Always wanted to go on a yoga and meditation retreat but just didn’t know where to go? Here are some of my favourite resorts that not only offer a serene and tranquil environment but are located in some of Asia’s most exotic destinations. From the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Borobudur in Indonesia, peaceful nature setting of northern Laos and Kerala in India, to the dramatic mountain ranges of the Himalayas in Nepal. Each resort offers their own unique character and charm.
Arrive in the capital city of Laos and experience the calm antiquity of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO Heritage city where buses and trucks are prohibited. Continue your travels onwards by road towards the northern part of the country where the landscape rises in steep green folds from the earth and imprint the terrain with cliffs, mountains and high plateaus.
Stay at the Muang La Resort, an intimate boutique lodge situated along the Nam – Ou river amidst lush greenery. In addition to being a great sanctuary to practice yoga and meditation, there is also plenty of opportunities to visit the ethnic minority tribes, experience the natural hot spring, enjoy a rejuvenating spa experience, take a cooking class, or enjoy a jungle adventure by Jeep, mountain bike, or on foot. On your final day take the river cruise back to Luang Prabang and enjoy a charming scenic experience of the local village life along the river banks.
Arrive in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) and hop on a short flight to Mangalore and continue by road to Neeleshwar Hermitage, a hidden tropical destination set in a secluded palm grove beside the Arabian Sea. The Hermitage is spaciously built on twelve acres of land and offers a tranquil and secluded environment. The buildings are made of wood and laterite and modelled on palm-thatched fisherman huts overlooking a serene beach.
The restaurant offers a great selection of fresh seafood and vegetarian dishes. Great complement to your yoga and meditation sessions are the therapeutic treatments at their Ayurvedic wellness centre. Other activities include cooking classes and cultural sight seeing tours.
Fly into Siem Reap, the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat, and practice yoga amidst its mystical temples and magical real of overgrown primordial trees. Siem Reap is home to charming old French shop houses, shady tree lined boulevards and colonial Chinese architectural buildings.
Treat yourself by staying at the exquisite boutique hotel, The Samar Villas, which has masterfully incorporated Khmer style aesthetics with a touch of modern design. An oasis of serenity, the property offers a luxuriant tropical garden and swimming pool, an extensive library, an elaborate cuisine, a lounge bar, and rejuvenating spa treatments. The resort offers sightseeing tours that include exploring the archaeological sites of Angkor, mountain biking, horseback riding, shopping and visiting art galleries.
Arrive in Yogyakarta known as the centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture and stop on the way at an antique Joglo architecture style teak house, Pecel Solo, where you can experience a colourful array of traditional Javanese cuisine. Stay at the d’Omah, a private residence turned into a boutique resort where every room has received its own personal touch and design.
Once a week the resort organises a famous traditional ‘rijst – tafel’ experience where food is served by waiters regally dressed in the traditional garments carrying a variety of Indonesian dishes on flat woven trays. Practice Yoga at your private pool followed by a therapeutic message given by the local healer of the village. Activities offered range from a sunset dinner on the beach, a visit to the UNESCO Heritage Site of the ninth Century Borobudur to seeing local village life and rice plantations on bicycle.
Arrive in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, and hop on a short flight to Pokhara, a charming town and base for many of Nepal’s popular trekking routes. Stay at the award winning property, Tiger Mountain Lodge, situated on a spectacular hilltop ridge a thousand feet above the Pokhara Valley. This exclusive property is an ideal sanctuary to practice yoga as you enjoy its panoramic views of Machhapuchhare and three of the world’s eight thousand metre high Himalayan peaks, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Mansalu.
The Lodge provides Ayurvedic and shiatsu therapy and serene places for meditation. Their restaurant offers a wholesome cuisine that ranges from Nepali dishes to continental specialities made from local fresh ingredients and home-grown herbs. Activities include bird walks and day hikes through the forests and villages escorted by trained local guides. For the more adventurous, paragliding and micro-light flights against Annapurna’s backdrop are also available.
Cristy Elmendorp is Managing Director of Soma Journeys.