore the mangrove-fringed cays and surrounding reefs of Port Honduras Marine Reserve.
- Scuba dive with turtles, whale sharks and colourful fish in the Belize Barrier Reef.
- Dine on local cuisine by the ocean at Asha’s Culture Kitchen.
Top Hotels in Punta Gorda
Budget-savvy travellers looking to explore Punta Gorda often call A Piece of Ground their home. The hostel has affordable dorm rooms with sleep pods featuring their own lights, curtains and power outlets. You can also stay in a private room with a double bed or two single beds, along with a desk, private bathroom and a flat-screen TV.
All guests have access to complimentary Wi-Fi, a communal kitchen and the laid-back rooftop bar with a thatched roof and projector screen for movie nights. The on-site kitchen also serves vegetarian meals, including veggie burgers. Don’t miss out on one of the hostel’s tours to ancient Maya ruins, waterfalls and caves.
- Chrisanason’s Sweets and Treats (500 metres)
- Punta Gorda Central Park of Heroes (1.4 kilometres)
- Mi’Chantos’ Night Club (1.9 kilometres)
Star Rating: No Rating
Price: USD 38 – USD 59
Guest Rating: No Rating
Address: 12 Pelican Street, Punta Gorda, Belize
About one kilometre from Punta Gorda Airport, The Sea Front Inn offers affordable beachfront accommodation overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The hotel caters to a range of travellers with its single, double and triple rooms boasting complimentary Wi-Fi, private balconies, ocean views and work desks.
The hotel invites you in with its landscaped grounds and vibrant murals, while the complimentary kayak and bicycle use makes exploring Punta Gorda a breeze. All of the rooms keep you comfortable with air conditioning, cable TV and hot-and-cold showers. The chilled-out Rainforest Reggae Bar is right next door.
- Punta Gorda Central Park of Heroes (800 metres)
- Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory (400 metres)
- Earth Runnins’ Cafe & Bukut Bar (450 metres)
Star Rating: No Rating
Price: USD 82 – USD 120
Guest Rating: No Rating
Address: 4 Front Street, Punta Gorda, Belize
Why You Should Visit Siquijor, the Philippines
There’s much to be learned from a visit to Siquijor, a small island known for its mangkukulam (healers) and mountain communes. However, it’s just as easy to switch off while scuba diving, hiking through forests, swimming at waterfalls and sipping cocktails on the beach.
Must-Do Experiences on Siquijor
- Hike to the three-tiered Cambugahay Falls and dive into the clear swimming hole.
- Visit the 400-year-old Century Old Balete Tree and dip your feet into the pool at its base to have your skin cleaned by little fish.
- Explore the walking trails, beaches and wildlife at Salagdoong Forest.
Top Hotels on Siquijor
The relaxing Coco Grove Beach Resort is nestled on the white sand of Tubod Beach and surrounded by tropical palm trees. The resort has its own dive shop, where you can rent gear and embark on tours to local dive spots. Back at the resort, you can kick back at the bars by the garden or one of the three pools, then dine at the on-site restaurants and book massage services.
The accommodation includes Standard and Deluxe rooms with queen-size beds, but we recommend booking one of the unique Superior Cottages with private balconies and loft bedrooms. You can also stay in the Coco Villa Premier Suite for a spa bath and living room or book the two-storey Penthouse for a rooftop Jacuzzi with 360-degree views.
- Cambugahay Falls (19.3 kilometres)
- Bulakaw Forest Reservation (6.6 kilometres)
- Century Old Balete Tree (9.2 kilometres)
Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 119 – USD 287
Guest Rating: 8.8
Address: Tubod, San Juan, Siquijor, Visayas, Philippines
The budget-friendly Lazi Beach Club Resort occupies its own private slice of coastline on a secluded bay. The beachfront accommodations are quaint cottages with individual furnishings, such as the six-person Glenn’s House with a private deck, marble bathrooms and three bedrooms. Couples are better off staying in the smaller Beachfront Cottage with a connecting living room.
