Vietnam holidays are becoming increasingly popular as more travellers discover the diversity and cultural delights of this south east Asian country. The pace of life in the cities of Vietnam is energetic and dynamic, …
Although our world seems to be continually shrinking thanks to the wonders of modern technology, there are still parts that contain unexplored wildernesses that hold all manner of mysteries and secrets waiting to be discovered. The wild forests of Burma (officially Myanmar) are such a place and this Friday night at 9pm you can join a team of renowned scientists, explorers and wildlife experts on their quest to unlock the wonders of Nature’s Lost Kingdom.
Episode 1: Searching for Asian elephants in the mountains of western Burma.
Watch as the team delve into the heart of a thousand miles of unbroken forests to bring you a unique presentation of its vastly exotic flora and fauna. From the hypnotic menace of the king cobra to the ingenious bombardier beetle that releases an explosive cloud of hot toxic fluid when threatened, all manner of intriguing creatures lie in wait in the dense undergrowth.
However, the main prize that the team are after is an animal that is far larger but no less difficult to find. The Asian elephant remains elusive in spite of its massive size thanks to the vastness of the wild Burmese forests but the stunning footage of these gentle giants at ease is well worth the team’s efforts.
The whole premise of Wild Burma: Nature’s Lost Kingdom is to showcase a unique area of unparalleled nature beauty and richness and highlight the race against time to aid in its preservation. These forests could become the world’s most important sanctuary for the Asian elephant with the proper protection, not to mention innumerable other species that call it home.
So prepare for a voyage of discovery that begins with a hot air balloon ride above the forest canopy before diving into the heart of one of the world’s few remaining unspoiled wildernesses.
As an added bonus, you can enjoy the dulcet tones of Paterson Joseph who narrates this Southeast Asian odyssey. Paterson is perhaps best known for his role as unpredictable boss Alan Johnson in hit Channel 4 comedy Peep Show but thankfully here he uses his mellifluous voice in a much more warm and calming fashion!
Wild Burma: Nature’s Lost Kingdom begins today (29 November) at 21:00 on BBC 2.
Vietnam holidays are becoming increasingly popular as more travellers discover the diversity and cultural delights of this south east Asian country. The pace of life in the cities of Vietnam is energetic and dynamic, while other areas provide a more tranquil and serene experience. No matter what kind of holiday you are looking for, you can find it in Vietnam.
The Northern region of Vietnam contains the capital city of Hanoi, a lively city full of entertainment and activities. Hanoi has been described as a place where the modern and the traditional mix harmoniously, creating a culture unlike any other in the world. The graceful boulevards of the city showcase an enduring legacy of French colonialism and the Old Quarter is an excellent location to sip coffee and watch local life unfold.
Ho Chi Minh City, once known as Saigon, is another popular destination for Vietnam holidays. Located in the Southern region of Vietnam, the city is home to gourmet restaurants, fine hotels, and designer boutiques. Interspersed throughout the city are ancient pagodas, bustling marketplaces, family run shops, and gleaming skyscrapers. When visiting Ho Chi Minh City, you can explore stately museums or stop in a corner café for coffee and baguettes. Nature lovers will appreciate the city’s close proximity to the Cat Tien National Park, where they can go hiking and look for signs of wildlife.
Central Coast Region
Vietnam is an interesting country to explore. Different regions of the country have different cultural jewels to investigate during your visit. In the Central Coast region, you can visit the royal tombs, explore historic pagodas, and sample imperial cuisine in the city of Hue. This region also contains one of the most charming seacoast towns still standing, located in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An.
Vietnam is filled with beautiful natural areas, ranging from sandy coastlines to majestic mountains and forested national parks. Limestone islands dot the sapphire waters of the ocean in Halong Bay.
Adventurous visitors may like to explore the reefs and coves around the largely undiscovered beaches and vacant coastal roads. Some of the most spectacular cave systems in the world are located near the city of Phong Nha and hiking some of the mountain trails will take you to unique tribal villages nestled deep within the forests. Vietnam holidays can provide an experience unlike any other in the world and create memories for you and your family that last for a lifetime.
If variety is the spice of life, then India would leave even the most hardened taste buds tingling. While the north of the country holds many of the most famous landmarks such as the Taj Mahal, the Golden Temple of Amritsar and holy River Ganges, Varanasi, the south is no slouch in terms of providing everything a curious visitor would need in order to get a full serving of life in India.
Overflowing with natural beauty and sites of cultural importance, south India opens up a whole new world of experiences and unforgettable sights. Here are just a few of the absolute highlights of the subcontinental south.
A sleepy southwestern state situated on the Malabar Coast, Kerala is truly a place where time seems to stand still. The tranquil waters of Kerala’s canals – lined with gently swaying palm trees – are the ideal place to sink into a complete state of relaxation as you take a trip on a specially designed houseboat where you can be pampered and catered to in style.
