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Asia's lesser-known islands

Whether clients want to snorkel in coral-rich waters or stroll on talcum powder-soft sand, they can experience Asia without the crowds on its lesser-known islands, says Abra Dunsby

TRFBLI
Koh Rong Samlon island
Koh Rong Samlon island
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Asia boasts a whole host of islands for clients seeking an off-the-beaten track experience, says Abra Dunsby

Clients might have already bronzed themselves in Bali, lazed on the beach in Bohol and slurped ice teas on Koh Samui, but if they are after something different this time, Asia also boasts a whole host of islands for an off-the-beaten track experience.

Tioman Island, Malaysia

Sitting like a sparkling gem in the South China Sea, Tioman Island is paradise personified, complete with palm-dotted shores, wildlife-teeming rainforest and tumbling waterfalls.


Rebecca Turner, senior product manager for Asia at Gold Medal recommends clients stay at the Japamala resort, which is located on an uninhabited stretch of the island’s southern coast and offers activities including jungle treks.

 

“The resort was designed to preserve its natural surroundings with chalets and villas crafted from restored timber, bamboo and natural materials,” she says.


“To get there, clients must take a land transfer from Kuala Lumpur to Mersing, then a speedboat transfer straight to Japamala. We recommend a pre and post-night stay in Kuala Lumpur to break up the journey.”


Book it: Gold Medal offers a nine- night trip to Malaysia, including seven nights on Tioman Island staying in a Tree Top Chalet at Japamala on a B&B basis, including flights from Heathrow and transfers, from £1,699. Valid for travel from September 14 to September 21, 2018. goldmedal.co.uk

 

Koh Yao Yai, Thailand

 Koh Yao Yai, Thailand

Despite the millions of clients who descend upon Thailand each year for sun, sea and sand, the destination hhas managed to keep a handful of untouched islands.

 

Located between Phuket and Krabi in the Andaman Sea, Koh Yao Yai is one such spot. Clients can laze on its hidden beaches or explore its traditional villages, while adventurers can trek through rainforest or climb its mountains.


Mark Mallinson, assistant product manager at Travel 2, recommends a stay at eco-luxury resort Santhiya Koh Yao Yai, made up of 109 deluxe rooms each boasting marvellous views. “The resort offers an abundance of activities from Muay Thai to kayaking, or for something a bit more relaxing try a spa treatment at the Ayurvana Spa.” The resort is accessed via a 20-minute speedboat from Phuket’s Ao Po Grand Marina.


Book it: Travel 2 offers seven nights at Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort & Spa on a B&B basis from £889pp, including flights from Heathrow and transfers. Valid for travel between September 1 and October 31. travel2.com

 

Koh Rong, Cambodia

in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville Province has thus far evaded much of the spotlight, despite being the filming location for popular TV show Survivor.

 

That’s set to change though so encourage your clients to visit sooner rather than later, says Nikki Hain, product manager at Premier Holidays: “From this year, there are five modern ferry services to the island from Sihanounkville, so getting to Koh Rong is now easier than ever.”


For pure escapism, Hain recommends Song Saa Private Island hotel nestled in the Koh Rong archipelago. “The island is ideal for clients who want to while the hours away outdoors with swimming, snorkelling, cycling and hiking all on offer,” she says.


Book it: Premier Holidays offers seven nights at The Royal Sands on a B&B basis from £1,795pp including flights and transfers. trade.premierholidays.co.uk

Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa, Japan

Visitors are starting to cotton on to the beauty of this archipelago of 160 white-sand islands framed by warm, crystalline waters that has earned it the nickname “the new Hawaii”.

 

Its coral-rich waters make it popular with divers, while a subtropical climate means it’s perfect for a fly- and-flop, cocktail-in-hand trip.

 

The actual island of Okinawa has been named the healthiest island in the world, boasting more centenarians than any other place on the planet. The slow pace of life is no doubt good for the residents, and clients can enjoy their own dose of calm with a stay at Iraph Sui, a new Luxury Collection Hotel opening in Okinawa this year.


Book it: Abercrombie & Kent offers a 14-night tailor-made trip to Japan, which includes a visit to Okinawa. The trip is priced from £4,995pp and includes flights, accommodation, transfers and touring from £4,995pp. abercrombiekent.co.uk

Flores, Indonesia

Flores, Indonesia

If they have been to Bali and Lombok and want to embark on a culture and wildlife focused experience this time, tell clients to consider Flores and Komodo, says Daniel Hancock, senior product executive at Audley Travel.

 

“Flores is one of the most beautiful islands in Indonesia with warm tropical waters, lush rainforest and traditional villages,” he says.


On Flores, Hancock recommends visiting the bustling market town of Ruteng and exploring some of the area’s untouched and traditional villages around Bajawa.

 

As part of the trip, clients can also take a two-night cruise from Flores around Komodo and Rinca islands, in search of the world’s largest, most exotic lizard: the Komodo dragon. Hancock recommends finishing the trip off with a relaxing three-night stay in Bali.


Book it: Audley Travel offers a 15-day Komodo and Flores: Indonesian Island Explorer tour from £4,835pp based on two sharing, including accommodation, flights, transfers, a two-night cruise, excursions and a private car and driver. audleytravel.com

Mergui archipelago, Myanmar

Mergui archipelago, Myanmar

The undiscovered Mergui archipelago lies off the far south coast of Myanmar, and is made up of hundreds of beautiful islands blessed with coral reefs and idyllic beaches.

 

Pandaw River Expeditions has created a new, limited edition itinerary that visit a number of different islands in the archipelago, with opportunities to snorkel or kayak up rivers into the mangrove forests.

 

Pandaw chief executive Paul Strachan says: “We have identified key islands, some with communities of Baptist Karens loyal to the Karen National Union, others with the Moken sea gypsies who speak an unusual sort of Malay. The majority are totally deserted with pristine white beaches, coral and diverse bird and sea life, not to mention the odd reptile like giant monitor lizards.”

 

Book it: Pandaw’s Burma Coastal Voyage starts from $4,450pp, based on two sharing a cabin, or $6,350 for single occupancy. Price includes 10 nights on the Andaman Explorer, excursions, meals, kayaks and snorkelling equipment. Four departure dates are confirmed for November 5 and 18, 2018, and January 5 and 18, 2019. pandaw.com

Lagen Island, Philippines

Lagen Island, Philippines

There are more than 7,000 islands for clients to choose from in the Philippines, and yet many still opt for the bustling beaches of Boracay or Cebu.

 

Those looking for their own secret slice of paradise should consider Lagen Island, says Hayes & Jarvis destination manager Emma Bullard.

 

“Unknown to the typical traveller, Lagen is a private island set in magnificent surroundings, with nature, marine activities and relaxation at its heart,” she says.

 

“Days can be spent enjoying complimentary activities including snorkelling, island hopping to the nearby beach clubs, kayaking on the lagoons or simply relaxing by the pool.”

 

Bullard recommends selling Lagen Island as part of a multi- centre package, allowing clients to explore more of the Philippines’ luscious island treasures.


Book it: Hayes & Jarvis is offering a nine-night holiday to the Philippines from £2,499pp, including flights and two nights at Pan Pacific Manila, six nights at El Nido Resorts Lagen Island, and one night at the Pan Pacific Manila, all on a B&B basis. Price based on June 14 departures. hayesandjarvis.co.uk

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