There’s the food and the culture, the fast-paced cities, and the food (did we mention that already?), Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most people-pleasing areas. But what stands out in this region of rich experiences are some of the most stunning, ethereal natural landscapes on the planet. From Halong Bay to Mount Kinabalu, stunning temples, and incredible national parks, this is our guide to some of the best luxury experiences in Southeast Asia.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
This lush archipelago of natural limestone islands is one of Southeast Asia’s most incredible sights. It’s picture postcard stuff but experiencing it in real life is the only way to gauge the epic sense of this place. Each island rises from the water like a tower, complete with forests, beautiful rock formations, and secret grottos - it’s somewhere between a Tolkien fantasy and a computer-generated fairyland.
There are about 1,600 rocks, mountains, and islands in the area and the very best way to explore them is by boat. Journey with us into the bay, zig-zagging between tiny islets and discovering the most beautiful, secluded coves. Take out kayaks with our expert guide to explore the caves and tunnels, or don your walking boots to hike through verdant forest as we introduce you to the wildlife and the flora and fauna of the area. For the epic views though, try the seaplane. Touch down on the emerald water beside a private beach. You will make lifelong memories.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
We may all know the iconic temple at the heart of Angkor Wat, with its intricate towers and symmetrical lines, but for a true sense of the scale, spirituality, and sheer feat of human endeavour that this vast temple complex offers, you have to see it in person. Built-in the 12th Century, there are actually more than a thousand buildings on this huge site. Spend the day there or the week – it’s entirely up to you. Some temples stand tall, with higgledy steps for you to climb and explore, while others are ruins, where creeping tree roots have taken hold, adding a mythical eeriness.
We can arrange a personal tour for you by a worldwide Angkor authority and take you to areas normally closed off to the general public, where our guide will shed light on the ongoing conservation work. Dot around the complex on a local tuk-tuk and then enjoy the aromatic flavours of Cambodia over lunch (amok, the local fish curry, is delicious). Then watch the sun go down in the evening and enjoy the view as those famous silhouettes emerge on the skyline.
Banaue Rice Terraces, Philippines
Some landscapes are so incredible that they just don’t seem real, and the Banaue Rice Terraces definitely fall into that category. Stretching thousands of feet high and carved into the earth by hand, the rice terraces in the mountainous regions of Ifugao and northern Luzon Island date back more than 2,000 years.
One of the best ways to explore is on foot. Hike the rugged terrain with our guide, take in the scents and sounds of the rice fields, and stop off at the local waterfalls and swimming spots to cool off. Or take a more leisurely tour by road, meet the locals who still farm the land according to their ancestors’ ancient techniques, and sample the fruits of their labour.
The verdant landscape is stunning and can take your breath away, but it’s the history, the community, and the traditions of the area that elevate this place to the world stage.
Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia
Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu rises 4,095m above sea level. It’s vast, and the climb can be long and hard, but it takes you through some of the planet’s most biodiverse landscapes and the view at the summit is hard to beat – even on a cloudy day. Much of the wildlife is found early on in the trek in the lush, thick jungle – the kind from storybooks. Our expert guide can point out the birds and the butterflies to spot (there are thousands of different varieties here) as well as find the best rest stops beside stunning temples or gushing waterfalls.
After a while, the landscape slowly changes into vast open paddy fields and small villages where the locals can offer some refreshments. And then it’s into the moonscape as you near the top, where spikey granite peaks soar above the clouds.
Each part of this trek is stunning in its own right but experiencing them all on one walk – that’s what makes it world-class.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam
You could spend weeks exploring Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, it’s so huge. Situated in the middle of the Annamite Mountain Range in Quang Binh province, it is a patchwork of tropical forests, paddy fields, vast plains, and beautiful lakes. Its complex landscape means that the area is teeming with life and is considered to be one of the most vibrant, biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. Tigers, elephants, monkeys, and the rare Asian antelope have all been spotted here, alongside hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, and reptiles.
Beneath it all though, lies the real star of the show - a huge and complicated maze of intersecting tunnels, underground rivers, and caves, complete with dramatic limestone forms and otherworldly stalactites. Explore on foot or by boat for a view of the natural world as you’ve never seen it before. Our guide can talk you through the geology and the history and take you to the most magical private caves where few people ever set foot.
To plan your luxury adventures in Southeast Asia, give us a call and chat with one of our experts. Each trip we design is bespoke and perfectly tailored for you.
We design each journey entirely from scratch. To discuss a bespoke itinerary personalised around your interests and requirements, call us on +44(0) 776 284 8888 or arrange for us to call you back at a time that suits you.