Top Destinations in South East Asia
Everyone, when planning their first trip to Southeast Asia, has trouble deciding which are their top destinations to visit. We wish to make you cognizant of some of the most naturally beautiful and diverse. Although it may not make your decision-making process any easier, if you missed all the locations in our list, we feel you would miss out on a wonderful, genuinely Asian experience as well.
The destinations we’ve chosen are with five countries in Southeast Asia. All of them can be reached by air, and all of them have plenty of both cheap and deluxe accommodations available.
Gulf of Thailand
We’ll start with the biggest attraction in Southeast Asia. The Gulf of Thailand borders four countries, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam and offers hundreds of enchanting islands and pristine beaches to explore. The Chumphon Archipelago hosts some of the most popular islands in the region and includes Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.
Further north, the islands of Koh Chang and Koh mak offer completely different takes on holiday paradises. Koh Chang is a developed, but still lush and mountainous island. Koh Mak, on the other hand, is focused completely on eco-tourism and offers pristine waters filled with sea-life and a calm, laid-back atmosphere on the island.
Further to the south, the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc and the dozens of islets surrounding it, span over 500 kilometres of mostly uninhabited beauty.
Kuta Lombok, Indonesia
It has long been said that Kuta Lombok is about twenty years behind the neighbouring island of Bali in terms of its development. Whether this is true or not, it’s invariably a good thing. The pace of life is slower on Lombok, there are fewer tourists and fewer accommodations, but the beaches are just as expansive and beautiful.
The Gili islands just off the southern coast of the island host some of the best scuba diving in Indonesia, and the mountainous Monkey Forest offers lush, ancient jungles and is a delight to drive through.
In the same way that Koh Chang offers a different environment than its neighbour, Koh Mak, Coron Island offers a quieter and more natural environment than its more popular neighbour, Palawan Island.
The crystal-clear waters surrounding the island reveal many shipwrecks dating back to WWII, and in the middle of the island, you’ll find lakes of seawater, fresh water that support some interesting sea-life. The island also offers beautiful sheer limestone cliffs covered in lush vegetation that seem to stand guard over its waters.
This city was once the capital city of Vietnam. It’s located on the central coast of the country between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi along the whimsically named Perfume River. It was the heart of the Nguyen Dynasty until the dynasty was deposed in 1945.
The impressive Imperial Citadel holds court in the centre of the town, and pagodas extend outwards for kilometres from there. There is also an ancient Forbidden city that is fun to explore along with the royal tombs.
You can walk along the promenade that parallels the banks of the Perfume River. You can also rent a paddleboat for an afternoon out on the river or book a scenic dinner cruise that sails up and down the river while you dine on Vietnamese delicacies.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is the second-largest city in Thailand, but it bears little resemblance to its bigger sister to the south. The surrounding mountains and jungles give it more of a rural atmosphere. Explore the ‘old town’ of Chiang Mai, which was part of an ancient Lanna civilisation that now is surrounded by the newer areas of the city.
Trekking through the mountains, visiting the world-famous Elephant Nature Park sanctuary and mountain biking on Doi Suthep mountain are all activities convenient with a stay in Chiang Mai. When evening comes, visit the Chiang Mai Night Market to find handmade cloth, wooden handicrafts and musical instruments made by the hill-tribe people who live in the surrounding mountains.