Why Penang’s Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Makes for an Extraordinary Escape

The Shangri-La name hails from James Hilton’s book Lost Horizon, published in 1933, that is rooted in a mythical Tibetan place that alludes to beauty and serenity. Rasa Sayang is paradise on earth, enveloped in the luxuriance of century-old rain trees and over 100 varieties of more than 40,000 plants in its vast gardens.

The landscaping of this wellspring of greenery is beautifully segmented into the main gardens, topiary sunken garden, herb and spice garden and the spa garden. Sea breezes add to the lulling effect when out and about at the resort with the sun’s brilliant rays streaming through the gaps among the tapestry of green foliage high above.

For beach lovers, the sea with gentle rolling waves is just a skip away, lying beyond the barrier of low hedges at the edge of the gardens.


The resort’s jewel in the crown is undoubtedly CHI, The Spa, introduced after the resort’s 2006 reopening and a Shangri-La wellness signature. Secluded and tucked behind local granite walls, it encompasses 3,800 sq metres of manicured verdure with intersections of walkways through bamboo forests.

The spa reception and sanctum open up into a courtyard with a gorgeous frangipani tree centrepiece, leading to the 11 private spa villas. The three Couples’ Villas and eight Garden Suites are all kitted out with changing, shower and treatment rooms and a private garden that come with outdoor spa tubs and rain showers for some.

Influenced by local architecture and interior design, the highly sought-after spa also boasts a yoga pavilion and private pool.

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