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Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. If you’re lucky enough to be spending the big day in one of the countries of Indochina, you’re in for a treat! The combination of colonial elegance, pristine beaches, beautiful weather and outstanding natural scenery make it one of the finest places in the world to enjoy a little romance – at any time of year. So without further ado, here are some of our favourite romantic experiences across Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Halong Bay by seaplane
One of the most iconic landscapes in Asia, Halong Bay covers an area of 580 square miles in the Gulf of Tonkin. Known for its scenery of steep-sided limestone pinnacles, criss-crossed by Chinese-style junk boats and often shrouded in mist, this is one of the world’s most beautiful cruise destinations.
Wallet-friendly: Cruises range from single day to several-night, and encompass various different grades of vessel. Our favourite option for those travelling on a more modest budget is a one-night cruise on a Bai Tho junk.
Splash out: If your pockets are deep enough, you can eschew the humble car and fly to Halong Bay via seaplane! We didn’t think it could get much cooler than a cruise on the bay, but apparently it can. For the ultimate in romantic seclusion, you can even charter your own boat on the bay.
Read our definitive guide to choosing a Halong Bay cruise to find out more.
Desert island relaxation
There are few better places to spend Valentine’s Day (or any other day for that matter) than on a palm-fringed beach, with a cocktail in hand, with azure waves lapping the shore at your feet. Vietnam has plenty to offer in this department, but some of our favourite beaches are to be found on its islands.
Wallet-friendly: Beautiful Phu Quoc has something to offer all budgets, but for a mid-range escape you could do much worse than La Veranda Resort – a lovely, colonial-style hotel that won’t break the bank.
Splash out: Less well-known but no less beautiful than Phu Quoc is Con Dao Island, where the Six Senses Resort provides the perfect place to relax in perfect isolation and luxury.
Read about our favourite Vietnamese beaches here.
Baci ceremony in Luang Prabang
It’s almost impossible not to love Luang Prabang. This laid-back, tropical town is like no other city in Asia – it’s not hard to see why UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site 20 years ago. The palm-lined streets, peaceful morning alms ceremony, beautiful temples and stunning waterfall (nearby Kuang Si Falls) provide a picture-perfect backdrop to Valentine’s Day. To inject a little extra romance, you and your partner might like to participate in a baci ceremony – a traditional Lao ritual performed at marriages to preserve good luck.
Wallet friendly: It may not be as luxurious as some, but My Dream Boutique is a truly lovely place to stay, just 10 minutes’ cycle from downtown Luang Prabang and overlooking the Khan River.
Splash out: With colonial-style villas set in lush tropical gardens, the Luang Say Residence is without doubt our favourite high-end property in Luang Prabang. It also serves the best breakfast in Southeast Asia!
Here’s our top 10 things to do in lovely Luang Prabang.
Balloon ride over Angkor
The temples of Angkor are awe-inspiring enough on their own – but if you’re looking for something really special to impress your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat from a tethered helium balloon is hard to beat.
Wallet-friendly: La Residence Watbo is a very stylish, well-situated option in Siem Reap to suit those on a more modest budget.
Splash out: For a really special Valentine’s Day, plump for one of the restored traditional houses at Sala Lodges, set in beautiful gardens five minutes from the town.
Read more about the incredible temples of Angkor here.
Enjoy a sunset dinner cruise in Phnom Penh
If you happen to find yourself in Phnom Penh on Valentine’s Day, there’s no better way to toast the big day than with a romantic evening dinner cruise. Float along the Mekong, glass of wine in hand, and watch the sun set over the Pearl of the Orient while you’re served a delicious meal of traditional Khmer cuisine. Bliss!
Wallet-friendly: Villa Langka is our favourite moderate option in the capital, with a secluded pool and quiet garden just around the corner from the Independence Monument.
Splash out: La Rose Boutique & Spa is our top pick of the high-end options in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh may no longer be the Pearl of the Orient, but as Tyler’s photo blog shows – there’s still plenty to see in the Cambodian capital.
These are just a handful of the romantic ways to spend Valentine’s Day in Indochina – I didn’t even get around to mentioning Laos’s beautiful 4,000 Islands, Hanoi’s elegant colonial hotels, the luxurious spa retreats of central Vietnam or the Hoi An Lantern Festival.
For more ideas, take a look at the honeymoon section of our website.
Happy Valentine’s Day!