7 of the Absolute Best Places to Visit in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is comprised of a tremendous amount of jaw-droppingly beautiful places to visit. To help you plan your next visit to the area, here are our tips for the best places to visit in Southeast Asia!
Are you interested in visiting Southeast Asia but don’t know where to start?
The region is comprised of so many stunning cities to visit, it can be hard deciding which ones are a must. Not to worry, with incredible exchange rates and the ability to get a lot of bang for your buck in the area, you don’t have to choose just one.
Plan a trip that includes a few cities so you really get a feel for all the different cultures and landscapes in the region.
Here’s a list of the 7 best places to visit in Southeast Asia!
It’s no secret Phuket is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand. Other than Bangkok, Phuket is the most visited city in the country. It is Thailand’s largest island and beloved for its stunning beaches. If you’re a diver, you won’t be disappointed.
Phuket is a destination meant for unwinding and relaxation. With many beachfront resorts, you’ll want to spend your day reclining by the water and taking in a massage at the spa in your hotel or the from one of the massage tents set up on the beach all around the island.
If lounging by the beach isn’t enough for you, not to worry. There are plenty of activities to do and things to explore. From Phuket, you can easily island hop to other smaller Thai islands.
Take a sailing lesson or a go on a snorkeling excursion if you don’t dive.
Head inland to Old Phuket and learn about the islands Sino-Portuguese history. Be sure to take in the architecture of the well maintained, colorful historic buildings and houses. The island is also known for its cuisine. Whether you crave traditional Thai or more international fare, Phuket has something for everyone.
Perhaps the best part about Phuket is the ability to enjoy a luxury hotel for a very reasonable price. Most of the upscale hotels are affordable and you will truly feel like you’re living large during your stay.
Bali is a tropical bucket list destination that can’t be missed if you’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia. The island is littered with world-class hotels and spas and you’ll have no trouble finding that perfect mix of beach paradise and jungle oasis.
The coastline is ripe for surfing, snorkeling, diving and other water activities. Or just park yourself in a lounge chair and catch some rays. Once you’re rested, head to Ubud. Located in the center of the island, it’s a utopian-like land filled with pools, stilted gazebos, and canals.
The landscape is stunning and you won’t want to miss the monkey forest for an up-close experience in the wild. Try to visit between April and October which is Bali’s dry season. Keep in mind it’s a warm place year round with temperatures always living in the mid-80’s to 90’s.
You’ve likely seen a photo of hot air balloons hovering over a stunning burnt orange landscape and asked yourself “where is that?” Well, now you can go knowing it’s Bagan Myanmar, one of the top destinations in Burma and an archeological site to behold.
Check out the preserved temples that cover a 26-mile wide landscape. There are over 2,000 of them waiting to be seen. You’ll find small bed & breakfasts around the area with traditional Victorian interiors. The perfect place to set up as your home base.
Keep in mind that Burma is still a challenging place to travel, especially alone. We suggest going in a group or at least as a pair. Prepare for minimal to zero service when it comes to cell phones and other electronic devices. Do your research before when it comes to what to do and where to eat so you have an idea of your itinerary.
Burma is warm year round so if you can make it a winter trip, you’ll certainly enjoy some slightly cooler weather although it will likely be more crowded and prices will be higher. If you are able to visit during a full moon, you can check out one of the many festivals that take place each month.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
If you’re looking for a quiet but culturally rich area of Thailand to visit, skip Bangkok and head north to discover the charming hillsides of Chiang Mai. This laid-back city boasts a small old town center complete with crystal healing spas and locally made goods.
Take a day trip to an elephant sanctuary or visit small villages that surround the cities center.
The greenery and landscape invite you to indulge in long walks or hikes in the hills or to raft down rivers in the Mae Sa Valley. In Chiang Mai, you’ll never be at a loss of Buddhist temples to visit, some dating back to the 14th and 15th century.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Go back in time when visiting this charming, old-world town in Vietnam. The atmosphere is rich with stores selling handmade goods, old wooden homes and original architecture.
This riverfront town used to be known for trade until the river dried up. While it’s built on canals that were used to import and export goods, you can still plop down on a beach and enjoy the turquoise water since it’s a coastal town.
The culinary scene is booming with everything from street vendors to fine dining. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have a custom suit or dress made for you at one of the 400 tailor shops sprinkled around town.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
With 1,000 temples located within a 150 square mile radius, you’ll have at least two days of your Siem Reap itinerary covered visiting the temples of Angkor Wat. They are majestic and worth the exploration.
But when you’re done, there are plenty of other things to do in this ancient city. Traffic in town is insane so hire a tour guide or tuk-tuk to take you around and see the sites. Visit one of the outdoor markets and grab a meal from a vendor or eat some bugs they sell as a delicacy if you’re feeling adventurous.
Head to Pub Street for some people watching and be sure to check out traditional Apsara dance to really immerse yourself in the culture.
The Malaysian island is a perfect medium of beachfront living and jungle exploration. The terrain is more organic and rugged than other islands above like Phuket and Bali. You’ll feel a little more off the grid and hopefully open to adventure.
If you’re a hiker, see if you’re up for the two-day climb up Mouth Kinabalu, Southeast Asia’s highest point. Watch the sunrise over the fog during your final ascent up and feel as though you’re hovering in the heavens.
Borneo has a rich rainforest and is known for its diverse wildlife which includes orangutans and clouded leopards. If you’re a diver, you’ve probably already put Sipidan on your bucket list. Be sure to get a permit in advance as they only hand out 120 per day.
The Best Places to Visit in Southeast Asia; Plan Your Trip Today!
Hopefully, this list has narrowed down the best places to visit in Southeast Asia.
Try to select a few cities and see them all. Traveling to the region is a long journey and once you’re there you should get the most out of your time and see as much as you can.
You may want to enlist the help of a travel company like Gatsby Travel to plan your itinerary and curate a dream vacation.
Be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more travel tips!