RONAN O'CONNELL tracks Cupid in the tropics
From sipping cocktails on a skyscraper rooftop, to staying in luxury by the ocean, camping in glamour in a national park, and getting super-long massages, South- East Asia has endless romantic activities.
Whether you’re young lovers on your first overseas adventure, a married couple with kids in tow, or retired companions this region is renowned for fostering dreamy moments.
Here are five of the most charming activities for couples visiting South-East Asia.
National Park Glamping
The term glamping was invented to describe the kind of ultra-luxurious camping offered by Te Mata Glamping in Thailand’s breathtaking Khao Yai National Park.
This wild region boasts dense forest, spectacular waterfalls, dramatic hiking routes and rich fauna including wild elephants, gibbons and deer.
Nestled among this natural splendour is this extraordinary, property which gives guests the chance to feel as if they are communing with nature, while still getting to enjoy modern comforts.
To ensure privacy, its Te Mata Glamping caters for only one group of guests per night in its huge, well-appointed tents which offer sprawling views of the lush countryside.
Jungle escape tents start from $250 a night, and feature luxury linens, large flat-screen TVs, spacious bathrooms and a massive outdoor deck, which makes the perfect place to eat the daily organic breakfast.
There’s also a fire pit surrounded by a huge U-shaped couch where guests can barbecue.
Luxury spa treatments
Few things in South-East Asia are better value than massages and spa experiences. A three-hour spa package, involving a foot and body massage followed by a facial, that would cost upwards of $300 in Perth, costs just $70 at the Miu Miu Spa in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Using organic massage oils and body scrubs, the staff at Miu Miu will pamper couples for as long as they wish to stay. They offer a range of massages including foot, herbal, Thai, shiatsu and four hands varieties. Their massages start from just $12 for a 35-minute foot massage, through to $35 for a one-hour body scrub, $40 for a two-hour herbal massage, and between $60 and $90 for their various deluxe three-hour spa packages.
Stay in a tropical resort
Kota Kinabalu is the kind of tropical haven that creeps into your daydreams at the office. This resort city in Sabah, an untamed state of Malaysia, is sandwiched between a pristine stretch of ocean and some of Asia’s densest jungle which teems with exotic plants and animals. Which is why the Pacific Sutera Resort in Kota Kinabalu is a perfect venue for a honeymoon or romantic getaway.
This five-star resort has its own private beach, fringed by palm trees and impossibly clear ocean water. In fact, you wouldn’t even need to leave the property to have an incredible holiday thanks to its enormous pool, onsite Chavana Spa, huge range of sea-sport activities, five cafes and restaurants, and its sumptuous rooms, many of which offer incredible sea views.
Dining in the sky
Bangkok’s skyscraper-strewn cityscape is best admired from a rooftop bar. Perched on the 25th and 26th floors of the trendy Hotel Indigo in downtown Bangkok, Char bar and restaurant offers the perfect blend between classy dining in its restaurant and a fun atmosphere at its rooftop bar.
Char Restaurant is renowned in Bangkok for its Australian Wagyu steaks and succulent imported seafood like Maine lobster and Canadian black cod.
Char Rooftop Bar is well priced by Bangkok standards, with beers starting at $7, glasses of wine from $9 and cocktails from $13.
Above Eleven, meanwhile, is a livelier rooftop bar and restaurant which has a DJ every night of the week, as well as occasional jazz and salsa nights.
Above Eleven’s drinks menu is incredibly big, ranging from Japanese cocktails to high-end Mexican tequilas and Belgian beer.
It’s the food though that really stands out here thanks to the unusual Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine.