7 Rainforest Retreats That’re out of This World

7 Rainforest Retreats That’re out of This World

 Wanting to be close to nature yet still enjoy the comforts of home? Malaysia offers a whole range of rainforest resorts of an almost otherworldly beauty. Hop on the new travel trend of treehouse-inspired retreats! Here are some of the most picturesque destinations to give a try.


JapaMala Resort 5
JapaMala Resort
JapaMala Resort 7
JapaMala Resort
JapaMala Resort 6
JapaMala Resort

– JapaMala Resort / Tioman Island, Pahang –

This boutique resort is one of Tioman Island’s most popular holiday spots. Take a step into an amazing new world of tastefully-designed villas, and it’s easy to see why. Nestled amidst lush rainforest greeneries, JapaMala Resort’s gorgeous villas are made for a truly relaxing vacation getaway.

Enjoy a scenic soak in the open-air bathtub, or take a dip in the picture-perfect pool if you prefer relaxing in the outdoors. For more information on JapaMala Resort, click here.


Malihom Retreat 9
Malihom Retreat
Malihom Retreat 2
Malihom RetreatMalihom Retreat 7Malihom Retreat

– Malihom Retreat / Balik Pulau, Penang –

Located in the quieter part of Penang Island, Malihom is home to eight Thai-style granaries that have been converted into fully-equipped accommodation options. Unaffected by the passage of time, the beautifully renovated island resort offers modern comforts in a charming traditional setting. The secluded resort is the perfect place to practice the forgotten art of doing nothing. Gaze at the unbelievable view of the surrounding hills from the rooftop terrace. Or if you have an afternoon nap in mind, get comfortable in one of the rattan hammocks and snooze away.

For more information on Malihom Retreat, click here.


The Dusun 2
The Dusun
The Dusun 3
The Dusun
The Dusun 6
The Dusun
The Dusun 10
The Dusun

– The Dusun / Seremban, Negeri Sembilan – 

A serene eco-resort, the Dusun is home to hilltop bungalows with spectacular views of the surrounding Berembun Forest Reserve. Nature lovers will appreciate the salubrious open-air room, complete with a balcony to reap the health benefits of moderate sun exposure.

Enjoy the cool morning mist before whiling away the day any way you like – whether it’s a spot of yoga in your room, a mid-day dip in the infinity pool, or a barbecue with family and friends.

For more information on The Dusun, click here.

A Boutique Hotel Treasures the Charm of Ipoh

A Boutique Hotel Treasures the Charm of Ipoh

In the old town of Ipoh, a stylish boutique hotel not only blends into its historical surroundings, but also contributes to restoring all its former glory. Check this out.

/// Malaysia ///
Story: Wuthikorn Suthiapa /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham /// Design: Ng Sek San




The history of Ipoh dates back to 1880 when Hakka immigrants arrived for work in tin mines and made a permanent home here. As mining industries continued on the decline, the once exuberant town was losing its luster. A pleasant twist of fate, the waning days of Ipoh attracted the attention of many designers, who banded together to keep the old-world charm from disappearing. Giving it their best shot, they succeeded in bringing Ipoh back in the limelight.

Among the projects aimed at restoring glory to Ipoh was Sekeping Kong Heng, a small boutique hotel designed by Ng Sek San, an internationally renowned Ipoh-born architect. The charming small hotel is tucked away on the upper floors of a three-story Colonial era shop-house complex in the old town. The first floor is reserved for a famous local coffee shop known for a variety of Chinese-style coffees and Ipoh’s favorite dishes. Its food menu includes the noodle dish called Hokkien Mee, satay, and spring rolls. Its existence guarantees that hotel guests will never run short of delicious foods and beverages.





To check in, know that the entrance to the hotel lobby is located on a small alleyway. Sekeping Kong Heng offers three types of accommodation — standard rooms, a family room and glass boxes. With its location, hotel guests can expect the authentic Ipoh experience. They wake up each morning to the heavenly smell of coffee being brewed fresh in the shop below. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The same applies here. Come breakfast time, expect to eat with locals and like locals do. Time well spent is time spent exploring this and other alleyways a stone’s throw away.

