Top 12 places for relaxing - ranked by visitors
Anokhi in Hindi means “unique, and Anokhi Cafe in the heart of Jaipur, is indeed a one-of-a-kind hideaway with a non-Indian menu made with fresh “mostly organic” produce that comes from the local Anokhi farm. The café is sleek and minimalist, with a ceiling made of cane and round wicker chairs draped in blue fabric set around tables under soft lighting. It’s a soothing space for organic coffee; mint, chamomile and lemongrass infusions; fresh pomegranate, pineapple and seasonal juices; salads made with organic lettuce; pizza with grilled veggies; hummus sandwiches and treats like banana bread, carrot cake, oatmeal cookies and lemon meringue tarts. Situated on the second floor of KK Square Mall in Jaipur, Anokhi is the place to escape city life and relax.
It’s a mystical place with a medieval aura; connected to civilization only by a precarious hairpin road that takes over an hour to traverse to the nearest town, Gangtok (in Sikkim State, India) near the Chinese border, at the foothills of the Himalayas. At 1500 meters, surrounded by snowcapped peeks, Rumtek Monastery (Dharma Chakra Center & Golden Stupa) may seem inhospitable, but amidst the cozy, smoky interior of the largest monastery in Sikkim, the atmosphere is conducive to peace of mind & inner calm. The fragrance of a thousand types of incense dances with chanting monks and reverberates with incessant rumbling drums around aged Buddhist masters, smiling child-monks (and Indian army guards), in scenes reminiscent of Heinrich Harrer’s “Seven Years in Tibet”.
A city near Pakistan border, in the state of Punjab, Amritsar is of great importance for the Sikh community as it is home to one of their holiest temples : The Golden Temple. It is one of the sought after tourist destinations. The Golden Temple and the Wagah Border’s ceremony (Indo-Pak border) are the main reasons to attract travelers. You will find many places to check in as it is thronged by tourists, international and domestic, throughout the year. But if you are looking for an out of the box experience, then Virasat Haveli is the right place for you. Away from the humdrum of city, it is situated in the countryside of Manavala, a very close by village of Amritsar. If you are evading fast paced life of city, want to relax, be at peace, and be at proximity with nature.
Sip N Bite is a little place in the heart of Gurgaon Haryana India - about 30 km. from Delhi. It stands out from other places in the Qutub Plaza complex because it’s cozy, casual & offers good value. There’s a crepe corner, called “Holy Crepe” with a fairytale arch that lends innocent charm to the place, but Sip N Bite isn’t just about fresh crepes. It serves Chinese, Indian, & continental dishes like sizzlers, all prepared in an open kitchen while you watch. And, each page of the menu has a tidbit of food history, like the accidental discovery of tea and how chocolate was first made; a nice read while waiting for an order. The downside is that there’s no alcohol, not even wine. Sip N Bite Restaurant in Gurgaon is located in Qutub Plaza DLF phase 1 opposite Icic Bank.
Drive up steep hilly roads, take sharp turns, maneuver through congested lanes and finally reach a slice of Tibet – in northern India’s Uttarakhand state. That’s where Doma’s Inn is located, in Mullingar Hill, Landour, 35 km. from Mussoorie hill station, and near the Landour market. The Inn is small, cozy and decorated like a typical Tibetan village. The owner (apparently a Bollywood fan) has hung film posters on the walls, albeit alongside dragonhead tapestries & traditional Buddhist thankas! Domas Inn is famed for its eclectic décor and sumptuous Tibetan, Chinese and Indian cuisine. It’s not one of the regular restaurants / hotels in Mussoorie, but a country Inn, renowned for an eccentric Tibetan-style ambiance, great food, stunning views and personal service.
Snuggle under goose-down duvets, choose books from the private library, feast on wild mushrooms & drink Polish spring water amidst views of the Carpathian Tatras Mountains in a nook near the Poland-Slovakia border (145 km south of Kraków). Nestled amidst hills, beech-fir forests & river valleys, is a picturesque writer’s retreat called Cottage at the Springs. This rustically-elegant Polish holiday cottage is “at the springs” due to the natural spring water sources – one 200m from the cottage and others in Wierchomla (500m), Piwniczna (11 km), Muszyna (26 km) & Krynica (38 km). The cottage, a private 3-story chalet with traditional gabling, cozy attic, luxury salon and spa-style bath, also comes with “powitanie” from Krystyna, Witold and their four loveable dogs.
