Top 10 Eco-friendly Retreats in Asia

[ THAILAND ] Bangkok Tree House
This hotel is downstream from the Chao Praya River, in Bang Krajao peninsula area. A cluster of three-story suites in very green surroundings, the clean-cut architecture combines mineral (metal, glass and lots of mirrors) and organic (wood and bamboo) materials. On the rooftop deck is Reflect restaurant, where you can sit on bean bags and order high tea sets while you enjoy the waterfront and forest views. Suites are B6,000 (S$244), inclusive of breakfast, Wi-Fi internet, free ice-cream and bike rentals.

[ INDONESIA ] Banyan Tree Bintan
Award-winning homegrown hospitality brand Banyan Tree is overhauling one of its earliest resorts (which originally opened back in 1995) and the revamp is set to be complete March 2013. On-site, there’s a conservation lab—helmed by an environmental naturalist and two wildlife rangers—which offers nature walks and bird watching. Situated on Tanjong Said beach, the getaway’s 64 hilltop villas are also raised on stilts—strategically positioned to avoid sacrificing natural greenery—and offer clear views of the bay. Rates start at US$390 (S$470).

[ MALAYSIA ] Batu Batu
Eco-geeks will appreciate this boutique resort which is committed to the preservation of local flora and fauna. The private island features 22 villas constructed in the traditional Malay-style, made with sustainably harvested tropical hardwood and glass. The island has eight beaches, a fresh water swimming pool and hill-top spa. After a day of exploring, fuel up at the retreat’s bar and restaurant serving fresh local produce. There is also a non-profit dive centre onsite for you to gain some marine knowledge. Rates start at RM750 (S$306) for a one-room jungle villa.

[ THE MALDIVES ] Dusit Thani Maldives
This getaway is 35 minutes by seaplane from the capital Malé and 10 minutes by speedboat from the new domestic airport. The 100 villas are styled with classic Maldivian woodwork and contemporary Thai elements. Rooms feature sustainable product lines from Molton Brown, Bose surround sound systems and Nespresso machines. The hotel’s award-winning Devarana Spa also offers East-meets-West treatments using Thai herbs and indigenous ingredients. To further unwind, take a dip in their infinity swimming pool—the largest in the Maldives. Rooms go for US$720 (S$928).

[ INDIA ] The Green Hotel
Not only is this a beautiful hotel (it used to be a palace), it is also a model for sustainable tourism, with all its profits distributed to charitable and environmental projects in India. Each room is furnished with unique Indian arts and crafts. Their strict environmental policies also mean there’s no television or air conditioning. Rates start at INR3,250 (S$73).

[CHINA] Naked Stables Private Reserve
This sprawling 60-acre facility is nestled amid local tea and bamboo plantations. Expect 121 sustainably-designed rooms (think earth huts and tree-top villas), as well as an Asian-African restaurant, a spa and an equestrian center. Rooms are available from RMB2,600 (S$490) a night.

[CAMBODIA] The Plantation
This urban oasis has 70 rooms, two swimming pools, a restaurant and two bars. It is also walking distance from top attractions such as the Royal Palace, the National Museum and Wat Botum (Royal Pagoda). A refurbished 1930s design, the building boasts an eco-friendly solar water heater system and lush surrounding grounds with 45 different species of plants. For souvenirs, check out the on-premise shop, selling locally made handicraft and food products. Rates start at US$70 (S$86).

[ CAMBODIA ] Song Saa
Just a 30-minute speedboat ride from the coastal city of Sihanoukville ($90 per person per trip), this resort rests on two footbridge-connected-islands called Song Saa (or The Sweethearts in Khmer). The setup comprises 27 intimate villas built from sustainable materials and modeled after Cambodian fishing villages (expect thatch roofs, rough-hewn natural timbers and drift wood furnishings). An on-premise spa offers Khmer treatments using local herbs, sand and iron-rich stones. There’s also a marine reserve home to dugongs and seahorses. Rates start from S$668 per person per night (includes meals and drinks, laundry, minibar, transfers and leisure activities).

[ MALAYSIA ] The Sterling
Situated in the heart of the Malacca’s heritage zone, this hotel offers easy access to places of interest such as Jonker Street and the Stadthuys. The building itself is a charming example of colonial architecture, with 37 rooms and the city’s only rooftop restaurant. An eco-friendly establishment, the place also has a rainwater collection tank with a capacity of 320 liters and uses solar panels as a main energy source. Rooms are available from RM350 (S$143).

[ MYANMAR ] ViewPoint Eco-Lodge
Set on the banks of a canal leading to Inle Lake, this getaway has 20 cottage suites made of eco-friendly materials including limestone, mud, rice-straw and wood. Onsite, there are two eateries—ViewPoint restaurant and The Shan—that have been praised by the Routard Guide and the Lonely Planet Travel Guide for their refined take on local and continental cuisine. The place also has a strong collection of French, Italian and even Myanmese wines. Rates start at US$70 (S$90).

For more holiday ideas, check out our list of the best beach and heritage retreats.