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The big heart of Asia is incredibly welcoming.
Whether you have traveled East before or find yourself considering it for the first time, a luxury Asian safari offers an incredible amount of culture, history, and pleasure to offer its guests.
Throughout this vast continent, people await with big smiles on friendly faces and even where the language is a barrier your comfort is assured.
If you enjoy learning on your holiday then Asian resorts will always surprise you with cultural insights and history. Sixty percent of the people on earth live here and it is the birthplace of many religions from Christianity through Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. And if you like to eat fabulous food then it will be difficult to do better than Asia for sheer choice anywhere on earth.
As it stretches across so much of earth, Asia is very accessible. It is also relatively easy to hop around in Asia and you can go from the tropical beaches of South Thailand to snow in Japan with little fuss.
Our favorite thing about Asia is that it offers wonderfully immersive, luxury Asian resorts where you can truly switch off and relax. (And adventure is always only a moment away.)
THE OBEROI UDAIVILAS, UDAIPUR, INDIA
In the former capital of the Mewar Kingdom, royal residences abound. The City Palace, famed for intricate peacock mosaics is a complex of 11 palaces with courtyards and gardens.
It is safe to say that any Asian Resort will have its work cut out to impress in this location.
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And, against immense odds, this is exactly what the Oberoi Udaivillas achieves. You may arrive in awe but you will depart considering yourself quite deserving of genuflecting staff, magnificent pools and sprawling bird-filled gardens to wander in.
At the Oberoi Udaivillas, there is no such thing as too much luxury. Constructed in the mold of a traditional Indian royal residence this luxury holiday is the perfect backdrop for guests as they cast themselves in the role of Raj.
From the handcrafted furniture to the Victorian bathtub and the Ayurvedic massage there is a reference to history and culture everywhere… but this is also a thoroughly modern palace with Wifi and day trips.
The hotel lies less than four miles (6.5 km) from Udaipur but you might be on another planet. It might be resort size but the Oberoi Udaivillas manages to impart a boutique feel and more than a little touch of magic.
We love the semi-private pool rooms that face the incredible lake. The perfect end to any Rajasthan road trip.
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CONRAD RESORT, MALDIVES
Everyone should take a safari to the Maldives at least once in their lifetime. It seems disingenuous to describe any aspect of the Maldives with the adjective ‘difficult’ as these Asian beach resorts demand little more than enjoying every moment from guests… but there is one small issue: the sheer number of islands and world-class properties promising paradise, make choosing the ideal one for you quite a daunting task.
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Maybe this will simplify things for you.
The Conrad Resort on Rangali Island is the only resort in the Maldives where you can dine in an underwater restaurant.
From a tiny jetty a small spiral staircase winds down 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface to the Ithaa Underwater restaurant where a mere 14 seats have access to unobstructed views of coral gardens, fusion menus, and world-class wine.
Of course, the Conrad (which has been voted the best hotel in the world twice) also has spacious private villas, two award-winning spas and every other possible luxury one may need this far from civilization… when your only job is either to fully relax or have fun.
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SEAVENTURES DIVE RIG, BORNEO
The northern part of Borneo is home to the country’s highest peak. The distinctive granite spires of Mount Kinabalu rise like a cathedral above the beaches, rainforest, coral reefs, and wildlife that the state of Sabah is famous for.
Off the island of Sipadan in Sabah, an oil rig has been transformed into a boutique hotel for scuba lovers on an Asian safari. From the rig, a lift lowers divers directly onto the reef that occupies all the world’s best diving site lists.
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While the rig remains fairly utilitarian, all the needs of a modern traveler are catered for with little additional entertainment, good food and the island of Mabul only a boat trip away. The Rig Crews (staff on the Rig) are an eclectic collection of friendly and helpful individuals who will make you feel like you have arrived.
We love that the rig also abides by its Green Fins dive center ethos with an environmentally friendly reverse osmosis filtration system, no plastic bottles or straws and regular ‘office clean up’ dives.
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It is an excellent vantage point for the splendid sunsets that Borneo is famous for. But you don’t have to wait for sunset before you go in search of the real magic of any location where serious divers converge – the stories.
All your dives are included in the cost of your stay.
