It’s a colour that is often associated with nature, freshness, and relaxation.
Say hello to Greenery, Pantone’s 2017 Colour of the Year! According to Pantone, it was chosen for its revitalising and revitalising shade, and for being a symbol for new beginnings. What better way to start the year fresh by planning an escapade at some of the best green destinations around Southeast Asia.
1. Kundasang, Malaysia
Surrounded by majestic mountain ranges including the highest peak in Malaysia, Mount Kinabalu, Kundasang is not only a pit stop for mountain climbers but also a popular sojourn for visitors looking for a tranquil holiday. Located just a couple of hours by drive away from Kota Kinabalu, this biodiversity-rich area hosts a number of attractions including Kinabalu Park, Desa Cattle Dairy Farm, Poring Hot Springs, Tagal Luanti Sungai Moroli fish spa. Don’t forget to pick some fresh fruits and vegetables at the traditional market in Pekan Nabalu.
2. Sa Pa, Vietnam
Few travellers who have ventured into Vietnam’s northwest terrains can deny the beauty of Sa Pa’s scenic terraced rice fields, the fascinating culture and heritage of the Black Hmong and Red Dao tribes that inhabit the area, and even the touristy buzz of the little hill station town. The town was founded by the French in 1922. Nowadays, it is where accommodation, food, tour companies, as well as souvenir shopping for tribal crafts and textiles can be found.
3. Nong Khiaw, Laos
Still relatively tucked away from the backpacker-laden banana pancake trail, Nong Khiaw offers stunning views of the Mekong River flanked by lush greenery and rugged karst mountains. You can partake in outdoor activities such as trekking, cycling, and rock climbing, or take some time to chill in town and chat up with the locals, who are always willing to practice their English with foreigners. This scenic little town is worth the visit not only for the landscape, but also to see and experience the Laotian way of life.
4. Bandung, Indonesia
Being the largest country in Southeast Asia, Indonesia surely has a wealth of options for green getaways. One of them is Bandung, a cool hilly city dubbed by the Dutch as ‘Paris Van Java (Paris of Java)’ thanks to its European-like atmosphere during the colonial times. Flanked by three mountains, the area offers a myriad of places to enjoy the abundance of nature, such as tea plantations, strawberry fields, hot springs, volcanic peaks, as well as outdoor adventure parks.
5. Banaue, Philippines
Getting to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Banaue is not particularly easy, as it requires a 10-hour bus ride from Manila through treacherous mountain roads and sometimes bumper-to-bumper traffic. But the unparalleled views and tranquil atmosphere of the terraced rice fields that were cultivated by hand by the indigenous Ifugao people more than 2,000 years ago more than makes up for it. You can also find the scenery immortalised in 1,000 Philippine Peso note, though it is nothing compared to actually being there to inhale the crisp fresh air.
6. Chiang Khan, Thailand
Visitors looking for a chill-out holiday in Thailand usually go for Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai, but this gem in the northwest of the country is starting to gain traction amongst seasoned travellers. The charming town of Chiang Khan is dotted with wooden shophouses and surrounded by serene paddy fields, flowing rivers, and mountains all around. Think Pai but with much less organic fruit juice bars and Singha t-shirt-clad backpackers, and an abundance of greenery if you would simply take a moment to look around.
7. Ulu Temburong National Park, Brunei
How would you like to wake up to the melodic sound of Bornean Gibbons singing in the morning? Known as the ‘Green jewel of Brunei’, this national park gazetted in 1991 is a largely untouched rainforest that is rich with flora, as well as various species of birds, butterflies, and wildlife. You can make the day trip from Bandar Seri Begawan, or stay at the Ulu Ulu Resort, which has rooms ranging from a dormitory to a family suite.
8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Okay, what’s a capital city doing in this list of greenery? Well, aside from the Petronas Twin Toweys and its rapid urban development, Kuala Lumpur is also blessed to be located in close proximity with lush rainforests, pristine rivers and waterfalls, as well as soaring highlands, reachable in just an hour’s drive away from the city. Some well-known places like Ulu Yam and Kuala Kubu Bharu have a wide variety of accommodation options that range from chic riverside chalets to upscale bungalows, making them popular with visitors on short weekend excursions from the city.
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