If you’re looking to plan a true escape from reality, we can’t imagine a more vibrant place to explode some colour into our lives us than a trip to the exotic Far East.
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 a few of our favourite secluded hideaways.
Sip sunset cocktails at Paradee Resort, Koh Samet, Thailand
Paradee Resort, on the idyllic island of Koh Samet, is just a short road and boat transfer from Bangkok, ideal for a hassle-free island getaway. This boutique gem is pinned between lush jungle and white-sand shores, and it’s great for couples looking to strip it all back and enjoy an authentic slice of Thai beach life. Just 40 thatched villas dot down the hillside onto the beach, all with four-poster beds and little treats such as daily seasonal fruit and complimentary afternoon tea. While away your days relaxing by the infinity pool, pop on your mask and flippers and go snorkelling with tropical fish or take a taxi into town to sample the local bars and restaurants. When the sun goes down, feast on Asian fusion food in the breezy restaurant or chill out at the sunset bar with a signature cocktail in hand – we recommend the Paradee Margarita cocktail, a delightful combo of tequila, lime and homemade butterfly pea syrup.
Go on a wellness journey at Six Senses Con Dao
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 hideout 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 a scuba diving adventure. Alternatively, hop in a kayak and keep an eye out for a rare dugong 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.
Stargaze in a jungle bubble at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, Thailand
Hidden in the misty mountains of Northern Thailand, with views of Laos, Myanmar and the Mekong River, this one-of-a-kind luxury jungle resort has its very own conservation camp offering unforgettable 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 or float in the infinity pool while soaking up the incredible valley views.
Swim with turtles at Pondok Santi, Gili Islands, Indonesia
Indonesia’s ‘Gilis’ were once only a whisper among in-the-know backpackers, who flocked to these bohemian islands for the isolated beaches, laidback lifestyle and superb snorkelling and diving. Nowadays, you can experience a more luxurious side to this off-the-beaten-track destination, as there are now a handful of high-class havens hidden across the three islands. We love Pondok Santi, a gorgeous retreat nestled in a coconut plantation in a sleepy corner of Gili Trawangan. There are just 18 bungalows here, all beautifully styled with a magazine-worthy open-air bathroom. You can spend your time here relaxing on a hammock on the private beach, exploring the island on complimentary bikes or swimming with turtles; these captivating creatures are often seen from the shore. After dark, don’t miss the dramatic sunsets and strawberry daiquiris at the beach lounge, followed by a delicious dinner of Indonesian cuisine or western dishes in Santi Restaurant; their stone-cooked pizzas are the best on the island.
Stay on a private island oasis at Cape Fahn Hotel, Thailand
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.
Dine by a waterfall at The Sarojin
The Sarojin is tucked away on a seven-mile white sand beach surrounded by ancient rainforest in Khao Lak and is one of Thailand’s most romantic resorts. The Sarojin recently won a spot on TripAdvisors’ ‘Top Hotels for Romance’ list and with an array 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 go shipwrecked, Sarojin style, and dine under the stars on a secluded sandy island.
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 updated on 5th July 2022. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print. Feature by Heather Flanagan.