Off late and especially after spending 270 continuous days backpacking across SE Asia, a lot of my family and friends have been asking me questions about travel in South East Asia and these questions have more or less revolved around ‘Budget Travel’ and ‘Honeymoon Planning’ and I thought why not merge these two train of thoughts and create a post that caters to this unique, yet highly popular combination. And that’s how I built this list of top 10 budget honeymoon destinations across South East Asia.
The premise behind this list is simple and has been listed below:
1) Each honeymoon destination is close to an airport
2) They have quality accommodation
3) Have enough things to indulge in for today’s adventure seeking couples
4) Don’t drill a big hole in your pockets, and finally
5) It has enough variety in it for all kinds of couples
Here goes the list. I hope that it helps you with your budget honeymoon planning.
Luang Prabang, Laos
This French colonial town’s quiet, easy and laidback riverside ambience is just the perfect way for a couple to explore together. There are lovely river facing hotels designed in French architecture, there are these golden Buddhist temples, stunning waterfalls, cave temples, pristine countryside, great river cruises and more. And to top it there are many street markets and shopping opportunities.
Perfect for: Honeymooners looking for a relaxed holiday with good cultural experience, lots of beautiful natural sights and lots of good local food.
Best Season: September to March
Nearest Airport: Luang Prabang
Recommended to do/visit: Luang Prabang, the city, which in itself is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wat Xieng Thong, Mount Funsi, Kuang Xi Waterfall and Ting Cave.
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: Nong Khiaw and Muang Knoi for a quiet riverside retreat.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Bali has been a top honeymoon destination for a long time now and it is not surprising that it finds a place in my top 10. But, the catch is that most of the people go to Bali’s beach resorts, which are more pricey and more crowded, but instead, I recommend Ubud, in central Bali, which has a lot of Balinese culture and is away from the heavy traffic of South Bali. The best way to enjoy your honeymoon would be to stay in a private Balinese homestay nestled amidst the paddy fields. Balinese Hinduism culture, its beautiful temples, lots of shopping opps and tons of peace are on offer in and around Ubud and when you feel like hitting the beach, you can head to the coast, which is just an hour away.
Perfect for: Honeymooners looking for a native experience and who are looking to stay out in the laps of nature.
Best Season: June to October and if rains are not a problem, then all the year round.
Nearest Airport: Denpasar, Bali
Recommended to do/visit: Goa Gajah Cave, Pura Ulan Danu Batur temple and Volcano, Pura Tirtha Empul temple, Sukowati Market, many other temples, lakes and mountain side.
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: Kintamani for cooler climes and Kuta, Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Dua for the south beach culture.
Ko Lanta, Thailand
The beaches and islands of Thailand have to find a place in this list. And right on top of all the islands lie Ko Lanta, a beautiful and long tropical island that lies in the upper Andaman waters of Thailand. It has all the ingredients for a perfect beach holiday minus the crowds. It’s waters are great for scuba diving and snorkeling, there is good night life with lots of parties and clubs, it has great sea food, its national parks and caves offers incredible trekking and bird watching opportunities and finally its long stretch of blue seas and green forests are easily visited on a cycle or motorbike. Ko Lanta’s friendly people are just the icing on the cake.
Perfect for: Honeymooners looking for a beach destination with some land adventure, apart from underwater sports.
Best Season: All year round, except for Mar and April, when it gets a bit warm, but such weather brings in great underwater visibility and offers the perfect excuse to be in the water.
Nearest Airport: Phuket
Recommended to do/visit: Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Relaxing on the beach, Beach Parties, Staying on the beach and watching the starry night from on the beach while sipping cocktails and tasting fresh sea food.
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: Ko Phi Phi for more scuba diving, Krabi for rock climbing and Phangnga Bay to see the stunning limestone karsts jutting out of the ocean.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand is not just about beaches, and no place justifies that statement like Chiang Mai. This city located at the foot of the mountains is known for its vibrant festivals, its temples, its night markets, its tiger temple and all the national parks and tribal settlements located close to it. The food here is sensational too. And when you feel adventurous, the couple can rent a super bike and explore the sensational mountains of north Thailand.
Perfect for: Honeymooners looking for a place that is cosmopolitan in outlook, but offers tons of opportunities to understand culture, while indulging in some adventure.
Best Season: All year round, except for the rainy season. The city rocks during the Loi Krathong Festival and during New Year’s eve.
Nearest Airport: Chiang Mai
Recommended to do/visit: Doi Inthanon National Park, Tiger Temple, Doi Suthep Temple, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phantao, Sunday Night Market
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: Pai, Mae Hong Son and the land of 1864 curves
Ko Rong, Cambodia
The beaches of this island have been voted as one of the best in the world. The waters here are known for their photo phosphorescence. And long stretches of white sands are as remote as they can be. This has to be one of the top romantic, yet rustic beach destinations where you swim, lie on the beach, go for a hike, swim some more, watch starry skies and eat good food. The other thing you can do is go for fishing, take boat cruises to discover more of the island and indulge in some scuba diving, though it is not necessarily the best.
