Southeast Asian eco-retreats perfect for the conscious traveler
SOUTHEAST ASIA is scattered with immaculate beaches, renowned food markets and diverse cultures all simmering together in a melting pot.
The region is also known for its bustling cities, crammed traveler hot spots and tourist touts looking to make a quick buck out of you.
It can be difficult to find the right balance between indulging in Mother Nature’s sublime offerings and grooving to the busy beats of city life. But every once in a while you’ll find yourself in desperate need of some rest and relaxation.
Here are a few of the most diverse eco-retreats in Southeast Asia. They are designed to harmonize with nature and built with luxury and comfort in mind.
Topas Ecolodge – Sapa, Vietnam
Deep in the Hoang Lien National Park, you will find a small hilltop hotel that goes by the name of Topas Ecolodge. Just a short 45-minute drive from Sapa Town in Northern Vietnam, the retreat’s 33 mountain bungalows is just one of its stunning features.
The rustic white granite bungalows present guests with a casual atmosphere, while the private balconies deliver a romantic and secluded setting, making you feel like the only people in existence.
The Lodges overlook stunningly symmetrical rice paddy fields below, where you can see locals plowing and planting, depending on what time of year it is.
But perhaps the most idyllic vantage point is from the retreat’s new heated infinity pool. Surrounded by peaks and valleys, you can grab a beer from the dedicated pool bar and watch the world go by.
Once you’re done floating around in the eco-friendly pool, book yourself on a tour for cultural exploration. Topas Ecolodge can either advise you on the best itinerary for an excursion or plan one for you. From homestays to biking and hiking, the retreat will have something you’ll love.
Indulge your thirst for relaxation even further in the serene Red Dao Spa, experience herbal baths, massages, facials and pressure point treatments, and leave behind your bad energy in the hilltops.
How to get there: A five-hour drive from Hanoi or an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai with a further 60km bus journey. Make sure you speak with the lodge regarding transport arrangements before you set off.
The Sunrise House at Green Village – Bali, Indonesia
At this eco-retreat, you can find 12 luxury bamboo villas and houses which have been built in perfect harmony with nature.
The Green Village was designed by an international team of skilled artisans, architects, and engineers that focus on developing sustainable projects.
Five of the 12 homes here are available for rent. Sunrise House is the most desirable among conservationists, celebrities and those looking for a different kind of vacation.
Sunrise House attracts guests of a like-minded nature, one which compels them to look for a more sustainable and authentic way of living.
Aptly named as the lodge, it was designed to capture the stunning Southeast Asian sunrise. Located on the side of the sacred Ayung River valley, the four-story house offers an open lounge, dining space, fully equipped kitchen, three en-suite bedrooms, wireless Internet, and a private plunge pool and garden.
Every property inside Green Village is made almost entirely from bamboo materials with added touches of copper and stone to form sustainable floors, walls, ceilings, stairs, and rails.
How to get there: Green Village is only a short 25-minute ride from Ubud, Bali.
4 Rivers Floating Lodge – Koh Andet Island, Cambodia
Set on the Tatai River, the 4 River Floating Lodge is a paradise where jungle and marine life meet to create one of the most stunning eco-retreat settings in Southeast Asia.
The lodge, comprising of six white-roofed tents on a fixed pontoon, can be found on the bend of the river and surrounded by lush rainforest. Guests can expect to hear the tranquil melody of the slow river current and tweets of rainforest birds.
The 800sq m resort takes inspiration from the original luxury safari resorts in Africa, but guests won’t have to compromise on mod-cons no matter how far from civilization they are.
All rooms and equipped with flat-screen TVs and DVD players, but you won’t want to watch Hollywood blockbusters when you can be transported to a state of utter awe by observing the nature around you.
Tucked away in the secluded region of the Cardamon Mountains, your mind can’t help but respond to the sweet whisper of Mother Nature as she compels you to explore your surroundings. Guest can either do this on the river with kayaks or private cruises, or trek through the rich rainforest.
How to get there: Take a ride from Tatai which is a mere 20-minute journey from Koh Chang in Phnom Penh.
Boklua View Resort – Nan, Thailand
For those less concerned with luxury and wanting to become more in tune with nature, then Boklua View, nestled in the foothills of Doi Phu Kha, Thailand, offers a remote resort centered around nature and tranquillity.
The retreat offers 11 simple yet comfortable bungalows in a land littered with flora and fauna, majestic wildlife and the hum of busy insects going about their business.
The retreat has a key focus on providing guests with an experience of rural life in an unspoiled part of Thailand.
The hotel was built entirely using local labor in order to give back to the local economy and Boklua is also owned and run by a local who adores his hometown.
There is plenty to do around the area, including fishing, birdwatching, hiking, meditating, shopping and dining. The retreat is also used by writers who want inspiration to flow like a fast river.
Here at Boklua, there are none of the usual manufactured attractions that people associate with Thailand, so you can book safe in the knowledge that no tourist touts will be biding for your attention.
How to get there: Take a flight to Nan Nakhon Airport from Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok via AirAsia, then reach the retreat via a two-hour bus ride.
Time Capsule Retreat – Sungai Lembing, Malaysia
This super cool hideaway is a family-run retreat centered around being one with nature.
There are three accommodation options at Time Capsule Retreat. The White Cottage is ideal for bigger parties as it offers several rooms and a spacious communal area.
The Capsules are seven-by-ten square foot concrete cylinder pipes which look out over the rainforest. And they’ve been fitted with high-tech air-conditioning systems and sun-blocking drapes for privacy. The third option is the Parallel, which are shipment containers furnished to fit two bedrooms and a bathroom.
While the retreat doesn’t shout luxury, it defines re-purposing and eco-friendly. The local surroundings offer a minimal variety of activities, so you can sit back and sing along to the sound of the rainforest that surrounds the lodge, then head into the local town of Sungai Lembing to sample Malaysia’s silkiest tofu.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous, head to the nearby Rainbow Waterfall, just a short hike away up Panorama Hill.
How to get there: Buses regularly go from Kuala Lumpur to Sungai Lembing and then you can grab a quick cab to the retreat.