Tag Archive: beach


Sometimes you have to leave home to truly appreciate it. That’s Eva Sihotang’s belief. And that’s why this Indonesia-based tour specialist is familiar with more than West Java, where she grew up.

“Being able to communicate with people from different parts of the country opens you up to experiences you wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy,” she says.

Eva, who now resides in Bali but continues to explore the entire archipelago, thinks “living away from home has made me more enthusiastic and more culturally aware of the diversity of Indonesia, which has so many islands and so many dialects.”

Eva, an avid diver, likes to channel Jacques Cousteau and survey what’s underwater. Her favorite dive site is off the East Coast of Bali, around the USS Liberty shipwreck, the result of a Japanese torpedo strike during World War II.

“The marine life at Liberty is incredible,” Eva comments. “Especially at night. There’s something magical about it, just like traveling itself!”

As for exciting experiences on land in Indonesia, she recommends setting your compass for Gili Trawangan, the largest of Lombok’s Gili islands, about an hour by boat from Bali.

“One of the coolest things is to watch a movie at the beach cinema,” Eva adds. “The atmosphere is beyond imagination.” Do what you want there, but whatever you do, don’t miss taking a seat on the sand once the sun goes down, she says.


There was a time when honeymoons meant a week spent touring romantic Rome, or a beach in the South Pacific. Nowadays, travelers are looking farther afield.

Amanda Statham, travel editor of popular UK wedding magazine You & Your Wedding, recently revealed her ‘2012 Honeymoon Hot List.’ Among the eight trends she identified? Newlyweds’ interest in venturing East.

Who can blame them? There’s a lot to relish about celebrating your nuptials in Asia, from quiet island retreats in Thailand to luxurious ryokans (traditional inns) in Japan.

One of the most popular trips out there is Angkor for Two, which starts at three days in length and features a hot-air balloon ride over the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, a romantic champagne cruise of Tonle Sap Lake, a Buddhist monk blessing ceremony and soothing massages.

For those who’ve always been intrigued by Bali, the Island of the Gods itinerary for twosomes is a must. The adventure includes hands-on cooking classes with an expert local village chef, swimming in the crystal clear waters of secluded Pasir Putih Beach and experiencing a traditional dance performance at Uluwatu Temple.

But accommodation options could be the best part about traveling to an Asian destination as a couple. People want privacy, and in Bali and beyond, it comes in the form of stylish villas with amenities such as plunge pools and butler service.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably thought to yourself at one point or another: You can’t look anywhere on the Internet these days without stumbling upon a ‘Top 10’ list of this, or a ‘Top 5’ rundown of that. Rankings are all the rage, no matter the topic.

To wit: Just a couple weeks ago, Reuters called out Cheapflights.com’s Top 10 Sunrise Destinations. Also this month, Conde Nast Traveler posted a story on 8 Great Family Vacations.

Tropical paradise beach of Ishigaki, Okinawa, Japan

Tropical paradise beach of Ishigaki, Okinawa, Japan

I’m not opposed to this trend. After all, most lists are easy to digest and fun to read. And so, at the risk of sounding like followers, I’ve come up with 5 Must-Visit Beach Destinations in Southeast Asia …

1. Con Dao. It’s not the most well-known beach destination in Vietnam. But it soon could be — especially now that Brangelina has vacationed here. I like the power couple’s taste. Not only is the island pristine, it’s gateway to a marine sanctuary of the highest order.

2. Koh Kood. The easternmost island in Thailand, this remote retreat has been described by The Guardian as “a fine place to do nothing.” I somewhat disagree. The speedboat ride to get there has to count for something, doesn’t it?

3. Song Saa. This secluded island, just off the coast of mainland Cambodia in Sihanoukville, translates to “The Sweethearts.” Given the romantic allure of its unspoiled white-sand beach and ultra-chic eco-resort, the name is fitting.

4. Koh Panak. Travel 20 kilometres by speedboat from Phuket and behold: a tiny island in Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay with a beach I think makes for the perfect campsite.

5. Ishigaki. As this photo (pictured) makes clear, you won’t find many coastlines as stunning — or as well-suited for honeymooners — as the one that surrounds this reef-ringed island in southern Japan.