For me, choosing our honeymoon destination was more stressful than organising the entire wedding! Just as you’d judge a fashionista’s wedding dress, when you're a travel agent, the pressure is on to choose somewhere perfect for your honeymoon. Everyone wants to know your plans, and everyone expects you to arrange something incredible.
We wanted a once-in-a-lifetime trip with sunshine, wildlife and great food. In terms of honeymoon destinations, there were 3 top contenders, and we were utterly torn between them. We were considering a Tanzanian safari followed by some beach time in Zanzibar, exploring the coast of Oman, or taking a multi-stop honeymoon to Malaysia and Sumatra. In the end, the Sumatran orangutans won.
We decided to go on our honeymoon at the end of April, which is a shoulder season in Sumatra. However, since we were going into the rainforest, we were fully expecting to get a bit of rain anyway. Most important, April is an excellent time to visit Langkawi, which was the beach part of our honeymoon. Airfares and hotels often offer great deals in the shoulder season too, so we saved some money – always a bonus!
We began our honeymoon with four days at Lake Toba on Sumatra before spending five nights in Gunung Leuser National Park, including two nights camping in the jungle. We then flew to Penang for three nights, spent another three nights on the beach in Langkawi, two nights in Kuala Lumpur and, finally, three nights in Dubai.
We were fortunate to be upgraded to Business Class for all our flights with Emirates. Our airport transfers to and from Gatwick were included, and the airport business class lounges made every journey stress-free, so the honeymoon really did start from the moment we left the house.
The lounge in Dubai is super luxurious. Being able to take a shower between flights and board directly from the lounge made such a difference to the whole travel experience. The Business Class cabin had flat beds, a great menu, and the service was second to none.
We were so relaxed when we arrived that it meant we didn’t lose a day trying to get over jetlag, so Business Class is a great option to start your honeymoon in style, especially if you are short on time.
We booked a private tailor-made package for the Sumatra part of the journey. As it was our honeymoon, we wanted it to be just the two of us. The package included private transfers, all our accommodation and trips but left us with plenty of time to do what we wanted on free days.
Our first stop was Lake Toba and four nights at Tabo Cottages staying in a Batak Villa. Our villa was a traditional Batak house and, although basic, it was beautiful to swing in a hammock on the balcony and take in the spectacular views.
We spent our days in the pool, which had lake views to die for. We also set off on walks all around the island, which was unbelievably quiet. Every so often a moped would pass us, but most of the time it was just the two of us with no real plans, taking in the lake views and waving to local children.
After a boat ride back to the mainland, our driver drove us Gunung Leuser National Park via Sipisopiso waterfall. We also stopped at the small village of Permatang Purba, which is home to a collection of restored tribal houses of the Simalungun Batak chiefs. Seeing the traditional Batak and longhouses was a fascinating insight into local life and a great way to break up a long drive.
Finally, we arrived at the Jungle Inn in Bukit Lawang. Our honeymoon suite was beautiful, with a massive four poster bed and jungle views from the balcony. The next day was my birthday, and it rained all day, so we sat on the balcony reading our books and drinking passion fruit lassi.
At one point a troop of monkeys across the river descended from a tree and ran in a line all along the river bank before disappearing into the rainforest. Magic.
The next day the sun was shining, and we headed off for our two-day jungle trek. After a quick river crossing and a short walk with our local guide, we arrived at a feeding platform where a group of semi-wild orangutans sometimes visit for food.
We didn’t have to wait long before about 4 or 5 adults and two babies arrived. It was more amazing than I had hoped for, and I could have stood for hours just watching them swing about. It sounds cliché, but there's something magical about seeing them in the wild.
The hike became tougher as we headed deeper into the jungle, but we were rewarded when our guide spotted two wild orangutans relaxing in a nest way above our heads. The guides were incredibly knowledgeable about flora and fauna surrounding us, and our untrained eyes would never have spotted the orangutans above us.
Our jungle camp was a nature lover’s paradise. Huge monitor lizards strolled casually through the camp and cheeky long-tailed macaques stole our condensed milk twice! At sunset, we switched on our head torches and sat down to a delicious meal of rice and meat stew followed by a game of cards and an early night looking up at the canopy of trees and the stars beyond.
