“Work environments and daily activities can lead to stressful that can really take its toll on you and your body. One of the best ways of coping with the stresses of everyday life is to take a regular holiday; this gives you something to look forward to and some time out to get away from it all and recharge. No matter where your destination is in the world, the important thing is to make sure you choose a place that will give you the peace and quiet you need to help you clear your mind from your worries so that, by the end of your holiday, you are feeling relaxed and revitalised. Here in our Five Best, we take a look at some laid-back places around Southeast Asia from Ubud to Labuan Bajo, Langkawi, Phuket and Ha Long Bay, places that we think are well suited to giving the break you need.”
Over 40 years ago, Ubud was known as a traditional Balinese village with clusters of terracotta rooftops nestling among vast rice terraces and jungle gorges. Nowadays, it is an international travel centre in its own right, with an ample choice of places to visit; places that will rejuvenate the mind and soul and satisfy the stomach with beautifully prepared, healthy food in abundance. Blessed with beautiful terraced rice fields, lush green rainforests, ancient temples and shrines, Ubud has a lot to offer. There is an abundance of lavish accommodation choices available able to deliver tranquillity at its best with top-notch services, places such as COMO Uma Ubud or the newly opened The Westin Resort & Spa Ubud, Bali.
LABUAN BAJO, INDONESIA
This is the gateway to the Indonesian island of Flores. You can’t visit Labuan Bajo without going to Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Island hopping is highly recommended, starting from Pulau Padar, a small island between Komodo and Rinca Islands. Here you can climb a hill to see three multicoloured (white, black and pink) beaches. The scenery is breathtaking, a real feast for the eyes. One of the highlights is Pink Beach, located in an uninhabited area of the island. This beach is one of only seven in the world with pink sand its pink hue due to a mixture of red and white sand. The water here is shallow, making the beach ideal for swimming or snorkelling. Other islands worth visiting while island hopping are Kanawa, Sebayur, Bidadari, Seraya and Sabolo. For diving enthusiasts, there are world-class dive sites just off Komodo and of particular note is the site close by of Gili Banta, an unpopulated island just to the northwest of Komodo. Gili Banta features many finger like bays with crescent beaches and is well known for its large population of giant sea turtles and manta rays. The dive site here is said to be comparable with those of Raja Ampat.
HA LONG BAY, VIETNAM
The best way to get to Ha Long Bay is from Hanoi, which is about 3 hours drive. Ha Long Bay in Northern Vietnam is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and, with its 1,600 limestone islands and islets providing visitors with unforgettably stunning scenery, a truly natural wonder. To fully appreciate the area, you should take the opportunity of staying overnight on a cruise boat to explore the numerous islets, beaches, villages, and grottoes at a more relaxed pace. There are various activities to choose from, such as swimming, snorkelling and kayaking, or alternatively, you can do nothing but admire the incredible views. If you don’t have the time to stay overnight, day trips are available
Even though Phuket is one of Asia’s most popular beach destinations with a lot to offer visitors, this is also a place suitable for a peaceful escape. The island boasts an unbeatable combination of perfect silky soft white sand palm-lined beaches, excellent snorkelling, wonderful dining and world-class luxury resorts. If you just wish to spend some tropical island downtime, Phuket is undoubtedly the place to be and promises to deliver some unforgettable holiday experiences. A recommended hotel is The Surin luxury resort, which is hidden away from the crowds on a pristine stretch of shoreline overlooking the exclusive Pansea Beach on the west coast of Phuket.
Regarded as one the best islands in Malaysia, Langkawi is actually the main island of a 104 island archipelago and located right on the border with Thailand. There is a plethora of luxury accommodation on the island to choose from which offer high standards of both comfort and service. This gorgeous tropical island is full of engaging activities, wonderful natural landscapes and plush accommodation facilities. Cenang Beach is one of the places most visited by tourists as this duty-free island is a great place for shopping. The beach at Datai Bay is regarded as one of the ‘Top 10 beaches in the World’. Here one can unwind and enjoy lazing in the sun, sunset dining, swimming or sea adventures. This has become a favourite destination for modern travellers seeking a natural environment in tranquil surroundings.