Houseboats are the ideal way to experience the breathtaking beauty of Kerala’s waterways as you make your steady yet serene progress across them. Take in the astounding biodiversity that lines both banks as the area is home to over 4,000 flowering plant species and hundreds of species of birds, freshwater fish and mammals. If you’re very lucky you might even be able to spot an Indian Leopard as they roam the forests in search of prey.
From the moment you step onto a well-appointed and provisioned houseboat, you’ll be in the very best of care. Simply concentrate on taking in the natural beauty all around you as highly trained staff handle the boat’s operation and prepare a sumptuous feast for each mealtime. Spicy fish and freshly caught seafood naturally feature highly in Malabar cuisine but with such wondrous variety there’s no chance that anyone’s tastes will be left out!
For history enthusiasts, no trip to the south of India would be complete without exploring Hampi. While this unprepossessing village tucked away in Karnataka might not seem like much at first glance, it was in fact the site of the very last capital of Vijayanagar: one of the greatest Hindu empires ever recorded in India’s long and storied history.
Not only can you investigate the ruined remains of over five hundred of Vijayanagar’s monuments, including temples, palace and fortifications, the ruins themselves are also intermingled with fascinatingly large monolithic stone statues carved from whole boulders. Absolute must-see sights include the Underground temple dedicated to Shiva and the Virupaksha Temple which stands at over 160 feet and predates the founding of the Vijayanagar Empire itself.
While Kochi is the most densely populated part of Kerala, it’s far from being just a typical urban sprawl with no soul or character. Known as ‘The Gateway to Kerala”, Kochi has been a vital port from the 14th Century onwards and opened up southern India to British, Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic influences as trade flowed into the entrepôt.
The jewel in the tourism crown of this thriving port is Fort Kochi where the elegant whitewashed walls and neatly structured promenades will whisk you back in time with its colonial heritage and old world charm.
The area is extremely well suited to being explored on foot as you can stumble onto all kinds of unique shops and small museums tucked away down its side streets. Of course, the waterfront is a sublime spot for relaxed strolling at sunset as you watch the small fleets of fishermen bringing in the last of their catch.
To experience the spiritual heart of south India, you have to travel inland to reach Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Given the honorific nickname of “Athens of the East”, this ancient city traces its history back over 4,000 years and remains a center for Tamil culture and learning to this day. Like Kochi, Madurai is a delight to wander through, as its winding streets offer up all manner of intriguing sights, sounds and smells.
However, the most impressive sight of all can be easily found. The Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai encompasses a vast complex of towers both large and small interconnected by a series of cunningly designed corridors that branch out towards such architectural wonders as the Hall of a Thousand Pillars and the Sundareswar Shrine with its twelve-feet-tall guardian statues.
It is unsurprising then, that Madurai encourages as many religious pilgrims as it does curious tourists to flock to Meenakshi’s gates every year. If you want to gain some insight into Hinduism and its role in Indian culture then this is a pilgrimage you need to make.
Discover the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands on a Barbados holiday. The island’s west coast, also known as the Platinum Coast, boasts an unending string of fine sand beaches, sapphire seas, hotels and fine restaurants. The east coast offers rugged headlands pounded by Atlantic waves and beaches molded by the surf. But it doesn’t stop there.
Find out more about Barbados on the fantastic infographic below.
Thailand is one of the most romantic destinations on the planet, boasting beautiful beaches, pristine rainforest and cosmopolitan cities. When planning your Thailand honeymoon consider visiting these top five destinations.
Phuket is Thailand’s most popular honeymoon destination. The island resort has miles of sandy beaches bathed in temperate, turquoise water. Couples can explore rainforests, rocky headlands and the shoreline of the Ao Phang-Nga Marine National Park. Other popular activities include swimming, snorkelling, diving and parasailing. After a day exploring the countryside or relaxing on the beach, enjoy a meal in a local beachfront cafe or world-renowned restaurant.
On Koh Samui, crystal-clear water, grassy hills and swaying palm trees provide a tranquil backdrop for the country’s third largest island. The resort has wonderful beaches, excellent dive spots, secluded inlets and amazing restaurants. Enjoy unobstructed views of colourful offshore coral gardens in the translucent water, explore the terrain by 4WD, mountain bike or elephant or see primordial Buddhist temples and majestic waterfalls. Located on the Gulf of Thailand, the area is the country’s second most popular honeymoon destination.
Hua Hin is a charming fishing village that has been a holiday destination for more than a century. Once the retreat of Thai kings, honeymooners can horse ride along the beach, play a round of golf, relax in a luxurious spa and enjoy local culinary delights. Water sports enthusiasts can swim, parasail, Jet Ski or sail on catamarans. Explore the caves, lush forests and wetlands in the nearby national parks. The area is home to stunning temples and the former summer palace.
Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, is the ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom and a charming city boasting ancient temples. It is a perfect Thailand honeymoon location to explore the natural beauty and remote tribal villages in the surrounding mountains and valleys. Trek across the countryside on an elephant and raft down a raging river before enjoying a massage and a stroll through the famous night market.
