The world's best relaxing holiday destinations

The whole point of a vacation is to disconnect from everyday life and cut loose. When it comes to recharging our batteries, an action-packed itinerary can sometimes be too much. We have found 20 of the most relaxing places in the world. From tropical islands to laid-back cities here they are.
Sunset at serene West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China – one of the world's most relaxing destinations. Photo: Shutterstock
Sunset at serene West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China – one of the world's most relaxing destinations. Photo: Shutterstock

Last updated: 18 April 2023

The whole point of a vacation is to disconnect from everyday life and cut loose. When it comes to recharging our batteries, an action-packed itinerary can sometimes be too much. We have found 20 of the most relaxing holiday destinations in the world. From tropical islands to laid-back cities here they are.

The information in this article is inspired by Inside Guides, your essential guides for visiting the world. 

1. The Maldives: Home to 100s of most relaxing holiday destinations

There's a reason the World Spa Awards designated the Maldives as the top spa destination on the planet: where pampering yourself is concerned, this dreamy country takes the cake. Comprised of coral atolls in the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is home to hundreds of tropical islands, each one more spectacular than the last. 

For relaxation at its best, Kuramathi Maldives is a luxury resort with a spa, offering treatments based on traditional Asian therapies, as well as pristine beaches and a diving center. 

Meanwhile, the lavish Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives on North Malé Atoll offers luxurious bungalow accommodation in a stunning island destination complemented by exquisite cuisine and a tranquil spa. 

2. Tulum, Mexico: Where the beaches are paradise

With one of its major attractions known as Playa Paraiso (Paradise Beach), it's little wonder that Tulum on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico makes it on to our list of the world's most relaxing places. 

Playa Paraiso is a secluded, palm-fringed expanse of white sands that remains relatively quiet and relaxed despite its abundant beauty and calm, crystal clear waters. Here you can spend your days swimming and snorkeling, before savoring cool drinks and authentic Mexican dishes at the local beach bars and restaurants.

Take a look at Insight Guides The Magic of the Yucatan and Mexico City trip and explore the real Yucatan Peninsula from archaeological sites to the beaches of Tulum. Then change the vibe completely in Mexico's vivid capital city. 

3. Phuket, Thailand: The perfect place to unwind

Phuket is easily one of the hottest locations in Thailand, drawing in endless visitors with its sparkling beaches and laid-back atmosphere. But that doesn't mean it isn't also one of the most relaxing holiday destinations to visit. In fact, Phuket can be the perfect place to unwind. 

The northernmost reaches of the island’s western coastline encompass the extensive stretch of Hat Mai Khao beach, which is part of the protected Sirinat National Park. Its secluded location makes it one of the island’s quietest, with golden sands and very clean waters. 

Truly kick back at destinations such as Anantara Layan Phuket Resort to the south, where you can savor luxurious villa accommodation, fine dining and unspoiled beaches. 

4. Langkawi, Malaysia: Relax in the great outdoors

Lovers of the great outdoors can get their travel fix in the Langkawi archipelago in Malaysia, a destination known for its staggering limestone cliffs, lush greenery, and jaw-dropping natural geological formations. 

Langkawi is actually Southeast Asia's premier geopark. It's jam-packed with biodiversity you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else and the towering mountains and intricate cave routes are nothing short of paradise. 

Explore Malaysia from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi on an Insight Guides Indulgent Malaysia trip. Experience urban adventure, take part in eagle-watching and mangrove tours, relax on beaches and discover true bio-diversity. 

Langkawi, one of the most relaxing holiday destinations in Malaysia. Photo: Vaflya/Shutterstock

5. Ubud, Bali: A soulful retreat for the mind and body

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert chose Bali in Indonesia to round out her famous Eat, Pray, Love journey. We can't say we blame her.

'Ubud, Bali is one of the most tranquil and relaxing destinations on earth,' says Jon, owner of a luxury villa in Ubud. 'There are few places that can delicately balance relative modernity and quality infrastructure with quiet, peace and natural beauty.'

He also touches on Bali's multitude of high-end accommodations, spas and retreats – perfect for some introspection and soul-searching. 'You can get love, adventure, rest, and enlightenment in Ubud, Bali. It has a rightful place on a list of the most relaxing places on earth.'

Find serenity for yourself on an Insight Guides Bali Yoga Retreat trip. Appreciate the restorative value of meditation sessions on this remarkable Indonesian island and enjoy the opportunity of unwinding in soulful Ubud.

6. Vientiane, Laos: A laid back and walkable capital

There are plenty of reasons why Laos should be on your travel wish list. In the ultra-walkable and easy-going capital of Vientiane delicious restaurants and bakeries await. You can head out into the peaceful surroundings of small-town Laos, and beyond to discover ancient relics of years gone by. 

This laid-back nation is also home to some of Asia’s most historic shrines and archaeological sites, such as Wat Phu Hindu temple ruins. Discover fascinating Laos from Vientiane to Luang Prabang on an Insight Guides Historical Laos trip. 

