When you’re in love, one of the milestones of a relationship is to go on a Valentine's Day trip together. It’s most likely to end up making (do you find yourself finishing each other’s sentences and reading each other’s minds on what to eat for dinner?) or breaking (or do you find yourself wishing your partner would just spend less time preening in the bathroom and hurry up so you can go out exploring?) the connection you share.
Truth be told, it really depends on your respective personalities before choosing to embark on a journey together. Simply for the sake of including an inspirational quote: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Ehhh, who are we kidding – of course the destination is also a key aspect in a digital era of dreamy Instagram check-ins and drool-worthy food pics.
But at the end of the (holi)day, what matters most is enjoying each other’s company and discovering tiny details (preferably positive ones!) about your significant other that’ll have you feeling excited to plan your next trip together. And if it works the first time around, you’ll be more than happy to do it all over again with the person who makes you want to be a better version of yourself.
Just in time for the upcoming season of love, here are 7 experiential holiday ideas that take you beyond the usual Valentine's Day “couple trip” options:
Get really up close & personal with the giraffes in Kenya
The animal lover’s dream come true, Giraffe Manor sits within 140 acres of indigenous forest in Langata, Nairobi. But what makes this holiday special is that the forest is also home to a herd of resident Rothschild giraffes, who come by the manor in search of treats. They’ll poke their long, elegant necks into the windows of the breakfast parlour in the mornings, or peek into your open windows at dusk. You’ll get to rub the noses of these magnificent beings, all the while wondering what you must have done right to receive such an honour.
While you’re there, you can also: take a guided walk in the forest sanctuary; ‘adopt’, meet and feed baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust; visit the acclaimed Matbronze Art Gallery and Foundry; watch the sunset over afternoon tea on the manor’s terrace.
Discover the Sahara and go glamping in Morocco
There’s more to Morocco than souks and sweet mint tea; whether you’re the type of couple who prefers relaxing or adrenaline-filled activities. Book a luxury glamping trip through Merzouga Luxury Desert Camps, one of many operators available, but arguably one of the best Morocco has to offer. And when we say luxury, we mean LUXURY in capital letters: the most premium package includes an oasis picnic, champagne-sipping at sunset, 4-wheel drive complete with driver, and a private jet for the two of you (you and your partner, not the driver).
While you’re there, you can also: walk along the highest dunes with a local Berber guide; see how fossils are transformed into everyday objects at Macro Fossiles Kasbah; challenge yourself to a precarious buggy ride across the sand.
Experience Lanna living and self-enrichment in Chiang Mai
The 700-year-old city of Chiang Mai isn’t a place that first comes to mind for a romantic holiday, but the rich history and culture of the Lanna Kingdom is a truly breathtaking scene, completely different from the vibe of Thailand’s metropolitan Bangkok. At Dhara Dhevi, prepare to be blown away by the architecture that respectfully melds traditional Lanna and colonial styles together. You don’t even have to leave the grounds of the hotel – with 10 dining options ranging from Thai to Italian to French cuisine, a spa, a library and a cooking academy – you’ll be content to just while the hours away in the total comfort of this beautiful resort.
While you’re there, you can also: learn basket-weaving and paper-cutting at the arts & crafts village; whip up your own Thai food at the cooking school; try your hand at rice-planting and buffalo-riding; get massaged and pummeled into putty at the award-winning Dheva Spa.
Dip into an ensuite private hot spring in Malaysia
While the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, offers a more high-tech look at the country (with KLCC, the tallest twin towers in the world, as the iconic focal point), the idyllic town of Ipoh will leave you satiated with its smorgasbord of street food options. Known for its delicious spring water and beautiful women, Ipoh’s best kept secret is The Banjaran, a luxury hot spring retreat surrounded by 260-million-year-old Paleozoic limestone hills, lush rainforest, natural caves and cascading waterfalls. Each villa comes with its own hot tub, filled with natural geothermal hot spring water. If both of you are huge wellness lovers, you won’t want to miss the dipping pools and thermal steam cave, which look like an otherworldly scene out of a movie.
While you’re there, you can also: experience crystal healing surrounded by amethyst and quartz; meditate or do yoga in the confines of a cave; trek through the limestone hill forest behind the resort; explore the nooks and crannies of Ipoh town and gorge yourself silly on delicious food.
Find your inner peace at a Himalayan yoga retreat in India
If your couple goal is to aim for a better mindset, there’s no better place to learn the intricacies of mindfulness than at Ananda. Situated at the Himalayan foothills in Northern India, Ananda (meaning “happiness” in Sanskrit) overlooks the spiritual town of Rishikesh and the Ganges river valley. Here, an entire selection of wellness programmes await you, helping you and your beloved achieve your physical, mental and spiritual goals in a safe, nurturing atmosphere, while taking in the incredible beauty of the 100-acre Maharaja’s Palace estate, built by the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal in 1910.
While you’re there, you can also: experience a 7-day Ayurvedic rejuvenation program; reboot your digestive system with Ananda’s signature detox course; combine yoga and detox to cleanse the body of negativity in a natural and effective way; learn from visiting masters who come from all around the world to impart their wellbeing knowledge.
Lose yourself in the charm of old Japan at a ryokan in Kyoto
There’s just something so sacred about Kyoto that’s different from its louder, bustling counterparts like Osaka and Tokyo. In Kyoto, you come to be amazed by the true meaning of Japanese omotenashi (hospitality). Yoshida Sanso is an imperial residence-turned-family-run inn, originally constructed for Prince Higashi-Fushimi by master carpenter Tsunekazu Nishioka. Here, you’ll experience the finest of Kyoto’s signature kaiseki cuisine. An art in itself, kaiseki captures the intricacies of each ingredient in the most natural way possible, which is then presented in a beautiful flourish of courses that will leave your belly and mind satiated.
While you’re there, you can also: take a leisurely stroll in the inn’s Japanese garden; find your inner peace at the nearby Ginkaku-ji and Philosopher’s Walk; hike your way up to the top of Yoshida hill via a network of trails.
Jump into the sea from your private deck in Bora Bora
Rounding up the list with a good dose of vitamin Sea is Conrad Bora Bora Nui, a blissful resort located on a private island called Motu To’opua in the Bora Bora cluster of islands. Since its opening in 2017, the resort has garnered a string of awards from top dogs in tourism like Conde Nast Traveler, and we can see why. Imagine powdery-soft beaches, and the sun and sea right at your doorstep – it really doesn’t get any better than this. Every overwater villa comes with its private deck, literally allowing you to jump straight into the crystal-clear water.
While you’re there, you can also: swim with the sharks; take a hike up the hills on the private island; enjoy a specially-prepared picnic at the resort’s private islet Motu Tapu; work on your tan by the impressive infinity pool; indulge in a couple’s spa treatment at the hilltop Hina Spa.
Cover Image: Giraffe Manor via thesafaricollection.com
Writer | Michelle Tan
Underneath her RBF, Michelle is actually a friendly raccoon. Loves collecting ugly things, changing her hair colour, and dinosaurs (not necessarily in that order).