Koh Lanta, Thailand
Why you should go: Overall, Southeast Asia is relatively inexpensive, as there are fewer developed areas and the dollar has remained strong. “The people in Thailand are so friendly, and there is a better tourist infrastructure than in, say, Vietnam,” says Sandy Ferguson, who grew up in Thailand and is a travel agent with Asia Desk, in Duluth, Georgia. Koh Lanta is a beach alternative to Phuket, which is full of tourists.
Where to sleep: Baan Laanta Resort & Spa offers private bungalows with balconies (baanlaanta.com). Relax Bay (011-66-7568-4194) has a Thai-French restaurant and an open-air bar on the beach.
Where to eat: At Time for Lime, you can take cooking classes―or just eat the fresh Thai food. Or splurge at the Seven Seas Wine Bar & Restaurant, at the posh Pimalai Resort & Spa (pimalai.com).