The resort boasts a range of facilities to make you feel at home, including a sun-dappled pool overlooking the water and a restaurant and bar serving Filipino and Western food alongside cold beer. You can also organise scuba diving excursions with local dive centres through the resort’s staff.
- Century Old Balete Tree (6.2 kilometres)
- Cambugahay Falls (8.5 kilometres)
- Bulakaw Forest Reservation (10.9 kilometres)
Star Rating: 2*
Price: USD 34 – USD 121
Guest Rating: 8
Address: Barangay Talayong, Lazi, Philippines
Why You Should Visit Nan, Thailand
Nan is a small town in northern Thailand and certainly not a destination you see on many Thailand holiday guides. However, intrepid travellers love Nan for its surrounding mist-covered mountains, fascinating morning markets and the centuries-old temples. You’ll see very few tourists here as you visit ancient wats and local riverside restaurants.
Must-Do Experiences in Nan
- Browse the stalls at Tang Chitnusorn Market.
- Watch the sun rise over the town from Wat Khao Noi.
- Explore the hiking trails of Doi Phu Kha National Park to discover waterfalls and scenic lookouts.
Top Hotels in Nan
Nantrungjai Boutique Hotel is located a little north of Nan’s town centre close to the Rung Sang Golf Club. The quaint hotel has a surprising amount of facilities for its low cost, including a day spa offering Thai massages, manicured gardens and an inviting pool and Jacuzzi. The on-site restaurant also serves delicious Thai, Chinese and European meals.
The spacious rooms provide excellent value for money, including the Standard Room, which has lounge seating, a flat-screen TV and plush bedding. Upgrade to the 70-square-metre Premier Room for a larger living area, garden or pool views and a bath. All the rooms also come with two free breakfasts, complimentary Wi-Fi and mini bars.
- Sub District Agriculture Product Central Market (850 metres)
- Nan Provincial Sport Stadium (2.9 kilometres)
- The Noble House (3.3 kilometres)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 54 – USD 139
Guest Rating: 8.6
Address: 354 Moo 2, Nan-Thawangpha Road, T.Phasing, Muang District, Nan, Thailand
The award-winning Nan Boutique Hotel is located in the centre of Nan near various restaurants and shops. It complements its ideal location with modern and comfortable accommodations featuring king-size beds, complimentary Wi-Fi and tea and coffee. Book a Zen Superior for a private balcony or upgrade to the Tazs Deluxe for an extra-large bathroom with a rain shower.
You can book a traditional Thai massage at the hotel or relax in the Reading Corner. The on-site Tazs Café serves contemporary Thai cuisine and fresh coffee, while the tours desk is perfect for organising excursions around town and to the nearby national parks.
- Wat Hua Wiang Tai (450 metres)
- The Noble House (1.6 kilometres)
- Nan National Museum (1.4 kilometres)
Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 75 – USD 164
Guest Rating: 9
Address: 1/11 Kha-Luang Road Tumbon Naiwang Amphur Muang, Nan, Thailand
Why You Should Visit Tunis, Tunisia
History lovers can explore a wonderland of ancient ruins and archaeological remains around Tunisia’s capital city, Tunis. Located just inland from the Mediterranean Sea, this fascinating city has various history museums, a sprawling lake, waterside parks and welcoming restaurants serving African cuisine. It’s also a gateway to the ruins of ancient Carthage overlooking the Gulf of Tunis.
Must-Do Experiences in Tunis
- Discover Roman mosaics in a 15th-century palace complex at the Bardo.
- Get up close to a variety of native animals at Zoo Tunis.
- Venture out to La Marsa to swim at Mediterranean beaches.
Top Hotels in Tunis
Contemporary rooms and suites await at Novotel Tunis, all of which have plush bedding, lounge seating, ergonomic work desks and flat-screen TVs. The Executive Suites adds more space with a separate lounge room. All accommodations come with high-speed Wi-Fi, mini bars, coffee and tea facilities and bathrobes.
