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Asia Bali Destinations Indonesia International Lifestyle Philippines Relaxation Thailand Vietnam

The Best Nature Destinations For a Relaxing Holiday In Asia

Asia — the largest continent on Earth. Spanning the uninhabited wilderness of Siberia to the lush tropical rainforests of Indonesia, Asia is a hotspot for nature lovers as it has a climate as diverse as its geographic features. It houses some of the most stunning natural phenomenons of the world, including one of the seven natural wonders — Mount Everest.

With no dearth of natural destinations to visit, it can be hard to decide on just one. We rounded up some of the best places to kick back and relax in within the expansive continent.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

With powder soft beaches and clear, turquoise waters, Phu Quoc (pronounced ‘foo-kwok’) is a gorgeous tropical paradise. Comprising 28 uninhabited islands, Phu Quoc offers unspoilt, secluded stretches of quiet and calm, a welcome reprieve from the crowds at more popular beach destinations like Phuket, Thailand.

Marine enthusiasts would enjoy Phu Quoc for the diverse wildlife it offers in its crystalline waters, while avid hikers can look forward to silken waterfalls within the larger UNESCO-listed Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve. Eclectic bars and cafes line the beachfront alongside luxurious resorts and private guesthouses, catering to all kinds of budget preferences for each type of traveller.

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Pexels

Ubud, Indonesia

Perhaps best known as the place where Elizabeth Gilbert gained spiritual self-actualisation in Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud is a popular cultural and natural hotspot in Indonesia. Perched on the remote highlands, Ubud is especially iconic for its cascade of emerald green rice terraces (Tegalalang Rice Terrace) and showcase of the very best of traditional Balinese culture.

With an easygoing and laidback atmosphere, Ubud is a place where it’s easy to lose track of time — a few days can easily turn into weeks and months, even years. For the ultimate experience, get on the mat at one of Ubud’s yoga retreats — you’ll leave feeling re-energized and rejuvenated in mind, body, and soul.

Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

If you didn’t already know, Sri Lanka has a trove of secluded, sandy beaches, and Arugam Bay is one of them. Located on the East Coast, it’s far enough from the capital and other tourist attractions to be less popular with visiting travellers. With just a single main road running parallel to the beach, there’s not much to the village itself, other than lots of chilling.

Featuring a famed point break, Arugam Bay is a surfer’s paradise, and is regarded as the best surf spot in the country. If you’re not into surfing, you can laze on the beach like the rest of the sun-seekers, or chill at one of the beachside restaurants offering fresh-from-the-ocean seafood.

Koh Kood, Thailand

Just five hours from Bangkok lies this stunning island getaway — Koh Kood. As reported by The Guardian in 2014, it is “Thailand’s last unspoilt islands”. Because of its remoteness, it is the perfect escape from a bustling lifestyle, instead offering tranquility amid the most idyllic of beaches.

Home to a population of less than 2,000, coconut plantations, and sleepy fishing villages, you can expect the pace of life at Koh Kood to be slow and unassuming. Under the lull of waves lapping against the shore and the hypnotic swing of beachside hammocks, it provides the rare opportunity to gently unwind, and temporarily disconnect from the world.

Siquijor, Philippines

While the spiritual side of Siquijor continues to draw tourists in, nowadays, it is best known for its beautiful corals, white beaches and sparkling waterfalls.

Every night, hundreds of green luminous fireflies light up the island, giving evidence to its name ‘Isla del Fuego’ (or ‘Island of Fire’). When these mystical creatures come out to play, it gives the tiny island a magical, almost eerie glow that lends to Siquijor’s reputation among many Filipinos as an ‘island of witchcraft’. As a wise philosopher once said, “Nature itself is the best physician”.

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Unsplash

Maldives

Finally, the pearl of South Asia. Maldives is beach luxury personified, and features the Indian Ocean in brilliant shades of blue, turquoise, and aquamarine. Colourful coral reefs host a diverse variety of marine wildlife, from striped clownfish to genteel sea turtles. Islands rimmed with the softest of pure white sand make for serene sanctuaries to luxuriate in, and let the worries of yesterday slip away.

While the Maldives comprises a whopping 1192 islands, only 200 are inhabited. At this nation of islands, island hopping is a way of life, and the best means to go about uncovering the hidden gems of the region.

