I know what you're thinking: If one more person asks me if I want a suit, massage, tuk tuk, a wooden frog that makes a croaking sound when you scrape it or to look in their store full of the worst tat you've ever seen such as a bow and arrow (this actually happened to us on Kuta Beach!) you're going to explode, right?
Yes, travelling can be a bit overwhelming sometimes and somedays all you want to do is lock yourself in your standard fan room and watch Star Movies while sweating uncontrollably!
So, based on our experience, here is a list of the top five:
1. Pai, Thailand
'Come to Pai and see the.....hmmmmm'. There isn't much to see and do in Pai but that's the point. Pai has that special something that will make you stay for much longer than you expected. Located in the hills north west of Chiang Mai, Pai is a hippy town and, everywhere you go, you will see 'I love pai' signs.
The centre of the town is full of bars, cafes, and tourist shops selling handmade craft, art and all kinds of craft. You can spend all day in the town doing nothing but reading in cafes drinking herbal tea and eating home made cakes. If you do want to explore, the hot springs, the memorial bridge, and the Pai Canyon are all short motorbike journeys away. Pai also has some of the best street food in the whole of Thailand! We love Pai!
Tip: Check out the 'bruschetta women' (sorry but their stand doesn't have a name!). They are located towards the end of the main street and always have queues of people either eating or watching them prepare and make amazing western style food at a lightning pace!
2. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
A pleasure for all your senses! The stunningly beautiful rice fields, the sounds of prayers and chanting during the evenings, and the smell of incense finding you wherever you go make it impossible to be stressed here. Ubud has become an extremely popular tourist destination after 'one woman's search for everything' but remains friendly and peaceful.
Experiencing Balinese hospitality is like experiencing no other and the locals will make you feel like you're the first ever tourist to visit Ubud. It is also the cultural heart of Bali and it seems like everyday there is some religious celebration taking place with the locals all dressed in their finest garments walking to the temple with offerings perfectly balanced on top of their heads. Ubud is relaxation personified!
Tip: If you're planning to visit Ubud, I recommend to stay for at least a week! A few days stay will only scratch the surface of this place because, although there aren't that many tourist attractions to visit, the atmosphere and feel to Ubud should be taken in slowly.
3. Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan, Thailand
Had enough of Koh Samui or need a detox after a certain party in Haad Rin? Bottle Beach is your answer! Bottle Beach is situated on the north coast of Koh Phangan. Getting to it can be tricky as well as long and expensive but as soon as you set your eyes on the beautiful, curved white sand beach, you will know the journey was worth it. Your choice of accommodation isn't vast as there are only 5 or 6 'resorts' but they are all very reasonably priced (we paid 800 baht a night for a bungalow on the beach). Due to its location, the beach never gets overcrowded. Most of the time you won't be the only one sunbathing but you will always be able to find a perfect spot to spend a couple of hours doing nothing. Bottle Beach is what you expect all of Thailand's islands to look like but can never find!
Tip: Before you take the longtail boat or car to the beach, pop into the 7/11 and stock up as the resort's shops have a limited choice and you will pay a fortune just for a packet of crisps! This is the only con to an otherwise perfect destination.
4. Koh Yao Noi, Thailand
Absolutely stunning views are included with you room! The locals are the definition of relaxed islanders and I got the impression that they knew about the 21st century but refused to take part. They are the friendliest people we came accross in Thailand and will go out of their way to make your stay an amazing one. We tried to rent a motorbike but we got out of bed late and missed them all so the lady simply phoned up her sister and, 5 minutes later, we were given her bike! The roads on the island are pretty bad and caution is required when driving a scooter. If you are careful and are used to driving on gravel roads, you can find perfect, secluded beaches and will probably enjoy it on your own! I really hope that Koh Yao Noi doesn't change as it is perfect the way it is!
5. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
As relaxing as Malaysia gets, the Cameron Highlands have a cooler climate, great treks and most importantly tea and scones! We recommend going to the Cameron Valley Tea House. It's quite far from Tanah Rata but, once you are there, you can explore the plantations and walk in beautiful surroundings. During season there are lots of strawberry farms that allow you to pick your own strawberries - yummy!
The accommodation standards in Tanah Rata are also the best we experienced in Malaysia. We stayed at the Cameronian Inn for 50rm a night for good standard rooms. They also do tea and scones. Although the taxi drivers and women selling all kinds of strawberry merchandise will harass you, the Cameron Highlands are a welcome change, especially if you have just visited Kuala Lumpur.
Travel tip shared by Travel Shutter