Nothing beats that “wow” feeling when you stay somewhere amazing on holiday. Afterall, isn’t half the fun of travelling staying in unique accommodation along the way? Whether it’s sleeping in a water-bungalow above the Indian Ocean or in a raft-house in the middle of the jungle, there’s something particularly epic about being close to water. If you fancy dipping your toes in, check out these 7 amazing places to stay …
1. River Kwai, Thailand
Just a couple of hours outside of Bangkok, you’ll find the mighty River Kwai in Kanchanaburi. Though it’s past is a sombre one; poignantly remembered for is war history and the subsequent film, Bridge over the River Kwai, it remains a beautiful part of Thailand. When staying here, it’s all about the floating raft houses- which are also known as a floatels! Each floating room is tucked away in a floating bamboo lodge, moored along the river and surrounded by lush green mountains and jungle. You can spend your days taking refreshing dips, visiting waterfalls and enjoying candle-lit dinners at dusk. Swoon.
2. Bocas del Toro, Panama
Bocas del Toro is a tropical cluster of Caribbean islands in Panama, near the border to Costa Rica. With warm, crystal-clear waters and lush tropical vegetation, it’s the perfect place to unwind in your own Panamanian paradise. Opt for a Special Stay here and you can soak up the sun rays from your own private jetty, right on the water with steps down to the shimmering sea. If that’s not enough to tempt you, each bungalow is powered by solar energy, and built from locally-sourced materials. They’ve even got their own private hammocks and a glass bottom inside, so you can watch the tropical fish dart in the coral below. Hours of fun!
3. Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam
Bai Tu Long Bay is full of fairytale charm. Peppered with tiny jungle-topped islands and white sandy coves, this emerald haven is the perfect place in Vietnam to slow down and take in the surreal scenery. And if you’re going to stay here, you’ve got to do it right! It doesn’t get any better than waking up to the views of karst mountains and twinkling waters, aboard a traditional Vietnamese junk boat. Kitted out with cosy, private cabins, these charming boats can be your home for the night as you sail gently across the bay. You’ll even be treated to freshly grilled seafood, and when you’re not relaxing on deck, you can take a refreshing dip in the waters or explore the bay by kayak.
4. Keralan backwaters, South India
Kerala is India’s exotic emerald heart, packed with lush scenery and a tangle of overgrown backwaters. It’s a far cry from the swarming cities in the North; making it the ultimate place to slow your India holiday right the heck down. A favourite amongst travellers here is to stay on a traditional Keralan houseboat. These are slow-moving barges which once shipped rice and spices along the region but are now only used for travellers who want to experience a more gentle side to India. Aboard your home for the night, you’ll sail a labyrinth of tiny canals, passing villages, hidden temples, churches and palm-fringed gardens.
5. Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia
If you want to get more immersed in culture while also staying somewhere spectacular on the water, Tonle Sap in Cambodia is just the place! It’s the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia, and the second most popular place to visit in Siem Reap (after Angkor Wat). Stay in a traditional stilted house and you’ll be treated to immense sunset views over the lake, and the chance to join a local fisherman on bring in his daily catch at dawn. Remember- if you’re travelling in dry season (Jan-Apr), you can expect the water levels to be a lot lower, so it won’t be directly on the water during these months.
6. Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Indonesia is home to some of the most spectacular waters on the planet- just ask David Attenborough! And it doesn’t get much better than Nusa Tenggara (also known as the Lesser Sunda Islands). Here, it’s like a set from Game of Thrones; the waters are azure, the mountains are green, the sands are volcanic, and the dragons are fierce (Komodo dragons of course!) There’s only one way to really experience these epic islands and that’s by boat, on an island-hopping cruise. With private cabins, paradise views and your own crew to rustle up your meals, you’ll feel like a king! Snorkel amongst colourful reefs, visit traditional island villages and enjoy a starlit barbeque on a deserted beach. Sounds rubbish, eh?
7. Nika Island, Maldives
Nika is a little island in the Ari Atoll of the Maldives. It’s a pocket of bare-foot paradise, where there’s much to do but take it easy, flick through a book or slink into the luminous waters which lap the powder-white sands. The Maldives is, of course, famous for its amazing water-bungalows, and it’s no different here! These water villas overlook one of the best-preserved barrier reefs in the Indian Ocean and offer a luxurious haven for travellers who fancy spending their days feeling the breeze on their private terrace or snorkelling with a rainbow or marine life. Oof.