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8 of the best trips for body and soul

Wanderlust logoWanderlust 14/08/2015


Sunset on Pangkor Island, Malaysia (Shutterstock). © Provided by Wanderlust Sunset on Pangkor Island, Malaysia (Shutterstock). Fancy an adventure with a bit of pampering on the side? From meditation to mindfulness, spiritualism to spa treatments – these trips combine wellness with intrepid travel experiences:

1. City and spa in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur & Pangkor Laut, Wexas

This two-centre Kuala Lumpur & Pangkor Laut trip takes you from Malaysia's futuristic capital to an idyllic island on the country's west coast – two dramatically different spots, but equally energising.

Discover museums, markets and mosques on your two-day tour of the capital, dining in top-notch restaurants and staying in one of KL's fanciest hotels. You'll revel in the contrasts of this forward-thinking city: from haggling in its ramshackle markets to soaring up to the Petronas Towers' observation deck.

On day three, you'll be driven through Malaysia's beautiful countryside to the small town of Lamut, before boarding a boat to the rainforest island of Pangkor Laut – a little slice of paradise just off the west coast. You'll laze in beach-side villas, sink into the glorious spa, and practice yoga under expert tuition – while birds of paradise hoot in the trees, and the sea gently laps the sandy shore. 

2. Peru pick-me-up

River Rejuvination, HighLives Travel

Amazon rainforest in eastern Peru (Shutterstock). © Provided by Wanderlust Amazon rainforest in eastern Peru (Shutterstock). Glide down the Amazon River in a boat staffed with yoga, meditation and massage specialists on a 4-day River Rejuvenation trip with HighLives. You'll be pampered and pummelled as you drift through spectacular scenery, with the opportunity to take part in healing ceremonies by local shaman and dawn yoga sessions on an Amazon sandbank. 

Alongside the programme of wellbeing treats, you'll visit remote Amazonian villages, join jungle treks and wildlife spotting jaunts, and paddle through the river's smallest tributaries in a dugout canoe. There's also the chance to swim in the Amazon, among pink and grey river dolphins – a dip you'll never forget. 

3. Costa Rica trekking and treats

Luxury Adventures In Costa Rica, Journey Latin America

Hot springs in Costa Rica (Shutterstock). © Provided by Wanderlust Hot springs in Costa Rica (Shutterstock). Luxury Adventures in Costa Rica does exactly what it says on the tin: 8 days of high-energy japes in Central America's adrenaline hotspot, with nights spent in luxurious hotels and ecolodges.

You'll raft down the rapids of the Pacuare River, hurtle through the treetops on a zip wire, trek to spectacular waterfalls, go horse riding, and meet the local wildlife on night hikes through the forest.

When you're not adventuring, you'll be pampering: in your top-of-the-range eco resort you'll find an al fresco yoga pavilion, plus a spa with a treatment list as long as your aching legs: think body wraps, facials and long luxurious massages – all with natural ingredients plucked from the nearby forest. Spa days don't get much wilder than this...

4. Serene islands of Indonesia

Ultimate Bali & Sumba, Selective Asia

Sunbathing and spa treatments, Bali (Shutterstock). © Provided by Wanderlust Sunbathing and spa treatments, Bali (Shutterstock). This 17-day Ultimate Bali & Sumbatrip takes in all of the islands' best bits – from the cultural hotspot of Ubud (where you'll learn about Balinese culture, with guided tours and cooking classes), the Unesco-listed rice terraces of Jatiluwih, and the tribal villages and megalithic tombs of Sumba. 

It would be criminal not to indulge in an authentic Balinese massage while you're here – so you'll get a free one every day during your three-night stay in Tembok's Spa Village Resort. There's time on the beach, too: on the south coast of Bali, powder-white sands and crystal-clear water await, so you can unwind after all that exploring.

5. Meditation and mountains in South Korea

Classic South Korea Group Tour, Regent Holidays

Emperor Palace in Seoul (Shutterstock). © Provided by Wanderlust Emperor Palace in Seoul (Shutterstock). Where better to master the art of meditation than in South Korea's ornate Samhwasa Temple? Over 11 days, this Classic South Korea Group Tour whisks you between the country's cultural and spiritual best bits – including a day in ancient Gyeongju (where the Gwaeneung Royal Tomb, Seogguram Grotto and 4-face Buddha await), hiking in Gayasan National Park, and panoramic views from Seoul Tower. 

The highlight of the holiday is a stay in Samhwasa Temple: here, you'll wear traditional temple clothes, attend a bell-ringing ceremony, and be taught how to meditate. We'd recommend rising early to catch sunrise over the east coast – this really is a serene, spiritual spot. 

6. Go off-grid in the UK

Mindfulness in the Mountains, Ramblers Worldwide Holidays

Lake Buttermere, Lake District (Shutterstock). © Provided by Wanderlust Lake Buttermere, Lake District (Shutterstock). No wifi, no TV, and hardly and phone signal: cut yourself off from everyday life on a Mindfulness in the Mountains retreat – and emerge with a fresh perspective on life.

You'll spend 3 days hiking in the invigorating Lake District, getting to know your fellow travellers as you hike through the fells, wander around Lake Buttermere, and tuck into hearty three-course meals every night.

This trip is all about healing the body and mind: taking time to discover your surroundings and enjoy life away from the distraction of technology and phones. You'll be able to try meditation, and also get an introduction to Mindfulness: the practise of living in the moment and shedding all those niggles and worries that we carry with us every day. Now that sounds like a fantastic way to spend a long weekend. 

7. Buddhism in Japan

Japan Express: Osaka To Tokyo, G Adventures

Great floating gate (O-Torii) on Miyajima island (Shutterstock). © Provided by Wanderlust Great floating gate (O-Torii) on Miyajima island (Shutterstock). If you're fascinated by the Buddhist culture and rich heritage of Japan, you'll love this 9-night Japan Express itinerary. This is no ordinary whistle-stop tour: you'll be travelling in a group, but have plenty of time to venture out on your own – and there are moments of peace where you can soak up Japan's spiritual side.

You'll stay in a traditional ryokan, sample authentic cuisine, soak in onsen hot springs, and visit the sacred island of Miyajima and the famous floating Torii gate. Try meditation in Daisen-in Zen rock garden, and take a boat ride on Lake Ashino-ko. At the summit of Mount Koya, one of Japan's holiest peaks, you'll visit a temple and try Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. Watching the monks pray as the sun rises in the morning is one of the highlights of this trip.

8. Sacred jewels of India

Varanasi Short Stay, Wendy Wu Tours

Ganga Aarti ritual (fire puja) in Varanasi (Shutterstock). © Provided by Wanderlust Ganga Aarti ritual (fire puja) in Varanasi (Shutterstock). Immerse yourself in spiritual India on this Varanasi Short Stay trip – it may be just 4 days, but it packs in all of the city's most sacred parts. You'll visit the ancient Buddhist complex of Sarnath, witness a Puja Ceremony (Hindu prayer ritual), and float down the holy River Ganges at dawn.

This is a private tailormade journey, so you'll tour in a private car with a guide to answer all of your questions – and you can tweak the itinerary to suit your particular interests. Want to stay longer somewhere? Just ask. Fancy learning how to meditate, or finding out more about the spiritual rituals you see? No problem. 


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