Adventures in Asia

Depending on your interests and budget, you can sail the Yangtze, train elephants, or live like a maharaja

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Luxury travel isn't just about gourmet meals, first-class cabins, and the last word in comfort. It's also about wellness, opportunity, and adventure. With that in mind, BusinessWeek Online is launching a series featuring vacation ideas from each of the seven continents that combine the deluxe with the delightful for an unforgettable life experience.

If your idea of a dream trip is learning to be an elephant trainer -- locally known as a mahmout -- in Thailand, passing the days in exquisite solitude on your own private island in the Maldives, or spending a year in luxurious hotels in India with a jet at your disposal, Asia is the continent for you. Steeped in history and blessed with a landscape as varied as its people, Asia offers a plethora of travel opportunities that embrace both natural and manmade wonders. Simple elegance or the height of extravagance? The choice is yours.


  Exotic Myanmar, which for years had shunned the outside world, now offers visitors a peek at a forgotten world, where villagers still plow fields by oxen alongside great swaths of truly breathtaking, ancient Buddhist pagodas. Cruise the Yangtze River before the Three Gorges Dam project is complete and such a trip is no longer possible. Learn the spicy secrets of Thai cooking. Practice yoga in the former palace of a maharaja, with the Himalayas as a dramatic backdrop.

Luxury has its cost: ranging from $50,000 a night in the Maldives (and the minimum stay is three nights) to $2 million for a year in India. Yet for a relatively modest $5,100, you can be the guest of honor at an ancient Buddhist ceremony, and $3,250 buys you eight days and seven nights in Thailand.

View the slide show above for a sampling of suggestions.

(Please note, airfare isn't included in any of these trips, and prices quoted are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to change.)

By Justin McLean in New York

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