Best Asia destinations to combine with your Maldives holiday
11th January 2018 | by Suzie
With almost 1,200 islands, every Maldives resort has one to itself, giving you the ultimate retreat to add a finishing flourish to your holiday in Asia. Some are ideal for cosy honeymoon seclusion while others are just right for focused family time, and all offer that blissful remote relaxation. These are a few of our favourite ways to combine our diverse destinations with a moment of tropical bliss in the Maldives.
One of the best times to visit the Maldives is between November and April, when the skies are nearly always clear and blue, making it a great combination with Thailand. Ed recommends starting in Chiang Mai, moving down to Bangkok and then flying on to the Maldives.
Chiang Mai, in the cooler region of northern Thailand, is the country’s second largest city. You can expect a calmer pace than the frenetic excitement of Bangkok, and perhaps more space to ‘look up’ and take in the cultural richness of your surroundings. Wonder at the diverse temples, ranging from the opulent gold of Wat Doi Suthep to the intricate detail of Wat Phra Singh, immerse yourself in the heady spices of the street food stalls and pick up a few bargains at the night bazaar.
Transfer to Bangkok to experience a bit of big-city luxury with a stay at the world-famous Mandarin Oriental or the classically glamorous Siam. See inside the Grand Palace, travel on the Skytrain, take your taste-buds on a street-food tour and enjoy a skybar sundowner as you explore the capital’s enduring appeal.
After squeezing so much in, a little chilled-out time in the Maldives will be just right. Fly in early, direct from Bangkok, and transfer straight to your resort for maximum blissful beach basking. Try the Constance Moofushi Resort for all-inclusive indulgence with a bespoke edge.
This is an exciting time to visit Cambodia: the country’s profile is growing and more areas are opening up to tourism, allowing visitors to experience a broader slice of its fascinating history and culture.
Start in Phnom Penh to fill yourself to the brim with beautiful architecture, sobering history, spontaneous tuk-tuk rides and an exhilarating art scene as you see how this remarkable city has become a hub of contemporary Cambodian culture. Wander around the National Museum, take in Wat Phnom and the Royal Palace and bear witness to the tragedies of the recent past at Tuol Sleng museum. Move back into the present day to see the inspiring community work of the Daem Po Rice Bank Project or take a tour of the city’s streetfood markets. No trip to Cambodia would be complete without standing in the shadows of its magnificent temples.
Fly in a microlight over Angkor Wat’s iconic pagodas, enjoy a gourmet picnic within the park, or camp next to temple ruins deeper in the surrounding jungle where you’ll have a slice of history all to yourself. Stay in central Siem Reap and have your pick of eateries offering everything from instant street food gratification to high-end fine dining.
Sri Lanka and the Maldives are a classic combination. With short connecting flights from Colombo, you can move from enjoying the wildlife, history and culture of Sri Lanka to laying back, cocktail in hand, on those perfect Maldivian beaches within just a couple of hours.
Begin with a tour of the UNESCO listed fortified Sri Lankan town of Galle to experience the evocative blend of influences, from the Portuguese, British, Dutch and French Colonial architecture to the bustling mini-markets which echo the streets of Delhi or Mumbai.
Move around the coast and inland to the verdant sanctuaries of Yala and Uda Walawe National Parks where elephants, leopards, a plethora of exotic birds and many other species roam in the open Sri Lankan landscape. Add in turtles, tea estate trains and temples, perhaps even a bucket-list topping mountain summit sunrise, before flying out to process your Sri Lankan adventures from the comfort of a Maldives idyll. Dive next to dolphins, turtles and whale sharks at the family-friendly LUX* resort or watch marine life go by from the deck of your floating villa at Cocoa Island.
South Korea with Singapore
One exciting option is to add a few days in the Maldives onto a holiday in South Korea. While it’s a fairly long flight, you could spend a few days enjoying the cosmopolitan delights of Singapore to make your trip feel more leisurely. Direct flights from Singapore to Male get you to your Maldives resort with ease so you can optimise that relaxed time-out.
Make the most of South Korea’s high-speed rail network with a Compact 8-day itinerary taking you from Seoul to Busan and back again. Explore the contrast between Seoul’s ancient royal palaces and its cutting-edge street art scene. As you journey south, take some time to appreciate the peace of a Buddhist temple, perhaps even stay overnight, before exploring Busan’s coastal highlights.
Fly out from Seoul and, if you choose to stopover, see Singapore's highlights. Wander round the city’s beautiful parks, grab some bargains in Chinatown, feast on everything from street-hawker crab to lavish Sunday brunch and look out over the city from a skybar.
After such a full and varied holiday, you’ll be more than ready to settle down in a luxury Maldives villa and relive your newly-made memories. Opt for a digital detox at the Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu or some blissful spa treatments at the Kuda Fushi Resort.
Borneo is an ever-popular destination, especially during the summer, for its sensational wildlife encounters, breathtaking landscapes (which undulate from caves to mountain with waterfalls in between), authentic local experiences and dedicated conservation.
Start with a stay in the Danum Valley at the renowned Rainforest Lodge where you can combine a cosy hideaway with wanders through the rainforest canopy. From there, take your pick of Borneo’s many corners to explore: spend a few nights with the indigenous Iban tribes trekking through the Batang Ai Rainforest, exert yourself with an energetic hike through the Kelabit Highlands or climb Mount Kinabalu – the highest mountain in Malaysia – for an exhilarating sunrise panorama.
To cool down from all that, you can indulge in a bit of wildlife watching – after all, you can’t leave Borneo without catching a glimpse of those famous orangutans! Watch these fascinating primates from a respectful distance at the Sepilok sanctuary where you can help prepare the feeding stations and learn more about the dedicated conservation work. Alternatively, opt for a stay in Tabin Wildlife Reserve or a boat trip up the Kinabatangan River to see everything from big cats and primates to Pygmy Elephants and hundreds of exotic birds.
Exhausted just by reading the itineraries?! Then you’ll definitely be ready to enjoy to indulge in some uber-luxury in the Maldives – perhaps at the stilted villas of Gili Lankanfushi or Constance Moofushi Resort where the only trekking you’ll do is taking a few steps to the beach and back!
If you’re taking a winter break in Myanmar, adding a few days on those isolated Maldives beaches is a great way to wind down and have time to read up on the cultural richness of everything you’ve seen.
Start in the diverse and dynamic city of Mandalay, which has moved on from dusty Colonial romanticism to become a modern hub of innovation and activity. The modern innovations sit comfortably alongside the enduring elegance of the numerous temples which make Mandalay Myanmar’s religious centre. Walk up Mandalay Hill and take in sunset views over the city, or enjoy a cool beer amid the urban bustle below.
Cruise south down the Ayeyarwady, savouring the leisurely pace as you glimpse the landmarks along the riverbank, or head north to witness the unique relationship between the dolphins and the fishing communities. Take in Bagan’s ‘mind blowing temples from a hot-air balloon, and explore the towns and villages around Inle Lake, before making your way to the bustling streets of Yangon to marvel at the Shwedagon Pagoda and perhaps treating yourself to a little old-school opulence with a stay at The Strand.
Enjoy a city stopover in Bangkok, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur on the way out, before flying into the Maldives for that R&R.
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