Borneo over Bali? Here are 5 ‘destination dupes’ for travelers who want unique getaways without the crowds

  • Matt Berna of Intrepid Travel said young travelers seek immersive, unique experiences.

  • Some are skipping popular tourist spots in favor of so-called “destination dupes.”

  • Book a vacation in Seoul instead of Tokyo, for example.

Millennial and Gen Z travelers are over tourist traps.

Intrepid Travel’s President of the Americas, Matt Berna, told Business Insider that his company has seen a shift away from popular destinations among tourists between 18- and 35- years old. Intrepid Travel is a small group travel company.

According to Berna, young travelers aren’t bogged down by FOMO — or the “fear of missing out” — that influenced older generations. Instead, they want to set the tone.

“They want to be a trendsetter, going to the next cool place,” he said.

That’s why more young folks are booking so-called “destination dupes,” alternative vacation spots that are more affordable and less crowded than the well-known locations.

Intrepid Travel compiled a list of destination dupes travelers should consider this year.

Visit Corsica instead of Positano.

CorsicaCorsica

Corsica. John_Walker/Shutterstock

According to Intrepid Travel, the Mediterranean island of Corsica is a good alternative to Positano, a cliffside village on the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

“Unlike the bustling and tourist-heavy atmosphere of Positano, Corsica offers a more tranquil and peaceful environment, allowing travelers to unwind and immerse themselves in the island’s serene and calming ambiance,” the company said.

In Corsica, “travelers can enjoy a more authentic, tranquil, and immersive experience, exploring the island’s natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and diverse activities without the overwhelming crowds typically found in more popular tourist destinations,” the company added.

Visit Seoul instead of Tokyo.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Grand Palace Seoul, South Korea, AsiaGyeongbokgung Palace, Grand Palace Seoul, South Korea, Asia

Seoul.Joe Sohm/Visions of America / Contributor/Getty Images

Japan’s tourism industry is booming, with a record-breaking 3.1 million visitors this March.

Seoul is a great destination for travelers who want to avoid overcrowded attractions but still explore an Asian megacity like Tokyo.

“Seoul provides an authentic and immersive cultural experience, allowing travelers to explore traditional Korean customs, arts, and lifestyles in a dynamic and modern urban setting,” Intrepid Travel said. “This experience provides a deeper understanding of South Korea’s rich cultural heritage, which may be less accessible in the more globally popular tourist spots.”

Visit Panama instead of Barcelona.

Tourists visit the old town in Panama City, Panama, on April 26, 2024.Tourists visit the old town in Panama City, Panama, on April 26, 2024.

Panama.MARTIN BERNETTI/Getty Images

Intrepid Travel told BI that travelers should consider adding Panama to their bucket list instead of Barcelona.

“Panama’s diverse natural landscapes, including lush rainforests, exotic wildlife, and pristine beaches, provide a captivating backdrop for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers,” the company says.

The adventure travel company added that Panama has a “vibrant cultural scene, influenced by its indigenous heritage, Afro-Caribbean roots, and Spanish culture.” It offers a “dynamic and diverse experience for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in local traditions, folklore, and contemporary arts, providing an authentic and enriching journey that differs from the more European-centric cultural landscape of Barcelona.”

Travel from Kefalonia to Corfu rather than Split to Dubrovnik.

View from the hillside on Corfu Island in Greece.View from the hillside on Corfu Island in Greece.

Corfu.David C Tomlinson/Getty

People with their hearts set on traversing Croatia’s coastline might also like island-hopping across the Ionian Sea near Greece.

“Sail through some of the most beautiful Greek islands in the Ionian Sea,” Intrepid Travel said. “Travelers can journey to secluded coastlines, private islands, verdant rolling hills and orchards, historic Venetian architecture, warm and inviting tavernas and some of the world’s most transparent azure waters.”

The company added: “With its unspoiled landscapes and pristine beaches, Kefalonia to Corfu offers a serene haven for travelers seeking a tranquil escape, unlike the more crowded destinations.”

Tour Borneo over Bali.

Kapalai Resort in Borneo (Semporna, Sabah)Kapalai Resort in Borneo (Semporna, Sabah)

Borneo.ullstein bild/Getty Images

Bali is a popular tourist destination in Indonesia, but Intrepid Travel said travelers can find similar vibes on the island of Borneo.

“While Bali is undoubtedly a stunning destination with its beautiful beaches and rich cultural heritage, Borneo offers an entirely different experience that is unmatched in its own right,” Intrepid Travel said.

The company said that Borneo has a “rich cultural tapestry” with influences from indigenous communities that have preserved their culture “for generations.”

“Travelers can immerse themselves in the authentic lifestyles of the local communities, partake in traditional ceremonies, and gain valuable insights into the unique customs and beliefs that define Borneo’s cultural heritage,” Intrepid Travel said. “By choosing Borneo over Bali, travelers can embark on a journey that transcends mere sightseeing and offers a profound appreciation of the natural wonders and cultural richness that define this remarkable destination.”

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