Following on from my previous post about putting together your own budget wellness break, a number of people asked me for further recommendations on places they could go for a bit of zen that wouldn’t leave a bank balance howling. I put the question to some of my fellow travel bloggers, and they came through with some amazing recommendations for low-cost getaways in my favourite part of the world – Southeast Asia.
These aren’t a case of trying to match up accommodation with things to do, either. Everything listed here is a simple case of turn up, settle in and spend a week enjoying Yoga classes or spa access built-in to your booking. Easy, well-priced and located in some truly beautiful places. Who’s coming with me?
Hariharalaya Yoga & Meditation Retreat, Cambodia
I can’t thank the wonderful pair behind Don’t Forget To Move enough for this brilliant recommendation. A week away just outside of Siem Reap, including three (vegan) meals a day along with morning, afternoon and evening classes in yoga and meditation starts at a mere $270 per person at Hariharalaya Yoga & Meditation Retreat – which is just £204 at the time of writing.
That’s the cost if you stay in a dorm room, but for another $10 per person you can share a private twin room, and there are also open-air bungalows, bamboo huts and private doubles for $300 and $320 per person. If you’re on a shoe-string backpacker budget it might be a little costly compared to staying at an ordinary hostel, but given many week-long yoga retreats come in at nearly £1000 this is an amazing option if you’re on the hunt for some blissful relaxation.
Three meals, three classes and accommodation each day works out as $38 – so £29. I challenge you to get all that for less, anywhere.
As if the whole package wasn’t already enough of a great deal, you can also take advantage of amazing spa and wellness offers while you’re there, like $12 for an hour-long Khmer massage or $20 for warm coconut oil massage. And once you leave, you’ll receive a free copy of ‘Hariharalaya: Cooking with Consciousness’ – a digital cookbook packed with all the amazing vegan recipes you’ll have tried while you were away. Almost all of the food is gluten-free too, and if you require a fully gluten-free selection while you’re there, Hariharalaya are happy to accommodate.
To find out more about what a week at Hariharalaya is like, check out Don’t Forget To Move’s ‘Finding My Zen‘ post, which will give you more detail on the day-to-day schedule and downtime. And if you’re as keen on the whole idea as I am, you can make a booking via Hariharalaya’s website, here. Return flights to Siem Reap are around £300-400pp from the UK throughout the year.
Mahasiddha Yoga, Thailand
If five days and four nights at a relaxed yoga retreat in Chiang Mai sounds good to you, you’ll be even happier to know that you can do it for only £85 per person. That’s the price if you stay in a friendly 8-bed dorm, but you can also book a twin room for £99, or splash out £122 for a whole room to yourself.
Mahasiddha offer both theoretical and practical sessions in easy-going Hatha yoga and spiritually-focused Tantra yoga. Important note: Don’t read ‘tantra’ and start thinking ‘sex’ – there is absolutely no sexual contact to this practice! It’s all about personal development and awareness, poses designed to show you that your body is more capable than you think it is and meditation for a strong mental focus.
Your days will be split between yoga classes, meditation and special workshops on spiritual principles. Snacks throughout the day are included but main meals aren’t – though this won’t add much to your spend, as you can step outside into the heart of Chiang Mai and go in search of pocket-friendly pad Thai and massuman curries for only a couple of bucks a meal.
Mahasiddha are only a short walk from the Saturday night market on Wualai Walking Street and temples like Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan, so there’s plenty of sight-seeing to be done when you aren’t immersing yourself in those zen sensations.
The easiest way to book is through the Mahasidda page on the aptly named BookYoga Retreats.com, but you can also get more information from the venue’s site, TantraYogaThailand.com. Return flights from the UK to Chiang Mai can be found for as little as £240pp throughout the year.
Kamuela Villas (Spa Hotel), Indonesia
You know how I said a while ago that booking a package holiday can actually work out cheaper than doing a DIY trip? I wasn’t lying, people. Look at this ridiculous price – £637pp for a 5*, 8 night spa holiday in Bali, including return flights from London or Manchester.
This is not a drill. You get a private hot tub.
Bearing in mind that a return flight to Indonesia alone is usually going to set you back £450+, by my calculations that means eight nights in the five-star hotel, swanning around the spa and feeling fancy in the hot tub, work out at a cost of less than £200.
Alright, there aren’t any yoga classes included in your stay – but as far as ”wellness” goes, I’m pretty sure having your own butler service as you float between the spa and the pool is enough to make anyone feel pretty flippin’ well. Keep an eye out for last-minute deals like this one through deal-finding sites such as Holiday Pirates – and if you want to find out more or book it for yourself, you can do so online here.
I’m still on the hunt for more budget-friendly* wellness breaks around the world, so do let me know if you’ve got a tip for a great place to go and unwind.
(*And by budget, I mean ‘please don’t send me things that cost $1000 not including flights’ – we’re talking regular-people budgets here, not Kanye budgets!)