While staying in Bangkok, couples on a Thailand honeymoon can take a boat trip on the Chao Phraya River, view the ancient Wat Phra Kaew temple and explore historical ruins and the infamous bridge over the River Kwai. There are tranquil gardens, lavish spas and scenic mountain drives. A hike through the surrounding mountains offers unique opportunities to observe indigenous flora and fauna. The capital is a sophisticated city filled with world-class shopping, dining and entertainment.
The Indonesian island paradise of Bali has always been prized as a perfect holiday destination for the vast array of activities and attractions that it offers to holidaymakers of all ages. Combine this with idyllic warm weather and gorgeous surroundings as far as the eye can see and you have a getaway destination that simply doesn’t disappoint.
However, Bali also has a very special string to its bow that continually proves to be a lure for a certain kind of traveller year after year. The island offers some of the best surfing spots in the region and with a wide variety of beach types there’s something for every experience level of surfer… provided that you know where to look.
Bali has a Dry Season and a Wet Season and the island offers plenty of locations ideally suited for either. The Dry Season typically runs from May through to September and constitutes the peak surfing season with the best conditions.
One of Bali’s premium locations for experienced surfers, Uluwatu sits at the end of the south side of the island and splits into four distinct sections. This allows for reliably superb surfing throughout the course of the day as the different sections work best at different times. For example, Temples is at its best at mid-to-high tide whereas Racetrack can even work well at low tide despite being quite shallow.
Many expert surfers will chalk up Uluwatu’s Outside Corner section as the best surfing that can be found anywhere on the planet if the swell is at least in the 8 foot range. It will provide a fast but lengthy ride that you’ll remember for the rest of your life if you catch it right!
Uluwatu as a whole maintains a reliable swell throughout the Dry Season and you’d have to be seriously unlucky to catch it when it’s flat. The only real issue with Uluwatu is that it can be a victim of its own success as it attracts large crowds at peak times so plan ahead in order to avoid these.
Wave Direction: Left
Recommended Experience: Experienced surfers
So good they named it twice! Padang Padang provides perhaps the most exhilarating ride in the area thanks to its waves that can reach up to 12 feet and have real speed behind them. Unfortunately, due to the size and speed of the waves, not to mention the technical skill required to traverse them successfully, Padang Padang is also the most dangerous surfing spot on the island.
This means that only very experienced surfers should consider tackling Padang Padang and they should also go in with a healthy dose of respect for the waves which are pretty wild even when reaching 4-6 feet.
In spite of the high level of skill required, Padang Padang still attracts large crowds of talented surfers thanks to its worldwide fame and the edge of danger that many pro surfers crave. However, it’s well worth waiting your turn to ride this wave if you have the ability and a little chutzpah! We recommended heading down in the early morning to catch the right conditions with minimal crowds.
Wave Direction: Left
Recommended Experience: Pro surfers only
Located down on the southern peninsula, Balangan used to be a tricky prospect to find but due to its growing popularity a new road was commissioned and it will take you all the way there. After just a short paddle out from the beach you can experience reliably frequent and high quality waves that will provide a solid but fun learning experience for newer surfers as well as being good practice for those who are more advanced.
Image By: TidalPush
In terms of crowds, Balangan is starting to heat up a little thanks to the new road which makes it much more accessible. Still, it rarely becomes overcrowded and if it does there’s no shortage of other pristine surfing spots in close proximity.
Wave Direction: Left
Recommended Experience: All surfers
As the name suggests, Impossibles should only be attempted by very experienced surfers due to its fast and high waves that take some getting used to. Try to catch it at mid-tide for the best chance of riding 5-8 foot waves that come in thick and fast!
Image By: TidalPush
Impossibles rarely gets crowded at all thanks to the long stretches of reef and the fact that you can take off from a variety of different spots. This means that the surfers who do brave the Impossibles are usually spread out and it’s not uncommon to have sections completely to yourself.
Beach Type: Reef/Coral
Wave Direction: Left
Recommended Experience: Pro surfers only
Kuta Reef can be found about 800 meters offshore, meaning that the best way to get there is to pay a local boat operator to run you out to the reef and then collect you once you’ve had enough and want to head back.
Courtesy of Wikipedia
With 4-5 footers at mid-to-high tide, Kuta Reef offers long waves which can run out for over 200 meters along with a couple of good hollow barrel sections for good measure. This means that the conditions are usually mild enough for newer surfers to get some good practice in a low risk environment. However, more experienced surfers can also test their endurance and have a lot of fun while doing it!
Beach Type: Reef/Coral
Wave Direction: Left
Recommended Experience: All surfers (some experience recommended)
Where will you go?
As varied and exhilarating as all of these surfing spots seem, Bali has so much more to explore as these are simply our personal picks from the cream of the crop. Whatever your skill level and personal preference regarding wave size and difficulty, Bali is guaranteed to have multiple locations that will provide you with a full day’s surfing bliss!
