Editor's note: The following guest post was written by Emily K. Wolman, the editor at large for Lonely Planet.
Escape. Mmm, the mere word evokes feelings of relaxation, rejuvenation, freedom, discovery, excitement, solitude… And everyone’s idea of escape differs. It may conjure up images of sugar-white beaches, a romantic wine-tasting weekend, kayaking through glaciers, doing yoga at an ashram, or partying until dawn – two nights in a row.
Whatever your dream getaway may be, I urge you to make it happen. And it doesn’t have to be an epic journey – take a long weekend or a midweek mini-break to deviate from the daily routine and have an experience that will alter the way you perceive the world, if not also yourself.
Intrigued but need a little inspiration? We at Lonely Planet have just the thing: Great Escapes, a gorgeous delicacy of a book showcasing the world’s most enjoyable getaways, from outdoor adventures to pure relaxation. Since the latter is more my speed right now, I’ve chosen a few more mellow experiences of the book to share – and to entice you to escape. You deserve it!
Spa Bliss in Bali
Beyond the surf beaches and backpacker bars, Bali’s holistic boutique heart beats to the tune of luxe spas and retreats. No visit to this stunning Indonesian island is complete without being massaged, scrubbed, cleansed, bathed and blissed into beatific oblivion. There’s a plethora of treatments on offer, from budget to bling, and you can get your pamper on in your villa, relaxation sala (open pavilion), on the beach, or in tropical gardens. Throw in great-value prices, dawn yoga classes, and calm, tuned-in practitioners, and you can’t help but detox.
One place to chill out is on the Bukit Peninsula, famous for its dry landscape, coastal cliffs, beaches and the Pura Luhur Ulu Watu temple. Luxury hotel Karma Kandara stars a cliff-top spa with an inclinator to whisk you down to its boho beach club. Talk about taking it easy!
- Location: Bali, Indonesia
- Best time to go: April to September
- Ideal time commitment: Ten days
- Budget: $$$
- Pack: Mosquito repellent, mask and snorkel
Read on for more.
Sleep Under the Stars in Kerala
The waterways of Kerala, among dazzling India’s most startlingly beautiful and tranquil places, are where lovers can escape into an intimate world of their own. Aboard your slender houseboat-for-two, glide along coconut-tree-lined canals and explore the countryside’s vibrant villages and fragrant spice plantations. Read, relax, watch river life pass by. If you’re feeling mildly energetic, take a village tour to see traditional artisans at work building boats by hand, as they’ve done for hundreds of years. Maybe even enjoy an Ayurvedic massage to soothe the body, mind, and soul. As night falls, relish a candlelit dinner of Keralan curry – cooked by your houseboat crew, of course – then moor up and dream the night away under the firmament of stars.
- Location: Kerala, southern India
- Best time to go: October, November, March
- Ideal time commitment: Two days to one week
- Budget: $-$$
- Pack: Mosquito repellent
A Fresh Take on the Big Apple
New York City looks really big – towering, even. From the typical street-level perspective, legions of metal-and-glass soar, and the hustle and bustle of Big Apple existence, are all around you, all the time. But on the Hudson, life slows down. Gliding along in a kayak feels serene, like you’re getting back to nature, even despite the shore being lined not with trees but with skyscrapers. Gaze over at Lady Liberty (rendered strangely small by perspective) and float beneath the steel hulk of the USS Intrepid before stepping ashore to find further respite at the High Line. This mile-long park built on an old elevated train line is full of quiet landscaped spaces, sun-soaked lounge chairs, and can’t-believe-this-is-free views, and hosts regular exhibitions. For yet more green, majestic Central Park is a haven for escape-seekers, with nooks and crannies and benches and grassy patches everywhere for relaxing, sunbathing, picnicking, people-watching, and bird-spotting.
- Location: New York City, USA
- Best time to go: May-September
- Ideal time commitment: Four days
- Budget: $$
- Pack: Sunblock, sun hat, swimsuit
Lonely Planet’s Great Escapes showcases some of the world’s best away-from-it-all experiences with compelling content, beautiful photography, and practical planning tips.