Southeast Asia’s diverse landscape opens up endless opportunities for learning retreats in Thailand and Cambodia, offering inquisitive travelers the chance to acquire a new art; whether it’s mastering meditation in Krabi, cooking up a storm in Siem Reap or practising sun salutations on the sand in Hua Hin. Why not immerse yourself in the secrets of another culture, whip a local dish and take home a brand-new talent or whip-up a local dish this festive season?
The region also makes for a perfect learning holiday, so you can brush up on a new skill while soaking up the summer sun.
Here are FOUR’s picks of the best skills to learn in Southeast Asia, and where to learn them:
The Art of Meditation
We live in a connected, busy and stressful world, with more travellers searching for ways to re-connect with themselves, and the nature around them. Krabi Sofitel Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, a tranquil escape on the shores of the Andaman Sea, offers guests the chance to master the art of mindful meditation under the guidance of a trained master. Wake before sunrise, don your white uniform and head to the local hilltop temple, a short drive from the hotel, where you’ll learn more about Buddhism and the history of meditation. After being guided through a 30-minute session, head back to the hotel and take your relaxation poolside with a healthy lunch in Koh Poda restaurant.
Become a Master Chocolatier
The business hub of Bangkok is an unlikely place to bump into a chocolatier, but at the urban-luxury SO Sofitel Bangkok, you can meet several skilled chocolate-makers and decorators. Situated on street-level of the Monsieur Christian Lacroix-designed property, the innovative Chocolab is brimming with chocolates from Bonnat, the world’s oldest chocolatier. Join daily masterclasses and learn the craft of chocolate making, before creating unique and colourful dishes, from chocolate burgers to intricately decorated houses. Enjoy your creations with a cocktail in Mixo, a chic bar with unrivalled views over the Bangkok skyline.
Tai Chi at Sunrise
Known as moving meditation, Tai Chi is the art of unhurried, soft and controlled movements, paired with calming breathing techniques. Reap the rewards of Tai Chi, proven to reduce stress, relieve pain and enhance sleep, at the exclusive V Villas Hua Hin. Join one of the sunrise group sessions, or arrange a one-on-one lesson, to master the ancient movements. With views over the sugar-white sand of Hua Hin adding to the serenity, private sessions can take place on the sun-dappled deck, on the beach or in the privacy of your villa. Compliment your newly learned art with a private yoga session, traditional Thai massage or healthy smoothie by the infinity pool.
Cambodian Cookery Classes
Learn more about Cambodian cooking at the iconic landmark hotel, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor – the only property authorised to cook, serve and teach the Royal Khmer cuisine. Head into the bustling local market with a seasoned Chef and learn about the flavours, aromas and textures of these delicate and distinctly light dishes. Back at the hotel, don your Chef’s hat and learn how to prepare and cook a menu of specialities, from a Royal Khmer Curry and Fish Soup, to Lok Lak, succulent beef fried with locally-sourced vegetables. Feast on your freshly-prepared dishes in the hotel’s lively landscaped gardens, with views over Cambodia’s largest, and most iconic, swimming pool.
Proven to increase core strength, mobility and limber-up joints, Thai Boxing, or Muay Thai, is the ideal wayto release the stresses of everyday life. A boutique bolthole in the heart of bustling Bangkok, Vie Hotel Bangkok houses a state-of-the-art fitness centre and glass-fronted swimming pool on its 10th floor, with unrivalled views over the skyline. Book a one-on-one Muay Thai session with a seasoned trainer in the hotel’s Thai boxing ring, learning the twists and turns of this exhilarating combat sport. After a sweat-inducing lesson, prevent muscle tension with a Thai Massage in the tranquil Vie Spa.