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A Kota Kinabalu Escape

by | Destinations, Honeymoons, Location Asia, Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anika Reynolds
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Manukan Island

Nature enthusiasts and outdoorsy couples will delight in a post-wedding getaway to Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Sabah, Borneo.

This alluring Southeast Asian isle is split between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei and is the third largest island in the world.

Boats

From the towering peak of Mount Kinabalu to lush forests and turquoise waters, Borneo is an island of topographical diversity and striking beauty. It’s also home to an array of rare and unusual flora and fauna including orangutans and the Rafflesia flower, the largest flower on Earth!

For those short on time, a few days in Kota Kinabalu is an ideal way to welcome in married life, sans long-haul flight. And, if you’re feeling extra intrepid, the city provides the perfect gateway to explore the rest of exotic Borneo.

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An island day trip

Best for: sun-loving couples

A cluster of gorgeous tropical islands lay just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, so a spot of island hopping is a honeymoon must-do! Join an excursion to Gaya Island for a leisurely day of snorkelling, kayaking and rainforest walks in this pristine nature reserve, which forms part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Gaya Island

Mangrove forest

Nearby Manukan Island is another idyllic choice for beach-loving couples! Simply book a ferry transfer from Jesselton Point and enjoy a day of snorkelling on shallow coral reefs, swimming, parasailing and a laidback lunch at a cute island eatery.

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Paddle and cycle tour

Best for: adventurous newlyweds

Select the Bike Borneo rafting adventure and cycling excursion for a day trip which offers the perfect mix of adventure, sightseeing and nature.

You and your love will clamber aboard an inflatable raft and enjoy a laughter filled morning on the picturesque Kiulu River, splashing down rapids, whizzing by tropical rainforest and spotting native wildlife.

Rafting

Next, it’s cycling time! After getting kitted out, you will spend the afternoon cruising through rural villages and passing by farms, temples and jungle plantations, giving you an authentic insight into local Borneo life.

Temple

It’s a relatively flat, not overly strenuous ride, however you may have to negotiate a few swinging suspension bridges along the way. The good news is a support vehicle is nearby at all times and you have the choice to alter the route to your ability, so you can choose to skip some of the bridges!

A sparkling evening cruise

Best for: wildlife lovers

For a magical evening of glittering fireflies and intriguing wildlife sightings, join a tour to the mysterious Klias Wetlands.

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This natural sanctuary is a haven for native wildlife like eagles, long-tailed macaques and kingfishers, and the ideal place to catch a glimpse of the rare and delightfully unusual Proboscis monkeys. These tree dwellers are endemic to Borneo, so have your eyes peeled for a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.

Klias Wetlands

After the cruise, tuck into a hearty Malaysian-style dinner, before taking a shuttle transfer back to your honeymoon suite – the perfect date night for nature loving couples!

A relaxing stay

Boasting a luxurious spa, lavishly appointed rooms and suites, sparkling swimming pools, four restaurants, three bars and an ideal beachfront location, the Shangri La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa is a gorgeous choice for honeymooners.

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You and your love will wake up to sweeping views of the South China Sea, enjoy sumptuous buffet breakfasts, and choose from activities like yoga, bocce, jet ski rental, and for the young at heart – water bomb fights!

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This exotic haven is surrounded by exquisitely landscaped gardens and has its own private beach. Be sure to book into to a pampering massage at Chi, The Spa and sip cocktails at Sunset Bar, the best place in Kota Kinabalu to catch the last rays of the day.

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All images by Anika Reynolds

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Often overlooked, Kota Kinabalu is an idyllic honeymoon getaway not far from home; the crystal clear waters look so inviting!

About Anika: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!

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Danika and Joel’s Romantic European Honeymoon

by | Honeymoons, Real Honeymoons

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danika Gray
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COMMENTS

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This is our amazing “Euromoon” – five weeks, two newlyweds and many winter wonderland adventures.

Dubai 
Two days for our first stop – incredible Sahara Desert sunsets after dune bashing. A must do but not for the faint hearted!

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Budapest
Incredibly cold, but incredibly beautiful. The Fisherman’s Basilica was breathtaking as we sat inside sipping espresso martinis watching the fresh snow fall across the city. Frost bitten cheeks whilst weaving through the streets – trying all the cheese and hot wine. Yum!

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Salzburg, Austria 
What is an adventure without things not going as planned – some very heavy fog trapped us at Budapest airport for five hours and I could feel our three days in Prague slipping away so instead we decided to jump on a train and get off at the next stop wherever that might be! I believe everything happens for a reason and never more so then when we arrived in Salzburg, Austria.  It just so happens to be the birthplace of Beethoven and the day we arrived just so happened to be his birthday – celebrations everywhere and scenery to die for!! We explored the mountains with a local tour guide and it was breathtaking..the snow covered mountains and icy lakes looked like paintings. Pays to be spontaneous!

