Feb 4, 2022
WHILE IT’S TRUE THAT every day should be celebrated in relationships, many of us have spent the better half of the last two years with our partners in sweatpants, at home, social distancing, ordering takeout and forgetting to shower (no… just me?). It makes sense then to go big this Valentine’s Day. Here’s an excuse to wear those special heels you’ve kept boxed for too long, or to finally make a reservation somewhere you’ve been dying to visit.
Wherever you are in Southeast Asia, turn this year’s Valentine’s Day, which happens to fall on a Monday, into a romantic long-weekend event with our dream date ideas that range from ditching town and cruising upriver to jetting away to a luxurious beachfront property.
What: Fly to lunch and enjoy breathtaking views of the smallest active volcano in the world enroute
Courtesy of Antonio’s (2)
Tell me more: Take Valentine’s Day to new heights this year with a 30-minute helicopter ride from Manila to Tagaytay via Philjets for what we think is one of the most romantic trips in Asia. Situated 65 kilometers from the bustling capital, Tagaytay is home to some of the country’s most spectacular views. Experience Taal volcano, the smallest active volcano in the world, from the sky before landing and making your way to Antonio’s.
Over the years, this fine dining institution from chef Tonyboy Escalante has remained at the top of the list for locals and tourists looking to celebrate. Aside from its idyllic remote setting, Antonio’s features a well-crafted menu and white-glove service that’s been inspired by the chef’s travels abroad. T+L tip: Make sure you order a drink or three from revered mixologist Lee Watson; it’s a no brainer since you won’t be driving!
What: Disconnect from the rest of the world and immerse yourself in nature at this five-star tropical resort
Courtesy of One&Only Resorts (2)
Tell me more: In non-Covid times, you could fly from anywhere in Asia to Singapore and get to the southeast shoreline of Malaysia faster, but, honestly, we think the four-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur is the perfect road trip for a romantic long weekend. One&Only Desaru Coast was designed by the legendary late architect Kerry Hill to be a glamorous secluded haven where guests can unplug and completely immerse themselves in nature. The resort spans 1.5 kilometers of coastline and is blessed with verdant jungles on one side and crystal blue waters on the other. With the first Chenot Spa in Asia and three restaurants on site, you can choose to do “nothing” and we wouldn’t blame you.
But if you and your partner lean more towards the adventurous side though, there are options: Start your day with a trek in the ancient Panti Forest Reserve and be on the lookout for dusky leaf monkeys, oriental pied hornbills and white-handed gibbons. In the afternoon, go tree climbing and experience never-before-seen views from the top of the canopies.
What: Cruise up the majestic Chao Phraya River to Ayutthaya on a luxurious Thai rice barge
Tell me more: With Namthip, it’s about the boat as much as it is about the journey and destination. In its previous life, Namthip was a traditional rice barge used for transporting cargoes of goods upstream. Today, through extensive renovations by Studio Daminato — the mastermind behind numerous Aman resorts and Lake Como’s Villa Peduzzi — the boat has been transformed into a luxury river-cruising vessel that still pays homage to its storied past.
Book an overnight trip and travel upstream from Bangkok to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. Along the way, stop at temples and markets and take in the sounds and sights of Thailand’s riverside communities. Once the sun begins to set, enjoy a starlit dinner on the upper deck before turning in in one of the two first-class bedroom suites.
What: Ditch the city and recharge at this exclusive Indonesian beachfront estate
Tell me more: From the day The Sanchaya first opened, it has continued to draw in Singapore’s affluent crowd looking for a quick getaway. Though the uber-romantic hotel sits on Indonesia’s Bintan Island, it’s easiest, especially if you’re just going for a weekend, to get to from Singapore–one of the cool quirks of living in Southeast Asia, right? The trip is approximately 50 minutes from the city-state’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and, upon arrival at Bintan, guests are whisked away by a private car transfer to the estate.
Everything about The Sanchaya feels worlds away from the chaos of Singapore: private white sandy shores and a glorious infinity pool make you want to laze around all day; spacious bedrooms decked out in designer brands like Bang & Olufsen and Lefroy Brooks make your stay comfortable; and the state-of-the-art, Balinese-inspired wellness facilities make you wish you never have to leave.
What: Experience the local culture of the Mekong Delta at this elegant small hotel
Tell me more: Want to know what life is like along the Mekong Delta? Founded by hotelier extraordinaire Adrian Zecha, Azerai Can Tho allows you to experience Vietnam’s canal networks and floating markets up close and personal. Though Can Tho is only 3½ hours by car from Ho Chi Minh City, it buzzes with the exciting energy of a less-traveled local town. Azerai’s subtle elegance blends seamlessly into its setting of lush greenery and mature banyan trees.
Be sure to book one of the activities offered at the hotel: choose from visiting the Hau River and Cai Rang floating markets; Ba Cong tropical fruit garden; a cocoa farm; Tra Su Cajuput (“eucalyptus”) forest; or take a leisurely cruise on the resort’s own Mystic Sampan to the Khmer Sanctuary.
Where: HONG KONG
What: Sail across Victoria Harbour on a junk and enjoy dinner with stunning views of Hong Kong’s celebrated skyline
Tell me more: A Hong Kong bucket list is not complete without “sailing Victoria Harbour” on it. The Aqua Luna is one of the only red-sailed Chinese junk boats left in the world, making it a picturesque sight to see in the water. Book a 45-minute evening cruise and relax on a lounge bed as you drink your way to sunset. In Kowloon, choose from one of the many restaurants that offer panoramic views of the iconic cityscape.
Our suggestions? Call well in advance to grab the seats next to the floor-to-ceiling windows at Michelin-starred, Mediterranean-inspired Tosca di Angelo, on the 102nd floor of the International Commerce Centre building. And since you’re already in The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, take your romantic weekend to dizzying heights by booking one of the highest hotel suites in Southeast Asia. Those who want a less glitzy meal that’s just as special can look to PANO, an Asian-French fine-dining experience within the Art Park with a nice, peaceful alfresco area.
What: Explore the amazing marine life and islands of Labuan Bajo
Tell me more: Those who dive, snorkel or are in search of paradise on Earth will probably have stumbled across Labuan Bajo on the World Wide Web before. The starting point of many diving excursions and liveaboards to Komodo National Park, Labuan Bajo is a charming harbor town with a vibrant culture. Here, visitors get to witness one of the planet’s most healthy marine ecosystems that’s teeming with aquatic life.
If the idea of a liveaboard sounds intimidating to you, though, Plataran Komodo Resort & Spa is just as good an alternative: Not only does the hotel come with luxurious oceanfront villas and a picturesque beach, but their team of experts can also help curate your itinerary so that you don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting. Plataran can arrange snorkeling trips, diving expeditions, island cruises, a visit to Pink Beach (one of the most famous in Southeast Asia), crystal cave tours and, of course, a romantic Valentine’s Day barbecue under the stars wrapping up a weekend you won’t want to end.