Wherever you go in the world, you are most likely going to bump into an Aussie at some point. After all, we are notorious travelers -- and although many overseas neighbors would consider Australia as a top travel destination, from the looks of it a vast number of Australians can’t wait to escape the isolated island in search of new horizons. According to the most recent study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 9.2 million Australian residents departed the shores for a short-term escape in the last financial year, venturing to an array of countries that vary drastically in climate, culture, and landscape. A decade ago the top five travel destinations for an Aussie included New Zealand, the UK, USA, Indonesia, and China. So over 10 years on what’s changed? Where is the ultimate escape from Australia’s barmy climate, killer spiders, and bogan battlers? We totted up the numbers to give you the favorites. Here’s a recap of Aussies' top overseas destinations.
Hotels in this story
Coming in at first place is New Zealand, a land of smiles, with Maori people that maintain a fascinating indigenous culture, and a vast terrain to explore, from glaciers and thermal pools, to native forests and idyllic beaches. Milford Sound, a fjord in the southwest region of New Zealand, was once considered the eighth wonder of the world by the English author Rodyard Kipling. New Zealand offers outdoor enthusiasts a multitude of thrill-seeking activities, from skiing and snowboarding the slopes in Queenstown, set alongside the scenic Southern Alps, to natural eruptions of steam, hot water, and mud from the geysers and hot springs in Rotorua. Recently coined “middle earth” by Lord of the Rings fanatics, here tourists can also venture to the Hobbiton film set in the North Island of New Zealand.
Where to Stay: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
The 171-room Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour is a five-pearl business hotel right on Auckland’s Harbour, a short walk from the offices of the Central Business District and many of the city’s major attractions. Rooms here are sleek and elegant — but not overly fussy — with work desks, great tea and coffee, and huge marble bathrooms with separate rainfall showers and tubs. However, some of the Superior Rooms have views into the neighboring office buildings and guests wanting to use the hotel-wide Wi-Fi will have to pay extra. Features include a small fitness center, a tiny lap pool with a whirlpool hot tub, a serene spa, a spacious business center with lounge areas, and five meeting rooms. A huge breakfast buffet is available every morning (for a fee) and there’s a bar in which guests can have champagne bottles opened sabrage-style, with a sword. The fitness-focused may prefer the nearby SKYCITY Grand Hotel, which has similar features as the Sofitel but a much better gym.
Second place goes to Indonesia; despite the sporadic high caution warnings for traveling to Indonesia since the devastating Bali bombings in 2002, which killed 88 Australians, people still consider Indonesia as a top pick when selecting a holiday destination. Indonesia comprises of more than 17,000 islands, with dormant and active volcanoes on Mount Bromo, Raja Ampat, one of the world’s most popular coral reef diving destinations, and Bali, a seaside escape, with an array of resort-style accommodations. Lake Toba is a popular swimming destination for travelers wanting to take a dip in the world’s largest volcanic lake. Indonesia is also home to the Komodo Dragon — the largest living lizard in the world, found on the beaches in the Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Where to Stay: Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa Bali
The 74-room Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa is a modern luxury resort perched on a cliffside with gorgeous views over the Indian Ocean from most of its facilities, including a rooftop restaurant and beautiful infinity-edge pool. Spacious suites and villas offer stylish, contemporary decor and private balconies with outdoor soaking tubs, plus a duplex penthouse is available with a private pool and sundeck. The luxurious spa features a wide range of treatments including hair and nail services, and there’s also a fitness center and yoga classes are offered. The property’s cliffside locale, though scenic, also means that there are lots of steps to navigate throughout the grounds, and though there’s direct access to a private beach, it’s rocky and not always swimmable. For a sandy beach, travelers might want to consider another luxurious offering from the brand, the Anantara Seminyak Resort & Spa.
In third place is the United States of America, home to the buzzing metropolis of New York City, Disney Land, every child’s dream in Orlando, and the Grand Canyon, a humongous chasm in northern Arizona which stretches over approximately 277 miles in length, and up to 18 miles in width. The USA is made up of 50 states, which extend from Alaska in the extreme North West to North America and Hawaii. Popular tourist attractions include the Empire State Building in Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, visible from the southern tip of the big apple, and the White House in Washington DC. Times Square, a commercial junction saturated with neon signs and street entertainers, is an experience for travelers. For those who want to roll the dice, Las Vegas hosts 24-hour casinos, with dancing fountains, a grand canal, and an array of exotic dancers. For music lovers some worthwhile pit stops include New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, Chicago, famous for blues music, and Memphis, home to Elvis Presley, Graceland, and Sun Studio.
Where to Stay: The Plaza
The century-old, 282-room Plaza is a New York landmark. A $400 million overhaul in 2008 gave the huge rooms gold-platedbathroom fixtures, but it also converted most rooms overlooking Central Park into privately owned residences. Still, the exceptional spa and 24-hour butler service make it worth the splurge.
Fourth from the top is the United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland; it’s the birth place of The Beatles and Shakespeare, and home to Queen Elizabeth, the head of state. The UK is a distant cousin of Australia, with obvious cultural and familial ties stretching back to the first European settlers on the Australian shores in the 18th century. Popular London tourist attractions include Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. Further afield is Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument dating back to 3000 BC. The Scottish Highlands are picturesque and home to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. For travelers wanting to experience a quintessential English village, the Cotswold’s, which is spread over five counties, is famous for its rolling hills and thatch roof cottages.
Where to Stay: Town Hall Hotel
The Town Hall Hotel and Apartments is located in London’s artsy East End. Striking design mixes Edwardian influences with 1930s art deco style and contemporary touches. This hotel first opened as a town hall in 1910 and many of the rooms, studios, and apartments have original period details. All rooms have free Wi-Fi and iPod docks. Bathrooms are especially luxurious, most with soaking tubs and separate walk-in showers. Vintage furniture and modern kitchens make these loft-style rooms both functional and inviting. Hotel amenities include a nice indoor pool, a fitness room, and a stylish Michelin-rated restaurant. While some guests might feel that the location is isolated from London’s top attractions, the Town Hall Hotel offers great value for money in a hip neighborhood.
Fifth on the list is Thailand, a South East Asian country known for its opulent beaches, ornate temples, cheap markets, and mountain villages. Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi is the most famous floating market, comprising of a colorful mix of rickety boats that sell a vast selection of fresh produce and flowers. Island hopping by long tail boat is a popular activity, with more than 5000 miles of coastline to explore. Favored festivals include Loi krathong, a floating lantern festival that takes place in November. Travelers can saddle an elephant and trek through the jungle in Khao Yai National Park, surrounded by exotic birds and local monkeys. Phuket Beach is a seaside destination synonymous with bucket-sized cocktails, fire dance shows, and nightclubs that draw in a mixture of both locals and travelers. For tourists wanting to get a Kodak moment with a tiger, the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi is a forest temple run by Buddhists, and a safe house for wild animals.
Where to Stay: Oriental Residence Bangkok
Sandwiched between the U.S. and Dutch embassies in Bangkok’s leafy and residential Lumpini neighborhood, the Oriental Residence Bangkok is home to 145 luxury apartment-style residences that attract both long- and short-stay guests. Even without its romantic, French-inspired decor, the hotel would be impressive as the home of Michelin-starred chef Henk Savelberg’s Thailand outpost; these, together with a stylized roof deck pool, modern fitness center overlooking the city, two other restaurants and bars, and full kitchens in every room cement its place as a truly luxe and discreet destination. That the nearest skytrain station is within walking distance (as is verdant Lumpini Park) is just icing on the cake.
All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Oyster may earn an affiliate commission.