Lazing by the beach is not for everyone, and for those looking for some stimulation or exhilaration on their holiday there is a vast variety of action packed holidays on offer for you to take part in. Here is our hand-picked selection of some of the very best activity and adventure holidays that you should add onto your holiday list.
For a wildlife adventure, head to Bako National Park whilst on your Borneo holidays. This small peninsula, 1 ½ hours from Kuching by car and longboat, is home to seven distinct rainforest ecosystems, giving it a remarkable diversity of animal and plant life. The most famous residents here are Bako’s bizarre proboscis monkeys, and it is also home to silvered langurs (leaf monkeys), long-tailed macaque monkeys, wild boar and countless other bird and plant species. For those looking for a challenging action packed experience in Borneo, then climbing Mount Kinabula is for you. Not for the faint-hearted, take an adventurous hike to the peak where you will be rewarded with bird’s eye views over the rainforest.
Visit India, where you can experience all manner of activities. Spend your time here on a painting tour or walking in the Himalayas. Hiking in India allows you to see sights such as The ‘Garden State’ of Sikkim, small but utterly beautiful; the fabled town of Darjeeling in the heart of the tea-growing country, tranquil Buddhist monasteries and undisturbed tribal settlements on this journey through the north, with the majestic and mighty Himalayan mountain range as your backdrop.
India also offers you the exceptional opportunity to journey through three of India’s National Parks; Pench, Kanha, and Bandhavgarh, on the search to see majestic Bengal tigers.
If heart racing adventure is on the agenda then the USA offers the opportunity for ranch holidays and exhilarating white water rafting. America’s cattle country forms a diverse landscape and the adventurous holiday-maker will discover dude ranches, horseback rides, cowboys, rodeos, rock climbing, river rafting and canoeing.
There is even the opportunity during North America holidays to spend your holiday white water rafting the Upper Grand Canyon; truly an adventure of a lifetime. Raft on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park and the most spectacular river canyons on a scenic and extraordinary rafting trip. The astounding scenery through Grand Canyon National Park is enhanced by the thrill of over 60 rapids where the unique J-Rig rafts will give you maximum excitement and safety.
Whatever your idea of the perfect activity or adventure holiday, at Western & Oriental we build a bespoke holiday to suit your idea of the perfect trip, one which is guaranteed to stay with you forever.
Wild jungles, majestic peaks and an array of unique wildlife greet you in the wonderful island of Borneo. It is hard to miss the sense of adventure and excitement that seems to fill the air in this rich tropical island. Borneo is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia and the small country of Brunei.
Giant Rafflesia flowers, Orang Utans, distinctive Proboscis monkeys and the elusive clouded leopard make up some of the wildlife in Borneo. Thick rain forests, imposing mountains and steaming hot springs add to the natural splendor of the region. For those who love nature at its unadulterated and untouched best, Borneo is an ecological haven like none else.
Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre
A glimpse of the now famous ‘man of the forest’ is another must stop on a visit to Borneo. The island is one of the last natural refuges for Orang Utans and the Rehabilitation Centre in Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve is one of the best places on the island to catch of glimpse of these gentle giants. Since, Orang Utans currently are only found in Borneo and Sumatra, the conservation of these rare species is paramount. The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre does precisely this as it takes in orphaned and rescued Orang Utans.
Visitors at the centre not only get a glimpse into the world of these shy and intelligent creatures, but also can catch up on the latest conservation activities and even join the ‘baby Orang Utans adoption’ project! (No, you cannot take one of the little cute ones home. But you can join in the effort started by an Englishwoman way back in 1964!)
Trek up Mount Kinabalu
If you are tempted to believe that it is not an activity for everyone, then you could not be more wrong. Mount Kinabalu in Sabah is renowned as one of the most accessible mountain peaks in the world. The sheer joy of climbing this 4,095 meters peak lies not just in the conquest, but the misty mornings and the glorious sunsets that you experience at its top. A protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, the lush green rain forest that surrounds the mountain further adds to its mystic charm.
With over 40,000 giving the climb a shot every year, there is no reason anyone fit cannot try it as well. And even if you do not wish to make it all the way to the top, a stop at Mount Kinabalu is a must for the sheer grandeur of it all!
Sipadan Island is located off of the East Coast of Malaysian Borneo and is quite simply the best scuba diving spot in Asia. French filmmaker and conservationist Jacques-Yves Cousteau famously remarked after visiting the island “I have seen other places like Sipadan 45 years ago. Now we have found again an untouched piece of art”. An underwater marine treasure chest, the island today is preserved with great care to ensure that its delicate ecosystem is not overrun by tourism. Visitors to the island need prior permit and with only 120 on offer each day, it is best to plan in advance.
An extinct underwater volcano, amazing coral reefs, pristine beaches and warm tropical waters make it one of the richest marine habitats anywhere. Green and Hawksbill Turtles, 3000 species of fish, eagle rays, manta rays, hammerhead sharks and a labyrinth of underwater tunnels complete the list of wonders here. Truly a once in a lifetime destination!
