Making feline friends in Southeast Asia

These destinations have been perfectly designed with cat-lovers in mind.

Kitten relaxing

Culture, cuisine, and cats

Combining a kitty fix with exploring a new destination isn't as out there as it sounds, as these destinations prove. Each unique place in Southeast Asia is ideal for meeting four-legged locals, while also supporting local cats and other creatures. Each one also happens to be a labor of love by someone absolutely devoted to helping animals.

Wat Phra Singh Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Elephant Nature Park is famous for trailblazing the ethical concept of a no-ride elephant sanctuary. It remains an excellent elephant experience, where you can meet the herd, learn their stories, and watch them frolic in the mud pit.

What many don’t know is that ENP also has the newly-expanded Cat Kingdom on the grounds, where hundreds of cats and kittens are cared for. Some roam freely, though they tend to steer clear of the swinging elephant trunks. Dogs, water buffalo, and other rescued animals also enjoy life at ENP.

A cat watching over her kingdom

Come for the cats, stay for the elephants

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Take a break from touring the ruins of Angkor with a visit to an active Buddhist temple, where ex-pat Josette has teamed up with the resident monks to run Siem Reap Pagoda Cats. The charity ensures that its cat population has access to food, shelter, and medical care.

Join her in the morning as she makes her daily rounds at the pagoda. As her tuk-tuk pulls in, dozens of cats, a few dogs, and an occasional pig come running from all directions, eager for breakfast. Visitors can help by donating food from the local pet shop and setting up the all-you-can-eat buffet that's strictly for four-legged diners only.

A monk and one of his many entrusted

Two friends at the Bayon temple

Inle Lake, Myanmar

Inle Heritage is a not-for-profit hotel, restaurant, and boutique that preserves the cultural and natural wealth of the tranquil Inle Lake region in Myanmar. Guests can visit this beautiful traditional “floating” home to learn more about local customs and cuisine, and even spend a few nights in a lovely stilted bungalow. Most importantly, they can visit the Burmese Cat Village.

Founded by the visionary Burmese businesswoman Yin Myo Su, also the Managing Director of Inle Princess Group of hotels, it's where a pampered population of rare Burmese cats live in style with their own mini-island, bedroom, and lounge.

Cats rule at this village

A group of Burmese cats relaxing in the sun

Walking the grounds

Temple complex at the Inle Lake

Monk and friend at the pagoda

Ready for a feline adventure?

Talk to one of our travel curators to start planning your future feline-enhanced tour of Southeast Asia.

All images courtesy of the Villa Kitty Foundation, Shutterstock.