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Koln, Germany
Such a gorgeous town! Again we had another little accommodation hiccup but look at our views we ended up with in our last minute hotel! We also spent a few days drinking and pretzel eating our way through Munich; the hofbräuhaus was such an experience – we made a few new friends over a few steins and learnt that a stein is really heavy if you hold it in the air for five minutes trying not to lose.

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Amsterdam
This was one of my favourite stops; it is such a vibrant, young and eclectic city. We hired bikes and followed the winding canals. Anne Franks house, the amazing night life and all the locals’ hidden secrets we were introduced to by a super friendly guy we met in the town square – so much fun!

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Paris
The city of Love!  So much to squeeze into three days but we did it! The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower (at night was amazing), a tonne of Nutella crepes, the Catacombs, Notre Dame Cathedral ( a must do!).Then more Nutella crepes,navigating the subway and our hotel was right opposite the Arc De Triomphe!

I highly recommend The Hidden Hotel – the staff were amazing. We were treated like royalty and they even walked us to their own favourite restaurants where we had the best meal of our whole trip!

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Rome
Amazing! We joined a guided tour for The Colosseum and the city ruins and so glad we did. We were in awe of the history behind this beautiful city and how grand it once must have been. Fresh water throughout the city all linked to the newly renovated Trevi Fountain – so cool. Definitely the most interesting stop – surprisingly didn’t find any amazing pizza but made up for that with their epic gelato!

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Florence
Bike rides. Sunny afternoons. Best coffee all trip and gorgeous scenery!

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Venice
This city captured my heart the moment we arrived – there was something so enticing about getting lost in the maze of canals and buildings. The gondola ride was a highlight – the scenery was breathtaking as the sun poked through for our first sunny day so far. More gelato and spritzers in the sun – bellisimo!

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Lech
This was our last stop! Seven days exploring the mountains of Lech, Austria with my love was the best ending to our winter adventure. Ski, then spa, then après ski. Fresh snow everyday – BLISS! Before our loooong journey home to begin our new life as husband and wife, we spent two days in Geneva, Switzerland eating swiss chocolate and shopping! Just perfect!

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Such a beautiful winter honeymoon; a once in a life time adventure! Your shots of Venice look so lovely…

Honeymoon A – Z: Hua Hin

by | Honeymoons, Honeymoons A-Z, Location Asia

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samantha Chua
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COMMENTS

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Image via Hua Hin

Once a quiet Thai fishing village, Hua Hin became a fashionable escape for affluent Bangkok residents when the Thai royal family built their summer palaces here. The beach-side town is approximate three hours’ drive away from Bangkok and there are even connecting trains to Hua Hin from the capital city too. Although it is no palm-fringed castaway island, Hua Hin is a delightful mix of cosmopolitan ambience, long beaches and old world charm.

5 Places to Stay

1. Devasom Hua Hin
Located on a stretch of private beach, Devasom Hua Hin has earned accolades for its luxury and elegant guest rooms and villas, inspired by Thai architecture. All rooms and villas offer splendid sea views and the charming Thai hospitality is sure to make your stay at Devasom a memorable one. Dine at the resort’s on-site restaurants by the beach and watch as the sun sets to another splendid day.

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Image via Devasom Hua Hin

2. Anantasila Villa by the Sea
Located just south of the town, Anantasila Villa by the sea is a family-run hotel that exudes a warm and friendly atmosphere. The five kilometres of private beach ensures that your perfect honeymoon is not disrupted by peddlers, while their long-standing staff strive to go above and beyond to make sure guests take home fond memories of their stay.

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Image via Anantasila Villa by the Sea

3. Asara Villa and Suites
Designed as a circular complex, you can’t help but feel the exclusivity as you relax in a deck chair amongst the resort’s many swimming areas and tropical lagoons. Escape from the heat at the poolside bar before retreating to your suite that comes complete with an outdoor rain-shower. Even better, enjoy total privacy in your deluxe pool villa that comes complete with your own private plunge pool and garden.

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Image via Asara Villa and Suites

4. Cape Nidhra
For the ultimate indulgence in Hua Hin, you cannot go past Cape Nidhra. A member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels Of The World, Cape Nidhra’s elegant facilities and outstanding services will deliver an unforgettable honeymoon experience. All suites come with your own private pool and wooden deck for the ultimate romantic experience.

