Southeast Asia has long been considered a backpacker’s dream, offering vast landscapes and affordable boutique accommodation in the perfect budget destination. However, the lesser-known, luxurious side of the region is rapidly earning a reputation, thanks to its sought-after retreats and luscious private getaways. We’ve explored some of the most luxurious holiday experiences on offer, from luxury cruises to award-winning wellness spas.
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Although Vietnam has only recently seen its tourist industry blossom, it has rapidly become one of the most popular holiday destinations in Southeast Asia. For luxury travelers, the country’s relatively recent bloom means there aren’t quite as many high-end hotels here as elsewhere in this part of the world. However, the Six Senses Hideaway at Ninh Van Bay leaves little to be desired. Located in the coastal city of Nha Trang, this stunning hideaway boasts earth-toned rock pool villas set inside a serenely beautiful private cove. Possessing the same exclusive atmosphere as a private island, the resort is surrounded by white sands and striking mountains that create a feeling of being at one with nature.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Vietnam Guide
Thailand is renowned for beautiful resorts and luxury spa holidays, but among the most impressive is the Layana Resort & Spa in Ko Lanta. Winner of the Best Luxury Destination Spa Thailand award in 2015, this pristine resort has been designed to cater to your every need. Particularly favored by honeymooners, the Layana Resort is an adults-only destination overlooking a stunning secluded beach. Inside, guests can explore the vast range of spa treatments on offer, from basic facials to the Layana Signature massage, which is a favorite among connoisseurs. Unlike many of Thailand’s more luxurious getaways, Ko Lanta remains relatively unknown, so you can bask in the peace and quiet.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Thailand Guide
It isn’t just hotels and resorts that provide a five-star service; some of the most luxurious holidays in the world take place at sea. There is a wide range of Southeast Asian cruises available, each following a different itinerary to deliver an original view of this incredibly beautiful region. Luxury cruise line Azamara Cruise Club offers an exciting 16-night cruise option that explores the culturally diverse stretch between Singapore and Bali. Beginning with the bright lights of the region’s richest country, the cruise stops for day trips at a range of beautiful destinations including Semarang, the home of the largest Buddha monument in the world. Finally, spend a few nights on shore in Bali, a vibrant country rich with temples, volcanic peaks, and stunning flora.
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If the term “eco-tourism” brings to mind cold tents with leaking roofs, you might be surprised by the indulgent approach taken at 4 River Floating Eco Lodge in Tatai, Cambodia. Floating on the surface of the picturesque Tatai River, the retreat boasts panoramic views of untouched forest that encourages guests to leave the stress and strain of modern life behind. The luxurious villas have been constructed from eco-friendly materials and were designed to remain in harmony with nature, while providing the decadence you would expect from a five-star hotel. Private balconies with picture-perfect views across to the Cambodian jungle are the icing on the cake at this oasis of peace and tranquility.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cambodia Guide
It’s impossible to explore Southeast Asia’s most luxurious destinations without featuring a luxury yoga retreat—and where better to do so than the Philippines’ top wellness hideaway? Located in the beautiful region of Batangas, The Farm is renowned for its natural approach to health and operates from a philosophy based on emotional healing and detoxifying. Within this intricately designed retreat, guests can enjoy indulgent spa treatments, yoga and meditation, aqua aerobics, and stress reduction guidance, all of which have been designed to help boost mental and physical wellbeing. During your stay, you’ll also have access to the retreat’s award-winning vegan restaurant, which sources much of its produce from The Farm’s own organic garden.
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Paul Edge, director of Cruise Club UK, is a passionate travel enthusiast. When he isn’t busy heading up operations at Cruise Club, he often finds himself out at sea, exploring a new part of the world.