Picture this — a magnificent villa with a plunge pool nestled amid lush greens by turquoise waters and picturesque valley views, a tranquil trail to ancient temples with stone sculptures and intricately carved walls, a long cruise holiday on calming waters or a refreshing underwater experience amid exotic marine life. Everyone dreams of a luxurious escapade occasionally and when coupled with nature, your much-needed break goes a notch higher. And, while there are plenty of lavish and unique experiences in the world, some exclusive experiences in South East Asia should be on the list of every traveller looking to unwind.
Wondering about things to do in South East Asia and where to head during your break? Have a look.
Here are some of the most exclusive experiences in South East Asia
Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape, Indonesia
Sixteen villas with private pools overlooking the beautiful valleys of Bali, the luxurious havens are named ‘Bales.’
In Indonesia, ‘Bale’ refers to a place where people come together. This green sanctuary does just that and more. Bringing people closer to nature, the villas are enveloped with gorgeous surroundings and their sustainable approach.
Not just that the stay is worth each penny, but the Ecotherapy experiences under expert local guidance, including nature walks, cultural events and authentic cooking experiences, are worth trying too.
Situated at 700 metres above sea level, one can choose to traverse the serene villages surrounded by River Ayung and along the way pick, smell and taste fresh ingredients for a wholesome meal. You can also try your hands at preparing traditional culinary delicacies in their authentic Balinese kitchen and learn about the benefits of various herbs found here.
Located ten minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage Site entrance of Angkor Wat, this blissful place served as the abode for the guests of King Sihanouk. Amansara brings alive the Khmer architecture from the 1960s.
Offering 12 suites exuding grandeur, you can spend your vacay in comfortable bedrooms, spacious living areas and brightly lit bathing spaces. Add to it a private courtyard, a reflection pond, sun loungers and a plunge pool. Other than an exquisite stay, you can experience Siem Reap’s rich Buddhist heritage, as they offer special tours to the world’s largest temple complex. Not to forget a visit to the floating homes on Tonlé Sap lake.
Located near the tranquil River Ayung, this holistic retreat at Mambal, Bali, is one of the best places to align your chakras. Nestled amid the wilderness, its riverfront suites come with a panoramic view of the blissful surroundings, private plunge pools and meditation pavilions. The aesthetic Balinese architecture accentuates the overall healing experience of visitors.
The healing and detox techniques through plant-based cuisines are the choicest. Their website reads, “By integrating raw living foods into our daily lives, we can look forward to wellness, greater energy and mental clarity, a positive outlook on life and spiritual awakening.”
Their spa experience is one of a kind as the healers are blessed with ancient wisdom, passed through generations. It revolves around their principle called Sekala-Niskala — the concept of two worlds — Sekala meaning ‘conscious’ and Niskala meaning ‘psychic’.
TIA Wellness Resort, Vietnam
This wellness retreat located in the Ngu Hanh Son District of Da Nang City in Vietnam has re-developed itself as TIA from Fusion Maia, post lockdown with an aim of providing life-enhancing experiences to its guests. You can customise your package based on your needs that include poolside villas with breakfast and relaxing activities like breathwork master classes, Tai Chi and yoga. They also offer private consultations and a wellness expert to guide you.
Focused on channelising the ‘creative energy,’ they provide two wellness therapies each night as part of their three-night-four-day programme. According to their official website, “TIA redefines the spa experience by integrating holistic well-being into each stay through treatments, education and wellness activities designed to elevate creativity and a sense of life purpose.”
Adventures for adrenaline junkies
Water-sport enthusiasts alert! If the very thought of swimming along turtles, barracudas and manta rays excites you, you probably love scuba diving and snorkelling experiences. This makes South East Asia the perfect place for catering to this side of you.
Known best for green turtles and black-tip reef sharks, the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia offer one of the best diving experiences. Fret not, these sharks don’t usually bite humans. You can reach Sultan Mahmud Airport (Kuala Terengganu) and take a ferry ride to Pulau Perhentian.
