With the cold and wet winter weather here to stay, along with the increasingly busy and high-powered lifestyles many of us live today, we think it’s time to talk about relaxation holidays. February is one of the most romantic months of the year thanks to St Valentine, and what better way to treat your partner than with a chilled out, sunny getaway to look forward to later in the year. To help you make a decision on the best luxurious island to visit in the eastern hemisphere, we have pulled together the top ten most relaxing places to visit in Southeast Asia.
1. Koh Samui, Thailand
Koh Samui is one of the most desired destinations among Thailand’s hundreds of islands and it has attracted tourists, travellers and luxury holidaymakers alike for generations. This stunning southeast island gem is still as popular today as ever before and is perfect for a relaxing luxury retreat in Thailand. As well as the white sand beaches, tropical weather and delicious Thai cuisine there are lots of things to do in Koh Samui including visiting the big Buddha temple at Koh Faan or the stunning Namuang waterfall. When looking for a place to stay in Koh Samui, there are a wide variety of options to suit your interests from beach front bungalows to hotels and luxury villas for rent. The best time to visit this southern Thai island would be February, March and April as there is less chance of rain at these times.
2. Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands), Laos
The 4000 islands are situated in southern Laos and have been described as one of the most serene places in Southeast Asia. These islands are so tranquil with waterfalls, paddy fields, temples and monks. The kinds of activities that you can get up to in this place of paradise include cycling, swimming, tubing, boat cruises, kayaking and dolphin spotting, although many forsake these and pass the days relaxing in a hammock. The best time to visit the area is during the dry season (October to late April), when the waters recede and the islands can be clearly seen.
3. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Ubud is a pleasure for all your senses! The stunningly beautiful rice fields, the sounds of prayers and chanting during the evenings, and the smell of incense finding you wherever you go make it impossible to be stressed here. Ubud has become an extremely popular tourist destination after Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ but it remains distinctly friendly and peaceful. Ubud is home to good restaurants, cafes and streets of colourful shops, many selling goods from the region’s artisans. Weather-wise the best time to visit is during June- September when the days are sunny and very warm and the evenings clear and cool.
4. Batad, Philippines
Batad is a village of fewer than 1500 people, situated among the Ifugao rice terraces. It is perhaps the best place from which to view this UNESCO World Heritage site. The landscape is truly stunning and the nearby Tappiyah waterfall offers a lush swimming spot. The breathtakingly beautiful 70-meter falls are only a 30-minute walk from the village. If you wish to visit Batad, be ready for a hike, as there are no roads that lead to the village. A jeepney from Banaue (the closest town) will bring you to the Saddle, from which it is a roughly 40-minute trek to the village. Once you have reached Batad you can bask in the glory of the rice Terrance’s from virtually anywhere in the village. The best time to visit Batad and the Ifugao rice terraces is between June and July. The rice planting season is April to May and the terraces are at their greenest in the months after this.
5. Macleod Island, Burma
Located in the Mergui archipelago off the southern tail of Burma, Macleod Island is pristine and full of simple beauty. There is only one resort on the island, the eco-lodge style Myanmar Andaman Resort. Macleod Island is ideal for those seeking tranquility in a natural haven. The isolated island is home to immaculate beaches, incredible diving spots and uninterrupted nature. The island boasts an excellent PADI standard dive school; rainforest trails introducing guests to the wilder side of island life and a mountain trek offering some of the best views of the islands. If you’re thinking of visiting this beautiful island, the best time to go would be January and February when the weather is dry and the temperature is still cool enough to make your trip enjoyable.
