Go Here Instead: 10 Alternatives to Popular Travel Destinations

These days holidaymakers are very spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting where to next? And, especially for South African travellers, the doors to so many places are now wide open.  As they say, "The world is your oyster" so why not take the time to decide which countries you can savour? 


2min read

Published 1 April 2024


These days holidaymakers are very spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting where to next? And, especially for South African travellers, the doors to so many places are now wide open.  As they say, "The world is your oyster" so why not take the time to decide which countries you can savour? 


Instead of going to Zanzibar… why not try Reunion Island?

While Zanzibar has long been an attractive holiday destination for South African travellers with its great climate and mouth-watering beaches, Reunion Island, located in the Indian Ocean not too much further away, is as captivating a holiday destination for several, sometimes very similar, reasons. The island's natural beauty, including lush forests, volcanic peaks, waterfalls and pristine beaches with warm turquoise waters lapping their shores makes it ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and sunbathing.

Furthermore, Reunion is a melting pot of cultures, and this diversity is reflected in the island’s cuisine, music and festivals. Best of all it offers modern amenities and a high level of safety for tourists.

The island has well-maintained roads, accommodation options ranging from luxury resorts to budget guesthouses, and reliable public transportation. Overall, Reunion Island's blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, cultural diversity, and gastronomy makes it an exceptional holiday destination for travellers seeking adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion.

Instead of Dullstroom… visit the quaint village of Clarens

Fly fishing for trout is what the quaint village of Dullstroom is all about. An extensive infrastructure has grown up in the town which caters for the thousands of visitors the area receives each year.

As a good alternative to Dullstroom, nestling in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State is the little town of Clarens which offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness and outdoor activities, making it a fantastic tourist destination. It is surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, including rolling hills, sandstone cliffs, and the pristine waters of the nearby Lake Clarens. And indeed, for the avid trout fisherman that sport can be pursued here just as easily as in Dullstroom.

The town itself exudes a quaint village charm, with its tree-lined streets, Victorian-style buildings, and friendly atmosphere. Strolling through the town centre, visitors can explore boutique shops, cosy cafes, and charming restaurants offering delicious local cuisine.

Clarens is in a way an “artsy” place because of its thriving arts and crafts scene, with numerous galleries, studios, and craft shops showcasing the work of local artists. Visitors can browse through an array of paintings, sculptures, pottery, and handmade crafts, making it an ideal destination for art lovers and collectors.  It also hosts several festivals (craft beer, art, food wine and arts) throughout the year.

Clarens is known far and wide for its warm hospitality and its wide range of accommodation options, including guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, self-catering cottages, and luxury lodges. Whether you're seeking a cosy retreat or a luxurious getaway, it has something to suit every taste and budget.

All things considered, Clarens' stunning scenery, outdoor adventures, artistic atmosphere, cultural events, and warm hospitality make it a must-visit destination.

Instead of Thailand’s tourist hot spots… take a break in the Gili Islands

The Gili Islands, located off the northwest coast of Lombok in Indonesia, offer a distinct holiday experience compared to popular destinations in Thailand like Phuket or Koh Samui.

While Thailand's islands are known for their vibrant nightlife and bustling tourist scenes, the Gili Islands offer a more tranquil and laid-back atmosphere. The absence of motorized vehicles on the islands creates a peaceful environment where visitors can relax and unwind amidst stunning natural beauty.  Its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant coral reefs make them ideal for snorkelling, diving, and beachcombing. The waters surrounding the Gili Islands are teeming with diverse marine life, colourful coral gardens, tropical fish and sea turtles.

Unlike some heavily developed areas in Thailand, the Gili Islands retain much of their natural charm, with fewer crowds and less commercialization.

The Gili Islands are conveniently located near other picturesque destinations in Indonesia. Visitors can easily embark on island-hopping excursions to explore different landscapes, cultures, and attractions in the region.

Many accommodations and businesses on the islands prioritize environmental conservation initiatives, such as waste management, renewable energy, and marine conservation projects. Compared to some of the more bustling tourist hubs in Thailand, the Gili Islands offer a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere and provide a peaceful retreat.  These islands offer a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural authenticity, and tranquil ambience that sets them apart as a distinct holiday destination in comparison to popular spots in Thailand.


Instead of Dubai… consider exploring Ras Al-Khaimah or adding it as a stop-over

Ras Al-Khaimah is one of the Emirates in the United Arab Emirates and offers a distinct holiday experience compared to Dubai, making it an attractive destination for various reasons. The Emirate is noted for its varied topography; from mountains to rolling sand dunes, to 64 kilometres of beaches, as well as its adventure tourism attractions.

