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The New Wave of Luxury Travel in Asia

Luxury travellers have always enjoyed a degree of novelty, personalisation and bespoke services during their travels, but the level of tailored planning, personalised services and one-of-a-kind outings in Asia is rising.

With surprisingly high service levels at reasonable rates and incredibly varied experiences, both international and regional luxury travellers are visiting Asia at unprecedented levels. Bangkok-based inbound tour operator Diethelm Travel Group reports a nearly 25% growth rate each year in its high-valued VIP bookings.

Even amongst high-end travellers, luxury travel can have a stale reputation. For today’s discerning jet setters, whether they’re going on a celebratory holiday, blending business with leisure, or bringing along the whole family, luxurious travel experiences need to go beyond established 5-star hotels and Michelin-starred meals. 

Rich cultural connections, local encounters and exclusive experiences define what the new generation of luxury travellers wants. Affluent travellers still enjoy posh stays but are also much more likely than generations past to mix up their itinerary with both high-end hotels and rural boutique stays, chartered yacht cruises with humble fishermen boat transfers, to experience a destination’s range of offerings rather than just standard luxury service. 

In a world where luxury travel experiences are more prolific, especially in Asia where often budget travellers even attain a degree of the good life, the bar has been moved higher to ‘wow’ travellers with once in a lifetime experiences, complete customisation and insider access, all of which are made more easily accessible through knowledgeable DMCs. 

Novelty & Customisation

Luxury travellers have always enjoyed a degree of novelty, personalisation and bespoke services during their travels, but the level of tailored planning, personalised services and one-of-a-kind outings in Asia is rising. In the small, landlocked country of Laos, globetrotters can hop from spot to spot via helicopter, while in Cambodia, it’s possible to organise a private artisanal picnic amongst ancient Khmer ruins…for those who have the correct permits.   

Tailor-made experiences also extend to customised service as well. It’s simple to book a luxury package online, but working with a trusted travel advisor, such as a DMC, allows refined travellers the opportunity to cherry pick every aspect of their journey and even access experiences they didn’t even know where possible. Not only does a travel advisor or expert on-the-ground guide ensure travellers’ trips exceed expectations, they also allow travellers to fully live in the moment, relishing every detail without having to anticipate what they need to do next. 

They allow travellers the ultimate luxury – time – both during the planning process and the actual journey. 

Local Connections & Exclusive Access

Anyone can snag a reservation in a popular restaurant, but what about savouring a privately-prepared meal by a leading local chef? Gaining exclusive access to unique sites and experiences through local connections, whether it’s visiting a popular site outside normal public hours or being personally guided through a city’s leading galleries by a local artist, ups the ante when it comes to luxury experiences. Local connections also add an undeniable level of intimacy and novelty that stick in travellers’ memories for years to come, regardless of however classically ‘luxurious’ the experience is. 

Though more local excursions are being rolled out by the likes of Viator or AirBnB Experiences, authentic local experiences, particularly in more rural or underdeveloped areas of Asia, are not available via crowd sourced services. DMCs, however, have a unique ability to provide highly localised experiences, excursions and activities paired with the travellers’ preferred travel style or comfort level. 

Under-the-Radar Destinations & Experiencing Old Favourites in New Ways

Going all out in a global city may be a given, but experiencing a high-end journey in an unexpected place adds an element of surprise and novelty that can’t be beat. At first you may not expect to find ultra-luxe boutique hotels in quieter destinations such as Luang Prabang, Laos or some of the world’s most pristine diving conditions in Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago opposed to the more mainstream Maldives, but these under-the-radar destinations don’t just meet international luxury standards, they exceed them. 

Less developed destinations provide a sense of escapism – something that’s increasingly hard to find in mainstream tourist locations. They also help shift the responsibility of hosting millions of travellers away from holiday hotspots, spreading the wealth through local communities and managing tourist levels in a more sustainable way while also making visitors feel like they’ve stumbled across something special.  

That said, longtime luxury standbys, such as Thailand’s tropical island of Phuket or stylish Singapore are further pushing the line with luxury accommodation, cuisine and experiences as both locals’ and travellers’ expectations continue to rise. Luxe boutique hotels don’t just come with a concierge but personal butlers available 24/7 while tours aren’t just organised with a guide and driver but encompass a range of unique transportation options, from driving your own tuk tuk to vintage Vespas, to experience a destination in a different way.

The potential for luxury travel in Asia is limitless and travellers are eagerly going along for the ride. 

If you are interested in luxury travel in Asia, Diethelm Travel, one of the leading DMCs in Southeast Asia can assist you with more tips and insights. You can contact Diethelm Travel at for more details.  

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TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific editorial team has an experience of over 35 years in B2B travel journalism as well as in tourism & hospitality marketing and communications.