Mind Café brings “people together through old style intellectual clean fun” with over 2000 board games, a giant set of Jenga building blocks plus snacks & beverages – without an Xbox or PlayStation® in sight! Mind Cafe Gurgaon locations (at Cross Point on the 2nd floor of Galleria Market, DLF Phase 4, and on the 1st floor of the Fortis Hospital) are based on the café/restaurants with board games Singapore introduced to the world. The ones in Gurgaon are the first board games café centers in India; already popular hangouts for gaming fans and the hottest places for birthdays (3 years – adult), intellectual kitty parties, corporate “Ice-Breaking” & “Team Bonding” events plus lots of competitions. They also sell board games so you can take the fun home!
Taiwan’s East Rift Valley (between Hualien & Taitung, along East Coast Highway No. 9) is famed for geological activity & hotsprings spas. The hot springs resort and spa region extends from Liyu Lake, through Fuyuan Forest, to the mineral springs resorts in Rueisuei & Hongye, and after crossing the Tropic of Cancer, continues on to Yuli and Antong. But 2 km off the standard spa-tour-route is a secret place called New Life Spring Resort (Nu-An-Hu). Proprietors, Marlena & Leo, after years in Australia, returned to design Aussie-style wooden bungalows & Japanese pools, creating a singular sanctuary; a secret Taiwan hot springs resort with garden villas, private suites, a quaint hostel-style B&B, and an alfresco café serving spring water cappuccino, tea and Chinese treats.
A hidden gem (in the form of an organic farm) is tucked away in the hills of a village called Pang Term, of the Samoeng district in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. It’s known only by a few, but word of mouth is slowly spreading, as are the rows of vegetables, herbs and fruits that are grown au naturel. But it’s not just the rolling hills and flourishing farm that the senses can imbibe. There are also communal buildings and bamboo/mud-brick huts built by Chinnaworn and volunteers; places where visitors can come together to eat and meditate. At times, these two elements come together, such as during silent breakfasts & lunches. At Mindful Farm guests & volunteers work hard, but it’s also a place to unwind and relax while experiencing a unique lifestyle for a minimal cost.
Close to the top of the popular Tkalčevićeva street youʹll certainly notice a cute yellow front of the house with a heart-shaped door knob and a roof made of candy. Although itʹs not a real candy it resembles a lot to the one in the fairytale Hansel and Gretel (croatian: Ivica i Marica), which is also the name of this restaurant and cake shop. Under one of the most photographed roofs in Zagreb youʹll enjoy some of the best traditional meals of Croatian cuisine all prepared from ecollogically certified food and without any preservatives and artificial additives. Even an ice-cream is produced in a traditional way from natural ingredients such as milk, pasteurized egg yolks, sweet cream, fruit and natural flavours. Once youʹve tried it youʹll always come back for more.
Mor Mu Dong Phuket Restaurant serves authentic Thai food in thatched huts and private stilted “salas” (traditional open-air shelters) perched over brackish swampland amidst tangled mangroves in eastern Chalong. It’s isolated, extremely rustic and, for the less adventurous, perhaps too authentic for comfort, with seating on wooden sala floors with mats (or in the main hut on plastic chairs), and menu items including insect delicacies. Not surprisingly Mor Mu Dong was featured on Bizarre Foods; yes, it’s the place Andrew Zimmern feasted on leafy greens sautéed with wasp larvae and stingray. It’s also the place for fiery hot red-curry pork & a dish not seen on typical touristy Phuket Thai menu boards: pla pao, a succulently tender salt-encrusted slowly grilled whole fish.
Bombay Blues isn’t just another Indian restaurant in Bangkok, but a raffishly-bohemian two-story wooden house on Soi Rambuttri near Khaosan Road. It’s not one of the gleaming riverside rooftop restaurants in Bangkok, but a charming hideaway with a rustically-regal ambiance, authentic Indian cuisine & open-air terrace with… no chairs. Dine like a barefoot raja on Indian carpets, plush mattresses and oversized pillow-rolls around low wooden tables. Relax with cocktails and a strawberry sheesha pipe; succumb to red swathes of fabric, candlelight, incense & Bollywood tunes. There’s no rush. Order slowly: crunchy masala papad, tandoor prawns, chicken tikka, cheese paneer tikka with mint chutney, goat biryani or velvety murgh makhani (butter chicken) with garlic nan or roti.