Recreation

Must-see places and can’t miss things to do from Malé to Bali

Must-see in Thailand: Phi Phi Islands

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koh phi phi thailand islands

Ready for an adventure? Take to the sea Herman Melville style and visit the Phi Phi Islands to the southeast of Phuket. This beautiful bundle of isles in the Andaman Sea offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Add these must-see islands to your Thailand itinerary.

Koh Phi Phi Leh

Early birds get the worm, or in this case stunning views of Maya Bay featured in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Beach, starring Leonardo Dicaprio. A private chartered speedboat departing at sunrise from Royal Phuket Marina near Cape Yamu offers the best chance to witness this remarkable site before the hoards arrive.

The approach to Koh Phi Phi Leh is an experience in itself, as the 100-metre-high limestone cliffs encompassing unbelievably azure water come into view. Silhouetted by dense jungle, the two silky-soft white-sand beaches of Maya Bay are gradually warmed by the rising sun with the allure of lazy lounging. But wait, there’s more.

Snorkelers rejoice! This remarkable bay with depths of two to three metres is teeming with marine life in its northern section where coral reefs are more prevalent. Leap from the deck of your private charter boat or dare the 150-metre swim from the beach. Either way, be prepared to see large boulders laden with enormous sea anemones, parrotfish and photogenic giant clams posing with mouths agape.

Before departing to the next destination, venture barefoot into the jungle along a short trail shaded by a lush tropical canopy to a wooden staircase and terrace overlooking Loh Sama, reputed for its snorkelling and diving opportunities. Here you’ll see a picturesque tiny islet surrounded by crystal clear waters with traditional long-tail wooden boats moored alongside.

Phi Leh Lagoon

Opposite Maya Bay on the eastern edge of Koh Phi Phi Leh is the unbelievably green Phi Leh Lagoon. Stretching nearly 600-metres, this stunning natural wonder twists and turns down a canyon-like waterway ending in a wide picturesque lagoon with vertical limestone cliffs on all sides. Its full beauty is unveiled around midday, when the sun, like a brush to canvas, brings to life its colours, tones and textures. This is a spot to linger awhile and appreciate how nature’s artistic hand can create such a glorious site. 

If it weren’t for the ripples, you could be forgiven for thinking you were diving into a putting green on a world-class golf course.

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Yachting on Phuket – Best charters for island-hopping

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Bristol Charter Infinity One speedboat

“Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience.”

In 2000 Danny Boyle’s “The Beach” was released on the big screen and it was the first time I had ever seen the beauty of Thailand. The crystal-clear water, white sandy beaches with palm trees, the hedonistic lifestyle – it was where I wanted to be. In 2007 the dream came true. I moved to Phuket.

At first, it seemed like the perfect island, having an array of beautiful beaches and an exciting and sometimes crazy nightlife. For the first six months, I explored Phuket from east coast to west coast, from north to south and found it to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Yet it wasn’t until I took my first trip out on a traditional Thai Long Tail boat that I realized Phuket is one of the many beautiful islands within Phang Nga Bay.

Phuket is the gateway to over 100 islands, each one easily accessible by boat and offering something different, from perfect dive and snorkeling sites, long white sandy beaches for chilled-out lazing around, and some with shacks that serve fresh tasty local food. It was after my first trip out, that my eyes opened up to the place I now call home, and how beautiful it is. That’s when island-hopping around Phang Nga Bay became my passion.

Each of the islands within Phang Nga Bay has its own uniqueness. There are the distinctive features of limestone formations that rise out of the emerald waters, the best example being Koh Ta-Pu (Nail Island) known to you and me as James Bond Island. One of the most famous islands in Phang Nga Bay, having been used as the backdrop for the 1974 James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun”, now due to its popularly, it is also one of the busiest islands.

you might have (what my 5-year-old daughter calls) “boat hair” but you will have memories that last a lifetime

I have two young children,

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Ubud Yoga Classes

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Yoga class

Ubud is known as the cultural and spiritual heart of Bali, a place to seek tranquility amidst lush green rice terraces, traditional villages and sacred Balinese Hindu temples. A hot spot on the tourist trail and one of the healthiest cities in Southeast Asia, charming Ubud is a sanctuary of well-being and an oasis for yogis and spiritual seekers.

There are many yoga studios in Ubud to choose from, several of them doubling as holistic healing centres, spas or cafés, and supporting environmentalism and charity projects.

The choice of yoga classes for visitors is vast. From Yin to Ashtanga and Bikram, there is a yoga style for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi. At many centres, you can book your class beforehand. You can also drop-in just before a class, but be sure to go at least 30 minutes early as they do fill up quickly. All the studios provide yoga mats and other equipment, so all you need to bring is comfortable clothing and positive mind.

5 yoga classes in Ubud, Bali

UBUD BEGINNNER YOGA CLASS
CALLING ALL NOVICE YOGIS

The Yoga Barn offers a beginners’ class daily at 2pm. Intro to Yoga is an ideal class for anyone new to yoga with discussion on how yoga can benefit our everyday lives, with simple breathing techniques and basic yoga poses.

Being the most popular yoga centre in Ubud, the class sizes are big – their studios cater up to 60 people. Intro to Yoga is great choice for beginners and those wanting to meet new people.