To experience varied marine life up close, you can also dive into the waters around Phu Quoc in Vietnam. It is known for a vegetarian mammal called dugong, also called the ‘sea cow.’ Who knows, you may get the chance to swim with them, too. You can easily take a flight to Phu Quoc international airport and head to the various island clusters here that belong to the An Thoi Archipelago.
The other places to have one of the best underwater experiences include Koh Rong in Cambodia, Moal Boal in the Philippines, Komodo National Park in Indonesia and Ko Tao in Thailand.
For lovers of peace and tranquillity, a refreshing hike in rainforests while exploring the flora and fauna and witnessing gushing waterfalls throughout the trail is one of the best ways to unwind. You can climb majestic mountains as well, but that is for seasoned trekkers.
Spread across 100,000 acres, Taman Negara in Malaysia is one of the oldest rainforests in the world. If you are lucky, you may spot the rare Asian elephant and Malayan tiger along with numerous tropical birds. You can explore the intriguing limestone caves as well. Reach the place by sea and cruise around for a week, or even better, rent a private luxury yacht.
A comparatively shorter one than the previous, a five-hour hike in Laos in the Oudomxay province is one of the best to experience the culture of the hill tribes. On an easy day trip from Muang La, you can gain more knowledge about their local beliefs and traditions and visit the reclining Buddha statue deep in the forest.
Other fun hikes in South East Asia include Mount Batur in Bali, Pu Chi Fa Mountains in Thailand, Kalaw to Inle Lake in Myanmar and Mount Kinabalu in Borneo.
Luxury cruises and yacht charters
Malaysia is one of those places in South East Asia which can be best experienced via yacht charters. You can explore the pristine islands of either of its two regions — Peninsular Malaysia (or West Malaysia) and East Malaysia with some of the best yacht charter services, which include Platinum Charters, Globe Sailor and Simpson Yacht Charter.
Alternatively, you can plan a cruise holiday with your family and friends and head straight to one of the most beautiful islands, Penang, which is known for its rich cultural heritage, such as St. George’s, the oldest Anglican church in South East Asia. Additionally, you can go on nature trails at the bird sanctuary or climb up Penang Hill.
Offering some of the best cruise packages for Penang and other nearby areas is RoyalCaribbean International , which is definitely worth trying.
Temples, islands, exotic restaurants and bars — if there is one place to find it all, it is undoubtedly Thailand. Some of the best destinations to explore around Thailand include Langkawi, Tioman Island, Koh Samui and Phú Quốc. And these can be comfortably reached by luxury yacht charters. Some of the best services are provided by Blue Voyage, Blue Lagoon Yachting and Oceans Elite.
RoyalCaribbean International also provides fun-filled Thailand packages, and you can find more about these here. Whether you wish to immerse in spirituality or head straight on a shopping spree in Chiang Mai, these packages cover all aspects.
Private food tour
We all have heard about the usual food walks, but A Luxury Gourmet Experience by Wok ‘n’ Stroll is one of its kind in Singapore.
If you are a foodie and fancy knowing more about the top chefs and restaurants featured on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, then you should definitely explore more about this luxury food tour here and make your bookings accordingly. Savour some unique gustatory delights while on your luxury escapade and get interesting tips for your next cooking session.
Private helicopter tour
If you are planning to surprise your special someone by treating them to a bird’s eye view of their favourite destination, a private helicopter tour can prove to be a good idea. And, one of the best places to do so is Bangkok.
You can enjoy panoramic views of the skyline or other iconic sights such as River Chao Phraya, accompanied by interesting information from your pilot and guide. You can customise your helicopter tour as per your choice of destination, too.
A tour generally includes transfers to and from your hotel, a 30-minute ride around the site of your choice, landing fees, tax and flying charges.
(Main Image: Courtesy Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape ; Featured Image: Courtesy Amansara)