With crumbling temples, sizzling street food and beaches that belong on postcards, you can truly step away from everyday life and immerse yourself in somewhere new. We’ve been arranging show-stopping holidays to Asia for over 50 years, so we know the best spots. Here are our favourite secluded hideaways to inspire your next escape.
Hidden away in the misty mountains of Northern Thailand, with views of Laos, Myanmar and the Mekong River, this luxury jungle resort has its very own conservation camp offering once-in-a-lifetime elephant encounters for its guests. Spend the night in a Jungle Bubble – a transparent dome perched on a wooden deck with uninterrupted views of the gentle giants roaming below – or trek into the hills of the Golden Triangle on an elephant picnic. Tuck into a gourmet hamper and enjoy the views, as your elephant friends enjoy a snack nearby. As well as plenty of ways to get hands-on with these magnificent creatures, there are other wild adventures to experience too. You can take a chauffeured tour of the countryside in a Royal Enfield Classic sidecar, whip up a tasty Thai dish at the cooking school or pull on some Muy Thai shorts and have a go at kickboxing. For a more relaxed approach to jungle life, head to the spa for a traditional massage on a lemongrass-scented pavilion nestled in rice paddies or float in the infinity pool while soaking up the incredible valley views.
Set on a private island just off the coast of Koh Samui, this uber-cool resort is one of Thailand’s most exclusive spots where you can follow in regal footsteps – Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Thailand, attended the opening ceremony. You’ll also be treated like royalty from the moment you arrive, with a welcome of homemade juice, cookies from the on-site bakery and a refreshing eucalyptus-scented towel. This is that top-notch personalised service that Small Luxury Hotels of the World are known for. As there are just 22 villas scattered around the island – all with their own large plunge pool and a beachy, barefoot vibe – space and seclusion are guaranteed. You can wake up to a floating breakfast in your private pool, paddleboard around the island or enjoy canapés and sparkling wine while watching a classic Hollywood movie at the starlit cinema.
This five-star romantic haven is tucked away on a seven-mile white sand beach surrounded by ancient rainforest in Khao Lak, one of Thailand’s most tranquil resorts. The Sarojin has won a spot on TripAdvisors’ ‘Top Hotels for Romance’ list last year and with a list of activities that are perfect for couples it’s easy to see why. An attentive ‘Imagineer’ is on hand to create an intimate itinerary just for two that may include a show-stealing private dining experience. Walk along a moonlit jungle path to find a magical dinner setting by a waterfall that’s aglow with hundreds of candles, and a personal chef waiting to cook up a Thai banquet. Or opt for a shipwrecked experience Sarojin style and dine under the stars on a secluded sandy island.
Six Senses is best known for their world-class wellness sanctuaries and the setting of the spa at the Six Senses Con Dao – a holistic hideaway in the shadows of the Lo Voi Mountains – has the wow factor. There’s nothing like indulging in some therapies to refresh your body and mind. Pick one of the soothing treatments (think green tea scrubs and warm lavender massages) or try a yogic detox programme and you’ll feel like a new person. But it’s not all about being zen; there are more high octane adventures on offer. The marine reserve which surrounds this tiny island is brimming with marine life such as turtles, dolphins and barracuda so you can head out on an unforgettable scuba diving adventure. Alternatively, hop in a kayak and keep an eye out for a rare dugong (manatee) surfacing for breath (look for the bubbles). Back on dry land, a trek to Dam Tre Bay is well worth the effort. Stroll across one of the longest and most stunning beaches in Con Dao before paddling out to a bamboo lagoon, encountering friendly fishermen and rare species of seabirds along the way. Enjoy a picnic lunch and epic snorkelling among colourful coral reefs, then head back to the beach restaurant in time for sunset cocktails and the perfect golden-hour view.
Thoughts of glamping usually come with images of muddy wellies and green fields. But what if we told you that you can experience the glamping trend on a tropical Indonesian island? Karma Reef, which is set on the tranquil island of Gili Meno just off the tip of Lombok, is the place to go for a ‘no shoes, no news' escape. Bohemian safari-style tents and rustic cottages line the private beach, which have access to some of the region’s best reefs. While away your days relaxing on your sunbed that’s just a few steps from the ocean, pop on your mask and flippers and go snorkelling with tropical fish or hop on a bike and explore local villages. When the sun goes down, enjoy live music while feasting on wood-fired pizzas at the sand-floored restaurant, or chill out at the lantern-lit Tiki bar with a signature cocktail in hand – we love the Champagne and rose bubble bath cocktail, a delightful combo of lychee liquor, rose syrup and prosecco.
We’ve travelled around the Far East to find the best secluded hideaways, and we can help tailor-make an escape that’s perfect for you. We recommend twinning your beach stay with a short hop to one of Asia’s vibrant gateway cities; Bangkok, Singapore or Hong Kong are all accessible from most of our featured beach destinations. Order our Far East brochure or talk to one of our Personal Travel Experts today.
This feature was published on 29 October 2020. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print. Feature by Heather Flanagan.