Camping and festivals have been all the rage in recent years, but perhaps you’re beyond braving ankle-deep Glastonbury sludge in the hope of having ‘an experience’. If the idea of a windswept caravan fills you with cold dread, would a luxurious floating safari tent on a Cambodian river tempt you instead? Or how about a down-to-the-earth, tourist-free tribal longhouse in Borneo’s legendary rainforest?
Four-poster luxe not to your taste? Try the sheer romantic adventure of setting up camp amongst some of Cambodia’s astonishing, ancient and deeply atmospheric Khmer temples. Angkor Wat is of course the most famous, and nearly impossible to grow bored of, but can get very crowded with sightseers, so we like to plunge off into the wilderness to discover the many other Angkor era temples scattered throughout the surrounding area. Our Angkor Camping Safari starts with Angkor, using expert guides who know how best to avoid the crowds, then goes on to explore elegant 10th century Banteay Srei, Anlong Ven, Koh Ker, and the hard-to-reach temple of Preah Khan in the ruined city of Kampong Svay - amongst others! At night, camp near the temples in durable lightweight tents, which are carried by our local team of camping specialists, who also miraculously set up a mobile loo, shower, and a small generator for cooking.
When Selective Asia’s Simon returned from his adventure in Batang Ai National Park, he blew us away with his description of exploring the rainforest riverways on a handmade raft, and camping by the water in a bamboo shelter, put up in a couple of hours by his expert Iban guides. The adventure involved two nights in different Iban longhouses and one in the shelter, all of which - it has to be said - are completely the opposite of ‘glamping’, but offer some astonishing experiences for the adventurous traveller. This is not one for the squeamish - you’ll be washing in the river, weeing under trees, and sometimes even dining on freshly hunted forest animals, but if you want to leave all pretension behind and experience first hand how Borneo’s Iban people get by on a daily basis.
We were astonished when this tiny resort opened up in the Koh Kong region, a forested, mountainous province in Cambodia’s south-west. Even the transfer from Tatai is charming - a 10 minute private boat ride along the Tatai River, and the camp itself is magnificent. Twelve wooden platforms, securely tethered to the riverbank, on which sit spacious safari tents, each outfitted to deluxe hotel standard. The Lodge has a restaurant and bar, and offers a wonderfully peaceful ambiance, surrounded by forest sounds with hardly anyone else for miles around. Views of the nearby Cardamom Mountains are spectacular, and guests can go kayaking along the river and swim in the natural pool.
Sri Lanka’s wildlife is astounding, especially if you’ve heard all too many stories of extinction and habitat loss from around the world. Although the wildlife here is still recovering from the civil war, leopard populations are absolutely thriving, and the elephants are doing well too. To experience them first hand without sacrificing too many creature comforts, try a Mahoora Safari; these eco-camps offer true luxury with expert guides, trackers and on-site naturalists, and excellent access to Sri Lanka’s protected wildlife. The Elite camp offers grandly carpeted, candlelit safari tents with private hot showers, while Premium tents have comfortable beds but shared facilities. All are set up ready when you arrive, leaving all your time free for exploration and wildlife-spotting.
This has to be the most luxurious of our selection, with its high-tensile ‘tents’ perched on wooden platforms high amongst the treetops, deep in Thailand’s lush Golden Triangle region with its mesmerizing views into neighbouring Myanmar and Laos. Offering Four Seasons level comfort in a superb location, the Camp's super-deluxe tents are immaculately presented, with king sized beds, gorgeous free-standing bathtub, and a private balcony. The Camp also boasts comprehensive fine dining facilities, a pool, a traditional open air spa, a yoga pavilion, and an elephant camp within its 200 acre estate.