Why take the road less traveled when you can go where there’s no road? Pack well, these Southeast Asian getaways will be adventures of a lifetime.
If this was what the cavemen knew as luxury living, then we’ve got it all wrong. The Son Doong Cave in Central Vietnam is the world’s biggest cave – it’s so huge, it even has its own localised weather system! Light reflects off the emerald waters in the cave, giving a sense of otherworldliness. Plus, getting there is an adventure in itself, involving mountain trekking, traversing river currents, abseiling and more.
NEXT: Ride the train over the famous – or infamous – Thailand-Burma Railway →
And the most well-known portion of the railway is undoubtedly Bridge 277, “the bridge on the River Kwai”. The journey in itself, along the edge of magnificent mountains, is breath-taking. More notably, though, is its connection to the historic “Death Railway to Burma”, where thousands lost their lives during the Japanese occupation in World War II.
NEXT: Spot the cutest dolphins ever in Kratie, Cambodia →
Strung along the Mekong River, Kratie (pronounced krah-cheh) is one of the best places to watch the splendid Cambodian sunset. But the spotlight is still dominated by the impossibly adorbs Irrawaddy Dolphins (That’s them!) that you can spot out in the waters. Elsewhere in this small city, it’s much more mellow – just the place to have a taste of the natives’ everyday lives.
NEXT: Be transported to Europe in Vigan, Philippines →
We won’t blame you for thinking you’re in a quaint Spanish town. One of the oldest towns in the Philippines, Vigan, with its cobbled streets and fairytale-like merchant houses, is perhaps the best-preserved example of a European colonial town in Asia. (Don’t take it from us, though, these are the words of UNESCO about this World Heritage Site!)
NEXT: Lounge on Don Daeng Island’s beaches in landlocked Laos →
You wouldn’t think of Laos as the first option for a beach getaway – it’s a landlocked country, after all. But on this gem untouched by man, a bamboo walkway will lead you to the island’s lone resort alone the golden sand beaches. Life here is languid and laid back, and most of all, authentic – the people are genuine, the culture is well-preserved, all of which contribute to what’s most attractive about Don Daeng: its atmosphere.
NEXT: Discover Belitung Island, Indonesia’s North Pole →
You’re not really at the Poles, of course – the tropical weather is a dead giveaway – although you might very well feel like you are. A short 10 minutes from the city in this lazy beach paradise is the Kaolin Lake (pictured). No, that’s not snow – the celeste blue rocks and white sandstone are actually remnants of what used to be a mining site, making for an ethereal panorama.
NEXT: Pluck strawberries in 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!
NEXT: Go glamping in Bali, Indonesia →
Forget Bali’s sand and sea for once and head to Firefly Bamboo Eco Lodge, an alternative glamping retreat amidst a different side of nature. Open-air basket-weave lofts house your luxurious home for the night and look out to Bali’s stunning rice fields. (Check out more glamping experiences in Asia here!)
NEXT: Have an island all to yourself on Ariara Island, Philippines →
Really want to get away from it all? The 125-acre Ariara Island (That’s 95 football fields1) sleeps only 18 in its 4 beach cottages. Rent it as a big getaway with your family and friends; even if you’re in a smaller group, only one party is allowed to book the property at any time, so you’re still guaranteed ultimate exclusivity. Revitalize in a morning yoga sesh, or explore the limestone cliffs, hot springs, and hidden lakes around the island.
NEXT: Explore the world’s largest cave in Vietnam →
By Pinky Chng, May 2017 / Updated September 2019
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