4 RIVERS FLOATING LODGE, KOH KONG, CAMBODIA
A white tented bungalow set on a floating pontoon in the tranquil, jungle-fringed Tatai river in southwest Cambodia. Here, you wake to birdsong and gibbons calling as the mist rises over the Cardamom Mountains.
Twenty minutes by boat from Tatai Bridge it is easy to see Tatai Waterfall, Koh Kong Island and take Cardamom Mountain treks when you stay here… but your riverfront deck may tempt you to stay and enjoy the library and restaurant onsite at this luxury Asian resort. Take a kayak out or go on a firefly and sunset cruise.
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The 4 Rivers lodge has every luxury but it never looks out of place within its rainforest setting. The Cambodian ecosystem is fragile and there is a real sense of care in the minimal use of wood, the solar power running the lodge wherever possible and the community projects the 4 Rivers lodge supports.
If you have ever dreamt of escaping into an alternate reality of living in a rainforest, this is where you come to make it a reality.
BENESSE HOUSE, NAOSHIMA ISLAND, JAPAN
There is an island called Naoshima within Japan’s Setouchi Inland Sea that has become increasingly known for innovating art. The blue water and temperate climate is a happy backdrop for countless contemporary artworks that can be found across shrines, rice fields, and old wooden houses. And the idea is spreading throughout half a dozen of the neighboring islands.
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Naoshima isn’t on the main tourist track (four hours by train and a twenty-minute ferry from Tokyo) but this is where billionaire art collector, Soichiro Fukutake came to construct a hotel that is an Asian beach resort like nothing else on earth. Where the lines between museum and hotel are blurred and you can live with work by Anthony Gormley, Twombly, Johns, and even Monet.
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With the art taking center stage the design of Benesse House is minimal and, as one might expect, natural light flows throughout this idyllic and remote location. Concrete, glass, and wood conceived by the incredibly respected architect Tadao Ando creates a very luxurious museum that happens to also have bedrooms. And as you would expect from a world-class establishment, the staff are discreet, well informed and friendly and chefs serve world-class French-inspired cuisine with local seasonal produce.
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Nowhere else on earth will you step outside your hotel and onto a beach where a polka dot pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama will watch you from the pier.
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XIANGSHAWAN DESERT LOTUS HOTEL, CHINA
Is it worth traveling halfway across the world to take another 1.5-hour plane journey followed by a 1.5-hour drive to reach the destination of your Asian Safari in the middle of the desert?
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Inner Mongolia will not be on many travelers’ bucket list but if you dream of hearing the ‘singing sands’ with your own ears you will be happy to know you can stay in a Lotus shaped resort that will look after your every need — from Mongolian-themed performances and camel rides to desert surfing the Resonant Sand Gorge.
The natural phenomenon occurring in this small section of the Gobi Desert is still not fully understood. This is clearly a place that defies understanding.
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KEEMALA RESORT, THAILAND
You may not come to Keemala to find wellness… but here, in the Kamala rainforest of Phuket wellness will find you.
The four villas are all unique and themed around clay, tent, tree and a bird’s nest. An eco-resort created out of bamboo invites guests to become one with nature… with all the comforts modern life has accustomed us to.
It is a rainforest wonderland that embraces the cultural Thai philosophy and delivers it to guests through spa treatments, holistic programs, gastronomic choices, activities, and magical villas. Keemala will enchant you.
Overlooking Kamala Village and the Andaman Sea every experience at Keemala is geared towards enhancing the quality of your life. Whether you seek fun and dynamic action or tranquillity and beautiful food. Whether your reason for traveling is romance or a special occasion. Whether you want to be ensconced within a sanctuary or simply use it as a base to explore Phuket.
Keemala will be an inspirational chapter in the story of your life.
We love that Keemala is strongly and publicly against selling tours that feature animals who have been taken from the wild. There is no elephant riding, tiger petting, snake or dolphin shows. There are two resident rescued water buffaloes that enjoy keeping the grass in perfect nick as well as birds, goats, peacocks, ducks, and cats.
As they say at Keemala it might be all about luxury but the lodge is still in Thailand and the animals who come to stay at Keemala will be well cared for.
Popular activities from a luxury holiday at Keemala include visiting the local temples seeing rescued and wild elephants, meeting the pioneer of Phuket’s eco-tourism and taking a speedboat tour.
