It’s easy to get sucked into tourist traps in the world’s most visited city but these old-school enchanted corners are blissful antidotes to all that
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Bangkok shrines all look alike after you’ve visited your fifth one. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything like Wat Pariwat, a temple complex in the city’s south-eastern corner. At first sight, it may look like your typical run-of-the-mill wat – but look closer and you’ll discover ornate depictions of emoji pandas, Wonder Woman, Pikachu, Disney figures and an angelic bare-chested Obama (to name a few) all blending in with the traditional intricate mosaics covering the walls and ceiling. It’s a visual feast and worth spending some time at as you hunt for pop culture references, including David Beckham, after whom it is nicknamed.
• 734 Rama III
Forget the all-inclusive resorts, a stay at a new eco-camp reveals what Mauritius is really about: mountains, forests and wildlife
Some views are worth travelling for, and the one from my terrace at Otentic Mountain, a new eco-retreat overlooking Mauritius’ sleepy south-east coast, is among them. By day, white-tailed tropicbirds soar over the forest canopy, macaque monkeys screech from the guava trees (which also shelter shy wild boar) and, in the distance, the occasional yacht drifts across the limpid turquoise sea. As night falls, tawny Mauritian fruit bats swoop to feast in the trees and the mountainside buzzes with a frog chorus.
Mauritius is best known for luxury hotels on palm-fringed beaches but I’m here to see its wilder side, with Otentic Mountain as my base. At the foot of Bambou Mountain, about two miles from the sea, it’s the second venture from Franco-Mauritian Julien Gufflet, who opened eco-camp Otentic River in the south-east in 2013. Otentic means “authentic” in Creole and both aim to offer a taste of the “real Mauritius”.