Cover The historical city of Hoi An (Photo: Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai)

From Luang Prabang to Java, make these properties your base when feeding your soul while on holiday

A culturally diverse region, Southeast Asia is absolutely vibrant and colourful. It offers much to the intrepid travellers looking to immerse themselves in the art, the history, the architecture and the way of life of the many different communities living in this part of the world.

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There are, of course, many places to consider for such a purpose but you may want to put these four at the top of your list, if you haven't already: Thailand's Chiang Mai; Laos' Luang Prabang; Vietnam's Hoi An; and Central Java's Borobudor. Except for Chiang Mai, they are all Unesco World Heritage Sites. Chiang Mai is currently on Unesco's tentative list for this recognition.

And here are the best resorts in the respective locales to lay your head after a full day of discovery. 

Amanjiwo, Borobudor

WHAT: One of the most exquisite Aman properties, Amanjiwo doesn't just feature luxuriously appointed suites with views of serene pools and rolling hills, it transports you to ancient times with an architecture that evokes the design of surrounding ancient temples. This is most evident in the rotunda of the main building, looking almost as majestic its inspirations. 

WHY: It's quite logically the best abode if you're planning to take in the view of Borobudor at sunrise without having to trek out of its confines. (Trust me, it's a sight you won't want to miss.) Designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site, Borobudor is a magnificent 9th-century Buddhist temple, and if you do plan to be in its embrace, it's only a 25-minute walk away from Amanjiwo. Take advantage of the resort's curated cultural experiences that includes a village tour, a visit to the morning market and a hike up Menoreh Hills. 

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Four Seasons the Nam Hai, Hoi An

WHAT: Located along Ha My beach, this villa-only resort is an idyllic hideaway by the South China Sea. Each villa incorporates local design elements "that unites structure, landscape, and phong thuy (feng shui)." If you're a fan of Vietnamese coffee, it sources sustainable beans from Vietnamese highlands. Ninety-eight per cent of the staff here is Vietnamese, delivering not only the highest standard of service but also serve as a great source of delightful local stories and helpful tips for a more genuine experience. 

WHY: Did you know that Four Seasons the Nam Hai has easy access to not one, not two, but three Unesco Heritage Sites? There's Hoi An, an ancient city full of charm and traditional crafts. Then there's My Son Sanctuary, once the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom. What remains today is a magnificent cluster of Hindu temple ruins from the 4th to 13th centuries. Last but not least is Hue, home to the legacies of the mighty Nguyen Dynasty including the Forbidden Purple City, the emperor's private residence.  

See also: 3 Fine Attributes Of The Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur


Avani+ Luang Prabang

WHAT: Once the French officer quarters, this boutique hotel with 49 rooms and four suites retains the charm of its colonial exterior with modern rooms that incorporate subtle touches of the past, including teak flooring and French louvred doors that open out to the balcony or terrace. The pool is Zen personified, resting under the protective shade of a bodhi tree. 

WHY: Located in the heart of the old town, it's within easy bike ride to such historical sites as the Royal Palace and the sacred hill of Mount Phousi. The bike is also the best way to explore the city that is recognised by Unesco for its "outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries." The mighty Mekong River, one of the world's longest rivers, also passes through. 

Anantara Chiang Mai

WHAT: Located by Mae Ping River in a vibrant area of Chiang Mai, Anantara Chiang Mai offers a well-deserved respite from the hustle and bustle right at its doorsteps. The serene confines, designed by the legendary Kerry Hill, are replete with greenery while the well-appointed rooms surround the century-old former British consulate that now houses the resort's The Service 1921 Restaurant and Bar. Designed with the likes of James Bond in mind, this British secret intelligence service F&B concept even boasts secret dining rooms and a dungeon. 

WHY: The resort itself offers lessons in Muay Thai and Thai massage. Once armed with these knowledge, venture out to the nearby old city built around the moat to explore ancient temples, historical monuments and ancient gates such as the Thae Pae Gate, historically the main gate into the city and the most popular of the five gates. 


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