12 Most Fascinating Places To Explore In Southeast Asia
It’s not surprising that the some of the most interesting and scenic places to visit in Southeast Asia are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Whether man made or natural wonders, these 12 places should be on any world traveler’s list of places to explore.
1. Bagan, Myanmar
Located in the central plains of Myanmar, Bagan is the ancient kingdom along the bank of Irrawaddy River. You’ll find a mystical archaeological site of 16 square miles of more than 2,200 Buddhist monuments and temple ruins dating back to the 2nd century AD. Bagan is a sight to be seen and is bound to become a major tourist destination with Western countries easing sanctions in Burma.
2. Luang Prabang, Laos
The beguiling ancient capitol of Laos, Luang Prabang is emerging as a hot spot for world travelers. Surrounded by mountains and located at the convergence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, this historic town is a lovely blend of Buddhist temples and European architecture that has still maintained it slow-paced historic charm.
3. Siem Reap, Cambodia
The gateway to Angkor Archeological Park, Siem Reap is a city containing the magnificent remains of centuries-old Khmer heritage. The influx of tourism to Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom has transformed this quiet town into a bustling little city. Fortunately, UNESCO has designated it a world heritage site, safeguarding the area and its surroundings.
4. Sabah, Malaysian Borneo
Climb Mount Kinabulu, the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia and one of the most accessible and spectacular mountains with tropical rainforests and a diverse array of flora and fauna. Plan ahead and train for one of the world’s toughest mountain races on this spectacular peak.
A vibrant city that is a perfect blend of East and West, Singapore is a great starting or finishing point for your journey to any destination in Southeast Asia. It is excellent for shopping, hitting the casinos and experiencing some of the best “hawker stall” food that Southeast Asia has to offer.
6. Yogyakarta, Java — Indonesia
The foremost cultural center of Java, Yogyakarta is situated between the active volcano, Mt. Merapi, and the Indian Ocean. Famous for Batik textile design, it is also home to the infamous Borobudur, the largest 9th century Buddhist monument in the world.
Famous for its spectacular limestone island croppings, Bai Tu Long in Northeast Vietnam is the bay immediately next to the tourist ridden Halong Bay. Less populated and unpolluted, it is every bit as beautiful as its sister bay without the crowds. Any traveler visiting Vietnam should include it in their itinerary.
8. Palawan, Philippines
The 5th largest island of the Philippines, Palawan is northeast of Borneo and known for its natural wonders. From limestone cliffs and caves to the Puerto Princesa underground river and long stretches of golden sand beaches, Palawan has become an international destination for scenic beauty and world class diving and fishing.
9. Rai Leh Peninsula, Thailand
Rai Leh lies on the Andaman sea, a boat ride from the city of Krabi in Southern Thailand. Flanked by towering limestone cliffs, it is only accessible by boat and has become a haven for rock climbers and beach-goers seeking golden sand beaches.
10. Penang, Malaysia
This culturally rich island state of Malaysia is a lovely small, modern city instilled in tradition and old world charm. It’s a thriving dining destination, famous for amazing Malay and “Nyonya” (fusion of Malay and Chinese) street food dotted throughout the city.
11. Sapa, Vietnam
Escape the heat of Hanoi and go to Sapa in Lao Cai province. A former French hill station of Northern Vietnam, Sapa has cool weather year round. This mountainous region is ideal for trekking and viewing terraced rice fields. For a more authentic experience, try a village home stay and get a glimpse of life in one of the 7 ethnic groups of the region.
12. Komodo and Rinca Islands, Indonesia
For an Indonesian adventure vacation, hire a boat in Labuan Bajo, on the Island of Flores, and explore Rinca and neighboring Komodo island for world class diving and wildlife viewing. Rich in flora and fauna, the islands are home to the venomous giant lizard (the “Komodo dragon”). Both islands are part of Komodo National Park, which is dedicated to the protection and conservation of the prehistoric reptile and other endangered species.
So, hopefully I’ve inspired you to consider traveling to Southeast Asia with this list. As you can see, there is a lot to explore here so I encourage you to try out at least a few of these spots!
Featured image courtesy of AndyLeo@Photography via Creative Commons.