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Adventure Asia Bangkok Destinations Lifestyle Thailand

Squeal Your Heart Out at These Dog Cafés in Bangkok, Thailand

Dogs are truly man’s best friend. Where else can you find a pet that’s as unnervingly loyal? However, if you aren’t lucky enough to own one of your own, you can still get your fill of cuteness — right here at these dog cafés in Bangkok!

Take your pick and get ready to squeal with joy.

Big Dog Café

E-lyn Tham

As the name suggests, the dogs at the Big Dog Café are of the bigger variety. And boy, are they huge! Cuddle up with Alaskan Malamutes that, when standing, tower over the average human; Old English Sheepdogs with strings of hair in their eyes; gentle Central Asian Shepherds; eager Airedale Terriers; impossibly furry Chow Chows and more. The dogs are released in batches and are all incredibly friendly — they’ll run right up to you for a pat, sniff, or cuddle.

You might also chance upon some rare breeds, such as a Russian Wolfhound, an Afghan Hound, and a Komondor. Other smaller breeds are also present at the café, such as Pomeranians, Corgis, and Westie Terriers. 

Make your reservations via their Facebook page for the timings of 9.30-11.30am, 12-2pm, 2.30-4.30pm, 5-7pm, or 7.30-9.30pm. The entrance fee of THB199 (~SGD8.70) includes a welcome drink.

Address: 88 Ratchadaphisek Rd, Huai Khwang, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10310, Thailand

Corgi in the Garden

If, however, your affections tend towards dogs of a smaller variety, the Corgi in the Garden café might be just the place for you. Surround yourself with 12 little bundles of fur that go by the adorable names of Porkchop, Salmon, Babycorn, Buttercup, and more! Watch as they bound up to you with goofy smiles on their faces, or bribe them for a selfie with treats that you can purchase from the café. 

So how did this corgi café come about? The owner used to own two corgis, who then gave birth to a litter of three puppies. Little did she know that one of her dogs would then go on to have a surprise litter of seven puppies, bringing the total to a whopping 12 corgis altogether! The owner wanted to keep all the dogs and hence decided to open Corgi in the Garden, where her beloved corgis can continue to bring joy to all who visit.

The entrance fee of THB250 (~SGD11) includes a drink; top up an additional THB100 (~SGD4) for a piece of cake as well. Make your reservations via their Facebook page for 1-hour slots at 10.30am (weekends only), 12.30pm, 2.30pm, and 4.30pm.

Address: 338/1 Kallapaphreuk Road Bang Wa, Phasi Charoen, Bangkok 10160, Thailand

True Love at Neverland

TrueLove at Neverland, Facebook

Huskies have a piercing blue gaze that can stop anyone in their tracks. Get up close and personal with these majestic creatures at True Love at Neverland, a café that’s home to over 25 huskies! The huskies are separated into three different pens — they belong to separate ‘clans’, so we were told — and visitors are free to rotate between the pens. The huskies are surprisingly endearing, with many willing to rub up close against your shoulders or plop down in front of you for a belly rub. 

The true highlight is at the end of the session, where you’ll get to watch the huskies being summoned for their meal. Besides the huskies, you’ll also get to play with a Japanese Akita, a Shih Tzu, and 2 Australian Shepherds. 

Slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis, The ticket counter opens at 11.30am daily, for 2 sessions a day. The first starts at 12pm, with playtime from 1-2pm; the second starts at 3pm, with playtime from 4-5pm. The ticket costs THB500 (~SGD22), inclusive of a drink and choice of food or ice cream cake.

Address: 153 Soi Ari Samphan 2, Khwaeng Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

Dog in Town – Dog Cafe, Facebook

Alternatively, if you prefer to just be surrounded by dogs, dogs and more dogs — no matter the breed! — you can also head to the Dog in Town or House of Paws cafés. Dog in Town has more than five different dog breeds, whilst House of Paws offers more than 10 different dog breeds. You’ll also be glad to know that House of Paws is the only dog café to be located in the heart of the city.

Indeed, Bangkok doesn’t have to be all about shopping or eating. Fall in love with the dogs at these cafés, who will be all yours to love and cuddle — even if just for an hour or two!