The hotel’s time-honored appeal blends seamlessly with Ipoh’s old-world ambience. It’s obvious the Ipoh-born architect has intended to keep this part of town like it has always been. In the process the hotel’s existing structure is left intact. A loft-style twist adds contemporary feel to the hotel’s interior, while patches of greenery adorn the exterior walls keeping the building cool. Open-concept design provides easy access connecting the café to retail shops and a flea market nearby. The architect’s thorough understanding Ipoh’s lifestyle is manifested in the way the hotel is neatly restored. Sekeping Kong Heng now contributes in its small way to breathing new life to the old city.







A Day Trip Through Charoen Krung

A Day Trip Through Charoen Krung

There is more to Charoen Krung than iconic landmarks. Keep walking and you will discover richer cultural heritage beyond the famous tourist attractions. A day trip through the historic riverfront neighborhood is one way to find out. Let the journey begin. 

/// Thailand ///

Story: Bundaree Deewong / Photo: Rithirong Chanthongsuk, Bundaree Deewong, Peerapol Taiyaithieng



The historic neighborhood of Charoen Krung has attracted many tourists and locals looking for a glimpse of old-world Bangkok. Originally called New Road, the avenue and namesake pretty much follows the path of the Chao Phraya River. Rich in historical and cultural heritage, it’s a chic place to chill out if you have time on your hands.

The area is gradually transforming into a “creative district,” thanks to active collaboration between the Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC) and Thai Health, a wellness promotion organization. The initiative is aimed at promoting healthy behaviors for a better lifestyle and eventually mature to become a torchbearer for other districts to follow. Designed by Shma Soen, the project master plan recently won a highly commended award at the World Architecture Festival 2016 in Berlin.


Living ASEAN invites you on a journey for pleasure to discover beautiful places and come back the same day. Let’s get started at:

09.00: The journey begins on the hour at Taksin Bridge BTS Station. The venue is chosen for the start because it is easy to get to. You can come here either by the Bangkok Transit System or by boat services on the Chao Phraya.



On exiting the BTS station at Taksin Bridge or a nearby riverboat pier, take your time to admire Wall Art Exhibitions. Beautiful works by international artists have turned this neighborhood into a landmark ideal for photo shoots.




The first attraction that you shouldn’t miss is Chiew Eng Buai, a beautiful Chinese shrine located a stone’s throw away from the BTS station at Taksin. The historic building was erected in memories of Chinese traders arriving by sailing ships but later killed due to a misunderstanding some 150 years ago. The Chinese architectural masterpiece is bedecked with beautifully patterned tiles, religious images, and dragon statuary. You are most welcome to drop in and pay respects.



From the shrine, take a sidetrack next to the Shangri-La Hotel and you come to Charoen Krung Soi 50. The minor path is home to a Vintage Loft-style hostel named Glur Hotel Bangkok. It is popular among foreign tourists and backpackers looking for a decent place that won’t cost them an arm and a leg.



From the hostel heading north, you are back on the main avenue of Charoen Krung. The famous Bang Rak Market is located between Choroen Krung Soi 46 and 42. It’s a slice of paradise for shoppers and great experience for people who love to eat. The main drag is lined with old row houses showcasing the architectural style of old-world Bangkok.

The Vietnam Experience

The Vietnam Experience

The Vietnam Experience / A photo series by Bill Mullin, an American in the Vietnam War

Looking back over the years, Bill Mullin has created a web page to share his experiences in Vietnam through a series of photographs that he took in the late 1960’s. At the time he was serving in a civilian capacity at the Port of Saigon. Towards the end of his temporary assignment, he traveled often to Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, and Cholon, the predominantly Chinese part of the city.

A Hynos toothpaste advertisement in the city

The armed conflict between North and South Vietnam was over, but much of it is still fresh in his memory. The photo series presents the opportunity to see Vietnam in retrospect. Bill Mullin has one disclaimer. He is not a professional photographer and has never been. The photographs of the 60’s were in 35-mm color slides since negatives were scarce and hard to come by in Vietnam back in the day. Using modern scanner software, he converted the old slides into digital images, and then cleaned up dust and scratches to make them suitable for public viewing. Bill Mullin is not offering his opinion, just sharing his experiences looking at Vietnam in retrospect through the lens.

