When looking for hidden gems within a new country, the best way to truly experience and find them, is to go on the ground, and look from all angles. That’s where my passion for running, cycling and swimming comes in handy. Rather than asking concierge, I point my bike in one direction, and start cycling, until I find someone or something worth sharing with other people.
Having taken this philosophy to many areas of the planet, (including Australia, Eastern Europe, Africa, South East Asia, Sri Lanka, India, and Africa), running headlong into the wilderness was not something I could advise my friends and family to do. I learned the hard way in Zimbabwe. Having said that, New Zealand with its endless stretches of undisturbed coastline, mountain peaks and river trails made it an incredibly satisfying place to run. I find myself desperate to reach the next bend, to see what the view has it store for me.
South East Asia has so much to give, hence having revisited on multiple occasions. I tend to get twitchy sitting on the beach all day, however here, your options are endless. Borneo is the perfect example, combining wildlife in the rainforests, trekking up Mount Kinabalu along with some stunning beaches. Most places offer private boat trips to secluded islands and beaches, exceptional diving, cycling, cooking courses, temple tours and if you are looking to swat up on your knowledge, there are some incredibly informative museums and fantastic guides who will give you a true insight into the rich history of their countries. I must remember, it’s not meant to be a marathon!
What my guests have said
"Thank you very much for helping us organize our honeymoon. We had such a fantastic time neither of us wanted to leave. All the hotels you booked us into were just fabulous and to be able to relax in the knowledge that we were well looked after everywhere we went was perfect."
"As my honeymoon is approaching the end, I would like to first and foremost extend my sincerest gratitude for everything you have done on behalf of Scott Dunn. Every single aspect of our itinerary was meticulously catered to which resulted in the smooth outcome of our honeymoon that would have never been possible without your expertise. There were absolutely no complications which further emphasizes all the time and effort that was put into creating the quintessential itinerary, and for that both my wife and I are filled with gratitude. I will most definitely recommend Scott Dunn to anyone and and I am certain this will not be the last time I work with your agency for my personal travels."
"Lovely Katie, thank you so much for everything! My husband has already said he would definitely arrange more vacations with Scott Dunn, after the amazing time we had. We have been so impressed with your competence and how great you were at planning our honeymoon."
"We had three quotes for our vacation to Borneo. Although Scott Dunn were the most expensive, Katie was the only one who understood what we wanted from the vacation and put together an itinerary that matched our requirements."
"I wanted to thank you in advance for sorting out our vacation. You have been so efficient and your response times make me feel even more confident that this vacation is going to run very smoothly. Can’t wait to get on the plane."
"If it hadn’t been for Katie, I really do feel our vacation would have been a bit of a disaster, a bit of a washout. She guided us on where would be the best weather, how long to spend in each place and all the experiences she suggested were excellent. Thank you!"
"Thank you very much for all you have done in ensuring that our honeymoon was planned and taken care of with diligence and the best service. Katie thank you so much for sorting out the connections and all your assistance during the flight delay. We had a fantastic time in Thailand and everything ran like clock work, very much to your credit. I will not hesitate to mention you to others and I shall return to book my future vacations with yourselves."
"Katie, I want to thank you so much for everything that you have done so far. You have been incredibly helpful and super kind and I will definitely call you again. You have great experience and are super reliable. I hope your boss knows this! I look forward to speaking again for another trip. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication."
"Many thanks for arranging our amazing trip to Thailand. We arrived back yesterday happy, exhilarated and full of fabulous memories. Everything worked perfectly and our guides were all superb."
"Hi Katie, I really want to thank you again! Your attentiveness, assistance and kindness is a major reason we chose to go with Scott Dunn."
Favourite places I've been
- Luang Prabang is a spiritual haven. The streets are flooded with monks in their burnt Sienna Robes. The morning ‘Alms’ offering is at sunrise. Luang Prabang is such a charming place, you will be pleased you had that early morning wake up.
- In Thailand ensure you book yourself in for a private Muay Thai lesson in their kick boxing ring. A handful of hotels in Thailand have in house trainers who will start you off slowly. My favorite boxing ring was at the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.
- A useful tip for those traveling on Bangkok Airways, The Airlines are very strict when it comes to weight limit on internal flights. Bangkok Airways, flyerbonus program allows you an extra 10kg of weight. All you need to do is become a member.
- Air New Zealand are an incredibly luxurious airline to fly with and have a huge amount to offer. Your round the world ticket includes four internal flights within New Zealand making it incredibly easy to see all the corners of New Zealand you want to.
My hot picks
You can see Phouse mountain and the hustle and bustle of Luang Pragang lit up at night, yet it will be blissfully peaceful here. I recommend taking their long tail boat on a day trip up the Mekong. They will set up a private lunch for you on a sand dune.
Having fallen head over heels for Four Seasons Koh Samui, I hoped I was in for a treat. The Olympic size pool is the most relaxing spot in Asia. With five exceptional restaurants, an excellent kids club, luxurious spa and grounds, you can’t go wrong.
As you start to lose the sun and feel like you are traveling further into the wilderness, you will come across Grasmere Lodge hidden in Southern Alps. With a true New Zealand feel to it and a banquet awaiting you, you will not be disappointed.
With unforgettable views from the yawning windows of Sussex Deer grazing in the fields below the snow-capped mountains just behind you and with views of the sea if you look in the other direction, Hapuka Lodge really is an incredibly luxurious retreat.
On a secluded beach of tropical Koh Samui with breathtaking views and the most fantastic ambience. Kamalaya offers a healthy lifestyle experience and reconnects you to the healer and visionary within. Their yoga classes and wellness center is fantatic!
Within the 6000 acres estate, you are spoiled for choice at Kauri Cliffs. With 3 secluded beaches including pink beach, a superb golf course designed by David Harman, farm tracks for riding, forest walks, waterfalls and a functioning farm to ramble around.
Set off by speed boat from Sandakan through the electric blue Sulu Seas. On the side of the Mangrove forest, Kinabatangan awaits. Whilst you stay here, you will find yourself cruising up the creeks of the river, searching for wild orang-utans and more.