Southeast Asia without a doubt a memorable destination: from futuristic city skylines to decadent beach bars, from jungle terrace retreats to riverine vistas, there is bound to be something interesting for everyone. This is Jay’s take, Part 1, because let’s be honest, there will be more as we travel and discover unique spots.
Catch Beach Club, Phuket
Images of an idyllic island retreat usually includes either a fancy lounge or a small hut serving coconuts. This particular spot definitely qualifies in the former category, and then some.
The previous location of Catch on Surin Beach was iconic, as it was fringed on one corner by large rocks and on another by the beach, with the most realistic entrance via the beach. The new location, as of early 2017, is on the next beach up on Bangtao Beach, with an equally stunning view, and arguably a better spot for a sunset.
The crowd has also gone upmarket, with a fantastic, single storey setting and with a very euro-white theme all-around. Naturally, there are magnum bottles of Moet everywhere, and the cocktails are really, really good.
rGrab a spot around 5pm to get a good seat for sunset, and stay a while longer as the beach-club lounge house beats set your beach escapade soundtrack.
View: West, towards the Andaman Sea. Fantastic setting for the sunset
Drinks: good selection of drinks, cocktails are my favourite here
Price Point: Reasonable. THB 300++/drink
Feel: come by in the late afternoon onwards. Perfect, chilled atmosphere. Also: if you happen to be staying at the Twin Palms Surin, there is a shuttle service between Catch Beach Club and the Twin Palms.
Address: Choeng Thale, Thalang District, Phuket 83110, Thailand
(Tel: +66 65 348 2017)
Helipad @ Heli Lounge, Kuala Lumpur
While Marini’s takes the cake as the highest bar in town, and SkyBar has the unrivalled view of the Petronas Twin Towers, the Helipad is among the few places where you can say ‘oh, the helicopter dropped me off’ as you chat someone up by the lounge. When it isn’t used as an outdoor terrace, this place still functions as a helipad.
The views here are stunning: an unrivalled 360* view of Kuala Lumpur, all the way to the Titiwangsa Range and beyond. The spot is high enough for you to enjoy a view of the city, but just right for you to feel as if you are still surrounded by other buildings, giving you an urban feel.
Happy Hours are not exactly present, but the relaxed atmosphere, where you can walk around in shorts, gives it a chilled feel. After 9pm though, you need to wear trousers, and there is a minimum spend, and there is a live band on some evenings. The chilled lounge beats from 6pm provides a nicer, more relaxed setting, as you watch the world go by while the sun changes hue at dusk.
View: 360* view of Kuala Lumpur, from the Twin Towers to KL Tower to everything else in between.
Drinks: Good cocktail selection, and the usual beers.
Price Point: Reasonably priced at the MYR 30++ point.
Feel: This is a somewhat popular place, for both locals and visitors. Come by around 6pm to get a good seat and watch the sun set from 7pm.
Address: 34th Floor, Menara KH, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
(Tel: +60 3 2110 5034)
How about a craft brewery 33 floors above the city? This is what LeVeL33 is all about, as you are greeted by bronze tanks as you walk through the bar. With a nice, wooden feel and an east-facing terrace, Level33 is definitely one of the more unique watering holes in Asia.
The beer selection is eclectic, with sampling options if you can’t decide which brew tickles your fancy. The good selection of beers and ales, coupled with a reasonably priced happy hour selection makes this a regular after-work haunt for the bankers, lawyers and finance-types that populate the Marina Bay and Raffles Place towers next door.
While it may not have as iconic a view as the outlets at the Marina Bay Sands Skypark, you get an unrivalled view of the Marina Bay Sands in one end, the financial district of Raffles Place on the other end and the iconic colonial buildings and Esplanade Theatres right in front of you.
View: 180* view of the Singapore skyline, with parts of Raffles Place, all of Marina Bay and of course, unobstructed views of the Marina Bay Sands.
Drinks: Expansive beer selection, from craft brews to special editions.
Price Point: Reasonable by Singapore standards, especially at happy hours. SGD 11 at Happy Hour, SGD 17 after.
Feel: Business casual. Expect lots of professional types, but not too stuffy as a venue.
Address: 8 Marina Boulevard 33-01, Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, Singapore 018981
(Tel: +65 6834 3133)
Red Sky, Bangkok
Located at the top terrace of Centra at CentralWorld, this bar tops off the dining and entertainment selection in this large tower. While not as popular as Lebua at State Tower, this particular perch has unrivalled views of Bangkok with its city centre location.
From here, you can see the iconic pixelated tower of the MahaNakhon in the Silom-Sathorn financial district, the office towers along the Witthayu diplomatic enclave, and the never-ending expanse along Sukhumvit Road. Did I mention this is a 360* view? While Vertigo at Banyan Tree also has a 360*, this feels a bit more grounded as it feels wider, with a lot of terrace space to walk and lounge around.
Drinks are pretty good here, and cocktails can be quite stiff. There is, naturally, a champagne lounge, and the terrace seating is conducive for lounging. Definitely a good perch if you want a convenient bar after all that shopping downstairs, especially around 6pm, in time to catch the sun setting.
View: 360* views of Bangkok.
Drinks: Good cocktail selection, and can be strong.
Price Point: Reasonable by Urban Asia-Pacific standards. THB 400++, and there is a decent happy hour which includes a buy-one-free-one promo.
Feel: Very dressed down and casual in the daytime. Relaxed atmosphere with chilled music just makes you want to do absolutely nothing but relax.
Address: Centara Grand at CentralWorld 56F, Thailand
(Tel: +66 2 100 6255)
River Terrace, Mulu, Sarawak
This spot is definitely the odd one out in this list, but how many times can you lounge on a super large and comfortable day bed with a glass of wine looking at limestone cliffs, a clear river and the very edge of a UNESCO World Heritage Natural Wonder?
With a fine, wide veranda, a small garden fronting the river and pebble beach, the Paku River meanders against a sheer limestone cliff, as the peace and quiet of the jungle lets you unwind for a moment. Oh, and this is one of the few spots in the hotel where you get reliable cell reception and the only few places with WiFi in all of Mulu: this place was designed to be remote.
Drinks selection are good, but let’s be honest: the main reason why we chill here is for cell reception and WiFi. The stunning jungle views, occasional boat that plies the river and comfortable jungle luxury setting just adds on to the ‘plus’ column.
View: Nature, jungle, river and the quaint, rural idyll, set in a 5 star resort, yet you don’t feel too decadent somehow.
Drinks: Good cocktail selection, and generous carafe options for wine. Good options, considering this is the middle of the jungle and provisions need to be flown in.
Price Point: On the lower end of average upscale Asia-Pacific establishments. MYR 25++
Feel: Relaxed atmosphere and extremely chilled. You may just fall asleep on the day bed, it is that comfortable.
Address: Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa, Sungai Melinau, Box 1145, 98008 Mulu, Sarawak, Malaysia
(Tel: +60 85 792 388)
What is my criteria?
-View: do I get a unique insight to the city? And is the view majorly obstructed?
-Drinks Selection: Beer? Wine? Cocktails? Variety helps with the view.
-Price Point: Rooftop bars are known to charge a premium, but is it reasonable?
-Feel: Now this is hard to quantify, but a fantastic view can be spoiled by that intangible thing called ‘feelings’
Jason is a world traveller and avid seeker of high perches, on a mission to capture the unique experiences that makes destinations iconic.