Looking for the best places to detox, lose weight, de-stress, get fit, do yoga, and be a better, healthier you? Here are some of the best health resorts in Asia..
When people hear that I write spa books and am a judge for the regional AsiaSpa Awards, they always want to know which ones are the best. Not the best spa books (the shameless answer is: mine!), but which are the best spas. To which I usually reply, oh god, there are so many! Most of the world’s best are in Asia, where exotic locations, ancient healing traditions, and outstanding personal service create luscious environments for fostering well-being.
Where are some of Asia’s top places to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit? Here are my top 10 this year.
Kamalaya Koh Samui
Conceived as a sanctuary for holistic healing by founders John and Karina Stewart, who spent many years living in Kathmandu, Kamalaya Koh Samui offers wellness retreats, detox, cleansing, yoga, emotional healing, and spiritual offerings whose quality and excellence has led to numerous awards.
Set on a lush hillside on a secluded beach, its creative and delicious organic health cuisine, open-air wellness center, and open-air restaurants provide a connection to the lush natural surroundings that are part of the mind-body renewal process.
With a wide range of holistic and spiritual offerings, the wellness center offers spa and pampering treatments, detox, colonics, Thai and Ayurvedic treatments, resident Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors, yoga, meditation, fitness training, and an active calendar of visiting healers from around the world who offer energy healing, sound therapy, emotional healing, chakra balancing, life coaching, osteopathy, and cranial sacral therapy, just to name a few. This is a place to heal the spirit as well as the body and mind.
BOOK YOUR STAY – Get all their packages, best price guaranteed, advice on planning & travel, and book online here.
Chiva-Som International Health Resort, Hua Hin
Throw away your cigarettes and leave the children at home, because both are no-nos at this serious health resort in the royal beach town of Hua Hin.
Twenty years ago Chiva-Som was region’s first luxury destination health resort and paved the way to Thailand’s popularity as the spa capital of Asia. All activities revolve around the gleaming health center, where spa and wellness treatments take place in sleek facilities modeled after a European luxury spa.
Arriving guests get health consultations and a custom-tailored program featuring daily massages. The restaurant focuses on fat-free, weight-control food, and raw green leaves dominate at the buffet.
The expensive, somewhat corporate environment makes it popular with stressed-out CEO types who mostly come for weight loss, stress management, anti-ageing, and pampering, as well as jet set celebrities like Kate Moss, David and Victoria Beckham and Elizabeth Hurley.
The spa offerings include a vast range of holistic and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, energy healing, iridology, Emotional Freedom Technique, aqua aerobics, hypnosis, physiotherapy, yoga, Pilates, and personal fitness training from a rotating list of visiting healers and wellness consultants.
If you’ve ever dreamed of going to a fitness boot camp to kick start your weight loss or train for a marathon, this is the place to go. It might even sound a bit frightening to couch potatoes whose idea of sports is watching football on TV with a beer in hand. With the tagline “Get More Out of Life”, Thanyapura was created specifically to promote health, wellness and a better life through sports and a more active lifestyle. Top coaches and cutting-edge programs offer triathlon training, mind training and education to preventive medicine.
The vast complex includes four centers – a Sports and Leisure Club, the Mind Centre, Thanyapura Health and Phuket International Academy, plus a Sports Hotel and affiliated Thanyamundra wellness retreat. Facilities include a day spa, kids and teen clubs, arts studio and performance center plus restaurants featuring organic cuisine, wine, and cooking school. An amazing range of sports academies offer teams, training and competitions at all levels and ages, including football, aquatics, tennis, rugby and triathlon academies.
Expect to see an Olympic size pool, rugby pitch, soccer pitch, athletic track, extreme boot camp and assault courses, and state of the art fitness center and martial arts studios. While top professional athletes from around the world come here for training, it’s open to anyone at any level and welcomes individuals and groups, from amateur sports lovers to corporate groups and local residents.
