The Road Less Traveled (For Now)
Ready to experience something new? Venture to one of these lesser-known destinations to experience authentic cultures and reduce the footprint at overly visited places.
Yes, the most-visited destinations in the world are justifiably famous, but why go to the same places as everyone else (or that you’ve already visited)? As crowds take their toll on historic cities and their tenuous infrastructure, you can reduce your impact by visiting the next generation of must-see locations — and gain the bragging rights to say you were there before it was the “it” destination. Discover the six locations we’re putting on your to-do list for 2019.
Sintra, Portugal: Step Back in Time
Portugal seems to be on just about every must-visit list right now, but instead of staying to the tile-laden streets of central Lisbon, venture away from the crowds and head for the beautiful countryside just outside. Nestled amid a forest preserve peppered with castles and convents that once served as home to Portuguese royalty, hermitical monks, and even Neolithic communities, it’s no surprise that Sintra was the first town to receive UNESCO’s World Heritage Cultural Landscape classification.
What not to miss: Once a summer getaway for King Ferdinand II and other Portuguese royals, the eclectic, extravagant Palácio da Pena is now the centerpiece of a lush park perched high above the city.
Almaty, Kazakhstan: Redefining Urban Chic
Kazakhstan’s buzzing financial and cultural capital, Almaty, is home to stunning and sleek modern architecture and bustling streets made for meandering — the city is a fascinating blend of its thoroughly contemporary side melding with the ancient heritage of the Silk Road. The nearby mountains offer plenty of opportunities for skiing in the winter, but in the warmer months, hikers will find wild apple orchards and the stunning turquoise waters of Lake Issyk. At night, explore the city’s diverse culinary scene that includes everything from traditional Kazakh dishes to sushi.
What not to miss: The Arasan baths are considered one of the top bathhouses in Central Asia due to its size and unique variety of historically influenced options. Choose between a Turkish hammam, Finnish sauna, Russian banya, or a Turkish steam bath.
Sanya, China: A Lush Tropical Escape
Home to green mountains and white sandy shores, Yalong Bay is considered the best beach destination in China for a reason. If you are traveling with family, you’ll probably spend most of your trip taking advantage of the beach itself or the complimentary access to the Ritz Kids club (complete with dedicated pools and playgrounds) at The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, Yalong Bay. Nature lovers won’t want to miss a guided trip to Yalong Bay Tropical Rainforest Park, with 15 square kilometers of protected tropical and sub-tropical vegetation. The views are nothing short of spectacular.
What not to miss: The Nanshan Buddhism Cultural Zone is a large-scale eco-cultural experience that allows you to explore a Buddhist temple, lavish gardens and more all in one place about 40 minutes outside of Sanya.
Herzliya, Israel: Serenity in the Mediterranean
Consider this your oasis in the desert. The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya is perched on the edge of the marina in town, giving the hotel unique views of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea from each room’s private balcony. Just a short distance from bustling Tel Aviv, feel as if you’re worlds away as you hit the famous beaches for surfing and sun — stay for a drink as the sun sets on the Herzliya coast. If you want to see the city from the water, sign up for a day of sailing; you can even take classes and learn how to skipper your own vessel. And, you’re only a short day-trip from all the major sites in Israel with Tel Aviv 15 minutes away and Jerusalem less than an hour by car.
What not to miss: Apollonia National Park offers a stunning beach on a natural sandstone promontory, along with historical sites like an ancient Roman villa, a Crusader-built fortress, and the Sidna Ali Mosque.
Tianjin, China: Business Meets Pleasure
Nicknamed China’s “Port of the Emperor,” Tianjin is a dynamic city that attracts business travelers from all over the globe. Consider escaping the city and venturing to Pan Mountain, where you can see views of the Great Wall of China on clear days. Or get your thrills on the riverside Tianjin Eye, one of the tallest Ferris wheels in China. If you want a stunning view without the adventure, head to the observation deck at the Tianjin Radio and Television Tower, which stands 415 meters above the city.
What not to miss: Explore Chinese history through pottery at the beloved Porcelain House museum. A colonial-era French mansion has been covered in pieces of porcelain from base to roof — combined with the interiors, the museum features more than 400 million ancient Chinese ceramic chips along with thousands of antique porcelain and marble pieces.
Jakarta, Indonesia: Kids Take Center Stage
The history of Indonesia’s capital city stretches back centuries, but its current incarnation makes it uniquely family-friendly. You’ll find something for travelers of all ages at Fantasyland, located within the bay-side Jaya Ancol Dreamland, a massive entertainment complex with everything from aquariums, a lagoon, rides, and an artisanal art market. Explore all of Indonesia at once at the Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park, a brainchild of a former first lady, where you can see all the top sites of the country to scale. If you are staying over the weekend, make a reservation for the Superhero Sunday Brunch at Asia Restaurant — they’ll find their favorite crime fighters alongside delicious food, including sushi and carving stations. And at The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Mega Kuningan, the little ones can try their hand at making their own meal in a chef-led, kid-centric cooking class.
What not to miss: While Jakarta may have the most skyscrapers in Indonesia, children can conquer a mini-city of their own at Kidzania, a themed discovery center for cities and professions. They can build, dress up and learn more about what they want to be when they grow up.