Inside the Tan Son Nhut terminal
Bill Mullin (left) and his friend
One of the ships in Saigon Port
Outdoor media in ’60s
Road through a park
A country farm
The Ben Thanh market
Movie signs were very colorful. “Johnny Yuma” was an Italian western which was shown in French with Vietnamese, Chinese, and English subtitles!
This movie was “The Thundering Sword” starring Cheng Pei-Pei, who many years later had a major role in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.
Saigon school girls wearing the traditional ao dai.
A family ride
A legal street vendor
Bill Mullin’s jeep in front of a pagoda
This is the nearly completed but still empty American Embassy as photographed in Sept., 1967. Shortly after this Americans began occupying the building. During the Jan., 1968 Tết Offensive, the Viet Cong invaded the embassy! They blew a hole in the wall near the front entrance and were on the grounds around the front entrance where they were all killed or captured. Fortunately the embassy building itself was never entered by the Viet Cong.
The Saigon Medical School
The Continental Palace Hotel. This hotel is very well known throughout western Europe.
A catholic church in Saigon
The National Assembly building
The Presidential palace
Siesta time
This little girl made a colorful picture
Market in Cholon
A Chinese funeral car
A huge buffalo in the countryside
Bill Mullin in front of banyan trees
Nguyen Hue and Tu Do streets during the day
The Eden Roc Hotel & Bar
A 20-second nighttime exposure taken out a hotel window
10 Most Incredible Airbnb Accommodations in the ASEAN

10 Most Incredible Airbnb Accommodations in the ASEAN is not only Bed & Breakfast budget room. Take a peek with us and book a night (or more) in these wonderful Airbnb accommodations for an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enjoy your holidays!





– Bamboo Eco Cottage in a Paddy Field / Indonesia –

Only five minutes away from central Ubud stands a woven bamboo house, where nature lovers can fully enjoy a night next to a rice paddy field. The room comes with an outdoor living area and an open-roof bathroom. This is truly a secluded home to relax away from the hustle and bustle of big cities.




– Stunning Bamboo House by the River / Indonesia –

The title says it all. This Airbnb’s top-picked property is the most favorite among celebrities from around the world. Nestled on the bank of the Ayung River, the whole-bamboo house offers three double-bed bedrooms with en-suite baths, kitchen, lounge, plunge pool, a workspace on the fourth floor. What more could one ask for a perfect luxurious vacation in Bali?




– Superb Property for Movie Shoot or Corporate Event / Singapore –

It’s not common to see a house in Singapore. However, among skyscrapers and high-rise condominiums, there is this large colonial-accent house with a 1-hectare park and a swimming pool available for rent. With a capacity of up to 50 guests, you can even throw an exclusive gala new year here (as long as you keep the noise down as the host requested.)




– House with a Pool on the Mekong / Laos –

The French-Laos colonial house offers a beautiful view of the serene Mekong River and the smaller Nam Dong River. The design is simple yet elegant. It features three large bedrooms with en-suite baths, a living room and terraces. Its private infinity pool parallel to the Mekong River is a nice spot to watch the sunrise and sunset with Mekong as a background.





– Kiridara Villa Ban Visoun / Laos –

The lovely villa is a part of Kiridara Hotel in Luang Prabang, which ensures you a superior hospitality. The 2-bedroom villa is of contemporary Lao style. With historical sites and a local village nearby, guests have a chance to experience the authentic local way of life.



– Studio P I L A; Loft, Comfy Designer’s Home / Thailand –

This loft townhouse in Bangkok also doubles as a studio of a fashion designer. So, a pleasant stay with a trendy and chic host is guaranteed. The hose offers a second floor on the 4-storey building for guests, while the first floor is a reception area and the designer himself lives on the third floor.





– The Mustang Nero / Room No.4 the Horse / Thailand –

This could be one of the most exotic rooms to stay in Bangkok. The building itself is a renovated shop-house. The host cleverly turned The Horse room into a raw, rustic accommodation with a big tree in the middle of it, vintage furnishings and artsy taxidermies. It may not suit guests with fainted hearts, but it is surely impressive.





