Unveiling the essence of Asia

8 Spectacular Destinations to Catch a Sunrise in Asia

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Stunning Sunrises in Amazing Asian Destinations

Do you ever feel so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of modern life, with pressure from work and deadlines making time fly by so fast, that you forget to take a moment to look up in wonder at our beautiful world and maybe stop and smell the flowers or watch the sunrise! A sunrise is a perfect moment for meditation, to simply be, to be in awe of the majesty of the heavens and earth. A perfect moment to feel lucky to be alive. If you’re looking to enjoy a magnificent sunrise on your holidays, the destinations in this week’s newsletter should serve as inspiration for your plans – remember the Secret Retreats Concierge Team are standing by to help you plan and book your next vacation in Asia. Two of the three hold UNESCO World Heritage status, so you know you’re in for a cultural treat to accompany that incredible sunrise experience.

Angkor Wat
—- Siem Reap – Cambodia —-

Southeast Asia offers some of the most beautiful sunrises and temples in the world. When experienced together, it creates an unforgettable visual encounter. This one’s a classic. For those who chase the finest sunrises in the world, this huge temple complex located in Cambodia’s Siem Reap will not disappoint.

There’s no uphill climb or ungodly hour start involved in this one, instead just a short ‘tuk tuk’ journey straight to the gates of the world’s largest religious monument. When the clock strikes around 6:23 a.m. the magnificent Cambodia sky will reflect the splendid beauty of its country immediately. The sight of Angkor Wat silhouetted against the sunrise will be the highlight of your trip to Siem Reap. Built almost 1,000 years ago Angkor Wat has been attracting travellers to marvel at its beauty and complexity for all this time. Just imagine watching the sky turn from midnight blue to pink, purple and orange.

As the sun rises from beyond Angkor’s three ancient towers and begins to shower the complex in glorious rays of sunshine it reveals individual bursts of architectural splendor one by one, and you’ll see clearly why this magnificent temple complex is considered one of the seven wonders of the world.

Halong Bay
—- Vietnam —-

Set in northeastern Vietnam, and meaning descending dragon, Halong Bay is a site to behold. This UNESCO World Heritage site, with more than 2,000 limestone islands, is a tourism mecca in Asia and deservedly so. The best way to enjoy Halong Bay is to dodge the day trip boats and do a two-night cruise onboard a traditional junk boat, and meander at your leisure around the thousands of majestic towering limestone karsts and verdant islets scattered across the deep emerald-green waters of the bay.  Taking a private cruise will also allow you to take in and explore clusters of islands too far for day-trippers to get to.

Once afloat you can watch both sunrise and sunset from the deck. The sun’s ascent over the Gulf of Tonkin and denouement behind the slew of islands, bays and iconic limestone ridges make for stunning photographs and incredible memories. Then hold that shutter a while longer, because it’s the blue hour. The twilight time between dusk and darkness, when the locals suggest Ha Long Bay is at its most beautiful, is not to be missed.

Phu Chi Fah
—- Chiang Rai – Thailand —-

There are amazing sunrises to be seen all over Asia, but few can beat the natural light show you will find on most winter mornings over the mountains in Northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai province. One of our favorite destinations in Northern Thailand is a place that’s still off the radar of most non-Thai tourists and travellers. Phu Chi Fa, located close to the border with Laos, is an escarpment deep within Chiang Rai’s beautiful countryside.

The sunrises here draw chill seekers from all over the country, and few adventurous foreign visitors. Many folks choose to camp in these magnificent mountains or the nearby Phu Chi Fah Forest Park in Thailand’s cool season (November to February). Here the sun emerges from a cloud inversion – a white mist that carpets the valleys below Phu Chi Fah’s edge – with the colours changing from deep, cobalt blue to magenta-fringed to golden yellow.

Reaching the summit of Phu Chi Fah requires an easy 750-metre climb on a dirt trail from the parking area to the summit. It requires an early rise, and the hike to the summit in the darkness but the rewards for doing so are handsome, it’s an unforgettable sunrise.

Mount Batur
—- Bali – Indonesia —-

Our next must-see sunrise is on the Indonesian island of Bali. Trekking is so much sweeter when your effort is rewarded with dramatic views of the morning sky as it transforms into different hues right before your eyes.

Revered as sacred by the local people, Mount Batur rises 1,717m above sea level. A steady climb, the walk to the peak of this magnificent volcano takes just two hours. For those of you for whom LOVE extra excitement in your life, you’ll be pleased to hear that Mount Batur’s last eruption was in the year 2000, and it is indeed, still active.