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Image via Cape Nidhra

5. Rest Detail Hotel
The charming resort offers a couple’s retreat package where you can enjoy a bottle of bubbly in your private jacuzzi under the stars and surrounded by nature. Complimentary services such as a shuttle bus to Hua Hin town will make you feel completely at ease, whilst the resort looks after your needs. Relax in the picturesque gardens or watch the day go by on the private beach – it’s the ultimate romantic getaway!

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Image via Rest Detail Hotel

5 Places to Visit

1. Maruekhathayawan Palace
The summer seaside palace often referred to as “the palace of love and hope” is one of the oldest and most attractive royal places in Thailand. Maruekhathayawan Palace, raised from the ground on pillars, is entirely made from teak wood. The architectural style is completely different from that of the other Thai palaces with dazzling pointed roofs and vibrant colours.

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Image via Asia Web Direct

2. Phraya Nakhon Cave
If you’re up for some hiking, the Phraya Nakhon Cave can be reached on foot from Laem Sala beach. Although the ascent is rather steep, the spectacular sea view is sure to make the journey worth it. Venture into the mystical Phraya Nakhon Cave and you’ll discover sunlight coming through the cave and a central Thai-style pavilion built by King Rama V in 1896.

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Image via Thailandee

3. Santorini Park
If you would like a change of scene from beachfront resorts, Santorini Park is a new and popular shopping complex, inspired by Santorini Island in Greece. Although some might say it’s a little kitsch, the recreational complex has many spots for photography where you can snap a few pictures of your romantic getaway.

4. Wat Tham Khao Tao
No trip to Thailand is complete without a visit to one of the country’s many Buddhist temples. Wat Tham Khao Tao is situated in the charming village of Khao Tao, best known for its wonderful secluded beach. Make your way to the top of Khao Tao and you’ll find yourself in the large temple of Wat Tham Khao Tao. The temple has a cave with Buddha images and more images are raised right along the shoreline.

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Image via EDT Guide

5. Hua Hin Hills Vineyard
Although Australia has some of the best vineyards in the world, a trip to the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard can be a different experience for wine lovers. Set in a beautiful area just 35 kilometres west of Hua Hin, the vineyard offers superb views across the surrounding countryside. Learn about tropical viticulture from the winery’s professional team, then indulge in some fine food and sample some locally produced wine at the Sala, a Thai-inspired pavilion that also houses a bistro.

5 Things To Do

1. Visit the Hua Hin Train Station
Built during the reign of King Rama VI, Hua Hin’s railway station is one of the area’s landmark. The station’s architecture is Victorian-inspired, apart from a red-and-white pavilion beside the station that once served as the royal waiting room.

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Image via Hua Hin Thailand

2. Get Nostalgic at Plearn Wan
Hua Hin is famous for its quirky charm, and Plearn Wan delivers that with a trip down memory lane. Time seems to have stood still at this funky vintage village – discover stylized versions of old-fashioned shophouses that once occupied the Thai-Chinese districts of Bangkok and Hua Hin, a music store specializing in vinyls, and other bygone shops that pre-date the arrival of 7-Eleven. There’s even an old retro amusement park at the far end of Plearnwan.

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Image via Discovery Thailand

3. Sign up for a Thai cooking class
Possibly the best keepsake you can take home, learn about Thai cooking with a cooking class at Hyatt Regency where expert Thai chefs will impart the skills and art of preparing fine Thai cuisine. You can learn to prepare either a single dish or a complete series of six famous dishes, which is sure to impress your family and friends at your homecoming dinner party!

4. Visit Cicada Market
A trip to Hua Hin is not complete without a visit to one of its markets. The Cicada Market is one of Hua Hin’s coolest open-air market that’s pulsating with activity. Located just outside the Hyatt Regency, the market is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It’s always buzzing with activities where locals and tourists alike pick up casual or funky clothes, cute accessories, and various knick-knacks. Fairy lights strung on trees give this place a whimsical, dreamy atmosphere.

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Image via Cicada Market

5. Explore the Mangrove Swamps at Sam Roi Yot Marine National Park
The mangrove swamps, marshland and pristine beaches of this 90 kilometre reserve are a haven for everything from goats, antelopes and spotted eagles, but what really defines Sam Roi Yot are its limestone peaks that ripple and soar above them. Enjoy the solitude and take a long walk along the boardwalk with spectacular views of the lotus pond.

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Image via Siamvan Travel

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: With luxury accommodation and endlessly long beaches, this dream honeymoon destination is a delightful mix of cosmopolitan city and sea!

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