Samahita Wellness Retreat, Koh Samui
Originally started as Yoga Thailand resort by a yoga teaching couple, this beachside Ashtanga yoga retreat and teacher training center evolved into Samahita Wellness Retreat, encompassing a wellness center offering massages, detox, colonic, and holistic wellness programs.
Located on an amazingly pristine beach in a tranquil bay, it has three yoga studios including a beachfront yoga pavilion.
Samahita’s active calendar offers regular teacher training programs drawing students from around the world for international teacher certification, plus visiting yoga teachers and a variety of yoga, detox and wellness retreats and packages, daily, short and long-term. The laid-back, open-air beach dining room offers organic, low-fat, high energy, mostly vegetarian food and the small size and casual atmosphere creates a cozy, friendly community spirit in which guests bond easily in the community dining room and poolside.
BOOK YOUR STAY – Get all their packages, best price guaranteed, advice on planning & travel, and book online here.
Ananda in the Himalayas, Rishikesh
Set in a fantastic hilltop maharajah’s palace in the Himalayan foothills, this luxury Ayurvedic spa is as remote and as spiritual as you can get. The sacred Ganges wends its way through the valley, with the neighboring town of Rishikesh, famed birthplace of yoga, bursting with yoga ashrams and temples on the riverside below.
Ananda in the Himalayas specializes in Ayurvedic healing, India’s ancient holistic system using medicated oil treatments and foods to bring the body back to its natural balance and health.
A consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor determines each guest’s body type and current imbalances, and prescribes a personalized Ayurvedic program consisting of daily massage treatments using medicated Ayurvedic herbs and oils following ancient traditional therapies.
Daily yoga and meditation classes are held in regal outdoor pavilions or in the palace ballroom, and visiting healing masters offer retreats such as Quit Smoking, Diabetes and Cholesterol Management, Living With Arthritis, to alternative modalities like shiatsu, reiki, psycho energy healing, crystal healing, chakra healing and color therapy. Fitness sessions are available in the gym, along with hiking in the hills and white water rafting on the Ganges.
Como Shambhala Estate, Ubud
This uber-luxe wellness resort is secluded in the lush forested hills near Ubud. Devoted to mind-body-spirit programs that are “not everything to everybody but the best to an exacting few”, Como Shambala Estate is a favored health destination for tropical luxury lovers and is famed for its elegant tropical villa interiors as much as its health offerings.
With a luxurious spa in the midst of extensive grounds, you can expect plenty of feel-good massages and facials alongside high quality organic health cuisine, and a variety of wellness retreats, workshops, seminars and other holistic health-related events led by renowned visiting masters.
Retreat programs here focus on intensive yoga, Pilates and other wellness practices with a results-driven agenda that generally involve five hours of practice each day over a five-day period that also includes workshops, organic and raw cuisine and wellness therapies.
Fitness and martial arts activities take place in the state-of-the-art gym as well as local adventure activities like nature hikes, biking and rafting amidst Bali’s stunning rice paddies and river gorges.]
Peppers Sentosa Seminyak Spa, Seminyak
This contemporary spa is perfect for people who want a fun, healthy holiday without hiding away in a remote location. Conveniently located in fashionable Seminyak beach amidst its chic boutiques, galleries, trendy eateries and bars, Peppers Sentosa Seminyak Spa is a full-service wellness center within a stylish boutique resort. Here it’s easy to combine a detox cleanse or wellness program with shopping, sightseeing and surfing just outside the resort gates. Inside the property, private garden-enclosed pool villas also offer complete privacy from the outside world for those who want a personal sanctuary.
The spa offers an impressively comprehensive range of wellness options, from pampering massages and beautifying facials, to holistic energy healing, detox and colonic programs, juice-fasting, weight-loss programs, energy healing, chakra-balancing, crystal healing, life coaching, and even anti-ageing medical spa services such as Botox, filler, skin rejuvenating, vitamin and mesotherapy treatments provided by certified dermatologists.
