Wake up to the wild… Asia’s luxury tented camps
You may not associate Asia with sumptuous safari-themed camps in the wild, but hotel designer Bill Bensley has set a trend for chic, yet colonial design amid stunning natural surroundings.
Many of Asia’s hottest glamping spots provide the opportunity to catch a glimpse of stunning birds, tropical flowers, elephants and sometimes even leopards. With the camps immersed in wildlife, guests can safely explore the stunning natural surroundings, right on their doorstep.
Looking for adventure that doesn’t sacrifice comfort? Here’s Cox & Kings’ top five remote, luxury tented camps in Asia.
Shinta Mani Wild, Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia
Set to open in late 2018 are the 15 luxurious, custom-designed tented villas of Shinta Mani Wild, in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains, rated as one of the most important eco-regions in south-east Asia. Designer Bill Bensley chose the location between the Kirirom and Bokor National Parks, as it is one of the last remaining habitats for wild elephants, bears and tigers in south-east Asia. Bensley is working closely with local governments and authorities to protect the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor from poaching, mining and logging.
Each private tent is perched over the fast-moving waters of the Tatai river, offering picturesque views of the natural surroundings. Guests can accompany rangers and researchers as they check camera traps, monitoring the wild forest and its inhabitants. There’s also the opportunity to explore the waterways of south-east Asia’s last wild estuarine ecosystem, aboard one of the Shinta Mani expedition boats.
Shinta Mani Wild bedroom
Rosewood Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang, Laos
Surrounded by lush, verdant jungle, the Rosewood is just a 10-minute drive from Luang Prabang in northern Laos. It was once the capital of the Lan Xang kingdom – meaning ‘Land of a Million Elephants’ – later becoming the home to the Laos royal family. The Unesco-listed city has a beautiful blend of colonial French architecture, whilst still retaining its Buddhist heritage and traditions.
View from the hilltop tent
The 23 spacious suites, villas and tents – with its French-Lao architecture – are dotted along the river bank. Each villa has a wrap-around deck to make the most of the stunning views, with the interiors decorated with locally-inspired artwork and indigenous materials. During your stay you can take a boat trip along the Mekong, uncover the charm of Luang Prabang and meet the local artisans. You can see how Saa paper is made with silk, visit a weaving house where traditional textiles are made, or try your hand at pottery with the hill tribes in Ban Jarn village.
The Riverside villa
Capella Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
This sumptuous, tented camp was also designed by architect Bill Bensley and sits in harmony within the forest canopy of Bali’s Keliki valley. Inspiration was taken from the European settlers in the 1800s and each villa is individually decorated in a tropical Balinese style with antique furnishings, colourful wallpaper and local artworks. Listen to the whistles of the forest’s birdlife from your private terrace and salt-water pool.
Capella Ubud at dawn
Excursions here are centred around adventure, culture and cuisine. Guests can visit the captivating temples, watch a traditional dance performance in Ubud, find out more about the local rice production or learn how to make chocolate at a nearby cocoa plantation. Local guides can arrange sunrise mountain treks, pointing out the local flora and fauna, leading you through the jungle to dramatic waterfalls and pools where you can take a refreshing dip. The nearby village of Keliki is known for its artists that specialise in Balinese miniature paintings that are so small you can fit them in the palm of your hand!
Capella Ubud bedroom
The Beige, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Retreat from the crowds of Angkor Wat and experience serenity amid the lush Cambodian jungles at The Beige. Each safari-styled tent is made with organic material and has spacious, open interiors with four-poster beds, leather trunks and antique desks. The pièce de résistance is the infinity forest pool, offering stunning views of the surrounding jungle. The food served is grown on The Beige’s farm, where the chefs create traditional Cambodian cuisine fused with western cuisine.
The Beige swimming pool
Despite Angkor Wat drawing travellers from far and wide, the lesser-known sites around Siem Reap are just as worthy of a visit. Tonlé Sap lake is the largest fresh water lake in south-east Asia and home to floating villages, where locals earn their living by catching fish and growing their own produce. We recommend walking through the coconut palms and rice paddies to get a real feel for the local way of life. Those that visit the intricately carved pink sandstone Banteay Srei – known as the ‘citadel of the woman’ – often miss the Banteay Srei district. Here you can try noodle-making, planting rice and basket weaving with the local communities. Siem Reap’s culinary scene has really taken off in recent years, with French chef Joannès Rivère’s Cuisine Wat Damnak putting the town on the map after it was featured on the prestigious 'Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants', while fine-dining restaurant Le Malis showcases the best of Cambodian cuisine.
The Beige tented camp
Four Seasons Tented Camp, Chiang Rai, Thailand
On the Thai corner of the Golden Triangle – bordering Laos and Myanmar – is the Four Seasons Tented Camp. Set on a hillside among a thick bamboo forest, you can only reach the property by a long-tail boat along the Ruak river. As you cross the canopy walkway, you are greeted by the 19th-century camp with hardwood floors, antique furniture and hurricane lamps. The 15 tents are connected by charming bamboo-lined brick walkways and have king-sized beds, standalone bathtubs and stunning views of Myanmar and the Laos mountains. The Nong Yao restaurant specialises in the best of Thai, Burmese and Laotian specialities and also serves western cuisine with a twist.
Four Seasons Tented Camp, Chiang Rai
Early morning hikes up to Camp Peak – where morning yoga and meditation sessions are held – is a great way to start your day, watching the sun rise over the mist-shrouded forest. The Four Seasons works closely with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which has rescued more than 20 elephants from illegal logging and crowded Thai cities. Although the elephants are not roaming wild, they are being very well cared for by the resident mahouts. Guests can also take a day trip across the border to Takilek in Myanmar or delve into Chiang Rai’s culture on a city tour, visiting the intricately designed white-washed Buddhist temple of Wat Rong Khun and the Wat Phra Kaew, which dates back to 1434.
- Tags: Adventure, Art & Architecture, Cambodia, Culture & History, Far East, Food & Wine, Hotels, Indonesia, Landscape, Laos, Thailand