Forget roughing it out in the wild. Southeast Asia has plenty of magnificent wildlife, sprawling plantations, and gleaming rivers to offer — and glamping getaways let you take that in from a classed-up abode, with all the modern comforts that conventional campsites don’t offer. These camping retreats are all about being in nature, but without, y’know, nature being all up in your business. Rocks jutting into your back. Insects buzzing around during your shower. That kind of thing.
From Thailand and Cambodia to Laos and Indonesia, there’s a scenic spot in each country for nature-loving travelers seeking a side of adventure.
Drift along the picturesque Tatai River until you spot 12 overwater tents at this luxe eco lodge in Cambodia — it’s enveloped by a tranquil serenity that you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. You’ll spend most of your stay soaking up sunny rays on your private terrace, floating on the calm waters in a kayak, or cocooned in your comfy double bed.
When you’re up for a bit of an adventure, put on your hiking gear for a trek in the Cardamom Mountains, splash around at the Tatai Waterfall, sail off on a sunset cruise, or visit the Khmer people on Koh Andet Island for a glimpse of local culture.
Koh Andet Island, Tatai Village, Krong Koh Kong, Kaoh Kong, Cambodia. +855 97 643 4032. Reservations@ecolodges.asia.
Escape from the usual tourist circuit in Phuket and take a 30-minute boat ride to Koh Yao Noi, the home of an adults-only haven that opened late last year. With seven African-style tented pool villas perched on a hill site called Nine Hornbills, the place offers lovely views of Phang Nga Bay.
You’ll find all the usual resort luxuries here, including air-conditioning and Wi-Fi, as well as a private swimming pool (where you can have a “floating breakfast”), an outdoor rain shower, and a complimentary minibar. When you’re done relaxing, take a 20-minute boat ride to explore the surrounding limestone islands and their caves, beach lagoons, and flora and fauna.
Ko Yao Noi, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand. +66 76 597 474. Reservations@koyao.com.
As the only resort on Moyo Island, Amanwana provides next-level peace and privacy. It’s got 20 eco-friendly tents, which are either nestled in jungles of greenery or on the breezy shores of the beach. You’ll have to board a private seaplane or boat to get to the isle, which is home to deer, wild boar, and macaques, as well as untouched reefs and tropical fishes in the seas.
Once you’re surrounded by marine life and forest reserves, the remote retreat offers activities for the adventurous, such as scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, windsurfing, and kayaking. Or you could always just lounge under the sun in between trips to nearby coastal beaches.
Moyo Island, West Sumbawa Regency, Indonesia. +62 371 22233. Amanwana@aman.com.
Self-described as “Thailand’s first luxury tented camps”, this one’s perhaps not quite as glamorous as the other properties on this list, but it does drop you right smack in the center of an idyllic tropical forest, with rooms afloat on the water.
Choose between Elephant Hills and the floating Rainforest Camp, both of which are in Southern Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park. The former houses 30 tents with a pool at the resort, while the latter has 10 tents on Cheow Larn Lake powered by solar and wind energy. Besides trekking expeditions and canoe trips, you can also embark on jungle safaris to play with, feed, and bathe Asia’s largest land animals (although for obvious humane and ethical reasons, elephant riding is disallowed).
170 Moo 7 Tambon Klong Sok, Panom District, Suratthani, Thailand. +66 5200 1186. Booking@elephanthills.com.
There’s no escaping lush foliage when you book a stay in this nature hideout at the foot of Mount Santubong on the island of Borneo. It’s been around since 1990, drawing rugged explorers and families in search of a little quiet time to its scenic beaches, waterfalls, and wildlife.
Spend the days at your leisure, or fill them up with outdoor adventures like jungle trekking, evening mangrove cruises, dolphin watching excursions, and night kayaking. When your energy is depleted, the resort’s 10 air-conditioned tree houses built 20 feet above the ground welcome you into the fold of the forest canopy to relax and unwind.
Pantai Damai Santubong, Jalan Sultan Tengah, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. +60 82 846487. Reserve@permairainforest.com.
Wake up to the view of majestic mountains near the quaint, UNESCO-preserved town of Luang Prabang. The newly-opened jungle sanctuary houses 23 accommodation types, including riverside villas, pool villas, and hilltop canopies – all bordered by a river and waterfall – in a French colonial-meets-traditional Laotian design. If you choose to nestle in one of the six luxury tents, you’ll find each one has been dedicated to a different Laotian hill tribe in its colors and patterns.
To immerse yourself in the history of the old town, stop by a traditional weaving village, embark on a heritage walk, explore azure-colored waterfalls, or sign up for a culinary tour.
Nauea Village, Luang Prabang, Laos. +856 7121 1155. Luangprabang@rosewoodhotels.com.
On the island of the gods rests a boutique hotel with stylish structures lining the rice fields of Ubud. To ensure you enjoy a serene (perhaps even surreal) experience, only eight eco-friendly lodgings are featured here, including five “safari-style” luxury tents with their private pools looking out on the tropical forest, and three “lumbung” two-story barns with traditional thatched roofs.
Yoga classes facing the rice terraces are conducted regularly, and there’s also an on-site spa offering massage and beauty treatments. Otherwise, the property has a plush lounge area for guests to read, get online, play board games, and listen to tunes over sips of traditional ginger tea. You can also request the staff to arrange a candlelit dinner under the stars for you and your partner to up the romance factor.
Jalan Subak Sala Banjar Sala, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. +62 361 9083 222. Sandatglamping@gmail.com.
Bonus: Glamping in Singapore
When you think glamping, perhaps Singapore doesn’t quite come to mind. It’s a city stuffed with skyscrapers, after all. We get that. But if you’re up for seeing a different side of the bustling metropolis – one that’s undisturbed and right by the waters – then try Glamping Society.
The beach of East Coast Park and the lake at Punggol Park are two locations where Glamping Society pitches its tents – but, take note that they don’t come with bathroom facilities, so you’ll have to use the public toilets nearby. Still, it’s a comfortable and restful experience, with a double bed and mini bar fridge in the air-conditioned tents, which offer all kinds of add-on options, including a picnic set-up, fairy light pathway, laze gazebo, outdoor cinema, and even acoustic music performances for the lovey-dovey.