While Dubai is known for its skyscrapers and shopping experiences, Ras Al Khaimah has the opposite vibe. Known as the “Nature Emirate”, it features a wide choice of luxury hotels, beautiful beaches, and stunning scenery. Ras Al-Khaimah boasts stunning natural landscapes, including mountains, deserts, and pristine beaches.

Compared to the bustling city of Dubai, Ras Al-Khaimah is generally less crowded, offering a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere which can be appealing to holidaymakers seeking a quieter and more peaceful vacation. As a bonus, Ras Al-Khaimah offers accommodation, dining, and activities that tend to be more affordable compared to Dubai. Its adventure activities include hiking, mountain biking, and a special treat for thrill-seekers, the world's longest zip-line. The Emirate is very family-friendly with attractions and activities like water parks, desert safaris, and cultural experiences.

Dubai is only about 90 minutes’ drive away which means it is convenient for a bit of “retail therapy”.  That said, while Dubai offers its own unique attractions and experiences, Ras Al-Khaimah provides a refreshing alternative with its natural beauty, cultural authenticity, and adventure opportunities. Consider adding Ras Al-Khaimah as a stop over on your next or upcoming Dubai adventure.

Instead of Italy… take a step to the right and visit Turkey

Both Turkey and Italy offer unique and wonderful holiday experiences, each with its own distinct charms and attractions. Here are some factors that might make Turkey a great holiday go-to when compared to Italy.

Turkey boasts a rich history that spans multiple civilizations, including the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman empires. Its topography offers a diverse range of landscapes, from pristine beaches along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts to the otherworldly terrain of Cappadocia with its fairy chimneys and underground cities.

Turkey can be more budget-friendly than Italy, especially when it comes to accommodations, dining, and transportation. Holidaymakers can enjoy high-quality experiences at relatively lower costs compared to many Western European destinations. The country's hospitality, known as "misafirperverlik," is legendary.

While Turkey is a popular tourist destination, some of its attractions may be less crowded compared to similar sites in Italy. This can allow visitors to enjoy a more relaxed and immersive experience without feeling overwhelmed by pressing crowds.

Turkey boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the Mediterranean region, with crystal-clear waters, golden sands, and picturesque coastal landscapes. Its cuisine is diverse, flavourful, and influenced by various cultures. From kebabs and mezes to baklava and Turkish delight, visitors can indulge in a culinary journey that tantalises their taste buds.

That said, Italy also offers its own unique charms, including its world-renowned art and architecture, delicious cuisine, and romantic ambience. Turkey however is sometimes underestimated as a holiday destination but, since the country is visited each year by many Europeans, why not follow their example?


Instead of the Kruger Park… Kenya’s wildlife escapes offer something different

Both Kenya and Kruger National Park in South Africa offer remarkable wildlife encounters, but Kenya presents a compelling alternative with its unique attractions and experiences. Kenya's claim to fame is the iconic Great Migration, a breathtaking spectacle where millions of wildebeest, zebras, and other animals migrate annually between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara. This natural phenomenon, coupled with the presence of the Big Five and diverse wildlife, sets Kenya apart as a prime safari destination. Additionally, Kenya boasts varied landscapes, including savannahs, forests, mountains, and beaches, offering visitors a rich tapestry of experiences beyond traditional safaris.

Moreover, Kenya's well-developed tourism infrastructure, with airports in major cities like Nairobi and Mombasa, facilitates easy access to various destinations within the country. Accommodation options range from budget-friendly to luxurious, catering to diverse traveller preferences. While certain areas are prone to malaria, necessary precautions are widely practised, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors.

In contrast to Kruger National Park, where self-drive safaris are popular, Kenya offers guided safari experiences and unique activities such as hot air balloon rides over the Serengeti plains. Kenya presents a compelling alternative to Kruger National Park, promising unforgettable wildlife encounters and immersive experiences for travellers seeking an authentic African safari.

Instead of Mauritius… check out the Seychelles

Both the Seychelles and Mauritius are stunning holiday destinations in the Indian Ocean, each with its own unique charm. While Seychelles is known for its secluded beaches and remote islands and offers a more exclusive and private experience when compared to Mauritius, the latter tends to be more developed and touristy.

The Seychelles is renowned for its untouched natural beauty, with lush rainforests, crystal-clear waters and stunning granite formations. The archipelago is home to some of the world's most beautiful beaches, providing a paradise-like setting for relaxation and exploration.  It also boasts some of the best snorkelling and diving spots in the world, with vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. The clear waters and diverse underwater landscapes make it an ideal destination for underwater enthusiasts.

Seychelles offers a range of luxury accommodations, including private villas, boutique resorts, and eco-friendly lodges.

Furthermore, it is home to several uninhabited islands and marine parks, where visitors can explore untouched landscapes and pristine beaches. These protected areas are havens for wildlife and offer opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and nature photography.