Mulu Caves in Gunung Mulu National Park
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Gunung Mulu National Park is home to some of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring limestone karst and cave formations on the planet. If you wish to take a trip into the ‘lost world’, then the Mulu Caves are a good bet. The Royal Geographical Society Expedition first set up a team to explore the caves in 1978. Thirty five years down the line, the caves still have not yet been completely deciphered by explorers! Plan a trip to the magnificent Deer Cave and experience not just the magnitude of these enormous caves, but also the exceptional wildlife that surround it.
Travel Down Kinabatangan River and Sukau
A trip down the muddy Kinabatangan River has a bit of something for everyone. The numerous eco-lodges in the surrounding forests allow you to experience the many sights and sounds of these thick tropical rain forests. Travel to Sukau and meet one of the iconic natives of the island, the proboscis monkey. A trip down the river at dawn or dusk is one of the best times to catch up with the natives of the rain forest here.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Park
Comprising of the five fabulous islands of Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug, the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is as much an eco-delight as it is a beach getaway. Just a 20 minute boat ride from Kota Kinabalu, it is easily accessible and is a perfect family destination. The shallow reefs, turquoise blue waters, great weather and long stretches of white sandy beaches mean you can have as much fun snorkeling and diving as you do while relaxing on the beach.
While Pulau Gaya is the largest of the islands and sports a couple of world class resorts, the other islands also plenty to offer. Colourful fish, green turtles, nurse sharks, stingrays and barracudas make an appearance as you explore the coral reefs around the island further. (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Borneo is a land of rare wildlife wonders. Not only are they exceptional, but are also exclusive to this fabulous island. Untouched and astounding, the natural delights of Malaysian Borneo will leave you with beautiful memories that last a lifetime.
While Vietnam may have arrived a tad bit late on the luxury tourism map when compared to its South East Asian counterparts, its remarkable natural getaways, the secluded beaches and dramatic landscape make for the slight delay!
Warm and friendly locals coupled with some of the world’s best spa retreats; make your holiday in Vietnam a voyage of rejuvenation.
Beautiful green rice fields, turquoise blue waters and magnificent rock formations at Halong Bay make a perfect backdrop for your picture-postcard holiday in this little paradise. Idyllic tropical beaches, amazing scuba diving spots and soothing natural spas combine to wash away all your woes. A journey through Vietnam is a perfect opportunity to rediscover your passion for life.
Nha Trang seems like a sophisticated and bold beach city that is all about opulence and recreation. Yet, there is a whole lot more to this urban jewel of Vietnam than the mere obvious. A plethora of unexplored beaches and popular tourist destinations lay all around this city. A stay at the Evason Ana Mandara presents you with the ideal opportunity to relax and take in the multitude of sights and sounds outside.
A beautiful trip south of the main city leads you to the glittering green waters of the Ca Na Beach. With view of the majestic Truong Son Mountains and a chance to spend a lovely evening undisturbed, it is on the must do list of every traveller.
Island of Con Dao
Further east of the famous Mekong Delta, the islands of Con Dao are another tranquil haven that is still relatively new to the tourism map. Undeveloped islands boasting long stretches of pristine beaches and picturesque empty coves make it a perfect destination for those who are searching for peace and privacy. Con Dao is one of those regions in little Vietnam that is all set to get a huge makeover soon thanks to its incredible tourism potential. Hence, the time to visit would be now before some of those unblemished beaches become more crowded!
Six Senses makes its presence felt at Con Dao and a stay here combines exotic marine life, delectable cuisine, great natural spas and a lovely sneak peek into traditional Vietnam.
Cua Dai Beach and Danang
From the ancient city of Hoi An to the bustling coastal town of Danang, you are bound to unearth one fabulous beach after another on a really short drive.
The vast Cua Dai greets you initially and as you move closer to the city of Danang you come across the renowned China Beach. It is easy to believe that this long and vast strip is one single beach and irrespective of how you would like to name it, the visual grandeur and its enthralling aura is unmistakable.
The Fusion Maia in Danang is Asia’s first spa all-inclusive resort and is arguably the best spa resort in the country. Take a dip into its many affluent tropical pleasures even as you explore the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An.
Mui Ne Bay
Amazing sunsets, golden dunes and swinging coconut trees greet you in Mui Ne. The long stretch of beach between Phan Thiet and Mui Ne bay gives travellers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the best beach life in Vietnam. Our favourite hotel in the region is the welcoming Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa can be found here. A small day trip to the Ong Dia beach is well worth the time. Sophisticated and luxurious, the Mui Ne Bay area has a bit of something for everyone.
A visit to Vietnam is simply not complete without a trip to the famed limestone karsts and isles that seem to magically sprout out of the sea at Halong Bay. But step away from Halong Bay and take a visit to the Lan Ha Bay located to the east of Cat Ba Island and you will be enthralled by the captivating scenery. With over 400 small islets and karsts seemingly floating in the sea and covered with dense tropical vegetation, it reminds you of the iconic scenes from Cameron’s Avatar!
