AS BALI’S Mount Agung carries on spitting out smoke and ash, travelers are looking for an alternative paradise to catch a little bit of winter sunshine without the risk of being affected by the volcano’s imminent re-eruption.
Here are a few of the most awe-inspiring Bali-like destinations with which you are bound to fall in love.
Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Indonesia
Lake Toba in North Sumatra is proving popular among Chinese tourists who can’t resist the Indonesian pull. Lake Toba actually sits inside the caldera of a super-volcano, but there is no chance of this one erupting as it has laid dormant since it caused global devastation around 77,000 years ago.
The lake attracts those looking for a little relaxation; it is a place to kick back, relax and marvel at the gigantic 450-meter-deep lake. Lake Toba sits 900 meters above sea level so you can expect the climates to be a little cooler up there.
Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Lombok is Bali’s lesser-known cousin, but equally as beautiful. The divine beaches, majestic Mount Rinjani and colorful, diverse marine life mean there is no shortage of things to do on the island. While Kuta Beach is mostly associated with Bali, Lombok has its very own version and it offers visitors a whole different vibe.
Other stunning beaches include the famous Tangsi Pink Beach further in the South East with the vibrant corals giving the shore an elegant blush.
If you fancy something a little more adventurous, head up to the steep volcanic peaks or hire a bike and cycle through lush evergreen rice paddies.
There are plenty of options for accommodation on the island, many of which feature traditional Indonesian architecture. There are also a few more luxurious hotels dotted around that will be sure to offer you an ultimate pamper experience, surrounded by spectacular natural beauty.
Koh Rong Island, Cambodia
Easily one of the most beautiful islands in the Cambodia archipelago. A few years ago, it was a just known as a little jungle-clad wilderness, enclosed by a border of pure white sand with a few beach hut resorts dotted along the shore.
Now the island is known for its vibrant culture, popular among backpackers and those looking to get off the beaten track. Koh Tuch village street is known for its hole-in-the-wall bars, funky music and droves of millennials searching for the best party spots in Southeast Asia.
But for travelers desperately seeking a bit of tranquillity, just simply walk further from the beach inland and the music will soon drown out. At night-time, you can almost hear the twinkle of the stars harmonized with the chorus of croaking frogs.
Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte, the Philippines
This small island off the coast of the Philippines has a similar story to Koh Rong. Several years ago, the island was uninhabited, undeveloped, had no stores, tour guides or bars, just a paradise for adventurous backpackers hoping to snap a selfie on the previously untouched soil.
However, the island is now home to a few resorts – and home to people who will help you get on and off the island.
The island isn’t particularly easy to get to, but there are several methods, all of which will include a boat. But it is worth it to be able to say you have soaked up the sun on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Mahabang Buhangin stretches long across the island, covered in silky powdered sand, with crystal waters lapping at the shores, guaranteeing a picturesque snorkeling adventure.
You can pitch a tent on Calaguas’s beaches, rent cheap cottages or book into an eco-friendly lodge offering food and comfy accommodation.
Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
The island sits on the east side of the Malaysian peninsula in the South China Sea, welcoming visitors with lush evergreen forest canopies, golden beaches, translucent waterfalls that cascade over ancient rock formations, blooming hibiscus bushes blushing with every shade of pink and emerald waters enticing snorkelers to observe the bustling marine life. This island truly has every slice of paradise you could wish for.
Pulau Tioman is one of Malaysia’s most developed islands, but it still retains every marvelous ounce of utopian beauty. At 20 kilometers long and 11 kilometers wide, there is a little slice of paradise to be had for every visitor, whether it is relaxing, snorkeling, hiking, sailing or getting involved with local culture, you won’t want to leave this island.