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Masjid Ubudiah, Perak's royal mosque
Masjid Ubudiah, Perak’s royal mosque. Image courtesy of Malaysia Tourism.

A foreign city; a charming town; a beachside paradise. There’s nothing like an exotic faraway location to prepare the senses for romance. Southeast Asia, teeming with striking landscapes and fascinating cultures, provides an endless array of romantic backdrops: just bring yourself and a loved one to plug in your personal love story. 

Hoi An, Viet Nam. Marked as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, Hoi An has preserved its unique and idyllic provincial character in the face of burgeoning commercial activity and a steady stream of tourists.

A popular trading port from the 15th to the 19th century, Hoi An derived its livelihood from its proximity to the Thu Bon River, doing business with merchants from China, Japan and even as far as Europe. While trade has long since relocated to Da Nang and elsewhere in Viet Nam, Hoi An remains a melting pot of traditional and foreign influences, as seen in the architecture that gives it that quaint and bucolic appeal.

Romance? Hoi An is spot-on for lovers: its quaint, 19th-century streets seem tailor-made to stroll hand-in-hand in. Motor-vehicles are banned in the Hoi An old quarter, so walking and bicycles are the best ways to get about – the warm and sunny weather year-round is perfect for it.

A single ticket allows you to visit common scenery of the old quarter, enjoy traditional art performances and access 5 of 22 attractions. The restaurants benefit from fresh vegetables brought in from nearby Tra Que village, famous for its tasty greens.

Bali, Indonesia. Share a kiss on its stunning shores; experience fine-dining at its exclusive resorts; take your couple’s snapshots against numerous temples jutting out against the tropical sky. Couples from all over the world flock to Bali like moths to a flame, aiming to imbibe the island’s atmosphere of mysticism, spiritual practices, and beachside revelry.

Both streets and rural areas teem with Balinese culture and customs: the people’s deep-rooted Hinduism manifest in the island’s countless temples, holy sites and museums.

As far as romantic landscapes go, Bali has one for every couple’s tastes: teeming rice terraces; barren volcanic hillsides; rugged mountains set against sea spray. More active couples can bond over water sports like scuba diving and surfing; or turf-based activities such as mountain hiking or temple-hopping. Let’s not forget the island’s white-sand beaches in the south, and the volcanic black sand beaches further north!

Bali has the complete range as far as accommodations go, from five-star hotels to scrappy bohemian enclaves. What’s your particular pleasure: a peaceful, holistic retreat for two, or a full-on party in conjunction with one of the island’s festivals? Take your pick, in Bali you can truly have it all.

Finally, you can experience romance cross-border in the region aboard the Eastern and Orient Express. This historic train line ferries passengers in luxury between Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

For three days and two nights, couples can immerse themselves in views of foreign cities and verdant countrysides, starting from Singapore’s Woodlands Train Checkpoint, with layovers and tours in Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia, Kanchanaburi in Thailand, and, finally, arriving at Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok.

The train’s cuisine is also an experience unto its own, serving Eastern and Western specialties by world-renowned chefs. Drinks, too, are on hand at the “Bar Car,” where you and your partner can meet and greet your fellow travellers.

Off the train, passengers are treated to a convenient itinerary of Malaysia and Thailand’s tourist spots, including the Ubudiah Mosque, the Royal Museum of Perak, the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery in Malaysia, and the iconic bridge at River Kwai in Thailand, among a number of other sights.