Three itineraries for an exotic honeymoon of white sand, ancient culture and indulgence

Three itineraries for an exotic honeymoonof white sand, ancient culture and indulgence

Your honeymoon isn't just a celebration of your marriage; it's also a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Southeast Asia is just the place for a romantic and exotic honeymoon filled with gorgeous landscapes, ancient culture and delicious food. Here are three of our favorite Asian locations with just the right mix of adventure and relaxation.

1. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

With beautiful resorts, incredible culture and mouthwatering food, Indonesia has all a honeymooner needs for a laid-back Southeast Asian escape with an inexpensive price tag. Ubud is Bali's geographical and cultural heart, and a great starting point from which to explore the rest of the island.

When to visit: Bali stays a humid 82 degrees year-round, but the best time to visit is during the dry season from May to October. Usually April, May, June and September offer lower prices than the high-travel months of July and August.

Must-see sites: Visit the famed Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, the Agung Rai Contemporary Art Museum and the Ubud Palace. Then, branch out of Ubud and take a tour through the nearby rice fields, see the white herons in Petulu, or hire a driver to head farther north to tour temples and waterfalls.

Where to stay: The Hanging Gardens of Bali, just north of Ubud, is a destination unto itself. Surrounded by characteristic Balinese rice fields, each room has its own private villa. If spa services and candlelit pathways aren't enough, at the heart of the resort is the twin-tiered cascading pool, voted the "World's Best Swimming Pool" by Condé Nast Traveler magazine.

Average cost: Rooms cost about $500 for seven nights.

Alternative: One of the last preserved tropical archipelagos, the Philippines offers the food, friendliness and charm of Bali, in a slightly less-explored atmosphere.

2. Siem Reap andKoh Rong, Cambodia

Adventurous honeymooners can have the best of both worlds by exploring Cambodia's Khmer culture in Siem Reap before heading south to relax on Cambodia's famous white sand beaches.

When to visit: The peak time to visit Cambodia is during the dry season from November through May, when it's not too hot and humid, but still warm enough to swim. Visiting the coast during the rainy season (June through October) means a daily delugeof rain and baking hot humidity in the north, but it also presents lower prices and fewer tourists.

Must-see sites: While Siem Reap has its share of lively markets and beautiful temples, its real draw is its proximity to nearby places of interest. Visit the floating villages at Tonle Sap Lake. Then, take a full day (at least) to explore the more than 1,000 temples that make up the Angkor temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The most famous temple of the complex, Angkor Wat, is said to be the largest religious monument in the world. Down south, the beaches and islands scattered in the Gulf of Thailand are all about romance and relaxation, with crystal clear water, white sand and phosphorescent plankton that light up the sea at night.

Where to stay: Mr & Mrs Smith offer the perfect boutique hotels for couples looking for romance. The name itself is born out of the classic priority-on-privacy weekend pseudonym so many couples use. Stay at the Belmond La Résidence d'Angkor and enjoy the garden-surrounded pool, oh-so-special spa and the personal terrazzo plunge bathtubs big enough for two. Splurge in Koh Rong and stay at the Song Saa Private Island Eco-Hotel where you can enjoy a 60-minute complimentary massage.

Average cost: Belmond La Résidence d'Angkor runs about $1,750 for seven nights. Song Saa costs $9,464 for one week, but includes all meals and drinks, watersports, boat transfers and a 15-minute foot massage on arrival.

Alternative: Honeymooners looking for full-time beach life will love a classic honeymoon in the Maldives.

3. Singapore

Celebrate your honeymoon in style with luxurious hotels, designer shopping and exciting nightlife in Singapore. An urbanites dream, Singapore is Asia's most cosmopolitan city. Explore its true mix of cultures through its tasty and varied cuisine. You can even order in English-it's one of Singapore's four national languages.

When to visit: Located right on the equator, Singapore is hot and humid year-round with very little variation aside from a bit more rain from November to January. The average temperature is 80 degrees, though it's usually closer to 90 midday.

Must-see sites: Walk along the Marina Bay waterfront to see the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the unique Merlion half-lion half-fish statue used as Singapore's mascot, and the nearby Gardens by the Bay. The Gardens' most recognizable sight are the 12 steel "trees" in the Supertree Grove, each of which comes to life at night with a light and music show. Eat at one of Singapore's famed hawker centers (a sort of outdoor food court) such as Newtown Court or the Old Airport Road Hawker Centre. Go shopping on Orchard Road, a 1.4-mile stretch of malls, or go more low-key with some shopping in Chinatown. For some calm, head to the enormous Singapore Botanic Gardens. Officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, there are few things as romantic as strolling among the thousands of orchids that fill the National Orchid Complex.

Where to stay: Go big with a stay at the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The three cascading hotel towers are connected on top by the world's largest rooftop infinity pool, allowing you to swim, sunbathe and take photos 57 stories above the sleepless city-state. The hotel also houses an ArtScience Museum, theatres, celebrity chef restaurants, luxury shops and a casino and nightclub.

Average cost: Room prices at Marina Bay Sands vary from $2,989 to $4,480 for seven nights depending on the type of room and time of year.

Alternative: The many luxurious resorts in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai, Thailand are perfect for relaxation and pampering and the towns are great starting points from which to explore the beautiful region. œ

Honeymoon Registries: Eschewing gifts for travel

Honeymoon registries can be a great option for couples who already own the sheets, towels and waffle irons that fill traditional wedding registries.

Instead of registering for household items, more and more couples are opting for a registry dedicated to helping them finance their honeymoon. Newlyweds can sign up for a specific honeymoon registry site (but be careful, many sites operate for a percentage of the revenue generated), or simply use a personal web page to share their honeymoon travel plans with friends and family. Monetary gifts can be accepted via PayPal, direct deposit or simply by check.

For some, a honeymoon registry is a chance to create a lifelong memory and experience that they otherwise wouldn't have, but there are some things to consider before creating one.

"People don't always like to deal with change or try new things, so some guests definitely will not participate," said Jennifer Drew, founder and principal event coordinator ofStR Events.

If you are worried that a guest will find it rude asking for vacation money, consider having a separate registry with tangible offerings for more traditional guests.

"The best place to provide this information to your guests is on your wedding website," Drew said. "Provide them as much information as you can about the honeymoon registry on your site and hopefully people will give it a try."

Afterward, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note that shares a part of the honeymoon experience with the giver.