You step on the crowded beach, and hear a crack under your bare foot. Whose pink polka dotted chair could that have been? A horde of tourists jumbled along the coast makes you realize that it will be impossible to apologize to the owner. You start “mazing” through the sand, dragging your hurting foot away from the broken pink mess.

It takes over an hour of tripping over individuals, dodging Frisbees and umbrellas, until you finally find a clear three-foot area to drop your belongings. The ocean can’t be as congested as the sand, right? You slip off your cover-up, hoping you’ll be able to find it again, and then dive in. The dive led you straight into another human, and the waves tangle more people around you. You attempt to apologize over the incessant chattering and whistling from the anxious lifeguard.  You drag yourself out of the ocean to search for your trampled cover-up and one certain thought crosses your mind – your next vacation is going to be off the beaten path.

You’re not the Typical Nomad

Your precious time off should be enjoyable and enlightening! We understand that you don’t want to fight the crowd on your holiday, but do want to discover somewhere to really get back to earth. Our research found locations with fewer tourists, more adventures, and of course,  breathtaking views. Here are four destinations to help you escape.

1.) Nepal

Eliz and Friends_3

Snuggled far between lands in South Asia lies one of the world’s financially poorest and underdeveloped nations, yet one of the world’s most culturally intriguing – Nepal. Nepal is located between India and China, and contains part of the Himalayan Mountains that were created when a country’s plate (most likely India’s) rapidly collided with China around 50 million years ago. Since then, the mountains continue to grow upward and outward as India’s plate still moves about an inch and a half a year, causing disastrous earthquakes like the tragic one in April, 2015. Don’t let the earthquake’s reverberations deter your visit from this beautiful county! The strong Nepalese are proactive about rebuilding their home, and welcome visitors with open arms. In fact, your presence in the country would greatly help the recovery!

Now that your worries are out of the way, imagine exploring one of Nepal’s many national parks, where you’ll see a variety of wildlife in action. The different altitudes of land on tall mountains versus down below create contrasting climates within Nepal, leaving you with plenty of options to sight see.  The warmer areas of Nepal are the homes of tigers, leopards, elephants, monkeys and rhinos.  You’ll discover yak, snow leopards and mountain tahr in the colder temperatures.

To better understand the Himalayan culture, don’t leave Nepal without spending some time embracing a vibrant Buddhist temple. In the Kathmandu Valley, you could spend an entire day just “temple hopping”.  Abundant stunning gold stupas, gardens and ancient stone sculptures… even those not interested in Hindu or Buddhist religion would still be astonished by sacred temple visits!

Aladdin advisor, Elizabeth Holleman,  went to Nepal before the earthquake and suggests some must-see stops. “Boudhanath Temple is the unrivaled Nepalese stupa with its whitewashed dome, gilded tower and all-seeing eyes. Durbur Square in Kathmandu is where the city’s kings were once crowned. Or just hang out with the local spirituals or devout mystics known as Sadhus – you too can be blessed by them! Beyond Kathmandu, there is plenty to do whether trekking to Mt. Everest Base camp, visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bhaktapur (city of rice) or traveling to Royal Chitwan National Park to search for the elusive Bengal Tiger and take an unforgettable elephant-back safari. ”

Unfortunately, since Elizabeth’s visit some of the most symbolic buildings in Kathmunda are jumbled into rubble due to the earthquake. Durbur Square collapsed, but the Boudhanath Temple has miraculously survived the quake with a mere crack. Half of Bhaktapur was in shambles, but a few prominent temples still stand. If you go to Nepal for your spring break, you WILL be able to experience undamaged temples, as well as temples being re-built.

Overall, Nepal is a place unlike anywhere else in the world. Filled with vast dirt terrain and dotted with grateful children waiting in rugged clothes for a van to bring them to school.  You will leave Nepal feeling more worldly and more humbled than ever before. For an experience that includes more than Nepal and around the Golden Triangle of India, take a look at this itinerary.

2.) Dominica

Dominica

You may have heard about Tropical Storm Erika recently washing over this Caribbean Island, Dominica.  We have high hopes that the island’s beauty will remain just as gorgeous by the time your Spring break rolls around.  The Dominicans are working hard! “Something like this really brings out the best in everyone and brings everyone together. When I walk by the rivers, I hear joy and laughter and frolicking, and now it’s doing what needs to be done to clean up and move on. What Dominica needs more than anything is for you all to come visit. Hurricanes and natural disasters strike everywhere, and I hope this doesn’t deter people who might be thinking of visiting this beautiful, pristine island from coming,” says a Dominican local via email.