The lovely seascape of the Lan Ha Bay and its many beaches allow you to escape the normal tourist rush that might leave you cramped for space in Halong Bay. Great sea food and calming sunsets next to turquoise blue waters with limestone giants in the backdrop, cap off your perfect trip to vivacious Vietnam!
Bali is renowned across the globe as the last paradise for good reason. Images from this exotic land have filled people the world over with dreams of that perfect holiday that brings together sun, sand, waves and world class luxury. Then there are the volcanic mountains, lush green forests and unexplored getaways that leave you speechless.
Bali is Indonesia at its unadulterated and natural best. It is no fluke that the little island has shot to the top of world tourist map at such a dizzy pace. Resorts draped in an air of romance and pristine beaches that wash away all your woes have played a major role in this little island’s immense popularity.
As a honeymoon destination, Bali is second to none. Its beaches have been rated on par with the Mediterranean wonders of Greece and its delectable cuisine and unique culture leave you wanting for more. Home to some of the world’s most luxurious resorts and hotels, a honeymoon in Bali will leave you with memories lasting a lifetime. Opulent, secluded and at times extravagant, these are some of the absolute best Bali has to offer.
Despite its limited size, Bali is blessed with a multitude of natural riches. Booming tourism has seen numerous luxury resorts come up in this neck of the woods. But for a couple on a honeymoon trip, few places match the privacy and the green goodness of the fabulous Alila Ubud hotel. Overlooking the mesmerizing Ayung River valley and draped in a shroud of green seclusion, this is a dream destination for honeymooners.
Rated among the best and most exotic hotels on the planet, it boats of one of the best pool experiences in the world.
The prospect of escaping civilization and exploring the heart of Bali at its unadulterated and mysterious best is what draws people to the Ubud. Amazing valley villas, tasty cuisine and a multitude of private terraces and courtyards make your stay here memorable. Surrounded by the melodious sounds of jungle, romance is always in the air at the Alila Ubud!
Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay
It was a tough choice to pick between the Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay and the one at Sayan. It was the amazing beach views and the lovely ambiance of the Jimbaran Bay that swayed the contest in the favour this lavish resort. From elephant safaris to the Bali bird park, you can experience the culture, tradition and the true flavour of Bali here. This makes the Four Seasons at Jimbaran one of the most sought-after destinations on the entire island.
Listed as one of the best hotels in the world for honeymooners, there is a special romantic itinerary on offer here for those looking to experience the true timeless charm of the Indonesian archipelago.
The Samaya Seminyak
Sophistication coupled with serenity is the smashing combination that Seminyak has to offer. Having a reputation for being the ‘rich and imperial’ district of the tiny island, then Samaya is the place to be here. From being dubbed as the best luxury hotel in Indonesia to being called one of the top 10 in Asia, the Samaya Seminyak is the crown jewel of the region. With grand beachfront villas and royal courtyard villas, the resort pampers you endlessly.
Delicious local cuisine and great spa facilities might see you put on a pound or two of holiday weight by the time you are done here. The sweeping beaches and the swanky bars leave you intoxicated in more ways than one!
It is an absolute wonder that Menjangan is not already a shining beacon on the world tourism map. Part of the lesser explored terrain in Bali, it is a hidden wonder that offers a perfect getaway for those on a honeymoon. In fact, many arrive here hoping to tie the knot in this serene and tranquil setting!
Enclosed within the wondrous Bali Barat National Park, it is the only resort in the entire Island that spans across a whooping 382 hectares. Unadulterated North West coast of the island coupled with the vibrant wildlife of the national park will leave you enchanted. A paradise for bird watchers, a diverse range of flora, fauna and marine life becomes a part of your adventure at the Menjangan Resort. Relaxing mangrove spas and an international cuisine, round off your unforgettable stay here!
If you are looking for royalty and exclusivity, then your quest ends at the Kayana Villas. Moving away from the more busy trends of Seminyak, this collection of 24 villas offers ample privacy for newlyweds! Apart from the obvious villa experience, your holidays are accentuated with a tranquil Ayur Spa that should see you rejuvenated after all the fun you had in this vibrant island. Offering a direct access to the beach, the Kayana allows you to escape the more taxing trends of cosmopolitan Seminyak.
Minimalist interiors and modern amenities at the Kayana ensure you are always draped in luxury. Do not miss out on the ‘in-villa themed dinners’ that promise a romantic candle-lit dinner as you enjoy a cool dusk giving way to a starry night sky.
Alila Villas Uluwatu
Brilliant limestone cliffs of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula make the setting for Alila Vilas Uluwatu. Away from all the rush and the commotion of the more frantic tourist locations, the resort offers a collection of villas and terrace suites that seem to be precariously hanging right above the Indian Ocean. Nestled in the less explored reaches of Bali, a stay here will rejuvenate your senses! Outstanding service and mesmerizing sunsets complete your love affair with the Alila Vilas.
