Had enough of the Arctic Chill?? A perfect place to thaw out is Southeast Asia. The region is known for its impressive beaches which draw millions of tourists from around the world. But more than that, the region is rich with history, a vibrant cultural life, friendly residents and amazingly creative places to stay. Here are a couple of my favorite places.

Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah

Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah, as it is officially known, is located on the coast of northwest Malaysia. It is part of an archipelago in the Andaman Sea that consists of 104 of the most beautiful islands in the world. Langkawi is the largest of the islands and the most populated. You will definitely find the perfect spot here to refresh and rejuvenate. The northeast shoreline offers more secluded beaches, perfect if you are looking for an escape from the world or private time with your partner. If you prefer a busier, more people oriented experience, then head to the southern shores. As a break from sunning on the beach, I recommend the Langkawi Sky Bridge. You can walk over the top of the rainforest canopy--stunning.

Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Sabah region in Borneo. It faces the China Sea and is a great destination for Eco tours and communing with wildlife. In fact, it may be one of the best places to see wild orangutans. If you are a lover of seafood, Kota Kinabalu will not disappoint you. The outdoor cafes are teeming with delicious fish and shellfish straight from the sea. To get to one of the gorgeous beaches, head out by boat to Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. You can go snorkeling, boating, or simply rest on the shore. For the most breathtaking sunsets, I recommend Tanjung Aru beach. Mt. Kinabalu is also a key highlight of Kota Kinabalu. It is the highest peak in Borneo's Crocker Range and is the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago as well as the highest mountain in Malaysia.

I love both of these destinations for different reasons. About 5 years ago, we had a great family holiday in Langkawi. We sailed and enjoyed the beaches and outdoors. Our kids still remember Langkawi with its greenish-blue waters and wildlife - there were monkey's on our porch daily, greeting us as we woke up. Kota Kinabalu will remain in my memory as my husband and I climbed Mt. Kinabalu over a weekend in September about 5 years back. It was quite an adventure as we hiked through alternating sun and pouring rain as we ascended to the top, along the way catching some incredible views. Both very memorable getaways!