The on-site Novotel Cafe is ideal for a quick lunch or a fresh coffee, while the Sky Bar serves drinks poolside on the rooftop terrace. Designed for business and leisure travellers, the hotel has a fitness centre and a Turkish hammam, as well as 13 flexible meeting rooms and a high-tech business centre.
- Currency Museum (800 metres)
- Conference Palace (900 metres)
- Zoo Tunis (1.7 kilometres)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 135 – USD 280
Guest Rating: 8
Address: Avenue Mohamed V, Tunis Centre, Tunis, Tunisia
El Hana International has impressed HotelsCombined visitors with its central location and panoramic views of the city. Traditional mosaics adorn the hotel’s rooftop terrace where you can soak up city vistas, while the interior boasts a lobby bar and a fine-dining restaurant with an open-air terrace.
The comfortable rooms come in single, double, twin or triple bed configurations and boast mini bars, private balconies, sitting areas and air conditioning. Most of the rooms also have city views. Don’t forget to reserve one of the free on-site parking spots if you’re travelling by car.
- Finance Museum (350 metres)
- Municipal Theatre (280 metres)
- Clock Of Habib Bourguiba Avenue (550 metres)
Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 46 – USD 91
Guest Rating: 6.1
Address: 49 Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Tunis Centre, Tunis, Tunisia
Why You Should Visit Petra, Jordan
Petra is a 2,000-year-old city with mysterious red mountain rock dwellings. The World Heritage-listed site has a neighbouring community of hotels and restaurants called Wadi Musa. From here, you can embark on day trips to the ancient city and explore fascinating landmarks, such as the iron-laden sandstone Treasury and three-storey Palace Tomb.
Must-Do Experiences in Petra
- Experience Petra at night with a candlelit tour group.
- Get up close to the lesser-known Nabatean ruins in Little Petra.
- Hike the Bedouin trails around Petra for stunning views of the Royal tombs, Street of Facades, Little Petra and the Monastery.
Top Hotels in Petra
Petra Moon Hotel sits on the edge of the Heritage-listed city of Petra. You can soak up the unique landscape and sounds of Petra from the rooftop garden, which has a seasonal outdoor pool. The on-site restaurant serves an international breakfast buffet and local dishes for lunch and dinner.
The rooms cater to a range of travellers with double, twin and triple bed configurations. You can also book a Family Room with a double bed, two single beds and a sofa. All of the rooms come with flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi, tea and coffee facilities and mini bars.
- Petra Visitor Center (350 metres)
- Al Ghadeer Roof Garden (240 metres)
- Obelisk tomb (1 kilometre)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 89 – USD 143
Guest Rating: 8.7
Address: Visitor Center Street, P.O Box 216, Wadi Musa, Jordan
The 4-star Petra Guest House Hotel is the closest accommodation to Petra – even closer than the Petra Visitor Centre. All of the rooms overlook the mountains surrounding the ancient city. They feature tea and coffee facilities, mini bars, LCD TVs and air conditioning. You can upgrade to a chalet for a king-size bed or a balcony.
Enjoy local cuisine at the on-site Basin Restaurant or partake in a few libations at the historic Cave Bar, which is housed in an original Nabatean tomb fronted with a large piazza. The hotel also has 24-hour room service and a well-equipped business centre.
- Treasury Viewpoint (1.9 kilometres)
- Obelisk tomb (550 metres)
- Tomb of ‘Unayshu (2.3 kilometres)
Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 150 – USD 831
Guest Rating: 8.2
Address: Main entrance of Petra, Wadi Musa, Jordan
Veer Off the Tourist Trails this Year
Whether you’re seeking an untouched beach for snorkelling and sunbathing or want to explore one of the world’s oldest cities, these off-the-beaten-track destinations offer new and enriching holiday experiences. You don’t have to settle for rough accommodation either, with all of them providing comfortable and often luxurious hotels with restaurants, bars, pools and suites.
Where do you want to discover this year? Let us know in the comments below.