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From Honeymooning to Midlife-Mooners: The Many Moons of Asia

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A blissful reward after months – or even years – of planning a wedding, honeymoons are almost as integral to the successful start of a marriage as the big day itself.

Few would argue that there is no better way to round off the exciting but often energy sapping process of sending out invitations, organising a venue and fretting about the behaviour of thirsty relations at the reception, than unwinding in a destination far from home and reflecting on the glorious day.

Whether it is feeling warm, soft sand between your toes while running into a turquoise ocean with your loved one, or brushing up on Zen Buddhism at a peaceful temple in Japan, Asia is liberally stocked with places and experiences worthy of crowning any major life event.

Indeed it is not just honeymoons at which the continent excels. These days there are a range of “moons”, all of which celebrate the defining changes in life. These include “mini-moons” – short breaks for newlyweds that offer maximum experi­ence for minimal time away – and “babymoons”, which can either be a romantic break prior to the birth of a child or a period of family bonding post the new arrival. Other “moons” include “buddymoons”, where the bride and groom take their friends along for a trip to share their special time, and “midlife moons”, which are generally designed to reignite curiosity for nature and the great outdoors and commemorate a special life experience, whether it be an anniversary or retirement.

Just as there are several “moons”, there’s a host of contrasting experiences available in Asia that cater for every requirement – no matter how diverse. Whether it is the classic honeymoon combination of sun, sand and sea and luxurious accommodation which have been longterm specialities of destinations such as Thailand and Bali, or more epic choices such as trekking the Great Wall of China or exploring the temples of Angkor in Cambodia, the region is generously stocked with exceptional options.

“The nature of a honeymoon has evolved over the years,” says Richard Ludwig of EXO Travel. “Before it was commonly the case that a couple would use their honeymoon to unwind. That meant that the most popular options were luxury beach breaks in countries like Thailand. While these remain hugely and justifiably popular, we are finding that newlyweds are getting increasingly imaginative with their choices; one of a kind experiences that will help define what is a special time in their lives.”

“With all these different kinds of “moons” coming into play, it means that we can get really creative when designing our journeys. From discovering Balinese art to learning how to make sushi in Tokyo, Asia offers experiences that are guaranteed to linger in the memory long after the trip is over.”

An illustration of how “moons” can take on many different forms can be found in Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun is not known as a beach destination, but the country’s cultural and culinary riches – along with its famous onsen (hot springs) and ryokan (Japanese style inns) – are well capable of keeping hearts aflutter. A honeymoon in Japan can involve world class accommodation in luxury hotels and ryokans, sumptuous dinners that explore the awe-inspiring range of Japanese specialties and vivid experiences that include visits to Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji morning fish market and the serene temples that characterise Kyoto, the nation’s cultural capital.

Thailand has long been considered the ‘go to’ destination for honeymooners and that remains the case. The Kingdom’s seductive blend of spicy and sensuous cuisine, deep spirituality and some of the most stunning land and seascapes in the world continue to make it a favourite. Indeed, it is impossible to argue against a formula that encompasses everything from intimate exclusive beach dining to dreamy mountain sanctuaries.

Throw in a wide selection of luxury hideaways and you have a recipe for the ultimate classic honeymoon.

Other “moon” options in the region are plentiful. What do we mean by ‘other moons’ though?

Generally more ‘high-spirited’ than a traditional honeymoon, a perfect “buddymoon” calls for a memorable adventure. And exploits don’t come much more vivid and epic than embarking on a six-day hike along intact sections of the Great Wall of China.

Contrastingly, a “midlife moon” tends to be more about slowing things down a little and reflecting on the wonders that surround us. Bali is particularly adept at engendering mindfulness through its art, fascinating Hindu culture and stunning scenery. Equally inspiring is the state of Sabah in Malaysia where midlifemooners can convene with nature through brushes with orangutans, hornbills, elephants and bears.

From close encounters of the wildlife kind to welcome respite from everyday stress, Asia is a source of energy around which many “moons” revolve.

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