A vacation seems to be the obvious remedy for burnout, but unless it’s done properly, you can end up just as exhausted and overwhelmed as you did before your break.
Where you decide to go will be one of the most influential factors affecting the stress-relieving potential of your holiday. The key is to find a location away from city distractions, with proximity to nature and, ideally, a notably slower pace of life.
As borders slowly start to re-open across Asia, and the roll-out of the vaccines gain momentum, we expect to be able to travel more freely very soon. So, with that in mind, here are our top 5 destinations that we believe tick all the boxes for a truly stress-relieving experience:
Yakushima Island, Japan
When most people think of Japan they probably think of Tokyo, whose hyper-stimulating cityscape serves very little to calm the stressed-out soul. Of course, the country offers much more than its capital, and Yakushima Island is a perfect example.
A sub-tropical island just off the southern coast of Kyushu, this is home to a real-life enchanted forest. Used as inspiration for Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke film, you can find some of the most ancient trees in Japan here, some of which are over 7,000 years old.
Favoured for the stunning landscapes and crystal clean air, most people come here for hiking and relaxing nature walks. For a truly authentic experience, we recommend staying in one of the many traditional ryokans (or inns) where you will sleep on futons on tatami-matted floors, enjoy the communal bathhouses and be treated to complimentary meals made with some locally-sourced ingredients.
Photo by: Carlos Donderis
Kapas Island, Malaysia
This is one of those destinations that our Malaysian friends probably don’t want us sharing with the rest of the world. Somehow this island has stayed off the main tourist radar, despite offering some of the most pristine beaches, shimmering clear waters, and healthy corals around.
The island is home to a handful of tiny resorts, most of which focus on relaxation, with the most intensive offered activity being snorkelling. As far as paradise locations go, Kapas Island hits the mark.
Photo by: Dave Anderson
Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
The history of these islands might not sound like the ideal precursor for a relaxing holiday, as they were used for decades by the French and Americans as a prison for criminals and anti-regime activists. But hear us out!
Made up of 16 mostly undisturbed islets declared as a national park, they provide not only the most perfect beaches and forest trails but also a small glimpse into Vietnamese life in the slow lane. The main island houses a small fishing village and market, with just a few roads whose traffic lights don’t even work anymore.
With a large selection of different types of accommodation, from luxury villas to modest inns, the Con Dao islands offer something for everyone.
Photo by: Binh Huynh
Koh Kood, Thailand
There are almost 1,500 islands in Thailand so it’s nigh on impossible task to pick one. But if we’re looking for a destination where you’re almost guaranteed to have a whole beach to yourself, Koh Kood is a great contender.
Natural beauty is the name of the game here, with small crabs dancing around on the sand, beaches backed by coconut trees and forests filled with hidden waterfalls. A particularly interesting feature is the small “sea-gipsy” village of Ao Salat where Thai and Cambodian residents now live on stilt houses and elevated boardwalks.
Photo by: Karolina Lubryczynska
Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia
Another hard choice to make from Indonesia’s incredibly generous offering of heavenly islands and azure waters, we’ve been a bit cheeky and have selected Raja Ampat, an archipelago made up of 1,500 individual islets.
Depending on the antidote you’re after, whether it’s snorkelling, empty beaches, or perhaps experiencing some of the richest biodiversity available in Asia, you will find it here. The hospitality of the Papuans is particularly distinct, and the local ambience takes one away very quickly from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Photo by: Sutirta Budiman