We don't recommend ignoring valid safety warnings or curfew cracking in Kashmir, but for those who don't mind tempting the fates—or riots, volcanoes, coups and kidnappings—to escape the holiday hordes and high tourist prices, there are several places in Asia and the Pacific that are gold mines this summer. Here are the year's hottest hot spots.
FIJI Since George Speight's failed coup attempt last summer, the Pacific paradise has struggled to draw anything like the crowds that once filled its scores of resorts. Deals abound, typically offering free nights, inclusive flights or no charge for children. At the nine-month-old luxury Outrigger Reef Resort, an hour's drive from the scene of the insurrection in the capital Suva, six nights go for the price of three ($456 for a standard double). Facilities include kayaking, fire walking and, to cool off, a freshwater pool. To book, contact Internet agent Lastminutehotdeals.com.
LOMBOK Indonesia's Lombok has long been the Bali for the better informed: beautiful beaches and a lush interior that rival its neighbor's—without the jet skis or Club Meds. But visitor numbers took a dive after Muslim-Christian violence in January 2000 and a fatal village spat a year later that left nine dead. Occupancy rates of 50% or less are common. Sheraton's beachside Senggigi Resort (two pools, three restaurants and two bars) is offering rooms at $85 per double, half the rack rate, rising to $105 in the August high season; call (62-370) 693-333. Farther north at the top-of-the-line Oberoi, manager John Halpin is not cutting published rates for his 50 stunning villas (starting at $240 a night for a double), but he'll talk turkey on an individual basis; call (62-370) 638-444.
SRI LANKA Although most of the country remains untouched by the civil war in the northeast, the bloody conflict casts a long shadow over this Indian Ocean jewel of beaches, ancient cities and Buddhist shrines. Discounts of 75% on rack rates are not rare. Typical of Sri Lanka's exceptional value is Xtours' 14-day package, which includes five nights in a beach resort and visits to Colombo, the cultural capital Kandy, the hill country and the ruins of Anuradhapura and Sigiriya, as well as airport transfers and daily breakfasts. The price? A mere $658 for two. Call (947) 779-2092 for details or check out xtours.bigstep.com.
PALAWAN AND SIPADAN Some might have qualms about this deal, but others would say lightning never strikes twice. In May after the Abu Sayyaf Muslim-rebel group snatched 20 tourists from the Dos Palmas resort on the east coast of Palawan in the Philippines, the government deployed thousands of troops to resorts nationwide. Managers of the exclusive Dos Palmas hideaway—on its own island—cut rates by up to 25% through Oct. 31. Prices start at $115 per person for two nights in a shared cabin, including transfers. Attractions include diving, tennis and kayaking; call Giovanni at (63-2) 365-2344/9105.
The Dos Palmas raid recalls an almost identical hostage-taking incident in April last year. The same group had kidnapped 21 tourists and staff from the island of Sipadan in Malaysia, off the coast of northeast Borneo. At the time the publicity—and accompanying pictures of the idyllic resort and reports of its world-class diving—actually pushed visitor numbers up. But the area as a whole suffered, and Sipadan's managers are now offering 10% discounts and a free night for every six booked. Seven nights, including all food, accommodation and equipment, three dives daily and transfers, are $963 per person, based on two sharing; call (60-89) 765-200.