The Top 10 Resort Hotels in Southeast Asia
With lush forests, tropical islands, turquoise gulfs, and incredible biodiversity, it’s no wonder that Southeast Asia is a major draw for travelers looking to escape the bustle. And thanks to the region’s share of upscale resort hotels, the options for a restful getaway are endless.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.
Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards
While the majority of properties on this year’s list are located in Thailand, two locales in Vietnam and Laos also made the cut. The 34-room Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, in Luang Prabang, Laos, is one of a handful of boutique hotels that combine luxury with history in this UNESCO World Heritage city. “A beautiful, restful, well-situated oasis of peace and serenity,” wrote in one fan of the Belmond, which has three-acres of gardens, an open-air spa, and a freshwater pool. (Adding to the dramatic setting: the resort is set high on a hill where years ago, young Laotian princes would come to fly their kites.)
Hoi An, Vietnam, too, is gaining a reputation as a popular beach destination, with the recent overhaul of 100-room Four Seasons Resort the Nam Hai — one of the first notable beach resorts there by an international brand. Said one respondent of the property, which placed third on the list: “It was the most beautiful place I have ever stayed. A superlative experience in every possible way.” But the Nam Hai wasn’t the only Four Seasons property that wowed readers: three of the brand’s Thailand resorts (in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, and on Koh Samui) also made the list.
In Thailand, the winners are equally divided between beach and island getaways in the south — like the idyllic Amanpuri in Phuket or the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui — and remote retreats in the north, around the famed Golden Triangle at the border with Laos and Myanmar. Chiang Rai, with properties like Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, and Chiang Mai, home to the gorgeous 137 Pillars House, are the centers of the action.
Unsurprisingly, our No. 1 property this year — an 11-year-old resort in one of the region’s most breathtaking destinations — also calls Thailand home. Read on for the full list.
10. Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Luang Prabang, Laos
9. Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai, Thailand
8. Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, Chiang Rai, Thailand
7. 137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai, Thailand
6. Banyan Tree, Phuket, Thailand
5. Four Seasons Resort, Chiang Mai, Thailand
4. Four Seasons Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand
3. Four Seasons Resort the Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam
2. Amanpuri, Phuket, Thailand
1. Six Senses, Yao Noi, Thailand
Absent from past lists, this 56-villa resort lands at the top in 2018 after updates to the spa and some of the private villas. Located on Yao Noi, an island in Thailand’s striking Phang Nga Bay, the Six Senses Yao Noi is surrounded by crystal-blue water, mangrove forests, and limestone cliffs. Since opening in 2007, the property has become an icon in the area, owing to its focus on community engagement and sustainable tourism (its grounds were formerly a rubber plantation, which the Six Senses team has replaced with new trees and plants). Guests praise the scenery, with comments like “otherworldly” and “breathtakingly beautiful,” but the hospitality and attention to detail that all Six Senses resorts are known for are what really won readers over (in fact, it’s the No. 1 hotel brand this year). Said one respondent, “The location is wonderful — but the service is what made the difference.”
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.