Glamping in Southeast Asia
- article by Lily Guy-Vogel
Explore some of India, Thailand and Indonesia's unlikely luxurious accommodations
Most people know that Southeast Asia is home to many luxury accommodations for the discerning traveller, from villas with five star in-house chefs and private pools overlooking the beach to world-class hotels in the heart of every capital city.
However, what about if we take this sheer luxury and combine it with an outdoors camping holiday? This is 'glamping', a term recently coined meaning glamorous-camping and it is spreading like wildfire not only in Southeast Asia but all over the world.
Glamping allows guests to enjoy an area's natural spaces giving them a feeling of closeness with their surroundings without having to endure half-inflated dirty air mattresses and stumbling over to muddy toilet blocks in the night. In fact many of these deluxe tents even surpass top notch hotels and are kitted out with everything from en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning to Wi-Fi and fully stocked minibars.
What makes glamping so unique is that aside from luxury it also creates a more rural escape with guests being able to enjoy nature walks, riverside terraces and local wildlife right on their doorstep - without even the hassle of pitching up a tent! There are hundreds of glamping options in Southeast Asia and so below we've explored the accommodations available in the three most prominent players in Southeast Asia's glamping scene: India, Thailand and Indonesia. Hopefully this will give you a real sense of the staggering range of luxury tented holidays that await you.
India's sheer size and natural beauty lends itself to incredible glamping opportunities. For example, there are now glamping spots in several of India's national parks. In Kanha National Park, in Madhya Pradesh, there are multiple luxury camp sites. The park itself is famous for its tiger reserve and is a major part of India's Project Tiger. There are also elephants, rare species of deer, peacocks and many more exotic animals to be spotted here. The camp sites are located in different areas of the park, the most popular spots are found next to the Mukki entrance to the park and in the safari resort area with tents that have their own private decking that looks out onto the river.
Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is another of India's lush national parks that has multiple glamping sites within it. In fact it is the home of The Oberoi Vanyavillas, which have been consistently voted as one of the world's top accommodations. These luxurious tents come with their own four poster beds and free standing bathtubs as well as, of course, the stunning natural surroundings of Ranthambore National Park. This park is also famous for its tigers and leopards, hyenas, sloths, jungle cats and many more exotic animals.
It is not just the national park but in fact Rajasthan itself has lots of different glamping opportunities. The Pali district, in central Ragisthan, has several sites that are truly rural and ideally suited to true wildlife enthusiasts. Aside from enjoying your luxurious tent, in this area you can enjoy wilderness safaris, bike tours, nature trails, visits to local villages (including cookery classes), bird watching and even horse riding. Still in Rajasthan the town of Pushkar (a beautiful little white housed town that sits on Pushkar lake) is also home to a fair few glamping sites. Orchard Tents & Tranquility is one of the nicest sites and sits just outside the town with its own orchards, organic vegetable garden, hammocks, badminton nets: a tranquil little haven. Top activities in the city include seeing the lake, temples and its many many camels, shopping, eating and trying your hand at some yoga.
Thailand is a diverse country and as such has many different types of glamping holidays available in very different natural surroundings. In the very heart of Khao Sok National Park you will find an unexpected delight in the rainforest camp here: twenty luxurious 'safari tents' sit on top of the Cheow Larn Lake. It is quite a sight to behold to see these tents encircled by the lake and then the surrounding forest and when you look inside you will find electricity, double beds and en-suite bathrooms with hot showers, all managed with sustainable energy sources. The park itself is home to Asian elephants, leopards and various species of ape.
Hintok River Camp is another glamping site that sits in a unique location: on top of a cliff that overlooks the River Kwai not far from the Hellfire Pass. The area is stunning with a river, natural springs, lush green surroundings and cliff faces stretching back as far as the eye can see. Plus it is in easy reach of the Saiyok National Park, which is famed for its role in World War II. The tents themselves come in varying sizes depending on your group but all have air conditioning, en-suite bathrooms including bamboo showers and individual private terraces with wooden furnishings.
Perhaps you are looking for more of a beach holiday? Several of Thailand's beaches also have glamping spots. On the island of Koh Chang in eastern Thailand, near the border with Cambodia, is a glamping site right on Lisca Beach. Wake up in your luxury tent and then have breakfast on the beach, spend your time sun bathing, scuba diving, snorkelling or kayaking. There are plenty of water sports to be enjoyed here and also lots of good places to eat within walking distance. Another spot is the Khwan Beach Resort in Mae Nam, Koh Samui, which has a series of luxury tents set next to their hotel and art gallery. Koh Samui is an island famed for its pristine white beaches and is a haven of bars, restaurants, luxury accommodations and beach/water-based activities.
Indonesia is famously diverse; an archipelago made up of over 17,000 islands spanning almost 2 million square kilometres, it is home to a fantastic range of natural landscapes and wildlife as well as cultural and religious sites. It is now also home to some of the world's top glamping spots! The island of Bali is one of the best places for glamping in Indonesia and there are many different sites all over the island to choose from with accommodations including teepees, tree houses, huts and tents. At the Menjangan Dynasty Resort, Beach Camp and Dive Centre you can enjoy a luxury glamping experience as well as a host of water sports, snorkelling and scuba diving with trained professionals. Whilst at the Sandat Glamping Tents in Ubud you are surrounded by Bali's famous serene rice paddies as well as the on-site swimming pool, in-room dining and even high-speed Wi-Fi.
Another one the prime luxury camping areas in Indonesia is in the surroundings of the city of Bandung in West Java, which is just a few hours train ride from Jakarta. Nestled into the lush hillside just outside of the city is the Glamping Legok Kondang Lodge that offers guests a little slice of privacy and luxury. These tents have en-suite bathrooms with hot water, breakfast, personal campfires and stunning sunrise views. Some of the local activities include star gazing, fruit picking, trekking, rafting and visiting some of the nearby waterfalls. Ciwidey Valley Resort has a small neighbourhood of luxury tents for 2 - 4 guests, a bird garden and on-site restaurant: Ciwidey itself is known for its natural hot springs so don't forget to pack your swimmers!
Some other destinations
Above we've given an overview of some of what we believe to be the top glamping options in Southeast Asia but what if you're looking to go somewhere outside of India, Thailand and Indonesia? Then read on!
- In Myanmar the glamping options are less readily available but not non-existent. Bagan Lodge in New Bagan offers high-quality tent-roofed lodges in one of the most magical parts of Myanmar. By day you can explore the thousands of almost deserted temples on your doorstep and by night you can enjoy your own private sanctuary with an attached balcony. http://www.bagan-lodge.com/
- In Johor, Malaysia, the Canopy Tribes offer rustic glamping experiences in Malaysia's stunning countryside. The accommodation itself offers private BBQs and top quality tents, whilst the surrounding area is made up of forests, lakes and waterfalls to be explored. http://www.canopytribes.com/
- Nguyen Shack in Ninh Binh, Vietnam, is a series of bungalows set on a private lake, each bungalow has a private balcony with hammocks for the ultimate in relaxation. Activities include bike tours and trekking to visit many of the areas local caves. http://www.nguyenshack.com/ninhbinh/