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Get There First | El Salvador; Bhutan; Estonia

Three destinations on the verge of making it big.

El Salvador

The fighting ended 13 years ago, so it's now perfectly safe to visit this tiny Central American country's uncrowded beaches, pristine lakes and volcanic landscape. Flying to the capital, San Salvador, takes just five hours from New York.

WHERE TO STAY The Hotel San Salvador Presidente has a terrific pool, the largest in El Salvador, with a waterfall and thatched-roof cabanas (doubles from $90; Final Ave. de la Revolución; 011-503-283-4000 or hotelpresidente.com.sv).

WHERE TO EAT The sleek San Salvador lounge Abajo serves international small plates and great martinis (225-A Calle La Reforma, Colonia San Benito; 011-503-223-9654).

WHAT TO DO Some of Central America's loveliest oceanfront is just a 40-minute drive from San Salvador at Costa del Sol; nearby Jaltepeque estuary offers excellent bird-watching and boating.
—David Kirby

Bhutan

Set 20,000 feet high among the cliffs of the Himalayas, Bhutan recently opened its doors to outsiders. To avoid the backpacking crowds of neighboring Nepal, Bhutan's government requires that all travel be booked through tour operators, and tourists must spend at least $200 a day.

WHERE TO STAY The 24 luxurious suites at Amankora each have a huge terrazzo bath. Aman Resorts is building five more properties in Bhutan (doubles from $900; 011-65-6887-3337 or amanresorts.com). Como Hotels' year-old Uma Paro features Como Shambhala, the company's Asian-inspired spa and yoga facility (doubles from $250; 011-975-827-1597 or uma.como.bz).

WHAT TO DO Trekking through the spectacular valleys and hills is Bhutan's signature activity. For recommended outfitters, check out the country's official Web site, kingdomofbhutan.com.
—Stacey Nield

Estonia

After decades of Soviet rule, Estonia is growing so rapidly that its capital, Tallinn, is being called the next Prague. Coming this fall: The country's first permanent art museum, KUMU, in Tallinn.

WHERE TO STAY Tallinn's 23-room Three Sisters Hotel has Philippe Starck bathrooms along with a rococo ceiling discovered under 14 layers of paint and wallpaper (doubles from $270; Pikk 71/ Tolli 2; 011-800-3-746-8357 or designhotels.com).

WHERE TO EAT Look for the entrance to Gloria along the stone wall that surrounds Tallinn's Old Town. Locals eat caviar and blinis with vodka, though there's also a 700-bottle wine cellar (Müürivahe 2; 011-372-644-6950).

WHAT TO DO Tallinn's newest shopping center, Viru Keskus, has over 70 shops, including a few that feature local designers (Viru Square 4; 011-372-610-1400 or virukeskus.com).
—Ratha Tep

Published May 2005
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