7. Casa Palopo, Guatemala: A relaxing lakeside haven

Guatemala certainly has no shortage of impressive natural wonders, and Lago de Atitlán or Lake Atitlan, is certainly high on that list. This mesmerizing volcanic caldera is known for its highland setting and charming lakeside villages. 

A wonderful, relaxing hotel in which to savor this highland lake location is charming Casa Palopó which offers sweeping views of Lake Atitlan and its majestic volcanoes from a hilltop, lakeside location. 

The hotel's individually designed, Mayan-inspired rooms are ideal for guests seeking a relaxing escape. These are complemented by a casual restaurant, an infinity pool and a serene terrace, all of which afford stunning panoramas of the lake.

8. Galle, Sri Lanka: Relax in historic luxury

The city of Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka is perfect for the traveler looking for a little luxury and a spot of relaxation. 

One of Asia’s most perfectly preserved period pieces, colonial Galle Fort dates back to the city's period of rule under the Dutch, who seized Galle from the Portuguese in 1640 and spent the next 150 years embellishing and fortifying the town. 

The Dutch influence remains apparent in the streets of low-slung colonial villas, many of which now house delightful boutiques. So the town makes a wonderful destination for shopping and leisurely strolls. Discover Galle's charms for yourself as part of Insight Guides Deluxe Sri Lanka trip.

Galle Fort, the centrepiece of colonial Galle in southern Sri Lanka. Photo: Thomas Dekiere/Shutterstock

9. Nha Trang, Vietnam: A town with hidden charms

Nha Trang has a split personality. On the one hand, it's one of the liveliest, most celebrated party towns in Vietnam. Yet on the other hand, its hidden charms, attractive beaches, and proximity to fascinating destinations such as Hội An and Ho Chi Minh City make it an unexpected spot for a relaxing vacation. 

Experience the delights of Nah Trang for yourself as part of Insight Guides' Vietnam and Cambodia by Rail trip, which includes a two-night stay in the multi-faceted town. 

10. Bagan, Myanmar: High flying relaxation

Travelers seeking remote adventure and laid-back discovery would be correct in adding Bagan to their list of most relaxing places. 

You may well be familiar with this city in Myanmar from the iconic images of buoyant hot air balloons gently floating above ancient, gold-dipped pagodas and temples. See this verdant countryside peppered with stupas, and misty, jagged peaks as part of an Insight Guides Famous Waterways of Myanmar trip.  

Hot air balloons over Bagan, Myanmar. Photo: Ikunl/Shutterstock

11. Mykonos, Greece: Cut loose in the Cyclades

For some, relaxing means cutting loose from the pressures of everyday life, indulging in top-notch food and enjoying some fun. Mýkonos offers wonderful granite-sand beaches and a dazzlingly beautiful port town that draw numerous visitors each year. 

Along with fantastic designer shopping and buzzing nightlife for all orientations, the island also offers some of the most luxurious accommodation in the Greek islands

However, Mýkonos is also a destination where you can fully unwind. On the north coast, Agios Sostis and Panormos are undeveloped, sheltered sandy beaches where you can relish idyllic peace and quiet. In Mykonos Town, the Folklore Museum and the Archaeological Museum, at different ends of the quay, are both full of fascinating objects. 

Enjoy a boat cruise to Mykonos as part of Insight Guides The Historical and Mythological Cyclades Islands trip. Then spend time wandering through Mykonos Town's maze of narrow streets lined with boutiques, restaurants and diminutive churches.

12. Dead Sea, Jordan: relax in mineral spas

Year-round sunshine in Jordan means it’s always possible to experience the Middle Eastern café culture in the capital Amman, before traveling through the breathtaking desert landscapes of Wadi Rum

Floating in the cobalt waters of the Dead Sea is easy as they are so heavy with salt and oils. But savoring beauty treatments in one of the region's luxury mineral spas is an experience not to be missed. 

Pamper yourself with therapies ranging from rejuvenating natural mud wraps to purifying milk baths. Or try Dead Sea salt scrubs, which use the local waters to exfoliate skin, leaving you utterly refreshed. Discover all the restorative powers of the Dead Sea's salty shores on Insight Guides Treasures of Jordan trip.

13. Nachi Falls, Japan: sacred and serene wonders

The exquisite Nachi Falls in Japan are a magnificent sight to behold. Hidden away in the Nachi Primeval Forest, the waterfall features an incredible 133-meter drop. 

The Nachi Falls attract worshippers and travelers alike to Seiganto-ji, a beautifully serene and ornate Buddhist temple that is said to have been created specifically for worshipping the majesty of nature. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the three-tiered pagoda sublimely complements the waterfall, helping create one of the most relaxing destinations in the world.

Choose an Insight Guides Self Guided Adventure Tour of Japan and immerse in natural beauty, relax on sacred islands, discover historic cities drenched in culture and ancient customs, see Samurai and sample street food. 

