Siem Reap, Cambodia
Trail dolphins and dodge dirt bikes under ‘Apocalypse Now’ sunsets.
It’s a long way to go for eight nights, but even brief exposure to Cambodia’s anarchic beauty can feel restorative. First, check off the must-sees: Book a guided tuk-tuk trip to the phantasmal ruins of Angkor Wat ($35 a head, includes entry fee) through the concierge at Viroth’s Hotel in Siem Reap ($90 a night; viroth-hotel.com). Next, take a dirt-bike tour of the ancient capital Koh Ker ($125; hiddencambodia.com). A four-hour, $10 bus ride gets you to Kratie, home to over 50 endangered Irrawaddy freshwater dolphins. Two hundred miles down the Mekong River, in Phnom Penh, Colonial style (and bikinied NGO workers) await at the Pavilion (from $40; thepavilion.asia). Grab a bowl of fried rice at the Russian Market in the Boeng Kak lake district and flag a cab ($40) for a three-hour drive to the seaside resort of Kep, where the Gulf of Thailand nearly laps against the open-air beds at the Veranda Natural Resort (from $35; veranda-resort.com).
OR: Raft, hike, horseback ride, and rappel in deepest Dracula country.
Full of climbable cliffs, fantastic scenery, and vampire-chic lodging, Transylvania has become a sort of outdoor defibrillator for jaded Europeans. Link up with tour operators Outdoor Experience (outdoorexperience.ro) for a white-water-rafting trip through the gorges of the Crisul Repede River (from $297 for up to six people) or an “adventure weekend” of canyoning, rappelling, and kayaking (from $121). Back in semi-civilization, stay at the Kálnoky Estate’s guesthouses (from $66; transylvaniancastle.com) in Miklósvár, where proprietor Count Kálnoky (his real title) can organize riding and hiking expeditions.
La Ceiba, Honduras
Skip from jungle to river to reef for a fraction of the cost of Costa Rica.
Honduras has quieted significantly since last summer’s military coup, and the coastal city of La Ceiba is again drawing veteran explorers and the jungle-curious to plush inns like the Lodge at Pico Bonito (from $240; picobonito.com). Join a white-water-rafting trip pierced by monkey and toucan shrieks, led by famed naturalist Jorge Salaverri of La Moskitia Ecoaventuras (from $25; lamoskitia.hn). Drive five minutes to the Garifuna village of Sambo Creek for a day of seaside horseback riding, zip-lining, and soaking in hot springs (from $45; Sambo River Canopy Tour; 504-3355-5481). If you don’t have time to go diving at Roatán Island (reachable via an hour-long ferry), Salaverri can arrange a trip to Cayos Cochinos (from $53), a group of thirteen coral cays closer to the coast.
OR: Trade in your oars and tanks for a tuned-up mountain bike.
This year, Mexico unveils a newly restored archaeological site at Cañada de la Virgen, and the best way to get there is by bike. Rent a weathered Trek from Bike Station Guanajuato ($20 for half-day; bikestationguanajuato.com) and roll past golden hills and wild potato fields on your way to the 1,000-year-old pre-Columbian ruins. Detour to the thermal pools of Aguas Claras and forgotten silver-mining towns like Mineral de la Luz. Knead your calves in the terrace Jacuzzi in the master suite of the Hotel Casa Del Agua (from $150; hotelcasadelagua.com.mx).
Visit the nearest watery oasis with fresh trails and a city-style hotel.
It might not inspire Ken Burns– level fawning, but the Delaware Water Gap shelters one of the country’s largest networks of waterfalls and a hundred miles of underused hiking trails—and it’s only 70 miles from the city. Warm up with a hike up the Knob, a 400-foot cliff with a Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.–designed cemetery cut into its flanks. Trek through creek-fed farmlands by the mighty Delaware River on a segment of the 37-mile McDade Trail that starts at Milford Beach. Trailheads south of town access cascades like the multilevel Raymondskill Falls and the churning 130-foot Dingmans Falls, both buried deep in hemlock-filled ravines. Base yourself just north, in Milford, where the marble bathtubs at the elegant Hotel Fauchère will wash the grime away (from $170; hotelfauchere.com).
OR: Flaunt your Pan-athleticism in the Northeast’s answer to Boulder.
Burlington has more outdoor options than it knows what to do with. In a single weekend, you can hike a portion of the 273-mile Long Trail (the Green Mountain Club can suggest routes; greenmountainclub.org); bike the gorgeous Island Line Trail along Lake Champlain ($28 to rent for 24 hours; localmotion .com); learn to fly-fish with an expert from Schirmer’s Fly Shop ($150 per lesson; schirmersflyshop .com), and take a self-guided tour of the Mad River Valley’s swimming holes—Warren Falls, with its natural waterslides, is spectacular but gets crowded, so go early (swimmingholes.org/vt has a master list). After a bratwurst and a locally brewed Magic Hat at newly opened Das Bierhaus (dasbierhausvt.com), collapse at the antique-filled Willard Street Inn (from $140; willard streetinn.com).