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8 exotic and lesser-known holiday destinations for 2018

It pays to go the distance for these far-flung destinations void of the usual tourist crowd.

PJ O’ Rourke’s subversive Holidays in Hell has a rather hilarious account of the famous gonzo journalist trying to get to then war-torn Lebanon in 1984 – by claiming he wanted to study the tourism industry there. He was half earnest in his attempt, wryly noting that despite the risk of looking down the barrel of a gun, Lebanon was “noticeably free of tour groups”, that hotel rooms were plentiful, the beaches were not crowded and no reservation was needed in the city’s most popular restaurant.

Things are decidedly different in Lebanon these days, of course. While the country now faces a large refugee crisis and houses at least a million Syrian refugees, its capital of Beirut is now enjoying a return to its former moniker as the Paris of The East. With that comes another set of issues—the typical thronging of tourists in Summer. The hotel rooms are fully booked, the beaches are crowded and yes, reservations are now needed in the best restaurants.

The more things change, the more they seem the same? Well, to a point. The seasoned traveller looking for an unfettered holiday destination will still have to get creative like O’ Rourke, though through far less risky circumstances. The real fear would be the social media-savvy tourist armed with a mobile phone and bragging rights for a favourite secret spot to be exposed to 200,000 eyes wide open and ready to follow suit.

At the risk of having the same happen to our own favourites, we now reluctantly hand over a selection of far-flung destinations that you would love for its smaller tourist footprint. Yes, some are harder to get to and can be rather unconventional. Tongues will wag ceaselessly. But the moments gained from being the true elite few to have experienced these places, are well worth the effort.

  • Vanuatu

    Getting to this South Pacific paradise (James A. Michener wrote Tales from The South Pacific there) from Singapore would take you anywhere from 18 hours to two days which is exceedingly good news for those truly looking to go off the beaten track. It is a collection of pristine emerald islands dotted with crystal blue holes you can swim in and magnificent volcanoes, some still active (a recent volcano eruption on Ambae had its entire population evacuated). The archipelago’s largest island Espiritu Santo is a draw—here, you can go on a trail ride by horseback through its mangroves. Or else, enjoy a sun-drenched romance in the midst of the world’s best scenery in Port Vila, Erakor or Irikiriki islands.

(Related: How Colombia is becoming the next ‘it’ travel destination)