Pagoda of Seiganto-ji Temple at Nachi Katsuura with Nachi no Taki fall in Wakayama, Japan. Photo: Shutterstock

Seiganto-ji Temple pagoda at Nachi Falls, Wakayama, Japan. Photo: Shutterstock

14. Lakshadweep, India: remote paradise islands

Luxuriant palm groves, abundant coral reefs, and dazzling white-sand coastlines are the hallmarks of the Lakshadweep Islands – a corner of remote paradise scattered about 200 to 400 miles west of the Keralan coast in India

These wonderfully isolated specks of land are known for exceptional snorkeling and diving, thanks to the exotic marine life and sparkling, clear lagoons. Lakshadweep isn't the easiest destination to reach, which of course only makes it that much more alluring.

Access to the islands is controlled by the Indian Government, and foreign travelers must book through official tour operators. The Society for Promotion of Nature, Tourism and Sports is the primary agency.

For an equally relaxing, but slightly more accessible experience of India, explore from the Golden Triangle to the serene and gentle backwaters of Kerala on Insight Guides Unmissable India trip. 

15. Brittany, France: Celtic culture and dramatic coasts

If you're looking to experience a different side of France, Brittany ought to be at the top of your travel itinerary. Its delightful towns paired with epic coastlines make for an intoxicating combination. Here, Celtic culture is alive and well amidst rocky seascapes, narrow winding roads, and lush green countryside. 

When planning your next relaxing trip to France, be sure to explore Brittany's 'Pink Granite Coast', aptly named for its fascinating pink-hued rocks. Discover it for yourself as part of Insight Guides' Northern France Tour: City to Coast trip.

16. Mount Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

There's California, then there's Lassen Volcanic National Park, a destination that is awesome in every sense of the word. 

According to the National Park Service, this travel gem's claims to fame are its, 'steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes.'

As far as unwinding goes, the Drakesbad Guest Ranch sits surrounded by mountain meadows and lakes, offering cozy accommodation in rustic bungalow cabins that don't have electricity. This is the perfect destination to unplug during a truly off-the-grid stay. Hiking trails, horseback riding and hot springs set the stage for an altogether relaxing vacation.

17. Mendoza, Argentina: Welcome to wine country

One of the world’s greatest wine capitals, Mendoza wine country in west central Argentina is a must for aficionados. But just a 90-minute flight away from the capital Buenos Aires, there’s plenty to enjoy here besides Malbec. 

Set at the foot of the Andes mountain range, seek out architecturally striking wineries such as Zuccardi in the Uco Valley and Lagarde in Luján de Cuyo. Both serve mouthwatering wine-paired lunches, which you can enjoy in leafy gardens overlooking verdant vineyards. The sweeping views of the surrounding scenery only add to the experience. 

Relax into an Insight Guides Argentina and Chile Wine Country Explored trip and discover Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Salta and Santiago on 13 unforgettable days. 

Luján de Cuyo valley vineyard, Mendoza, Argentina. Photo: Thomas Barrat/Shutterstock

18. Hangzhou, China: Satisfy your inner romantic

Widely regarded as the most relaxing city in China, Hangzhou is sure to satisfy your inner romantic. Its slow-paced energy, combined with rolling expanses of lush green mountains and time-honored pavilions, are enough to stop you in your tracks. 

It's also a refreshing change of pace from the hustle and bustle of China's major cities, like nearby Shanghai. West Lake remains Hangzhou's main attraction, and rightfully so, with charming gardens and sweeping vistas that embody serenity.  

19. Dubai, UAE: Relaxation with a side of glamour

The UAE probably isn't the first place to spring to mind when thinking of relaxing holiday destinations, but this exotic location should not be overlooked. Dubai is a luxury traveler's dream, especially for those who are out for a more glamorous holiday. 

High-end shopping, opulent accommodation, and fine dining converge in this Middle Eastern hotspot. Where else can you go skiing in the desert before taking a private helicopter tour? 

Come nightfall, Dubai has plenty to offer in the way of top-notch live entertainment, like rhythmic belly dancers that cross paths with fine Arabic cuisine at the luxurious Bab al Shams desert resort. Alternatively, immerse in the best of the city on Insight Guides' Dubai Luxury Stopover trip.

20. Lake Bled, Slovenia: As peaceful and pretty as it looks

Built in the 15th century, the church on Bled Island is a much-loved landmark in Slovenia. In fact, tradition says that for couples who get married here, the groom is to carry the bride from the dock before ringing the church bell for good luck. Weddings aside, this destination is every bit as charming (and peaceful) as its picture suggests.

Slovenia is a small and easy to explore country on a relaxed Insight Guides Treasures of Slovenia trip from Ljubljana to beautiful, romantic Lake Bled. 

Lake Bled from Mt. Osojnica, Slovenia. Photo: Shutterstock

Lake Bled from Mt. Osojnica, Slovenia. Photo: Shutterstock

Ready to take a trip to a relaxing destination?

Insight Guides can help you plan and book amazing trips to destinations around the world. Simply get in touch to share your ideas for the trip and to let us know when you would like to travel. Local travel experts will then create a personalized itinerary based on your specific requirements, which you can amend until it's exactly how you want it before booking.

Updated 31 January, 2022