A perfect modern resort that puts the icing on the cake as you leave this magical land with a twinkle in your eyes and a desire to come back – just one more time!
India is a land epitomised by its diversity. Unblemished mountain getaways flank it in the north. Fairytale castles set in the middle of unending desert dunes welcome you in the West. Dense rainforests and rare one-horned rhinos showcase a land untouched by time in the Far East. White sandy beaches, turquoise waters and a world of spirituality await far South. Today, India is a thriving tourist destination that has embraced the modernity of west while keeping intact its own unique flavour. The geographic riches of the sub-continent serve up an exotic entrée.
From the hot tropics to the snow-capped peaks, there is something for everyone. With world-class hotels and improved travel, luxury trips to India are today far more appealing than ever before. Here are a few amazing destinations that take you beyond the metros and showcase India’s finest.
Timeless Romance of Taj Mahal
Easily the single most iconic monument of the nation, the Taj Mahal is a must see for every traveller. Its relative proximity to the nation’s capital, Delhi, makes the prospect even more appealing. Viewed as a symbol of eternal and undying love, the sight of gleaming white marble on a full moon night is a sight to behold. The surrounding gardens and the river Yamuna meandering in the distance complete this picture-perfect setting.
Photo courtesy of christianhaugen
As perfect a romantic destination as it is, the Taj Mahal also attracts many architect enthusiasts from all over the globe. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is widely regarded as the finest symbol of unique Mughal architecture. Located in Agra, a trip to India is simply incomplete without a glimpse of this ‘crown jewel’.
Tropical Backwaters of Kerala
Located in the southern part of peninsula India, Kerala is often referred to as God’s own country. Part of the tropical Malabar Coast, it is quickly becoming the most popular vacation spot in the country for international travellers. The long coastline of the state promises countless white, sandy beaches that are both secluded and seductive.
The intricate maze of backwaters also promises a relaxing and tranquil trip in one of the many houseboats. Delectable seafood cuisine and a can of chilled beer are just the icing on the cake.
City of Kochi is the gateway to the many riches offered by this beautiful land. Add to this, gorgeous hill stations surrounded by tropical rainforests of the Western Ghats and you will be tempted to extend your holiday by a week or two! From the beaches of Alleppey to the tea plantations of Munnar, Kerala is world draped in luxury.
Secluded Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Do you love a bit of adventure along with amazing beaches and incredible marine life? Then the isolated islands of Andaman & Nicobar are your ideal haven. Separated from the mainland of India by the Bay of Bengal, the group of islands is sparsely populated. The fact that it does not receive as much attention from tourists as many other mainland destinations makes it a lovely honeymoon spot.
Apart from rich fauna and flora, activities like snorkeling and scuba diving offer a glimpse into some rare coral reefs and marine ecosystems.
Luxury hotels and resorts at Havelock and Port Blair offer world class hospitality and service. The chain of islands and their panoramic beaches will pamper you endlessly as well.
Majestic Opulence of Rajasthan
The undulating and hot Thar Desert might not seem like a destination that exemplifies luxury. But that is only if you have never stepped into the grand palaces of royal Rajasthan. The land of ‘rajputs’ is all about hospitality and splendor that is borrowed from an era gone by. Getting to Rajasthan via air from the nation’s capital takes little time. But the way to travel to this western paradise is by rail. Palace on Wheels has been voted as the fourth most luxurious train in the world.
Clad in rich and royal heritage of India’s princely past, this train journey is arguably the most lavish way to travel in all of India. Destinations such as Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur further unravel a world of colour, festive joy and warmth. Live in one of the many hotels that were once imposing citadels and take in the inimitable zest of life in Rajasthan.
Hidden Gems – Coorg & Karwar
Fragrant coffee and amazing cuisine is what this little venture into the heart of effervescent Western Ghats promises.
Both Coorg and Karwar are not very high on the list of an average international traveller to India. But if you happen to be a foodie who loves his cup of coffee as well, then this is as close to nirvana as you can get! Coorg is dubbed as ‘Scotland of India’ with both its weather and the carpet of green that welcomes you. Picturesque and pristine, Coorg combines natural beauty of misty mornings with imposing valleys and waterfalls.
Tagore describes watching a sunset from the beach of Karwar as a moment that “reflects the joy of the infinite”. Karwar is a foodie’s paradise that presents lovely natural silhouettes, as well as satisfied taste buds, which will leave you with memories that last a lifetime. Karwar and Coorg are all the more appealing as they seem to imbibe a very European flavor thanks to the Portuguese heritage of the region.
Srinagar & Kashmir – Paradise on Earth!
