With 13 countries that make up the region of South East Asia, it is not surprising that planning a trip can be somewhat overwhelming. You may have a specific destination in mind, but if not, your Personal Travel Expert can help you prioritise what you want to achieve out of your trip and create a bespoke itinerary that ticks all the right boxes and more.
Why should you visit South East Asia?
If you are looking for an intoxicating mix of history, stunning scenery, adventure and culture, a visit to South East Asia is an absolute must. Asia is the biggest and most diverse continent in the world, so planning where to go is (almost) half the fun in itself.
South East Asia is a delicious combination of tropical beaches, lush rainforests, stunning mountains, inspiring ancient temples, and more. Whether you favour the bright lights of the big cities of Singapore, Bangkok or relaxing on a remote sun-drenched island, South East Asia has it all.
Where are the hidden gems of South East Asia?
Malapascua, The Philippines
Malapascua is an idyllic island, located off the north coast of Cebu. If you are looking for an unspoilt beach destination, this beautiful island certainly should be high on your list. If relaxing on the beach doesn’t exactly float your proverbial boat, then perhaps diving with thresher sharks will? Malapascua is renowned for its world-class diving and snorkelling as well.
Visitors can take a boat ride over to neighbouring Kalanggaman Island which is often cited as one of the most gorgeous places to visit in the Philippines.
Often considered to be one of the most remote locations in Thailand, Nan is a charming town situated within a river valley along the Thai-Laos border and is a fantastic place to experience authentic Thai culture.
Make sure that you pay a visit to one of Thailand’s most stunning temples Wat Phumin, which has beautifully drawn murals and the Blessing Buddha at Wat Phra That Khao Noi, where you can take in the 180-degree vistas over Nan.
Nearby, is the Doi Phu Kha National Park which is an ideal destination for exploring and hiking. Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the natural rock formations and rare plant species.
Atauro Island, Timor-Leste
At just 23km long, Atauro Island is a superb place to dive, snorkel, scuba dive and hike. It is an ideal destination if you are looking for a digital detox as it has little to no internet access there. If this seems a little too remote for you, Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) is an ideal compromise, as you still have the feel of an unspoilt island that is teeming with marine life, but can take advantage of whale-watching, hiking, cycling as well as the beautiful beaches and the stunning scenery.
Where are the best places to see wildlife in South East Asia?
For an authentic jungle experience, head to the Aceh area of the Gunung Leuser National Park. This is one of the world’s most biologically diverse and important conservation areas and is located on Sumatra, the second-largest Indonesian island. This Unesco-listed park is home to the planet’s most endangered and exotic species, including; elephants, rhinoceros, tigers and orangutans.
The Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia is one of South East Asia’s most unspoilt areas of wilderness. Its rugged landscape plays host to endangered wildlife like gibbons, elephants, sun bears, pangolins and clouded leopards.
Malaysia’s Taman Negara National Park is the country’s largest national park and one of the world’s oldest rainforests. Why not try spot the likes of the Asian elephant, rhinoceros, clouded leopard and tiger or take a refreshing dip at the Lubok Simpon?
Which cities should I visit in South East Asia?
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Best known for its magnificent collection of ancient temples called the ‘Angkor Archaeological Park’, which is one of the important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Here, you will find a vast selection of ancient monuments and temples.
For a great night out, head down to the Angkor Night Market in downtown Siem Reap. Not only can you pick up a local souvenir, but you can also pick up food, beer and even a cheeky massage!
Luang Prabang, Laos
This Unesco World Heritage site is the former capital of Laos and is one of the most charming and picturesque cities throughout South East Asia. As well as the beautiful architecture where you can see traditional Laotian wooden homes nestled against statuesque French colonial buildings, you can explore the beautiful temples too.
In fact, there are 34 fascinating Wats in Luang Prabang that are UNESCO protected, with Wat Xieng Thong being one of the highlights thanks to its historical importance and intricate design.
Renowned for its pretty Old Town which is one of the best-preserved Spanish colonial towns in Asia. Vigan is one of the oldest cities in the Philippines and has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Visitors can take a delightful ride in a Calesa which is a horse-drawn carriage or walk the cobbled streets of Calle Crisologo which is surrounded by historic buildings. Why not climb to the top of the Bantay Belfry, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the area?
Where are the best family-friendly places to visit in South East Asia?
For a fun-filled family holiday, head to Singapore where you can explore this lively and vibrant city. Sentosa Island is a short boat ride away and is an ideal place to take the kids thanks to its wide selection of fun activities and theme parks.
Talking of islands, the island of Phu Quoc makes for an idyllic family holiday to Vietnam. There are some fantastic beaches with Long Beach being a popular draw for visitors. There is also Vinpearl Land, a popular theme park, waterpark and underwater aquarium.
If your little one’s love animals, then a visit to Cambodia’s Phnom Tamao Wildlife Park is an absolute must. All the animals in the sanctuary have been rescued from poachers or abusive owners and visitors can learn more about their commendable work and even help care for the bears too!
Where is the best place for adventure in South East Asia?
Love to dive? Consider shipwreck diving in Coron Bay in the Philippines where you can explore your very own eerie underwater world surrounded by fish.
Canyoning combines jungle trekking, abseiling, rafting and jumping off waterfalls and is fast becoming one of the most sought-after activities all over the world. One of the best places to do this in South East Asia is in in Dalat which is in the highlands of Vietnam. If you are an adrenaline junkie, canyoning is definitely something to try!
Love to be on the water? Why not try kayaking on the Nam Song River in Vang Vieng, Laos where you can paddle along whilst taking in the most spectacular scenery? If kayaking isn’t your thing, you can also try tubing, rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing and more.
Where are the most instagrammable places in South East Asia?
DO go chasing waterfalls and have your picture taken standing in front of the breath-taking Tegalalang waterfall, but if you don’t want too many people photobombing your photo, make sure that you get there early, to try and attain that all-important shot.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
One of the best ways to explore the dreamy seascapes of Halong Bay is by boat, sailing through the dazzling emerald waters. The showstopping beauty of Halong has inspired cinematographers and photographers for decades and more and more people are eager to get a piece of the same action.
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
Whilst Cambodia is full of spectacular views, Ankor Wat is pretty special and is one of the best places to capture that all-important Instagram worthy photo. One of the best times to visit is at sunrise where the sky behind the temple is a myriad of pinks, golds and oranges.
If you want to know more about all that South East Asia has to offer, speak to your Personal Travel Expert for more information or to place a booking.