– The Naked House / Thailand –

The stilt-floor plan house on Samui Island takes advantage of the location for a full panoramic ocean view and fresh natural air. The house takes up to 11 people and also has a saltwater lap pool surrounded by nature. According to a guest’s comment, the real building looks even better than the photos. To prove the statement, book the place and see it for yourself.





– Tropical Paradise Tree House – Famous Homestay / Vietnam –

Supported by only one pillar, just like the historical One Pillar Pagoda, this unique homestay in Hanoi is a tree house where you can actually sleep in. The house is elevated 4 meters from the ground. Contrary to its out worldly tribal-like decoration, the place is equipped with wi-fi and air-conditioning machine for guests’ convenience.




– Charming Villa in Hoi An / Vietnam –

Travel back in time through a stay in this ancient house. The traditional Chinese-influenced wooden house features two spacious bedrooms with en-suite bathroom, one master bedroom, one living room and a swimming pool. With an open-air layout, guests stay close to nature the same way people do in the old days.



Ipoh / A Journey Back In Time

Ipoh / A Journey Back In Time

Foods, retail shops, and buildings that evoke wistful affection for the past are three things that have drawn us to Ipoh.It’s nice to be back to find those gorgeous old hotels and cafe’s doing very well indeed.

/// Malaysia ///

Story: Samutcha Viraporn /// English Version: Bob Pitakwong /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham

A lone Ipoh tree, its namesake, thrives in the front yard of the town’s train station. In times past, sap from the Ipoh was the main ingredient in making poison-tipped arrows that kill.
Old meets new. Creative wall painting ideas add life to the distressed interior of an old-town cafe popular among visitors.
A mixed variety of buns comes crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

The old town sits on the west bank of the Kinta River. Here colonial architecture abounds, the most important landmark of which is Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab. The white Neo-Classic piece of architecture on Club Road is dubbed Ipoh’s Taj Mahal. In front of it stands a lone Ipoh tree, the town’s namesake. In times past, sap from the tree was used as the main ingedient in making poison-tipped arrows that kill. Cross the street, and we come before the majestic Town Hall and nearby Postal Service Building. Beautifully kept Neo-Classic details in shades of white indicate they were products of the colonial period.


The train station is a beautiful piece of architecture.Pardon the appearances. The Majestic Hotel located inside is closed for renovation.
A well-kept postal service building is a graceful sight across from the train station.


The Church of St John The Divine.
The St Michael’s Institution

The city’s main drag leads further north to the historic Church of St John The Divine. At one time it was regarded the largest house of worship in Malaysia when it was completed in 1912. The structure was crafted of building materials known for the best qualities inyears gone by.The exterior walls showcased bare brickwork made of coconut-shell fibers mixed with sugar and egg white to create strong biding agents. There is school, known as the St Michael’s Institution, standing right next to it, as well as a mosque, called Padang.

A journey down memory lane. Well preserved row houses line the peaceful thoroughfare of old-town Ipoh.



Small old-styled shops dot both sides ofPanglima Lane, or Concubine Lane,famed for its cobblestone look.
Walls covered in satirical graffiti abound in public places across town.
One of Malaysia’s oldest restaurants, the FMS, stands graciously on the corner.
Vine-covered shop facades speak to an unhurried lifestyle in this nostalgic part of town.


Left: Tenaca Nasional, Malaysia’s main energy provider, also has an office here in this magnificently kept building. Right: Distressed walls along a shopping arcadeevoke nostalgic feelings on a journey down memory lane.
Retailers showcase interesting arrays of handicraft goods on the covered passageway of Sekeping Hong Heng, an Ipoh neighborhood.

Heading south we come to a commercial district on Jalan Sultan Yussufand Jalan Dato Maharajalela Roads. The areaknown for old-world charms is home to beautiful restaurants, including those dubbed the oldest of Malaysia.There are a few Japanese-owned photo studios that have been here since the 1930s. Rumors had it that they were here to gather intelligence during those thrilling days of yesteryear. Convincingly enough, the Imperial Japanese Army came ashore in 1941.