Dominica isn’t the standard soak-up-the-sun-while-sipping-cocktails-all-day type of venue. Nicknamed “The Nature Island”, this less populated sweet spot is renowned for its bubbling lakes, soothing hot springs, lush rain forests, vacant beaches and friendly locals. On this memorable spring break, spend your days actively exploring the island’s natural treasures. Having more mountains than cars, locals appreciate a ride anywhere and then happily give you honest directions to special breath taking nooks.  A climb down muddy cliffs will lead you to a pumping waterfall. A little farther and you may find yourself stumbling upon a small, lonely beach, occupied by pigs. Where else in the world can you go swimming with a pig?

If you’re ready to don your daredevil hat, Dominica will not disappoint. It is the perfect spot to explore canyons – swimming, waterfall jumping, climbing, you name it! There is a plethora of activities to try on this off the beaten path location.  Kayak down the Indian River. Go on countless hikes deep in nature with charming views along the way. Snorkel or scuba dive, or chat with the locals and taste interesting indigenous food! Whatever you decide to do in Dominica, you certainly won’t regret.

3.) Brazil

Santarosa, Brazil

Brazil, the largest country in South America touching the equator, is speckled with jungles and laced with powdery, hot beaches. With tourists flocking to the capital and cities during the fun weeks of carnival parades, Northern Brazil remains less populated. It is the poorest of all Brazil, but rich in its culture, nature and views. Abundant jungles, rivers, mountains, and a variety of different species make this destination a backpacker’s paradise.

A boat ride along the swirly-caramel-colored Rio Negro will take you to the yellowish Rio Solimoes, flooding into the one massive Amazon River. For the first four miles, the different colored waters from the separate rivers don’t swish together, but rather flow side-by-side!

The mighty Amazon River is the longest river in the world. Imagine taking a fascinating jungle tour learning about the different plants and species that thrive in the area. Observe the limitless amount of fish in the river – new fish are always being discovered! The river is also home to the meat-eating piranha fish, enormous lily pads, and alligators.

An immense number of trees line the river, invading the jungle where monkeys swing from branch to branch! Drive down a muddy red road and embrace the dark green leaves before arriving in a local Amazon Village to learn about their history and culture.

If you’re up for a travel down the coast to Rio Janeiro, (you may be rubbing elbows with strangers!) you can spot one of the World’s Seven Wonders: Christ the Redeemer. There ARE stairs to reach the statue (220 steps), but once you are atop, there is an amazing panoramic view of the beach, mountains, and city below.  Rebecca recently visited Rio and Brazil, and Stephanie took the not too-touristy Rio route. Here is an itinerary with a few days of plans to traipse about the Amazon jungles, too!

4.) Cambodia

cambodia

We’re not talking Phnom Penh, the capitol of Cambodia with interesting, brightly colored historical buildings and bustling tourists.We are talking about Koh Rong, aka “Monkey Island”, the second largest island off the coast of Cambodia surrounded by the glowing Gulf of Thailand. Koh Rong is graced with to-die-for Thai cuisine, half-desert half-beaches, bungalows and untouched jungles.

Travel by foot or boat.  There are very few roads. Traffic won’t be a worry! Think about the 31 and 32 seasons of Survivor; the show was filmed on Koh Rong. However, you won’t be on the show scrambling for food, but rather lounging on the heart-wrenchingly beautiful, vacant beaches with a satisfying fresh fruit smoothie.  For one of the many adventures, sneak into the unscathed jungle for a bewildering stroll, where you’ll see monkeys (you guessed it!) and singing birds. Spend your nights admiring the ocean twinkling with phosphorescent plankton. Step in the lapping warm water on any beach and watch the plankton glow with your movement. Bring your snorkel for a magnificent night to remember!

There aren’t many itineraries specifically for Koh Rong since it is such a remote island. You can always take a trip like this and contact your Aladdin Travel advisor for a stop in Koh Rong, too!

How to Get There?

Don’t begin your vacation stressing about how you’ll get there. Contact Aladdin Travel and live your day-to-day life while counting down the days to your mind-opening spring break!