Kick back and relax in these peaceful places
You worked hard to turn your gap year dream into a reality. Whether you’ve been slogging away at university or pulling in extra hours at work – you’ve earned some relaxation time!
Leisure time can mean different things to different people. With that in mind, we’ve looked out across the spectrum of tranquil destinations so you can find the perfect place to chill out.
New Zealand is renowned as a serene and diverse natural wonderland. Its lush fauna has been the backdrop for many a blockbuster. Gather your thoughts, walking through the film sets of the Lord of the Rings, The Chronicals of Narnia and Black Sheep; to name but a few.
For those who like to unwind with a glass of wine in hand, New Zealand is one of the best producers in the world! Detour your vacation though one of the many vineyards and grab a tipple.
The only problem we can find with this beautiful country is that it will leave you wondering if you really have to go home.
Koh Phangan, Thailand
Usually associated with their loud and bright full moon parties, Thailand was probably last on your list of peaceful destinations. The beach parties may absorb the beaches of the mainland, but if you’re prepared to travel a little off the well-travelled path, you’ll find places unlike any other.
If you’re looking for a spot on the mainland to get a bit of R&R, then Prachuap and Bang Saphan Yai should definitely be on your itinerary.
Catching a ferry to one of Thailand’s many islands can lead you to a tranquil paradise. Lanta has a largely Muslim population, meaning there is little to no drinking or nightlife. Perfect if you’d like to spend your holiday drinking fresh juice with the sound of just the ocean lulling you to sleep.
The lush green gem of Central America, Costa Rica, is the place of dreams for any traveller. White sand, blue skies and emerald green rainforests brimming with wildlife is the backdrop to a relaxed atmosphere and slow pace of life.
Ticos, as the countries people affectionately call themselves, are proud of their piece of paradise. Their laid-back lifestyle is infectious and no matter how uptight you are, you’ll be sprawling on the sand or diving into the ocean by sunset.
For the ultimate wind-down, grab some churros at one of the many beachside café’s and wash it down with the best coffee you’ll drink in your life.
Use your gap year to live the pura vida (pure life).
This little national park in the middle of Vietnam is full of rice paddies framed by sharp and sloping mountains. The locals are friendly, often flashing peace signs or running out of their houses to say hello as visitors motorbike on by.
Taking a step out of fast-paced cities like Hanoi is the key to relaxation in Vietnam. Mui Ne and Nha Trang provide a slower paced, but still tourist-oriented atmosphere.
The island of Phu Quoc is edged by white sand beaches and resorts. There you can indulge on the freshest seafood, treat yourself to a massage or just while away the hours soaking up the sun.
Trade the tranquillity of the sea for a more grounded and earthly chill out experience at Phong Nha Ke Bang national park. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2003, this tropical evergreen jungle is more than just trees. Song Doong, found within the park, is the world’s largest cave system and an idyllic place to gather your thoughts.
City-lovers need some relaxation too!
You don’t need a beach to have a tranquil trip, and Austria is the perfect example of this. Mountain villages filled with picturesque architecture have made the area synonymous with beauty; the Imperial Palaces of Vienna and countless museums throw in a hearty variety of culture, and the active outdoor lifestyle will be enough to calm even the wildest of souls.
So why not wander in scenery that you thought only existed in fairy tales?
Tuvalu is a collection of 9 incredibly small islands and islets, located off the coast of Fiji. Now, if you thought the lush green scenery of Fiji was as peaceful as it got, think again.
Just over 11,000 people inhabit the islets’ white sanded, coconut palm-lined shores. Laze in the sun and explore the azure blue of the ocean, weaving between coral tips and the marine life that resides there.
Accommodation is limited to a hotel, motel and other small, family-run guesthouses due to the remarkably small area of land (23 sq km total) available.
It'll be the most peaceful trip you've ever taken!