After years of conflict and controversy, Kashmir is once again slowly making its way back onto tourist maps. The city of Srinagar kick starts the journey in this region with sights of tulip and rose gardens, Kashmiri handicrafts and the soothing stillness of the Dal Lake. Imposing mountain ranges soon take over and the adventurous can go a step further and drive to the city of Ladakh. Luxury in Kashmir is found more in the abode of nature than man-made structures.
Sights of Sounds of this ancient Himalayan land are accentuated by the syrupy cuisine of the state. For those who love the cosmos, a night at Ladakh is an absolute must as the altitude and clear skies promise a glittering celestial show.
Lush Green Meghalaya
If you love good old English weather and wish to sport an umbrella along with a coat at all times, then Meghalaya is India’s answer. The far east is a place far too often overlooked by both Indian and international tourists. Experience a day in the world’s wettest place, Cherrapunji and then head over to Shillong for a pleasant day or two away from the crowds. The many waterfalls of the state and the imposing green valleys make it a treat for nature lovers.
Step away for just a little while into Assam’s Kaziranga and marvel at the rare sight of a great one-horned rhino. Enchanting and thrilling, the trip to north east is truly one of a kind.
Heart of India – Khajuraho & Kipling’s Jungle Book!
Easily accessible and in the heart of India’s mainland, Khajuraho is pretty well known as the temple with erotic sculptures. True as that may be, there is much more artistic splendor to this site than the mere obvious. Khajuraho has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its architectural mastery takes you back to a thriving civilization in medieval India. Not far from here is the Kanha National Park.
The setting and inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, these bamboo forests entice you with the prospect of a glimpse of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Both Kanha and Khajuraho are well connected and sport some of the best luxury resorts in the region.
Foothills of Himalayas
Kullu Manali, Shimla, Dalhousie, Dharamshala and Rishikesh are some of the major stops on a tour that is all about capturing the Himalayan spirit. Great connectivity and 5-star luxury are the two highlights of this expedition that showcases Himalayan splendor.
Stays at the likes of the Oberoi and the Ritz Plaza offer natural spas, international cuisine and unabated views of the distant mountains.
You can travel in the winter months to experience a white Christmas and a snowy New Year. Mountain passes, natural valleys, rollicking white waters and glacial grandeur are what the world’s highest mountain range promises.
The multitude of riches in India means that there is often too much on the platter. The best approach would be to visit one particular point on each of your trips. Travelling the length and breadth of the country might not be always the smartest choice unless you are planning on a journey that lasts several months!
Exotic Bali consistently receives plaudits as one of the world’s favourite island destinations, and for good reason. The beautiful island lies just south of the equator and is home to majestic mountains, lush rainforest, and amazingly friendly people. The Indonesian island offers cultural attractions and spectacular scenery that cannot be duplicated anywhere on earth. With so much to see and do in Bali, visitors with limited time there must plan their Bali holidays strategically.
Bali: A Cultural Smorgasbord
While the Kuta region of Bali provides some lively tourist action with its assortment of shops and restaurants, Bali’s Ubud region is commonly known as the island’s cultural capital. Ubud located in central Bali is famous for its performing arts. Unique cultural dances of the Balinese are both expressive and beautifully performed. Traditionally, Balinese dancers performed for a variety of occasions to include social events and ceremonies. Today, they adapt their storytelling dances for tourist audiences. To make the most of their Bali holidays, visitors often pair Balinese dance shows with amazing dinners like the tasty culinary fare found at Café Lotus. This restaurant features a wide range of Indonesian and Western-styled entrées likely to please the entire dinner party.
Bali is known as the “Island of Love,” and its one-of-a-kind scenery makes it an exquisite place for wedding parties. The Tegenungan waterfall is a great place to visit while on a Bali honeymoon. The free flowing waterfall surrounded by lush tropical foliage drops into an aquamarine lagoon making it the perfect photo opportunity for couples on a Bali honeymoon.
Agriculture is a huge part of the Bali culture, and the way Balinese farmers cultivate their rice fields exhibits this fact. The rice terraces of Jatiwulih in western Bali are a tribute to excellent farming techniques united with a keen sense of environmental stewardship. For instance, local Jatiwulih farmers designed and constructed a communal water system to irrigate the verdant rice fields contoured to prevent soil erosion.
Bali Adventure Holiday
One of the best ways to see Bali up close and personal is by bike. Mountain biking tours are available for couples who want to take an authentic journey of the island while on their Bali honeymoon. These adventure tours are not for the faint of heart. However, those up to the physical challenge may see stunning views of the Bali countryside, rice fields, and quaint villages.
No Bali holiday would be complete without a visit to one of its breathtaking beaches, and there are many from which to choose. The island uniquely is home to white, black, and golden sand beaches. The quintessentially tropical, white sand beaches are by far the most popular ones visited by those on their Bali holiday. However, the black sand beaches offer a rare contrast set against the backdrop of a turquoise ocean. Additionally, the Nusa Dua region provides visitors an ideal snorkelling spot. Nusa Dua is also known for its ultra luxury accommodations that have the relaxing amenities required by visitors maximising their time while in Bali.