The Old Town White Coffee, a cafe’ chain ubiquitous across Malaysia, has its origin right here in old Ipoh.
Downtown restaurants are packed when the day is done. There is nothing like mouthwatering collections of recipes, for which Ipoh is famous. Take-outs are available, too.
It makes my day to drop into a local delicatessen offering Chinese-style flaky buns rich in creamy fillings, Xiang Bin.

It’s impossible not to mention the good foodsthat have attracted visitors to Malaysia, and Ipoh for that matter. White Coffee,the famous cofe’ chain, was born here. The same applied to pomelo, dubbed the king of citrus fruits, and Chinese-style flaky buns with creamy filling. Find them at any local delecatessen.  whilst here, look for the greatest taste of the country – Hunan chicken with rice served with bean sprouts the authentic Malaysian way. It’s heaven on earth. And it’s not just those visitors. Malasians from across the nation are drawn here in droves. Ipoh is situated just 200 kilometers by car from the capital Kuala Lumpur.



A memorial in honor of war victims stands in front of the train station.




Yangon / Largest Collection of Colonial Architecture in Southeast Asia

Yangon / Largest Collection of Colonial Architecture in Southeast Asia

Under British rule from 1824 to 1948, Yangon became a significant center of commerce located between India and Singapore. The streets of Yangon offer a glimpse of the opulence of the old city and its heritage. A walking tour is one way to find out.

///  Myanmar ///

Story: Samutcha Viraporn /// Photos: Samutcha Viraporn



After the second Anglo-Burmese war, Yangon was occupied by British troops.  Burma came under British rule, during which time it was declared a province of British India. The British made significant changes to the city of Yangon. In 1853, Dr. W. Montgomery and then lieutenant governor A. Fraser laid out a grid of tree-lined streets for the city of Yangon. New city planning placed the Sule Pagoda at the city center.



After three Anglo-Burmese wars, the British in 1885 occupied all the area of present-day Myanmar. Despite the conflict, many new buildings were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and remained to be seen today. Some of them became government offices, embassies, the stock exchange, even shops and cafés. Others were abandoned and fell in disrepair. In 2012 the Yangon Heritage Trust was established to promote the environmental conservation of Yangon’s rich urban heritage through cohesive planning.




The exhibition about colonial buildings in Yangon Heritage Trust office

One of the programs undertaken by the Trust is the Heritage Walking Tour through downtown areas. People who love architecture can visit the Yangon Heritage Trust office on Pansodan Street. There is an exhibition going along with   useful information about six routes for sightseeing. They are outlined in brochures. If time is not on your side, Living ASEAN recommends a shorter route as an option. The starting point is on Pansodan Street.  Start your journey on foot from here. Turn left into Merchant Road, then another left on to Sule Pagoda Road.  Soon you will come to Strand Road (See this route on the map). Give it two hours or a little more than that, and you witness a lot of Yangon’s glorious past and beautiful heritage. Need a break? Drop into the beautiful Rangoon Tea House for refreshments, or the coffee shop at the Strand Hotel. After a couple of hours on the road, coffee smells like heaven!









You can find some design items at Hla Day shop
Take a seat at Rangoon Tea House




Vann Molyvann / The Forgotten Masterpieces of Phnom Penh

Vann Molyvann / The Forgotten Masterpieces of Phnom Penh

There are more to Cambodia than Ankor Wat or a casino. Phnom Penh itself is a city with a legacy from its glorious days. Many may have lost in time. But some remain; including the architectural buildings designed by Vann Molyvann.        

///  Cambodia ///

Story: Jeremaih Pitakwong /// Photos: Samutcha Viraporn, Damrong Leewairoj

The Royal University of Phnom Penh's library building. Exterior pillars support the building weight (no pillars inside). The building is surrounded by a pond containing raindrops from a gutter.
The Royal University of Phnom Penh’s library building is surrounded by a pond. The building weight relies mainly on the exterior pillar.


The Institute of Foreign Languages's meeting room. The floor is elevated and the roof helps tackle with the heat.
The Institute of Foreign Languages’s meeting room. The floor is elevated and the roof helps tackle with the heat.

