Asia is an enormous swath of the world, its influence extending to every corner of the globe and permeating nearly every conceivable human endeavor. How do you begin to plan a trip to this magical part of the world? How do you decide where to go, what to do or where to stay? Backroads has spent years researching and traveling through the nooks and crannies of Asia and we've managed to discover some very special places. Here are some of our very favorites. These hotels accentuate local traditions, exude world charm or simply cannot be matched anywhere else. Have you discovered any magical spots in Asia that you recommend? We'd love to hear about it!
River Retreat Garaku (Toyama, Japan)
Honshū, Japan's main island, is bisected by a series of 3 Mountain Ranges--the Hida, Kiso and Akaishi Mountains, known collectively as the Japanese Alps. From within the lush foothills of Hida, the Northern Alps, flows the Jinzu River on its northward course to the Sea of Japan. There is a luxurious and peaceful hotel nestled idyllically along the banks of the Jinzu near the coastal town of Toyama. River Retreat Garaku presents visitors with a masterful blend of sleek design, modern comfort and timeless tranquility. The hotel has 25 exquisitely unique rooms and houses over 300 pieces of contemporary Japanese art that accentuate an already flawlessly manicured design. Two phenomenal on-site restaurants offer the choice of traditional Japanese dining or the ideal pairing of the dual UNESCO designated cuisines, French and Japanese. A fully equipped spa, both indoor and out, fulfills all the necessary in-house comforts needed after you've spent a day trekking in the hills. Just remember, the hot stone room requires reservations! Stay here on our Japan Walking & Hiking Tour or our NEW Japan Biking Tour.
RAAS Devigarh (Rajasthan, India)
High on a hilltop in a lush village near Udaipur in India's northern state of Rajasthan, sits a decadent and enchanting 18th-century fortress once known as Delwara Fort Palace. Constructed of granite and local marble, the imposing structure has stood guard for centuries over the main routes through the Aravalli Ranges into the Udaipur Valley. Renovated by a team of over 750 workers, the property has been transformed into a spectacular luxury hotel. Intimate courtyards and gardens offer solace from the bustle of India's cities and views of the surrounding countryside abound. Blending minimalist interior design with majestic architectural details, this 5-star hotel maintains its original purpose of preserving the inhabitants but with the additions of otherworldly meals, masterful suites, and a lovely spa to loosen up before your daily yoga routine. Stay here on our India Multi-Adventure Tour.
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai (Thailand)
Four Seasons properties are synonymous with grace and elegance. While your every need is seemingly satisfied before you can blink, part of the joy comes from crafting your own unique experience. From Muay Thai instruction, to lessons in rice planting, to Thai cooking lessons, there is no shortage of unforgettable activities you can partake in to better understand the local culture in the northern part of Thailand. Still it's no surprise that some guests prefer to simply melt into the surroundings of terraced rice paddies, verdant rolling hills and tropical gardens abundant on the 32-acre property. Located just a short ride outside the humming, colorful city of Chiang Mai,you can easily blend culture with comfort. Be sure to savor a refreshingly crafted cocktail while catching magnificent sunsets or half submerged in the refreshing pool. Stay here on our Thailand Biking Tour.
Zhiwa Ling Heritage (Paro, Bhutan)
An architectural gem set on ten acres in the mountainous and remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, Zhiwa Ling Heritage is a hotel that blends the timeless feel of ancient Buddhist influence with modern 21st-century amenities. Utilizing 450-year-old wood timbers in its construction and intricately embellished with one-of-a-kind wood carvings by local artisans over five years, it's no wonder National Geographic highlighted this as one of their "Unique Lodges of the World." Here, the gross domestic happiness of Bhutan is incorporated into the overall business plan and is on full display with an exceptionally cheery and attentive staff. Its serene setting amidst jade hills, the town of Paro is not far away and famous temples like the iconic Tiger's Nest Monastary are an ideal backdrop during yoga lessons. After removing those hiking boots seek out your inner harmony in the meditation hall for reflection on an amazing personal journey. All this is available in a place that puts balance with the environment at a premium. The Zhiwa Ling has managed to recycle 98% of on-site waste. Stay here on our Bhutan Walking & Hiking Tour.
Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai (Hoi An, Vietnam)
With careful attention to phong thuy (Vietnamese feng shui), the tranquil design of the paradisical Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai pays homage to authentic Central Vietnamese garden homes. Situated on the site of a former fishing village, the grounds of The Nam Hai include a nearly mile-long stretch of pristine coastline and vast tropical gardens. It's a setting that is impossible to forget. Visit the exquisite spa, delicately perched atop a lotus pond; he location alone is enough to trigger tranquility. Whether your plan is to head inland, take to the sea, or melt away into blissful oblivion, his is the perfect location to do it all. Stay here on our Vietnam & Cambodia Walking & Hiking Tour or our Vietnam & Cambodia Bike Tour.
Maya Ubud Resort & Spa (Bali, Indonesia)
Built on nearly 25 acres of landscaped and natural terrain, Maya Ubud Resort & Spa is a luxury retreat designed to recreate the feel of a traditional Balinese village. With 108 luxury guestrooms and private thatched pool villas the property is cradled by the lush Petanu River valley to the east and vast rice fields to the west. And its spa overlooks a waterfall. It's the perfect respite from the bustle of rapidly modernizing Bali but close enough to town so you don't miss the cultural attractions Ubud is known for. An easy 25-minute walk takes you to the vibrant town of Ubud, home to museums, boutiques, market and the famous Peliatan Palace.