ANDAMAN RESORT, LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA
A jewel in the crown that is Langkawi, the Andaman Resort nestles deep within the thick vegetation and access to Langkawi beach.
The resort has been inspired by traditional Malay style with dark wood floors and a sophisticated but warm atmosphere. The cuisine ranges from international to incredible Malaysian fare and Japanese fine dining.
A lagoon pool lies serenely next to the beach with quiet nooks and an exciting water slide in a forest setting. This duality is what the Andaman does best. Walking the line seamlessly between romantic couples and families.
And in that vein, you can do a magnificently large range of activities from kayaking, sailboarding and sailing catamarans… to learning how to cook while you enjoy a luxury Asian safari.
PILGRIMAGE VILLAGE, THỪA THIÊN HUẾ, VIETNAM
A clever choice for travelers who appreciate upscale comfort right in the very midst of a unique and entirely authentic cultural experience. Immersion does not get much better than the Pilgrimage Village set within a tiny rustic village not far from the ancient city of Hue.
In this chic boutique hotel that embodies the unique connection of traditional style and the vibrancy of modern Vietnamese art, every room has a private balcony and every bathroom has a bathtub. The cuisine is Vietnamese with a playful international edge and a vast space is dedicated to the guests’ well-being and relaxation with the Vedana Wellness and Spa offering massages and treatments, yoga, meditation and Tai Chi on-site and a large swimming pool surrounded by sunbeds.
Sound sleep awaits on this Asian Safari to the middle of the countryside. Wonderful food. Warm-hearted staff. The Pilgrimage Village has both vision and all the ingredients of classic hospitality.
The city of Hue lies on the banks of the Perfume River and at the heart of the culture, religion, and history of the country. Hue became the capital in 1802 and remained the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty until 1945 when Emperor Bao Dai abdicated.
When it was built an Imperial Citadel was erected as an inner enclosure exclusive to the royal family and a ‘forbidden city’ to everyone else. During the Tet offensive in 1968 Hue suffered greatly but considerable efforts have been made to restore the historical landmarks of the storied city.
Today it is a fascinating place to visit filled with royal traditions and tombs, fashion (the national dress for women, Ao Dai, originates from Hue), gastronomy, architecture, and atmospheric pagodas.
ALILA UBUD, BALI
Close to Ubud’s rice paddies, Alila Ubud lies at the end of winding roads in the heart of the rainforest in the valley of the Ayung River. A boutique retreat that is an ode to traditional village life the hotel was designed to contrast the intricate local woodwork and raw natural stone. Terrazzo tiles, crushed rock, concrete and thatched roofs all come together to frame the lush valley and sparkling Ayung River. The emphasis throughout this Asian resort is very much on elegant comfort.
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The traditional Balinese Plantation Restaurant is built above the hotel’s world-famous, cliff-hugging infinity pool with a huge palm roof supported by massive coconut tree trunks. The view is spectacular and the cuisine and service sophisticated.
At the Alila Spa, you can immerse yourself in the scents of Indonesia. The Villas have wrap-around decking that hangs above the gorge and huge bathtubs sunk into lotus ponds.
From here you have quick access to the Ubud Monkey Forest and Ubud Palace.
Alila Ubud is Green Globe certified and you can expect extensive recycling as well as close involvement with local green initiatives and community support programs.
THE SCARLET, SINGAPORE
The most cosmopolitan city in Asia has many moods. From Chinatown to Little India visitors can enjoy Hindu or Buddhist temples, churches, and mosques in Singapore. This rich heritage translates into a cultural extravaganza and it all comes together in the luxury Asian resort that is the Scarlet.
Striking red plantation shutters will let you know that you have arrived at the Scarlet. Made up of thirteen shophouses that date back to the 19th Century and an Art Deco building from 1924, this eclectic hotel exudes and swanky and upscale energy that is more unique than many of Singapore’s paint-by-numbers luxury hotels.
Expect rooms inspired by precious stones and jewelry and designed to evoke splendor, opulence, and passion. The Scarlet is a luxurious nest from where you can enjoy all the attractions of Singapore.
If you decide to dine in, the Scarlet’s Casa Tartufo is an authentic Italian restaurant and Mei I Sushi offers more of the Asian flavors you would expect from the Chinatown setting.