Unveiling the essence of Asia

A Holiday in the Hills, or Beautiful Beaches, Sun and Sea. Why Choose when your can have Both?

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Destinations in Asia where you can enjoy the best of both worlds
from the Mountains to the Sea.

To recline on a gorgeous golden sandy beach or to explore picturesque rainforests and mountain scenery, why not enjoy both on your next holiday to Asia?

Now that most places in Asia have re-opened for travel and tourism it’s the perfect time for planning that all too long on the bucket list holiday. With that in mind, in this edition, we will introduce you to some of the most spectacular spots where beach and mountains meet in Asia. Where epic peaks challenge the sky, lush tropical rainforests astound with the variety of life, and clear blue-skies over sparkling turquoise seas gently lapping (or perfect barreling beach breaks) across miles and miles of sandy beaches.  Sounds great, doesn’t it? Here in Asia you really can enjoy the best of both worlds when planning your next vacation. Let’s check out our list.



A land for curious travellers in search of adventure both at sea and in the forests and mountains. For nature lovers, a stay in Sabah makes for a trip of a lifetime. Not only is Borneo the third-largest island in the world, but the state of Sabah is home to Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia‘s highest peak, at over 4,000 metres. You can head to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kinabalu National Park to climb Southeast Asia’s highest mountain. See the orangutans, proboscis monkeys and other indigenous wildlife that call the rainforest home. Take a forest trek to see the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia. Popular not only for its verdant rainforests and record-breaking mountains, Sabah also offers beach, sea, sun, and marine adventures in abundance too. Visit the Tunku Adbul Rahman Marine Park to dive or snorkel over the colourful coral reefs. And the perfect base for your trip to Sabah, whether travelling as a couple or with family and friends, Secret Retreats has you covered with the stunning Manukan Island Resort.



On India’s tropical Malabar Coast, the southern state of Kerala has long attracted travellers to its myriad charms. Off the beaten path, here you won’t find the country’s iconic overcrowded cities and race to modernity, but instead a surprisingly serene and sultry setting amongst Malabar’s famed languid backwaters all framed by palm trees and decorated with a stunning birdlife.

Bounded by the vast Arabian Sea on India’s southwestern shores in northern Kerala, tranquility permeates the air in Malabar. While travelling the region, one can climb aboard a Kerala houseboat and enjoy a leisurely cruise through the famed backwaters or trek through nature and go bird watching at the Ranipuram hill station, or the Wayanad hill spice station. Covered with picturesque bamboo, orchid and tea plantations, the latter is also home to elephants, bison, spotted deer, tigers, leopards, bears, and wild boar.



One of the best parts about visiting Krabi is the island hopping. Travellers here are not limited to staying on the mainland to have a good time. The area’s many hidden beaches and unspoilt islands make for breathtaking day trip destinations as well picturesque places to explore, discover and to rest your head.

One of the best places to stay near Krabi is the Koh Jum Beach Villas. This island, Koh Jum, is to the northwest of Krabi proper and offers pristine beaches and sunset views overlooking Phi Phi National Marine Park. Besides the world-famous Koh Phi Phi and its Maya Bay, Krabi houses numerous spots of incredible natural beauty hidden among its lush forest, gorgeous beaches, colourful reefs, and mountain scenery, Krabi has it all. One of the best places to see the beauty of Krabi in panorama is from the Khao Ngon Nak viewpoint. Located about a 30-minute-drive north of Ao Nang, the mountain offers many viewpoints and a waterfall along the hiking trail. The view that awaits you at the peak of Khao Ngon Nak is simply breathtaking. Richly verdant picturesque valleys studded with towering limestone peaks and cliffs, crisscrossed by meandering rivers that run down to the Andaman Sea.



Do you see yourself hiking the peaks and forests of Langkawi to enjoy the rich variety of flora and fauna of the archipelago? A trip on the world’s steepest cable car and then top that with a walk on the skybridge marveling at the views of the forested peaks surrounding you and below you. Exploring the 99 islands of the archipelago by boat is a must-do too, as the marine scenery above and below the waterline is equally stunning. We suggest starting your trip with a bird’s eye view from the Langkawi cable car, or maybe start at sea level from the beautiful beaches and exploring Langkawi’s mangroves. Of course, as an adventurer, we know you won’t just take our word for it. With the confidence of having the Secret Retreats travel team at your disposal you can strike out and explore Langkawi, experiencing all the archipelago has to offer from beach, bay and islands to the forests and mountains.

Halong Bay


Set in northeastern Vietnam, and meaning “descending dragon”, Halong Bay is a site to behold. Discover this UNESCO World Heritage site onboard a traditional junk boat, and meander around thousands of majestic towering limestone karsts and verdant islets set amid the bay’s mesmerizing emerald-green waters. Explore caves and grottos filled with magnificent stalagmites and stalactites. Kayak, swim, snorkel, dive or try squid fishing. Visit a local fishing village and take a hike in the Cát Bà National Park. Savour tantalizing Vietnamese cuisine and enjoy a candlelit dinner in a cave. From sailing to trekking, cooking classes to pampering at a spa, don’t forget to plan some time to simply be amongst this natural wonder. A world apart – immerse yourself in picturesque Halong Bay.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is without doubt one of Asia’s ‘must see’ destinations. At just 270miles long and only 150miles wide it is not a big island but crossing the hilly and rural central highlands makes traversing the island rather a slow and steady journey. Sri Lanka is a tropical island rich in flora and fauna thanks in part to the wet monsoon climate and the islands diverse geography. Set between the Arabian Sea to the west, the Indian Ocean to the south, the Bay of Bengal to the northeast and the Gulf of Mannar separating Sri Lanka from the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka offers some fantastic options to beach lovers. Nilaveli Beach and Pigeon Island for scuba and snorkeling on the coral reefs, to Kalpitiya Beach for whale watching with February to March the best time to catch sightings of sperm whales breaching.

There are numerous mountains in Sri Lanka that are not only beautiful to behold but also satiate the thirst of adventure amidst the thrill seekers. Visit ‘the 8th wonder of the world’, Sigiriya Rock or Lion Rock is listed under the UNESCO World Heritage. Rising 200meter above the jungle with a flat plateau on top, it was formed from the hardened magma of an extinct volcano over 200 billion years ago. A breath taking climb in more ways than one – it’s more than 1,200 steps to the top –  climbers are rewarded with wonderful panoramic views and the enigmatic ruins of an ancient fort and palace founded by King Kashyapa over 1,500years ago.

Whether the best location to stay for your holiday is next to the beach, or under shady trees immersed in nature with views to die for, the destination teams of Secret Retreats are constantly searching out the best boutique hotels and resorts to share with our travellers. All Secret Retreats boutique hotels are homely and intimate, where the owners have created spaces that ensure privacy for guests while at the same time offering beautiful spaces that are ideal for sharing with loved ones on a family holiday, or with new friends in your fellow travellers at your hotel.

Your dream holiday awaits you, contact the Secret Retreats Concierges on dream@secret-retreats.com

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