SAVE ME A SEAT! Thai-One-On at NYC’s Four Seasons Restaurant 10-14-18

 

Absolute Air | The UnGoogleable Luxury Air Service

India’s behind-the-scenes shopping experiences most visitors have no idea exist

// August 19, 2019

Why Big City Dwellers Need Bali

Why Chengdu should be your first stop in China

T+L names Holly to their A-List! Her tips will change the way you travel in Southeast Asia.

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// September 30, 2015

// Posted in Asia, Holly Monahan, News, Travel Experts

Honeymoon-Worthy Escapes

Honeymoon-Worthy Escapes

// April 13, 2017

// Posted in Africa, Asia, Getaway, Honeymoon, News, Special Interest

There’s always a good reason for a sexy escape. Always. Go to get the sparks flying with your significant other, to treat yourself on a solo adventure, or for a luxury vacation with friends. After nearly three decades of searching the world over for dream-trip material, we know a thing or two about how to create an effortlessly indulgent getaway. These four have big honeymoon appeal, but require no excuse (read: life-long commitment) to go.

NIGHT SAFARIS & YOUR OWN PRIVATE ISLAND

Quilalea Island Villa

BEST FOR: Those who want to travel like a professional jet-setter; wine aficionados; foodies; and those seeking a seriously luxurious safari.
WHY GO: With every option under the sun, how does an Absolute Asia staffer vacation? Here’s how: This indulgent trip showcases the best South Africa and Mozambique have to offer. You’ll dine at Cape Town’s chicest restaurants and Stellenbosch’s most famous vineyards where you’ll learn about winemaking and drink perfect glasses of Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir. You’ll journey across the savannah in search of Africa’s fiercest predators, and walk amongst them on an intimate night saunter together. (We can even set up a behind-the-scenes visit at the Save the Elephants Research Center if you’d like.) Cap off this legendary trip at your own private island in Mozambique, where you’ll relax at one of the world’s most impossibly stunning properties. Anything this special is remote. Exclusivity is a given; to get here travelers must take a teeny plane, switch over to a boat and cruise through the warm waters until you arrive at the most idyllic private island you could dream up. Think dramatic cliffs, white sand beaches, your personal butler, and a super-chic coral and stone villa all to yourself. You choose how you want to spend your days. You can kayak the turquoise waters, come face-to-face with sea turtles and a kaleidoscope of coral, or even hop to another part of the island for some serious culture and a step back in time.

ROMANCE OF MOROCCO: HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGES, HOT-AIR BALLOON RIDES & YOUR PERSONAL PALACE

Morocco romantic hotel beautiful room

BEST FOR: Lovers of design and architecture; indulgence & pampering in its most romantic form
WHY GO: What makes a perfect getaway? If your answer is a sexy, chic, and exotic locale that’s easy to get to, this may be the right trip for you. This deluxe journey takes you from Fes’ rich medinas, vibrant, artisanal quarters, and ancient souks, to the famous Saadian Tombs and romantic restaurants of Marrakech and onward. Take a traditional horse-drawn carriage to the Jardin Majorelle, the garden Yves Saint Laurent gifted to Marrakesh (a bouquet of flowers certainly wasn’t enough for his favorite city), then soar over Marrakech on a breathtaking hot-air balloon ride. Continue to the High Atlas Mountains to Sir Richard Branson’s romantic retreat. You’ll be transported by the smell of rose-petals, as many hammam treatments as you can fit in, and secret spots to steal a quiet moment for yourself. Call a private, stunning Berber tent (infinity pool and jaw-dropping view included) home for a few nights. Cap off the trip by descending to the windswept coastal town of Essaouira for a stay at a renovated palace set inside the medina. You will feel like Moroccan royalty on this trip.

AN EXCLUSIVE HIDEAWAY IN CANYON COUNTRY

Honeymoon Amangiri hotel in Utah desert landscape

BEST FOR: Travelers seeking time to rejuvenate among some of the most gorgeous views (and hotels) on the planet with a little adventure mixed in (no passport needed)
WHY GO: This trip strikes the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation. First, get lost in Montana’s powerfully beautiful and rugged landscape at The Ranch at Rock Creek. You’ll feel like you’re living in a Western novel as you ride past endless rail fences, fly fish the rushing creeks, and saddle up at the Silver Dollar Saloon in the evening. Continue to Utah’s canyon country, a region that is magical, otherworldly and so beautiful it will leave you silent. The stark landscape demands to be explored, and we have the best base from which to do this: Amangiri. This exclusive hideaway is surrounded by five national parks with plunging canyons, towering bluffs, painterly vistas and rich Navajo experiences. We’re sure a visit to this untouched valley will leave you rejuvenated, refreshed, and grounded.