As the sun rises, the star-studded ink-black sky starts to blush in shades of blue, pink and orange, before returning to the piercing blue so synonymous with Bali as the sun rises. A perfect spot for travellers who make Instagram a daily habit. On a good day, you’ll be able to pinpoint the neighboring island of Lombok in the distance and across the valley below lies Mount Agung, Bali’s highest peak. Soak up the views – they don’t get much better than this on the Island of the Gods.

Inle Lake
—- Myanmar —-

Inle Lake is one of Myanmar’s most iconic sights, a region with an ancient and fascinating local culture set within stunning scenery make this a must for any itinerary. Rise early and take a traditional canoe out onto the still dark waters of the lake ready to watch the sun rise. It’s a fun idea to take a breakfast with you and picnic on the lake after the sun has risen. This area is so photogenic, it really is a photographers’ paradise. The marvelous sights of the surrounding nature, the wonderfully reflective still waters of the lake, the floating gardens and houses and monasteries on stilts, all against a backdrop of the Blue Mountains.

Set in the Shan Hills of Myanmar, Inle Lake is a freshwater lake at over 800m elevation, it is also the 2nd largest lake in Myanmar. A lake of superlatives it is home to unique wildlife with over 9 species of fish and 20 species of snails unique to Inle Lake. The uniqueness of its ecosystem was noticed, and the it has been protected by UNESCO since 2015 when the lake was designated as one of the world’s Biosphere Reserves.

Mount Kinabalu
—- Sabah – Malaysia —-

A land for curious travellers in search of adventure a climb on Southeast Asia’s highest mountain, Kota Kinabalu is an experience of a lifetime. Derived from the name ‘Aki Nabalu’ meaning ‘the revered place of death’, Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia at 4,095 meters.

Heading skyward from the lush, green depths of Kinabalu National Park, despite its jagged, towering and somewhat otherworldly appearance, reaching the dizzying heights of the summit is considered conquerable by even the most averagely fit human. The climb to Low’s Peak takes two days, with five hours of hiking on the first day to reach the halfway house, followed by a 2 a.m. start the following day for a further four-hour hike in the dark to reach the summit, Low’s Peak, and catch the sunrise.

Guided by the glow of a head torch, you’ll navigate vast, open rock faces, narrow, sloping pathways and be put to the test with a last-minute scramble to reach the very tip of the summit.

And as the sun begins to glow gently on the horizon, any discontent and fatigue will wash away, as you bask in the ultimate reward from high above the clouds. On a clear day the panoramic views of Sabah are breathtaking.

—- Java – Indonesia —-

Rich in history, Central Java is considered the cultural hub of this incredible Indonesian island. For the ultimate sunrise experience, head south to the majestic Borobudur temple, on the border of the Special Region of Yogyakarta. Dating back to the 9th century this Buddhist temple is one of Indonesia’s most important cultural sites. As the largest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur consists of nine impressively stacked platforms and ranks along with Myanmar’s ancient Bagan and Cambodia’s sprawling Angkor Wat as one of Southeast Asia’s grandest must-see archaeological and spiritual sites. The ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur provides a great vantage point to observe the sun rising behind one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, Mount Merapi.

Victoria Memorial
—- Kolkata – India —-

The Victoria Memorial is a stunning heritage building, constructed from white marble and located in the heart of Kolkata, West Bengal. It is considered to be one of the most iconic structures on the Kolkata skyline and is a must-visit place for any visitors to this fascinating and friendly city. Set within gorgeous gardens in the heart of the city, the Victoria Memorial was built to the memory of Queen Victoria between the years of 1906 – 1921 to celebrate her 25 years (1876 – 1901) of rule over India. Victoria, the Empress of India, ruled over the country until her death in 1901. Today, the memorial also houses a museum.

The memorial is surrounded by lush green and well-maintained gardens which make for the perfect place to enjoy the sunrise against this white-marble amalgam of architectural styles. From Mughal to Egyptian, to Islamic to British, the architectural style is often referred to as Indo-Saracenic revivalist. A bronze statue of Queen Victoria seated on a throne welcomes visitors at the entrance of the memorial, while a walk around the garden reveals other statues of Robert Clive, Edward VII, Lord Curzon, and Rajendra Nath Mookerjee amongst others. Allegorical sculptures like Motherhood, Architecture, Learning, and Justice can also be found here. Spread over 64 acres, the gardens are presently maintained by 21 gardeners and are a favorite destination for morning walkers and for watching the sunrise.

We have many more wonderful escapes around Asia for you to choose from. Start by telling us your ideal destination, number of travellers, and your preferences for dates of travel. And our concierges and travel designers will create a personalized and unique holiday experience
that will truly Unveil the Essence of Asia to you.

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