River China

Ready to unplug and unwind? With the help of our destination teams, we rounded up our favourite destinations for a detox holiday in Asia in 2016!


We’re all guilty – reaching for our smartphones when we’re on a train or bus, asking for the WiFi password before we’ve even checked into our hotel, immediately Googling the nearest coffee shop. For all of the wonderful things that technology has done for travel, it’s also put a bit of a damper on the experience of truly unplugging from the daily grind and exploring something new.

According to a recent study from HR consulting firm Randstad, a whopping 42% of us feel compelled to check our work email while we should be out enjoying our holidays travelling. Couple that with a study by tech company Kovert that found a digital detox had plenty of profound effects. That includes our posture, our conversations and even our sleep – so it seems about time to plan your next digital detox.

Thankfully, Asia is chock-full of destinations that are perfect for a digital detox holiday. From off the beaten track destinations to beach side escapes with a special focus on rejuvenation, the team here at Buffalo Tours have our own top picks list for detox destinations in Asia. Here’s six of our favourites!

Ao Thalane National Park - Kayaking in Krabi Thailand
Kayaking in Krabi’s Ao Thalane National Park

Krabi, Thailand

Let’s face it – as hard as it is to keep your eyes off of your iPhone screen, it’s even harder to tear your eyes away from Krabi’s stunning scenery. The limestone karsts and mesmerising seaside landscapes here have inspired plenty of novelists and movie-makers – but for digital detoxers, Krabi might be the coolest place to unwind and disconnect. Why? Because here, you’ll find a reason to put your smartphone down for two reasons: adventure and relaxation.

Home to some of the best jungle landscapes in Asia, a particular favourite for adventurous digital detoxers is jungle trekking and kayaking. While the views might be epic, you’ll be forced to fight the urge to Instagram the sights since you’ll need both hands to keep up with the action. Our favourite is in the depths of Khao Sok National Parka boat trip and drive away from Krabi Town.

For the less outdoors-inclined, Krabi is also a great destination for mental and physical rejuvenation in the form of spa retreats. At Wareerak Spa, the Kinnaree spa treatment (named after a mythic animal) blends Thai massage, yoga and restorative spa treatments for the ultimate in physical well-being. Good luck reaching for your tablet amidst the relaxation! Ask our team how you can make this spa experience part of a larger tour in southern Thailand.

Rural Sapa's mesmerising rice paddy terraces
Rural Sapa’s mesmerising rice paddy terraces

Sapa, Vietnam

Sometimes, the best way to detox from your electronics is to go somewhere that you’re unlikely to get any signal. One such place in Sapa, Vietnam – a stunning frontier town near the scenic border of Vietnam and China. Think towering rice terraces, colourful ethnic minority locals and a charmingly primitive way of life that’ll have you wondering what we need all of these iPhones for anyway.

Many who are just looking for a taste of the great outdoors here might opt for a full-day trekking excursion that winds its way through stunning mountain scenery and visits a collection of rustic hill tribe villages. Those that want a true taste of what it’s like to lead a digitally disconnected life, though, should opt for a homestay experience.

These culturally immersive experiences put you in the home of a local Hmong family in rural Sapa – expect cooking over an open fire, the early morning rattle of roosters and not a computer in sight. Depending on the depth of your curiosity, opt for either a one-night stay or a longer, more challenging three to four day experience!

Jungle trekking in Indonesian Borneo
Jungle trekking in Indonesian Borneo

Borneo

There’s just something about primordial forests and flowers the size of our faces that make disconnecting from our devices much easier- something that Borneo is perfect for. Home to the world’s oldest tropical rainforests (and the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia arnoldii), Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo is a feast for the senses. To say the least, your work emails will pale in comparison to the natural wonder of these incredible jungles.

Depending on your energy level and thirst for adventure, you can opt to spend a day or two trekking through the jungles, or extend to a week or more of jungle adventure. Either way, you’re unlikely to have the creature comforts of WiFi or cell phone signal – but we have a feeling you won’t mind while being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the jungle. The highlight? Spend a night in Borneo Nature Reserve for the ultimate in a detox getaway.

Mount Kinabalu Malaysia
The summit of Mount Kinabalu, the highest in Southeast Asia

Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia

As the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia, a climb along Mount Kinabalu isn’t just a digital detox destination – it’s a great place to conquer your fears and tick something spectacular off of your bucket list. Thankfully, a well-managed trail to the summit makes this a climb that even novice mountaineers can manage, so you don’t need to consider yourself an expert to conquer it.

Because of its location, most that head to Mount Kinabalu will couple the climb with a stay in the surrounding jungles and marine parks for a few days before and after. Depending on how much time you have, this can be the highlight of a longer jungle excursion in Malaysia. Plus, the challenge of the trekking incline means you’ll have no problem leaving your phone in your bag – that is, if you manage to get any signal in the first place.

Halong Bay Vietnam Cruise
A sunny day in Halong Bay

Halong Bay, Vietnam

It’s not a surprise that it’s hardest to resist the urge to scroll through your emails when there’s not much to do – which is why we don’t have many beach getaways on this list. Sometimes the best way to detox from your technology is to keep your hands busy doing something else – but there are some scenic gems that simply can’t be missed no matter how alluring your inbox might be.

One of those places is most definitely Halong Bay, northern Vietnam’s stunning destination famous for its towering limestone karsts. Cruises here will spend most of their time leisurely floating among the bay’s 2000 islets – with a bit of pearl farm exploration and kayaking in the mix – which means plenty of free time on board. Most of us would quickly reach for our phones during the cruise. Luckily, you’d be hard pressed to get a signal in the depths of this scenic UNESCO World Heritage site.

Depending on how much time you want to commit to a detox getaway, opt for either a full-day sightseeing cruise up to a three-day, two-night cruise complete with a rock climbing afternoon on Cat Ba Island!

Li River Cruise China - digital detox holidays 2016
A snapshot from the Li River Cruise

Li River, China

For all of China’s technological advancement and super-modern cities, it has plenty of far-flung destinations that are well outside of the norm (and the WiFi signal). One such destination is the Li River between Yangshuo and Guilin, a picturesque corner of this enormous nation that boasts some truly stunning karst topography and riverside scenery.

Head down this scenic waterway by boat and get a glimpse of some of China’s most picturesque scenery – plus plenty of options to explore by kayak, if you’re up for it. Given the length of the river, it’s easy to use a cruise along the Li River as a means to connect the dots between Yangshuo and Guilin – and some truly incredible scenery along the way.

Ready to disconnect from the daily grind? Talk to our travel experts and plan your ultimate digital detox getaway for 2016! We’re here to create a customised itinerary to get you away from your phone and into Asia’s most stunning destinations.

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