BALI & SUMBA: AN ESCAPE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE

Honeymoon Bali Samba Private Villa and Pool

BEST FOR: Lovers of remote locals; exotic food; culture and serious romance
WHY GO: There’s a reason Bali tops travel lists. It’s stunning and somehow always brings out the best in us. This journey sums up the ultimate island experience with stops in Bali and Sumba: think personal infinity pools, private beaches, stilted villas overlooking turquoise waters, air perfumed with frangipani and the most sincere smiles on earth. While Bali and Sumba are just two of the more than 18,000 islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago, their jaw-dropping natural beauty and mystical culture set these islands apart. You’ll stay at some of our favorite hotels that overlook the ocean and nestle into the lush forests, explore the islands’ temples and markets, take in traditional dance performances, be pampered with locally-inspired spa treatments, and feast on gourmet picnics prepared in jungle gazebos and on the beach.

Worlds best Honeymoon Cambodia Monk blessing on dock

The big question: Do it yourself or work with a travel specialist?
We may be biased, but in our minds there’s no question planning a trip like this is the time to work with an expert. We will take care of every single detail so you can focus on being in the moment. Travel specialists not only provide the insider access (private after-hours museum dinners, anyone?) that make a trip unforgettable, but they ensure your trip is exactly what you want—and much more. The clincher: working with an expert who has actually been to your destination of choice and done the activities you want to do ensures you avoid that dreaded moment when you show up and it’s not what you expected.

Worlds best honeymoon Africa Safari Kenya SIngita luxury tented camp interior

What’s the next step for someone who wants to work with a travel specialist?And when should they start planning?
If you think you may want to work with one of our travel experts, it’s best to start the conversation as soon as possible. That way, you’ll have the greatest chance of securing your ideal hotels and specialty experiences. It’ll also give you ample time to play around with ideas and design a journey that truly inspires you.

But if you only have a few months to plan, that’s ok too. We’re experts at making seemingly impossible trips come together. It may just mean you have to think creatively about the spectacular location you choose, or to visit an amazing under-the-radar hotel (these are often the best ones, by the way!).

The starting point is to do a little research and select a travel specialist that you vibe with, then begin a conversation. Here’s a useful tip: the really good travel specialists won’t try to sell you on a set itinerary. Rather, they’ll have a few ideas to spark your interest and will then work closely with you to customize your journey. We have ideas like the ones we shared above, but then we always say “get in touch.” From here, we’ll chat on the phone or email you (your choice) to learn more about your interests and passions. This way our suggestions will be thoughtful and true to who you are.

Ready to go? Get in touch and let’s start planning your trip.
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A Guide to Interesting Neighbourhoods in South East Asia

A Quick Absolute Asia Tours Guide to Interesting Neighbourhoods in South East Asia

Off the beaten track travel doesn’t just mean donning hiking boots and finding yourself surrounded by nature, without another soul in sight. We’re here to tell you how to get off the beaten track in some of South East Asia’s largest cities, where hidden local gems leave longer lasting memories than the must-see highlights.

Off the Beaten Track in Bangkok – Koh Kret

koh kretYep, there are beautiful Thai islands to be found even in the heart of the capital city; this one, though, does not have white sandy beaches and it is manmade!

Koh Kret can be found 20km north of Bangkok up the picturesque Chao Phraya River. Hop on a boat in the center of town and cruise past the city highlights and bustling streets to end up on an island with fewer crowds and not a single car.

The best way to see the island is by bicycle on an easy 7km circuit. An artisan village, a weekend market and specialised Thai dessert shops connect you with local people and culture.

Off the Beaten Track in Hanoi – Tay Hotay ho – jade house

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is famous for its tight alleyways, street side culture spilling onto busy roads and flocks of tourists. It is fascinating and exhausting all at once. Even now that they have pedestrianised Hoan Kiem at the weekends, it is by no means a peaceful place to stroll.

Head north though and you’ll stumble on Hanoi’s largest lake; a relatively peaceful oasis that the thriving expat population has made their own. It is still a busy place – nowhere in Hanoi is devoid of traffic- but wider streets and open spaces make it much more relaxing.

Highlights here are mostly food related and include tiny Truc Bach Island with its Pho Cuon restaurants; some of the best Western food in the city; hundreds of cafes lining the lake road and a collection of new bars selling delicious local craft beers.

Experience the other side of Hanoi on our Hidden Hanoi Walking Tour.

Off the Beaten Track in Bali – Canggu

While only 20km north of Seminyak, Canggu’s laid back hipster vibe is a world away from the upscale hotels and restaurants of its neighbours. Here you’ll find a surfer crowd, boutique shops and organic cafes, surrounded by lush green farmland and an 8km stretch of coastline.

All the usual Bali activities are on offer here including surfing, beach bumming, yoga, wellness and health workshops and restaurants galore.

