Top 10 luxury spas in Asia – where to get pampered from Hong Kong to Borneo
Whether you need an hour or two’s treatment or a week-long wellness getaway, we’ve got just the places for you
Weight loss, anti-ageing and stress management programmes, ancient healing techniques, exotic locations and personal service – travellers looking for a spa retreat in Asia are spoilt for choice. Here is our top-10 list of the places to go for some pampering.
Spa Safari at Nihiwatu Sumba Island, Indonesia
This resort overlooks the southern Indian Ocean. Its Spa Safari at Nihi Oka is well worth the 90-minute trek through rolling hills, local villages and rice paddies. A breakfast is served on a tree platform, followed by unlimited private spa treatments on the clifftop or down on the beach. Start with a foot bath, and your therapist will massage you as you recharge to the calming sound of waves crashing. If one day isn’t enough and you are feeling romantic, opt for the overnight Uma Izzie package, which includes one night at Nihi Oka’s one and only Honeymoon Villa.
Wellness Sanctuary at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa, Koh Samui, Thailand
Built around a monk’s cave, this retreat combines integrative holistic medicine with Eastern as well as Western therapies to balance mind and spirit. Wellness packages include programmes for stress and burnout, detox, optimal fitness, ideal weight, emotional balance, sleep enhancement and yoga. Book at least five or seven nights, as it will take two days to leave your urban life behind.
The spa treatments include massages, scrubs, acupuncture, shirodhara liquid therapy, and chi nei tsang abdominal massage. Opt for yoga classes, dips in the plunge pools and moments in the steam cavern in-between. A tip: schedule an evening spa and ask for the treatment room in the corner, built on stilts. Sit back and enjoy a soundtrack of cicadas in the background.
Fivelements, Bali, Indonesia
Raw vegan dishes make this eco-luxury wellness retreat in the Balinese jungle along the Ayung River stand out. It also dishes up authentic Balinese healing traditions (energy healing, deep bodywork, and meditation) and yoga. Based on traditional Balinese recipes, superfood ingredients are freshly prepared and also used in the beauty treatments, massages and bathing rituals. Cucumbers are sliced to create hydrating facial masks, and Balinese salt crystals are mixed with virgin coconut oil for rich body scrubs.Aloe vera and kaffir lime are pressed for revitalising bath rituals, while raw cacao is heated up for a deeply nourishing body mask. You can choose between the Rejuvenation Retreat, Detox Retreat and the Culinary Retreat. However, there are only nine suites, so book ahead, or pop in for a single spa treatment and opt for the signature Chakra Balancing session. The watsu pool is a favourite feature.
Aman Spa at Amanemu, Shima, Japan
Set in a forest in Japanese ryokan style, Amanemu is based on Japan’s centuries-old onsen tradition, built around natural hot springs. The 2,000 square metre Aman Spa embraces this ancient bathing ritual with two large onsen pavilions and a watsu pool overlooking pearl-studded Ago Bay, the source of world-renowned Mikimoto pearls. The mineral-rich, salt-infused water, recognised for its healing properties, is also incorporated into all its spa treatments, and in each spacious suite, you can soak in your very own square bathtub of hot-spring water.
Relax those tired muscles after a day of exploring the historic pilgrimage routes the region is famous for. The water can also ease joint and nerve pain and heal skin ailments, as well as burns and cuts. Opt for a yoga class, or their herb-based kampo treatment (based on the idea that body and mind are inseparable), which combines local algae, known for its potent antioxidants, and local pearl powder.
Ananda Spa at Ananda in the Himalayas, Rishikesh, India
A short drive from Rishikesh in the north of India, overlooking the snaking Ganges, the magical Ananda is the ideal place to de-stress and recharge. Spanning 25,000 square feet, it offers 80 treatments for body and face, 24 treatment rooms, a gymnasium, heated outdoor swimming pool and hydrotherapy facilities. The spa incorporates the country’s ancient knowledge of Ayurveda and yoga. Focus on optimal fitness and nutrition or wellness goals with a detox or weight-loss programme and receive advice on how to continue the process back home.
The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Spread over two floors, this urban sanctuary is a cocoon-like bubble of nurturing, relaxation and tranquillity in the heart of the city. Start in the holistic area, which includes a vitality pool, sauna, crystal steam room, ice fountain, experience shower and a relaxation lounge. Men can indulge in a hammam steam experience, while women can enjoy a rasul mud treatment. Go for the signature Digital Wellness Escape, or a lymphatic drainage massage.
Spa Village Gaya Island on Gaya Island Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Nestled in the hillside on an island within the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Sabah, Malaysia, this resort is also for thrill seekers looking for action including kayaking, hiking and snorkelling. The spa is operated by YTL Hotels’ Spa Village, Malaysia’s award-winning spa brand known for honouring the region’s cultural healing traditions. Hidden between lush mangroves, Spa Village Gaya Island is a haven surrounded by the island’s distinct flora and fauna. The treatments utilise local ingredients, including from the lowland forests, as well as nearby Mount Kinabalu. A wide selection of spa treatments reflects the rituals of Sabah’s indigenous people, ranging from specialised rice scrubs and coconut hair masks to hot herbal baths and seaweed body wraps.
Ojas at Como Shambhala Estate, Bali, Indonesia
Deep in the jungle near Ubud, Bali, and perched high above the roaring Ayung River, Como Shambhala is a 3½ hectare private estate, which includes a natural spring supplying water for the spa as well as the Vitality pool. Como’s holistic 360-approach allows it to offer a range of packages. It offers six wellness programmes: Ayurveda, Oriental Medicine, Cleanse, Be Active, Rejuvenation and Stress Management. The Ojas wellness centre plays a key role. Find inner balance with yoga, qigong and tai chi, as well as body treatments and aqua therapy sessions in the Vitality pool. Boost circulation at the outdoor jungle gym and hike down to the natural rock pools.
Baan Thai Spa by Harnn at InterContinental Baan Taling Ngam, Koh Samui, Thailand
Perched 120 metres above sea level with views of tropical jungle and the Gulf of Thailand, Baan Thai Spa is separated from the rest of the resort, offering a refuge wrapped in blue hues and teakwood. It consists of four treatment rooms, a Thai massage room, and a couple’s suite with a bathtub for two, rain and steam showers and side-by-side treatment beds. The beautiful herbal steam shower is definitely a highlight. Start in the tea ceremony area and end it with light refreshments and some further relaxation on the terrace overlooking Baan Taling Ngam bay. Baan Thai Spa offers a vast spa menu, which includes Signature Harnn treatments, and the spa also boasts a Holistic and Ayurvedic Consultation Room, as well as a day spa room for mani-pedis and hair treatments.
Mala Spa at Keemala, Phuket, Thailand
Far from the tourist crowds and overlooking Kamala Village and the Andaman Sea, Keemala is in the lush hills of Phuket. It offers home-grown food and therapies that marry traditional healing with anti-ageing skin treatments. Mala Spa has eight spacious treatment rooms designed for a multisensory experience. Find balance with a raindrop healing therapy or a reiki session, and feel lighter with the slimming massage. All spa products are parabens- and cruelty-free. Keemala also hosts practitioners who specialise in holistic therapies and traditional healing, including shiatsu, Mayan abdominal massage, aromatherapy, and vibrational attunement.
Think weight loss, anti-ageing and stress management,
coupled with exotic locations, ancient healing traditions and
attentive personal service, and you get a winning recipe to
soothe mind, body and soul. Leading the way in wellness tourism, Asia just seems to have it all.