While Mauritius has its own appeal with its rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes, and excellent infrastructure, the Seychelles offers a more secluded and exclusive experience for holidaymakers seeking tranquillity and natural beauty.


Instead of New York… discover the vibrant charm of London

Both New York and London are fantastic holiday destinations, each offering unique experiences and attractions.

London is a captivating destination for holidaymakers seeking a blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and modern allure. Steeped in centuries of tradition, the city boasts iconic landmarks such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben, each offering glimpses into the nation's past.

The city's diverse culinary scene caters to every palate, from traditional British fare in cozy pubs to innovative international cuisine in trendy eateries. Additionally, London's theatrical prowess shines through its renowned West End shows, providing unforgettable entertainment experiences for theater enthusiasts.

With its blend of history, cultural diversity, and contemporary charm, London promises an unforgettable holiday experience that will leave visitors captivated and eager to return.

Instead of the Maldives… Mozambique beckons

Mozambique and the Maldives are both truly stunning holiday destinations, but they offer different experiences that appeal to different types of holidaymakers, that said, why should you choose to spend your hard-earned holiday savings in Mozambique rather than in the Maldives?

To start with, it’s close by so easily accessible. Our neighbouring country offers a wide range of activities beyond just beach relaxation. Visitors can enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, dhow sailing, wildlife safaris in national parks, cultural experiences with local communities, and even exploring historic sites.

The country’s rich cultural heritage, influenced by Portuguese, African, and Arab traditions, provides visitors with opportunities to engage with local communities, taste traditional cuisine, and learn about the country's history and customs.

Mozambique boasts diverse ecosystems, including pristine beaches, lush mangroves, and rich marine life. Visitors can spot dolphins, whales, turtles, and a variety of colourful fish while diving or snorkelling, and they can also embark on land-based safari adventures.

While the Maldives is known for its luxury resorts and overwater bungalows, Mozambique offers a more rugged and less developed atmosphere in many areas. Travelers seeking a sense of adventure and untouched natural beauty may prefer Mozambique's remote beaches and secluded islands. It also offers more budget-friendly accommodation and dining options compared to the Maldives.


Instead of Bali… venture into captivating Vietnam

Both Vietnam and Bali offer unique experiences and attractions that can make them great holiday destinations, but they appeal to different types of travellers and offer different cultural and natural landscapes.

Vietnam has a rich cultural heritage influenced by various civilizations, including Chinese, French and indigenous cultures. Visitors can explore ancient temples, historic sites, and traditional villages, while Bali is known for its unique Hindu culture, with temples, rituals, and ceremonies playing a significant role in daily life. The island's arts, dance, and music also showcase its vibrant cultural scene.

Vietnam boasts diverse natural landscapes, including lush rice terraces, dramatic limestone karsts, pristine beaches, and dense jungles. Ha Long Bay, with its towering limestone islands, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination. On the other hand, Bali is renowned for its stunning beaches, terraced rice fields, volcanic mountains, and lush rainforests and offers opportunities for surfing, diving, hiking, and exploring picturesque landscapes.

Vietnamese cuisine is famous for its fresh ingredients, complex flavours, and regional specialities. From pho (noodle soup) to banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) and fresh spring rolls, visitors can enjoy a diverse range of delicious dishes. Balinese cuisine is characterized by its use of spices, herbs, and fresh ingredients. Visitors can savour dishes such as nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), babi guling (suckling pig), and satay.

Vietnam offers a lower cost of living compared to Bali, making it an attractive destination, especially for travellers on a budget. Accommodation, food, and transportation are relatively affordable.  While Bali can still be affordable compared to many Western countries, it has become increasingly popular among tourists, leading to higher prices, especially in popular tourist areas.

A wide range of activities is on offer in Vietnam, including trekking in Sapa, cruising in Ha Long Bay, exploring the Mekong Delta, and visiting historical sites like the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Imperial City of Hue. Bali on the other hand provides opportunities for surfing, diving, snorkelling, yoga retreats, cultural tours, and spa experiences. Visitors to Bali can also explore art galleries, attend traditional dance performances, and participate in cooking classes.

Both destinations have their own unique charm and attractions, offering unforgettable experiences for travellers seeking adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion. Whether Vietnam or Bali is a better holiday destination depends on individual preferences, interests, and travel priorities, but why not be just that tad more adventurous and give Vietnam a go?

Ready to break out of your routine? By visiting these alternative travel destinations, you’re guaranteed to get the experience you love - plus the thrill that comes with going somewhere new.

 It’s the best of both worlds! Check out our irresistible deals or chat with one of our experienced and helpful travel experts to start planning your next adventure.

Flight Centre

© Flight Centre Travel Group (Pty) Ltd. Registration No. 1994/000253/07.

*Prices are in ZAR and subject to availability. Please refer to specific product’s terms and conditions.