Our award-worthy Southeast Asian stays
Layana Resort and Spa, Koh Lanta, Thailand
By Mark Robinson
It’s not the stretch of white sand, the atmospheric sunsets, the clichéd emerald seas, the spacious rooms, or even the jungle backdrop of the Layana Resort & Spa that makes this my favourite hotel - it’s the attention to detail.
The staff, or friends as they come to be, are subtly present - whether your glass of cold water is mysteriously topped up as you soak up the sun or you're offered the perfect breakfast suggestion on the terrace.
My Layana friends give me the peace of mind to do just what I want on the island - switch off.
Things to see and do in Koh Lanta
There are 11 beaches on Koh Lanta, so if you just want to kick off your shoes and lie in the sun you'll be spoilt for choice.
The area is the ideal location for keen divers or even those who just want to start for the first time. For those who wish to keep things simple, the warm, turquoise waters make snorkelling a real pleasure.
To gain an insight into how the locals live their lives try shopping with them at the market in Klong Nin.
If you want to remain in the confines of your hotel set a night aside for dinner on the beach, or relax with a spa treatment.
Koh Lanta is a small island just off the south west coast of Thailand, in the Andaman Sea.
To get there you'll take a long haul flight to Bangkok, before flying on to Krabi. The resort is then reached via a speedboat transfer.
Best time to visit
As Koh Lanta is on the west coast the climate is more favourable during Thailand's winter months - November to March. It means diving and snorkelling here will be at their best during this period.
Layana Resort & Spa, Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta, Thailand
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Lemanak Long House, Borneo
By Chris Barfoot
If you’re feeling adventurous, then the Lemanak Longhouse just might just be the most interesting place you’ve ever spent the night.
Set deep in the Borneo jungles of Sarawak, the Iban tribe’s stilted long house is primarily made of bamboo. To get there, you’ll pass through bustling markets full of interesting produce and take a ride up the rapids of the Lemanak River in a long boat.
The warm welcome precedes a night of good food, stories and hearty laughs - all helped along by a glass or two of rice wine. Once the festivities are done, you can fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle and the river.
Things to see and do in Lemanak
The remote area in and around the longhouses in Lemanak is covered by dense forest and river systems; it's an explorers dream.
As such the focus of your stay will involve a guided tour of the rainforest, its plants and wildlife, and how the Iban tribesmen live. You'll get the chance to try your hand at using a blowpipe and see the jungle traps they use.
Travel on a local long-tail boat with your guide and a couple of Iban tribesmen down river past beautiful rainforest scenery and other longhouses before, weather permitting, the Iban will cook you a delicious meal on the banks of the river.
Located in the Batang Ai National Park in the far south of Malaysian Borneo, you'll fly to Kuching, via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines. It's then a four and a half hour drive followed by a short boat ride to your longhouse in Lemanak.
Best time to visit
Although the rainforest areas have a hot, wet and humid climate for most of the year, we advise against travel during Borneo's wet season (November to February), and instead recommend you visit between March and October.
Iban tribe at their longhouse, Lemanak River, Sarawak
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RV Bassac, Mekong Delta, Vietnam
By William Wright
You will no doubt think of the many traders who have preceded your journey, all converging at one of the famous floating markets at 5 am to sell their wares, produce and even haircuts.
The Bassac is a converted rice barge with charming touches and attention to detail, fantastic guiding and superb food on board.
The exact journey varies by season but will take in villages, local communities and the floating markets for which the Delta region is justly so famous for. You can choose to spend one, two or three nights on board.
Things to see and do in the Mekong Delta
There's only one real way to enjoy the sights and sounds of the mighty Mekong River, and that's by travelling on it.
Cruising on a beautifully crafted wooden boat like the R/V Bassac is the best way to see the scenery and how the locals use the river as part of their daily lives, including visiting the floating market at Cai Rang.
If you prefer your adventures on dry land then a guided cycle tour around the villages of the Mekong comes highly recommended.
In the far south of Vietnam, getting to the Mekong couldn't be easier as direct flights to Saigon are available from Europe and North America. It's then a quick road transfer to the river for the start of your cruise.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Saigon is in the dry season, which generally runs from about January through to April. During the wet season, September to December, there are frequent tropical storms, though these aren't bad enough to disrupt your travels too much.
Bassac Boat, Saigon
Eating on deck, Bassac Boat, Saigon
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Governor’s Residence Yangon, Burma
By Lorna Massey
The 1920s colonial style building, which was once home to the Governor of Burma's southern states, has been beautifully restored into one of the country’s most luxurious boutique hotels.
The stylish bedrooms are located in low rise buildings set amongst the tropical gardens and fan shaped swimming pool surrounding the teak mansion.
Burma's food is delicious and the hotel can arrange for you to visit a local market with one of the resident chefs followed by a cookery class back at the hotel.
Things to see and do in Yangon
There is plenty of things to see and do in Yangon (formally Rangoon) so a guided tour is the best way to get acquainted quickly with the city.
You'll see cultural diversity in shape of the Chinese quarter and Little India, as well as colonial buildings from the days of the British Empire. The highlight of this will almost certainly be a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
The circle line train gets you out and about on public transport if you want to explore on your own.
Positioned on the Yangon River, only a few miles from the open sea, there are several options for getting to Yangon, all of which involved a transfer at either Singapore, Qatar, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok.
Best time to visit
The ideal time to visit is during the dry season, which falls between November and May.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
A few of the majestic temples of Bagan, Burma
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Sala Lodges, Siem Reap, Cambodia
By Tom Moore
Although only a ten minute tuk-tuk ride into town the setting makes you feel like you have stepped back in time into the Cambodian countryside.
The designer has carefully selected 11 traditional Cambodian houses (salas), dismantled them and situated them within the resort, each with their own personality and history still intact.
If you’re a fan of ‘shabby chic’ decor then you are in the right place, a style that lends itself so perfectly with the authenticity of this luxurious resort.
Things to see and do in Siem Reap
Siem Reap is home to one of the archaeological wonders of the word: the Temples of Angkor. Angkor Wat is the most well known but it's far from the only Khmer Empire temple you'll visit.
Other highlights include Ta Prohm and The Bayon. To the north and east of Siem Reap lie remote temples such as Koh Ker, Preah Khan, Preah Vihear and Banteay Chhmar.
This wonderful and unique experience allows your knowledgeable guide to reveal the temples’ secrets to you in isolation. The best time to visit the temples is at sunrise or sunset.
If you have a keen interest in photography then you can indulge your passion with visiting the temples on a professional photographers workshop.
if you crave adventure, then a microlight flight is a wonderful way to see the shear scale of the area the temples cover.
Loacted on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap is accessible via a direct flight to Bangkok in Thailand. From here you'll take another short hour-long flight on to Siem Reap.
Best time to visit
The optimum time to visit is November when humidity is low, although any time during the dry season (November to April) should mean a high probability of seeing the temples with the sun shining.
Swimming pool at Sala Lodges, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Cambodia