Yoga Barn’s gorgeous space offers over 15 yoga classes a day, plus dance class and guided meditation. They also have an on-site healing centre ‘Kush’ and Garden Kafe.

The Yoga Barn
Jl. Raya Pengosekan,
Ubud, Bali
(+62) 0361 971 236
http://www.theyogabarn.com/schedule.html

ACROYOGA CLASSES IN UBUD
TAKE YOUR STRETCHES TO NEW HEIGHTS

Looking for a fun and challenging yoga class in Bali? Elevate your routine with Acroyoga!

Acroyoga classIMAGE: ACROYOGA INTERNATIONAL.

This fun movement class incorporates yoga and partner acrobatics to build strength and balance, as well as some deep stretching poses influenced by traditional Thai massage techniques.

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Lombok’s Pink Sand Beach

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pink sand beach lombok island

The dreamy beaches on the Indonesian island of Lombok are on every visitor’s ‘Things to Do’ list. One of them presents a rare natural phenomenon you need to see for yourself.

Tangsi Beach, better known as Pink Beach is on the island’s far south-eastern shore, and it’s one of only 10 pink sand beaches in the world. Indonesia boasts two beautiful pink beaches – the other is on Lombok’s neighbour island, Flores.

Woman walking on Pink Sand Beach Lombok

WHAT MAKES THE SAND PINK?

The waves bring millions of dead red coral fragments to the beach, blending them with the white sand and giving it its glorious pink tint.

A hidden gem untouched by mass tourism due to its secluded location, Tangsi Beach is a perfect destination as part of a memorable day out exploring the unique natural beauty of Lombok. And the calm waters of Pink Beach are perfect for swimming.

Lombok Pink Beach

THINGS TO DO AT PINK BEACH

Enjoy the view and the sea breeze in the sun or shade while sipping a coconut. Right on the beachfront are simple sunbeds and loungers with shade umbrellas for day use at a small fee.

Vendors selling bottled water and cold drinks are common, but visitors should always carry drinking water and sun protection for a day trip to the beach.

Cool off in the ocean. Play in the gentle waves. The water here is safe for swimming with friends (no lifeguards on duty).

For a breathtaking vista from above the beach, take an easy 30-minute hike up the hillside to the shaded berugak (a simple hut with roof and pillars, a traditional chill-out spot).

HOW TO GET TO PINK BEACH

Pink Beach is a 2-hour drive from Mataram city (3 hours from Tanjung). The best way to get there is by private car hire with a driver-guide. Alternatively you can get there by hiring a fishing boat from Tanjung Luar Port. The journey by sea takes around 3 hours, but you will see the wonderful scenery of southern Lombok en route.

Lombok public beach with plumeria flowers

OTHER PUBLIC BEACHES IN LOMBOK

Many of Lombok’s beaches have pristine powder-soft white sand or light golden-coloured sand lapped by gentle waves from the dreamy turquoise sea.

The best beaches for day trips are along the southern coastline of Lombok (near Pink Beach,

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Scuba Diving in the Maldives

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Scuba Dive Site in Maldives Baa Atoll

AN UNDERWATER DREAM COME TRUE

Don’t let the name deceive you. Diving in the ‘MalDIVES’ is anything but mal! Teeming with marine life, the 1,190 tiny islands of the Maldives lie scattered across 800 kilometres of Indian Ocean like jewels escaping from an overturned treasure chest. And they offer some of the best diving in the world.

As the Indian Monsoon Current sweeps across this equatorial island chain, it brings with it nutrients that feed the soft corals and sponges found clinging to rock walls. Caverns and overhangs dotted with mysterious, vibrantly coloured creatures line the ocean channels, while rock pinnacles extend to the water’s surface within crystalline lagoons.

These coralene islands are home to some 900 species of fish. While manta rays, whale sharks, turtles and eels co-exist below the waves, stunningly white beaches provide a dreamscape for visitors looking to get away from it all.

The blissful Baa Atoll is a prime pick for when it’s time to tick ‘Diving in the Maldives’ off your bucket list.

“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish” – Jaques Cousteau

Diving Baa atoll is an experience like no other. Designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in June 2011, it is the jewel on the necklace that is the Maldives. The atoll is situated on the west of the archipelago and experiences far fewer visitors in comparison to its southerly neighbours. From above, the 61 islands – half of which measure less than 10 hectares – resemble extra-terrestrial orbs spread out over a deep blue canvas. Close up, they offer heavenly visions overflowing with stunning natural beauty.

Our top pick in Baa Atoll is the less-than-one-kilometre-long Amilla Fushi, which translates to ‘your island home’. This quintessential paradise island boasts some of the best dive sites in the Maldives and can be reached in under a half an hour by seaplane from Malé International Airport. From Amilla Fushi, visitors have the opportunity to dive any of the 30 sites of the Baa atoll, including the Blue Hole and world-renowned Hanifaru Bay.

To guide you in your underwater explorations is HUB (Home of the Underwater Biosphere) in partnership with luxury dive pioneers Dive Butler International. Their team includes an international group of highly qualified marine conservationists and dive professionals who can tailor excursions to meet your needs.

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