While we all love a beach holiday or foodie tour, every so often, it’s great to do something different. From the (dark) magical to the existential to honing a new skill, there are myriad ways to spend your holiday that needn’t be limited to tourist-heavy destinations.

If you’re looking for something unique and off the beaten path, then consider these. Or at least add them to your travel bucket list.

Learn something new on Vacation With An Artist

Aptly called Vacation With An Artist (VAWAA), you can travel to just about anywhere on the planet for a stint with a local artist. From learning to shimmy to the Argentine tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to mastering Japanese calligraphy in Kyoto, Japan, to discovering silk painting in Seville, Spain, and even trying your hand at immersive audio and creative recording in Argyll, Scotland, the whole idea of VAWAA is having holidaymakers take on a mini apprenticeship.

Every trip you take is an opportunity to learn, explore, and create, thus making for a really unique vacay where you come away with a whole new skill learned from a master of the art. For now, VAWAA has 134 artists in 26 countries, and that number continues to grow.

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SapotLokal while learning something new at Rimbun Dahan

Okay, perhaps the prospect of flying across the world to somewhere new isn’t possible for whatever reason. You can still have a similar experience right in your own backyard at Rimbun Dahan!

Sprawled over 14 acres of beautifully-landscaped land flanked by indigenous foliage, Rimbun Dahan is a space just outside Kuala Lumpur that offers residency to visual artists, dancers/choreographers, writers, and others working within the arts industry. While centring its efforts on providing a safe and serene space for Malaysian and Southeast Asian artists, Rimbun Dahan also welcomes international artists looking to study/develop traditional and contemporary art forms.

IF you’re an artist yourself, this may be the solace you need. But if you’re a member of the general public learning to learn or experience something new, look out for their calendar of events or arrange a private visit. Either way, it’s a space for safe learning!

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You’re hot then you’re cold on fire + ice holidays

Alright, so this isn’t exactly new, and we’d actually talked about fire and ice holidays before. But it’s still a great holiday idea that gives you the best of both worlds. You’ve just got to bring two very different sets of clothing with you (but yay for extra luggage).

Essentially, a fire and ice holiday can take you to a sunny beach one day and then skiing the next. And several countries with unique climates allow for you to experience such a thing. The resort destination of Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island is one such place.

While you can partake in exciting summertime activities like the Shotover Jet around Lake Wakatipu (where the city is built), a half-hour drive up to The Remarkables offers skiing opportunities!

Get a dose of magic at Benin

This is a very different kind of dark tourism. Benin, a French-speaking country in West Africa, is the birthplace of the vodoun (or voodoo). This indigenous religion worships natural spirits and greatly reveres ancestors, and each year, a voodoo festival is still widely practised. So perhaps do away with the idea of a safari to experience something unique in Africa.

Besides immersing into the world and history of voodoo, Benin also boasts some lovely beaches. Get in on the action at Cotonou on the republic’s southern coast. The water’s warm, the waves are big, the sand is golden, and the palm trees are swaying — it’s beautiful.

We ‘stan’ a nature holiday in Tajikistan

When it comes to holidays in nature, usually countries such as Australia and New Zealand come to mind. These countries boast resplendent and largely untouched raw nature, thus even making them the go-to destinations of film crews looking to capture your favourite epic films such as Lord of The Rings.

But why not give Central Asia a chance? The ‘stans’, particularly Tajikistan, is also largely untouched by development, making it an exciting new frontier for those who love to holiday in the great outdoors. Known for rugged mountains, this is the place to head to if you love hiking and climbing. From scaling the majestic Pamir Mountains to birding at the Iskanderkulsky Nature Refuge, Tajikistan’s rich on the nature front.

Another perk is that holidaying in Central Asia is a lot more wallet-friendly than flying down to New Zealand, which is costly.

Have your existential questions answered at a Torajan afterlife ritual

For a tribe in Indonesia, the Torajans, dying is a highly social and slow process. The Torajan Afterlife Ritual sees the bodies of newly-deceased loved ones kept at home and preserved by families for up to years on end. Or at least until they can afford a funeral. An elaborate ritual, it’s a fascinating tradition that blurs the boundary between the living and those who’ve passed on.

The Torajan, who lives on one of Indonesia’s largest islands, South Sulawesi, believe that the spirit of someone departed lingers in the home until their funeral ceremony. During this time, the afterlife ritual sees the departed’s family spend plenty of time and money (sometimes even make sacrifices) as a form of reverence to them.

Since it’s a social exercise, most families embrace the presence of curious tourists looking to learn more about their traditions. Some ritual schedules are even shared on the local government’s website should you choose to learn more about the meaning of life and eventual death from the Torajan. It’s quite a trip!