6. Hanoi, Vietnam
The charming Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, offers a great deal for the intrepid traveller from the charming historic buildings and cultural attractions of the Old Quarter to tourism fuelled modern developments and attractive open spaces. Hanoi is undergoing a rapid transformation and is fast becoming the gastronomic center of Vietnam. The city offers some of the best restaurants in South East Asia serving up a combination of traditional Vietnamese food with influences from French cuisine. You can dine in unique and wonderful cafes and restaurants at almost every corner, sample market wares, discover an evolving arts scene, and then sleep soundly in a little luxury for very little cost. Meet the people, delve into the complex past and experience the awakening of a Hanoi on the move. The best time to visit this unique capital city and see the wonders of the Old Quarter would be between November and February. This is the winter season in Hanoi and you will find that the crowds are less and the streets are easier to navigate, but the weather is better as you are going outside the rainy season.
7. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia. It is the tourist hub of the country and the closest city to the world famous temples of Angkor. Siem Reap has reinvented itself as the epicentre of chic Cambodia, with everything from hip hotels, world-class wining and dining, and sumptuous spas, making it the perfect place to unwind and de-stress. Go further afield in Siem Reap Province to see a showpiece of rural Cambodian beauty. Explore floating villages and rare-bird sanctuaries or just cycle through the paddies as an antidote to the bustle of the city. Siem Reap is a beautiful all year round destination. The most popular time for tourists to visit is between December and May because it is cooler at this time of year but the sights can be very crowded. Late May is the hottest time of year in Cambodia, for those who like the heat this can be a great time to visit, but this will certainly not be ideal for everyone. July till October (especially August) is a less dusty and greener time of year, the temple moats are filled, the water in Tonle Sap Lake is clearer – a much prettier sight. And, you don’t have to travel so far to get on the boat at the lake since the increased water level means you get to the lake faster.
8. Moofushi Island, Maldives
Everyone knows the Maldives to be beautiful islands in Southeast Asia, and one of the most stunning is the Moofushi Island. Constance Moofushi is a fantastic island haven, surrounded by large blue lagoons and tantalising white beaches. The all-inclusive Constance Moofushi combines barefoot chic with the highest standards of comfort and service. There is also plenty to do on this island paradise to make your stay truly unforgettable, including scuba diving, canoeing, water skiing and wind surfing, as well as an array or spa treatments, delicious cuisine and indoor entertainment. The Maldives are a fantastic place to visit all year round with average highs at a consistent 29°C to 31°C and average lows rarely falling below 24°C. January to April are the driest months, with little rain and low humidity, making this peak season at the resorts.
9. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Located off the east coast of Malaysia, the Perhentian Islands are the most laid-back range of islands to be found in the area. They are the perfect spot to relax, remain barefoot, and listen to music whilst watching the sunset sipping on a cocktail. These coral fringed islands have hidden coves, beautiful sandy beaches, and crystal clear waters, perfect for diving and snorkeling. The two main islands are Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil. Kecil attracts more travellers as it has cheaper accommodation, while Besar is a little more expensive and caters more to families and those who want to avoid the backpacker party scene. Due to the eastern maroons, peak times to visit these islands are limited between the beginning of June until late October. Outside this period the seas can be very rough and choppy, skies overcast, and with currents that make swimming dangerous and most accommodation options are closed.
10. Komodo, Indonesia
Komodo Island is part of the Lesser Sunda chain of Indonesian islands, and is the rugged habitat of the up to 3m-long Komodo dragon. Located between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa in eastern Indonesia, Komodo is a secluded and untamed Jurassic Park-like island forming part of the Komodo National Park. Besides being well-known as the home to the giant monitor lizard, Komodo is also known as a paradise for nature lovers with numerous mountains to climb, and amazing diving sites around stunning coral reefs. The wet season at Komodo National Park begins in November and runs through March though this tends to be in the Northern part of the park. Between April and October, the weather is dry and is prone to be extremely dryness. During the dry season and the summer months, there is typically a cool ocean breeze, which helps to alleviate the extreme temperatures that can soar up to 44oC .
We hope this article has given you some inspiration for planning your next relaxing getaway, family holiday or honeymoon. For more information on staying in Koh Samui, Thailand and booking a luxury villa at Samujana, visit us here.