Attention is put into providing custom-tailored wellness programs for individual needs, with a pre-arrival questionnaire assessing guests’ wellness goals and a wellness consultant on arrival. Whether you want to lose weight, heal emotional issues, or get pampered and beautified, this spa is an easy one-stop destination offering the full range of wellness options.
The Yoga Barn, Ubud
With a rustic , down-to-earth spiritual vibe, the unpretentious Yoga Barn was created to foster community spirit and give back to the island. Located in the heart of Ubud, Bali’s cultural hub, The Yoga Barn is a full service yoga studio, holistic healing retreat center and small guest house hotel for retreat guests.
Dedicated to healing and renewal, it offers diverse programs taught by resident teachers and visiting faculty. Daily classes and workshops range from traditional yoga styles of Classical Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, Power, Pranayama, Restorative, Iyengar, Yin, and Anusara yoga. Other modalities include Meditation, Sound Medicine, and more esoteric Kirtan and Ecstatic Dance. Ongoing activities feature yoga teacher trainings, group retreats, special workshops, musical events, and private one-on-one classes on site. Classes are open to all levels from beginner to advanced.
The Yoga Barn’s well-established Holistic Healing center includes Ayurvedic rejuvenation, cleansing and detox retreats, sound medicine, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, naturopathy, Infra-Red sauna, and many more. The café offers an organic health menu and The Yoga Shop is stocked with all yoga and holistic needs. Nestled beside Ubud’s charming rice paddies, the Yoga Barn is walking distance to the Monkey Forest as well as the town’s hip shops and restaurants.
Barberyn Ayurveda Resorts, Sri Lanka
Founded 30 years ago with a pioneering vision to create a healing resort where people receive traditional Ayurvedic healing on a beautiful beach, Barberyn was long an insider’s health destination known only by word of mouth through mostly European wellness seekers In pursuit of improved health. There are two properties, the original Barberyn Reef Resort Beruwala, on a quiet beach on the west coast and the newer Barberyn Beach Resort Welligama, in the south, on a spectacular hillside sweeping down to the sea.
Barberyn is dedicated to healing through traditional Ayurvedic treatments consisting of custom-tailored, doctor-prescribed programs of daily Ayurvedic medicated oil massages, treatments, herbal medicines and tonics, and pure Ayurvedic cuisine supervised by a doctor in the dining room who ensures that guests on prescribed food programs stick to the foods designed to bring the body back into balance.
Many people come here for treatment for serious medical conditions, such as recovery from strokes or surgery, healing from cancer, weight loss or relief from illnesses through alternative holistic healing rather than pills and drugs. Others simply come for a healthy holiday in a homey, friendly atmosphere while enjoying the fabulous beaches and sightseeing outings exploring the exotic culture of Sri Lanka.
The Farm at San Benito, Philippines
The only wellness sanctuary of its kind in the Philippines, The Farm offers holistic rejuvenation on the grounds of an eco-friendly, lush coconut plantation a few hours outside Manila.
Popular for detox retreats, its Prevention and Recovery Retreats focus on medically guided detox to cleanse the body, with psycho-emotional detoxification as an integral part of the program to cleanse the system of repressed and negative emotions that lead to illness.
Recognized for its spa cuisine, it features one of Asia’s first vegan restaurants as well as a raw food restaurant, using produce fresh from its own organic garden. Wellness packages include customized detox treatment programs, yoga retreats, and healing retreats tailored to individual needs. All programs are personalized, using a Guest Health Questionnaire to customize a program based on specific needs, goals, and state of health.
Also recognized for its 100% pure extra virgin coconut oil products, which are used in spa treatments and cooking, The Farm donates part of its coconut oil earnings to support the local community and environment.
Looking for ideas on where to take yourself on a fabulous luxury yoga holiday? Find out here.
Have you been to any of these or other great wellness retreats in Asia? What were your experiences like and did they help you improve your health?