Our last day involved a very fun and wet tubing trip down the river back to our hotel. Afterwards, we took a very well-deserved hot shower heading back to the airport for the next part of our adventure in Malaysia.
We mainly chose Penang for its incredible food, so we spent lots of time walking around Little India and China Town, sampling the local dishes and admiring the colonial architecture. I really love the multi-cultural buzz of Penang and I especially loved learning more about the Nyonya culture and food.
If you’re visiting Penang, I would highly recommend jumping on a bus and heading to the outskirts of town to visit Ivy’s Nyonya Kitchen. This is the perfect place try traditional Nyonya food, followed by a glass of wine in That Little Wine bar a few doors down.
Next, we jumped on an early ferry and, after 3 hours at sea, we arrived at Langkawi Chantique Resort. We were welcomed with champagne and a fresh fruit platter before settling down by the pool for our first proper day of relaxation. The rooms were spotless, we had the pool to ourselves most days and the staff were friendly and helpful. Each morning, we had breakfast on our private terrace, and it felt such a treat to roll out of bed to a delicious coffee.
During our stay on Langkawi, we took a boat tour of the Kilim Nature Park. The highlights included seeing brown eagles fishing and discovering the fascinating geology of the area, from mangroves to limestone rocks emerging from the sea. We also stopped at a secluded beach with pure white sands, where we experienced total privacy – something that feels so rare in Asia nowadays.
The next day, after lazing on the gorgeous beaches of Langkawi, we boarded a luxury yacht for a sunset cruise. As we enjoyed a drink and took in the views, our crew whipped up a fantastic buffet dinner. The seafood couldn’t have been fresher, and there couldn’t have been a more beautiful place to enjoy it. Later, we jumped in a net which is dragged (slowly) behind the boat, enjoying our very own saltwater jacuzzi as the sun went down.
After a short plane ride the next morning we landed in Kuala Lumpur and straight to our hotel in China Town. We had both been here before about 10 years ago and really enjoyed the mix of ultra-modern and more traditional areas.
Like much of our Indonesian and Malaysian honeymoon food played a major part in our next couple of days. Although it was nice to stay somewhere near to a range of cocktail bars and restaurants, we still couldn’t resist the street food stalls for dinner. I swear food tastes better if you eat it whilst sitting on a small plastic stool next to a road.
Next, we boarded a flight to Dubai, the last stop of our honeymoon. We were really unsure what to expect of the city. On landing, it felt surreal to be somewhere almost completely manmade, after being surrounded by nature for the last few weeks. We stayed in the Dubai Creek area as we really wanted to explore the souks and the more traditional side of Dubai so chose to stay at the Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa. We loved that the décor was in keeping with the local surroundings.
The next day we went to explore Dubai Mall and see if the shopping really lives up to all the hype. It does! I got the impression Dubai wants to do everything slightly bigger and better than everywhere else and, to be fair, on most accounts it does. The fountain show, which rivals the Bellagio in Las Vegas, is brilliant and you can get some lovely photos with the Burj Khalifa in the background. The waterparks also equal anything you’d get in the USA.
That evening, we took a relaxing dinner cruise on a traditional Dhow boat. It was a lovely way to spend an evening and see the city lights at night. On our final day, we took a trip out to the sand dunes for dinner at a desert camp. It was great to get out into the desert to escape the heat and the sand dune bashing was great fun. Whilst being a little cheesy, the dinner at the Arabian camp with belly dancing, shisha and henna tattooing was a great way to end such a diverse honeymoon.
After 3 weeks, we were relaxed and stuffed with both food and wonderful memories. We both loved our multi-stop honeymoon in Indonesia and Malaysia, as it allowed us to mix a more traditional honeymoon with upmarket hotels and fabulous beaches.
Making the most of free airline stopovers, such as Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, gave us the opportunity to explore places that wouldn’t otherwise have considered. These destinations felt like little city breaks in the midst of a bigger trip, which made the whole honeymoon feel even more special.
We are specialists in multi-stop trips, round the world flights and tailor-made honeymoons. If you would like to put together your own multi-centre honeymoon, you can contact Claire directly or speak to one of our expert travel consultants. Simply give us a call on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email and we'll quickly get back to you.