Phnom Penh is equipped with a great city-planning. Temples and palaces in the city have a hint of Southeast Asian style component incorporated with French colonial architecture. Although parts of these heritages are deteriorated, their good old days can still shone through.

Among high-rise buildings and growing villages indicating Cambodia’s improving economy, old and valuable buildings are neglected as the government and foreign investors prefer the “Modern” which suggests “Prosperity” rather than renovating its old ones.

However, old doesn’t mean out. Vann Molyvann, has designed “Modern” principal buildings since the 1960s.

Vann Molyvann was born in 1926. He was granted the scholarship from Cambodian government to study architecture at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in France, where many modern architects are nurtured.  After the graduation, he served as a State Architect in 1956 and also played an important role for a period.

The lifted walkway in the back gives a shade to the pathway below.
Details of light boxes a roof and a facade of the Institute of Foreign Languages group of buildings
Details of light boxes a roof and a facade of the Institute of Foreign Languages group of buildings

His significant works was designed and built within 1974; The National Theater (later torn down), the National Sports Complex (a.k.a. Olympic Stadium), the Institute of Foreign Languages inside the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Chaktomuk Conference Hall (renovated). All of his works could be considered as modern and would definitely be treated as national treasures if they were in Europe.

Since the government policies regarding these building are unknown, their futures are uncertain. For those who have an urge for a modern building, a quick sightseeing trip to the remaining site is highly recommended. Also, don’t forget to check out where you can book a private architecture tour in Cambodia conducted by Cambodian architecture students.

The exterior of the National Sports Complex.
The exterior of the National Sports Complex.


A yellow transparent fiberglass partition at the entrance and a gutter below.
A yellow transparent fiberglass partition at the entrance and a gutter below.


Vann Molyvann has designed a proper ventilation system for a tropical climate.
Vann Molyvann has designed a proper ventilation system for a tropical climate.


An area inside the stadium and a press observation deck overlooks the amphitheater.
An area inside the stadium and a press observation deck overlooks the amphitheater.





Details of the indoor stadium roof.
Details of the indoor stadium roof.

At the age of 89, Van Molyvann has returned from his fugitive in France and now living in Siam Reap. While many might have already forgotten about his iconic buildings, it is safe to say his pages in the history will never be erased.

The Splendors of Myanmar’s Botanical Gardens

The Splendors of Myanmar’s Botanical Gardens

Speaking of ecotourism, Myanmar offers vast, well-protected parklands that no nature lovers can afford to overlook. The National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens promise to be a pleasant surprise that all present will long remember. 

/// Myanmar /// 

Story: Panchat Changchan /// Photo: Rithirong Chanthongsuk 





Myanmar, also known as the “Land of pagodas,” is rich in cultural heritage sites and vast parklands well worth a visit. Among them, the National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens are cherished by the eco travelers. The vast parklands are located at 1,000 meters above sea level at the town of Pyin Oo Lwin, some 70 km by road from Mandalay.

At 177 hectares (1,106 Rai), the Botanical Gardens have been in existence since 1915. They were founded by British forests officer Alex Rodger, and Lady Cuff, a botanist. The parklands started small as a vacation town and the summer capital of British Burma during the colonial period. They expanded in recent years and reached the current size in 2000.




Kandawgyi is home to a bewildering array of flora and fauna indigenous to Myanmar’s alpine region. The native plant life includes many species of bamboo, crotons, hundreds of species of orchids, trees, and herbs. A walk in the park is pleasant, and chances are you will come across blooming Wild Himalayan Cherries along the way. It is a wonderful nature reserve for those interested in the interactions among organisms and the environment, which includes swamps, forests, lakes, beautiful botanical gardens, and homes to wetland birds.





For those inspired by a passion for flowering plants and scenery, Kandawgyi offers blooming fields at various places throughout in the park. Hop a ride on board the horse-drawn carriage for a sightseeing tour. It’s one of several unique features of the Botanical Gardens. There are several vista points to take in mountain views and gaze in awe at towering pine trees along the road. 





Many natural splendors have transformed the National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens into an impressive countryside in Myanmar. For the eco-adventurers, these vast parklands promise to be an experience they will long remember.




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