Perfect for: Honeymooners looking for an off beat beach destination that is remote and insanely beautiful
Best Season: All year round, except for the rainy season.
Nearest Airport: Phnom Penh
Recommended to do/visit: Long Beach, Hikes, Fishing Trips, Boat Cruises, Watch Photo Phosphorescence on no moon nights and understand the local culture
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: Sihanoukville for its parties and great sea food, especially the baby squids.
Hoi An, Vietnam
2 UNESCO World Heritage sites, tropical islands nearby with white corals, a river that runs right through it, beautiful paddy fields and countryside and insanely close to the South China sea and the beaches. That is how I can simply describe Hoi An. Located in central Vietnam, this place has it all and hence irrespective of your interests, you are always bound to find this place special. You can go cycling through its countryside, you can go enjoy the beaches located a 30 minute bicycle ride away, you can do tons of shopping, you can eat lots of local food and enjoy the overall cultural experience.
Perfect for: Honeymooners looking for a full on holiday experience that has a bit of everything.
Best Season: All year round
Nearest Airport: Danang
Recommended to do/visit: Hoi An Heritage Area, Dine by the An Hoi riverside, the ruins of My Son, Marble Mountains, Cham Islands and stitch yourself a suit.
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: Danang, Hue and the Tam Coc river near Ninh Binh.
Malaysia is blessed with a lot of islands and beach destinations and the one that truly stands out as a honeymoon destination is Langkawi. Its beautiful beaches, offshore islands and dense tropical forests make it a tropical favorite. This place is ideal for those people looking for some adventure, but not too much. There are mangrove forests, watersports, view points, great dining options and lots of shopping opportunities.
Perfect for: Honeymooners looking for a beach holiday that is more relaxing and low on the adventure scale
Best Season: All year round, except for the rainy season of June, July and August.
Nearest Airport: Langkawi
Recommended to do/visit: Mangrove Forest tour, Fishing Boat Trips, Langkawi Cable Car and Duty Free Shops
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: The UNESCO World Heritage site of Penang.
El Nido, Philippines
Philippines has lots of beach holiday destinations, but the one that makes to this list is El Nido. Located in the northern part of the thinly populated Palawan Island, El Nido is famous for its island hopping, scuba diving, snorkeling and stunning sights. It’s parties are not on the range of Boracay, but they are good nonetheless. The dining experience here is also pretty special.
Perfect for: Honeymooners looking for a beach holiday that means lot of opportunities of getting into the water, seeing beautiful mother nature and enjoying great sea food.
Best Season: All year round, except for the typhoon season of August to October.
Nearest Airport: Puerto Princesa City
Recommended to do/visit: Island Hopping, Fishing Boat Trips, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Beach Parties, Motorbike rides through the country side
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: Dagmay Beach, Nacpan Beach, Puerto Princesa underground river.
Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Borneo, Malaysia
It would be unfair not to see a Borneo rainforest destination in this list. A lot of couples these days love to spend their honeymoon in the wild. And the rainforests of Borneo offer a perfect platform for such an experience. Boat cruises on the Kinabatangan river and day and night treks allow you to see some of Borneo’s rare wildlife like the orangutans, proboscis monkeys, the silver langurs, the tarsiers and those amazing hornbills. If you feel more adventurous, you can go kayaking in these crocodile infested waters. A river facing bungalow inside the rainforest will be your honeymoon abode here.
Perfect for: Honeymooners with passion for the wild.
Best Season: All year round, except for the rainy winter months
Nearest Airport: Sandakan
Recommended to do/visit: Boat Cruises, Wildlife Sighting, Birdwatching, Day and Night Treks
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: Sepilok Orangutan Re-Habitation Center
Inle Lake, Myanmar
A lot of people would be surprised to see a Myanmar destination in this list, but the country has opened up quite a bit in the last couple of years and Inle Lake, one of the country’s hottest destinations finds its way in here. It’s unique culture of hydroponic farming, fishing with the legs, lotus stem thread based textile industry and its Cheroot industry make it a huge draw. The Shan food available here is one of the best cuisines of Burma.
Perfect for: Honeymooners with interests in going to an off beat country.
Best Season: October to March
Nearest Airport: Heho
Recommended to do/visit: Boat Cruises, Indein Temple, Local Tribes, Trek from Inle to Kalaw (for the adventurous), Floating Markets
Other Recommended Destinations located close by: the temples of Bagan