Get away from city life at these exotic Southeast Asian destinations. Bon voyage!
One of Myanmar’s most enchanting destinations, houses and temples perch on stilts just above the water, fringed by marshes and blooms. The native fishermen on their long-tailed wooden boats navigate around by leg-rowing – rowing the boat with one leg while using both hands to fish. Start your day early with a cruise along the waters to catch the sunset, leaving you the rest of the day to explore the surrounding hills and villages.
NEXT: Cameron Highlands, Malaysia →
The highest region in mainland Malaysia (bonus: super cool weather) is blanketed by lush greenery, tea plantations and vibrant blooms. Pick fresh strawberries from the fruit farm (and eat them right there and then); they’ve got strawberry everything, even strawberry coffee! All the better to go with their specialty scones, a nod to their British colonial history.
NEXT: Sihanoukville, Cambodia →
The sun-drenched city of Sihanoukville is home to some of Cambodia’s beautiful beaches, but amazingly, this sun-sloth destination nonetheless boasts richly-preserve local culture. An iced coffee might be an unconventional drink of choice for lounging on the beach, but it’s a great option to appreciate the booming coffee culture of the place, and certainly you’ll love.
NEXT: Belitung Island, Indonesia →
You might mistake yourself for being at the Poles; you’re not, of course – the tropical weather is a dead giveaway. A short 10 minutes from the city in this lazy beach paradise is the Kaolin Lake (pictured). That’s not snow in this ethereal scene, but celeste blue rocks and white sandstone, remnants of what used to be a mining site.
NEXT: Kuching, Malaysia →
Check yourself into a luxurious treehouse at the Permai Rainforest Resort 30 minutes from Kuching. At this stunning eco-resort, the tranquil Borneo Rainforest on one side and soothing waves of the South China Sea serenading you from the other, and adventures like jungle trekking, high ropes courses and sea kayaking await.
NEXT: Hue, Vietnam →
Hot springs in a tropical country?! We’ve got to be kidding. Except we’re not. Skirting the city of Hue (pronounced hway), Vietnam’s old imperial city that itself is a joy to explore, are unique gradient hot springs – the hot spring stream divides into pools of varying temperatures. So relaxing!
NEXT: Chiang Rai, Thailand →
Tradition is married to nature in Chiang Rai – temples pepper the province, some perched on hills, some sat on fields, other smaller ones hidden and waiting to be discovered in this dramatic, nature-studded wonderland. Hungry for food as much as adventure? Sample Northern Thai cuisine that’s not like anything you know at your local Thai restaurant – or even Bangkok.
NEXT: Tagaytay, Philippines →
If your idea of rejuvenating with nature is getting your adrenaline pumping, you’ll love Tagaytay, where you get to fly through a breathtaking, gaping ravine enveloped with nature’s beauty (and across a volcano, too!), cutting through fluffy clouds and cooling 24°C air. That’s the highlight of Tagaytay for you, a nature retreat perfect for the family. Kids get to ride too – strap them on safely to your back!
NEXT: Bangkok, Thailand →
A nature retreat in a bustling city like Bangkok? Nature is waiting to surprise you in this urban land – take a cruise down Chao Phraya River; on the east bank, hike through greenery to the ancient temple of Wat Phai Lom, where wildlife and dirt roads replace big buildings and well-paved walkways. Or, venture farther out to the outskirts of Bangkok, where you’ll find smaller, more naturesque towns.
NEXT: St John’s Island, Singapore →
Bet you weren’t expecting this! You don’t even need to leave the country for a serene nature escapade. Well, unless you count a short boat ride to this offshore island. St John’s Island (Read more here!) used to house immigrants with leprosy and cholera, political prisoners, drug rehabilitators… But it’s transformed into a lovely day trip destination with a secret beach, a splendid lagoon and more.
NEXT: Inle Lake, Myanmar →
By Pinky Chng, May 2017
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