Off the Beaten Track in Malaysia – IpohIpod Malaysia

Ok, we are cheating a little here as Ipoh is a city not a neighbourhood but, in a list of interesting areas of South East Asia, it is well worth a mention. Easily reached from Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh made its way into plenty of top destinations lists in 2017. With a wealth of beautiful heritage buildings and thriving foodie and arts scenes, Ipoh’s Old Town is the kind of place where simply wandering is a highlight in itself.

Off the Beaten Track in Singapore – Katong / Joo Chiat

Home of Singapore’s Peranakan culture, Joo Chiat and neighbouring Katong make up one of the most colourful areas of the Lion City. Peranakan culture bloomed from decades of marriage between Chinese or Indian men and Malay and Indonesia women. Over centuries traditions and customs from each ethnic group blended and evolved into one of South East Asia’s most unique cultures.

Characterised by ornate shop houses and the best food in the city, a trip to Singapore would be far less interesting without heading here. Make sure to visit private home-museum The Intan and try a bowl of steaming Laksa.

Hidden charms can be found throughout South East Asia – what interesting neighbourhoods have you found on your travels in the region?

Our travel team are experts in Asian itineraries that perfectly mix the highlights with off the beaten track exploration. Wherever you are thinking of heading, get in touch today for a free quote.

Just back from Thailand and Burma (Myanmar): Matt’s Inside Scoop

Just back from Thailand and Burma (Myanmar): Matt’s Inside Scoop

// April 28, 2012

Offbeat Experiences in Off the Beaten Track Places

Off the beaten track travel is quickly being overtaken by an all new travel trend: offbeat experiences. While continuing to focus on the themes of uniqueness and exclusivity, offbeat experiences can be found in even the busiest of tourist centers. Think cocktail-bar-hopping in Siem Reap or rock-climbing in Halong Bay. But what about offbeat experiences in off the beaten track places? Can it get any more ‘once in a lifetime’ than that? Let’s take a look…

Meditation on the Mekong in Luang Prabang

Laos is one of Asia’s least visited countries and is often pointlessly compared to its more tourist-heavy neighbours. The quiet streets of Laos’s biggest cities and smallest towns are endlessly charming and there are unique experiences to be had across the country.

One such experience is floating along the mighty Mekong River and learning the spiritual art of meditation. Workshops are taught by a former Buddhist monk and a certified meditation instructor and you also visit small temples along the way. The intimate experience brings Buddhism to life and offers a fresh perspective on temple sightseeing.

Pakokku Market in Myanmar

Myanmar is still considered by many a last frontier of sorts in South East Asia and the country is very much still getting to grips with life outside of its bubble. There is still a well trodden tourist trail through the country but increasing development (and the help of locally run touring like Buffalo Tours), means much more exploring.

One hidden gem is the town of Pakokku, outside of the ancient temple city of Bagan. This rural market town is a fascinating insight into the lives of the majority of Burmese and the traditions they hold dear. Special things to look out for are the artisans hand-rolling Cheroot cigars and the women selling Thanaka, the most popular beauty product in Myanmar. This town also makes the most beautiful velvet slippers which make a great souvenir to remember Myanmar.

A Night on a Houseboat in Thailand

Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in all of Asia and has kept this title for decades. Yet, between the mountainous northern jungles and the island gems of the South, there are plenty of remote corners to discover.

One of these places is Khao Laem National Park, close to the Burmese border. Reaching to almost every corner of the park is a giant reservoir where you can find the local population living on houseboats. Travellers have the chance to stay overnight on one of these boats and visit the local highlights like Coconut Island which is one of few inhabited islands in this vast lake.

See our four day tour here.

Marine Ecology Learning Experience in Malaysian Borneo

The classic Borneo experiences include plenty of animal encounters, including adorable orangutans and some of the best diving in the world. Dig a little deeper on your trip to the jungle with a visit to the Tunku Abul Rahman Marine Park and the Marine Ecology Research Centre that can be found there. Learn about the issues faced in this beautiful corner of the ocean and sponsor the ongoing sustainability programs undertaken by the experts who work here. You will be sure to leave with a deeper understanding, and respect, for the ocean and those who call it home.

Read more about Malaysia’s amazing sea life here.

The History of Chili Peppers in China

Sichuan province is thousands of miles from the tourist hubs of Beijing and Shanghai but it boasts the country’s favourite furry bear and, arguably, the country’s most popular style of cuisine. Famously spicy and unique, Sichuan cuisine is a favourite among locals and traveller alike. Head out on an educational tour to learn all about the unique ingredients that give the dishes their mouth-numbing flavour and discover the long and intriguing history from the family who are credited with creating the flavours more than 300 years ago.

Read more about Chinese cuisine here.

Offbeat experiences in Asia are all about digging deeper into the local culture and learning new things. Offbeat experiences in off the beaten track places are also about giving back to local communities who deserve a slice of the tourism pie.

For a look at our multi-day off the beaten track adventures head here or talk to one of our travel experts today to discuss adding these unique experiences to your itinerary.