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15 Best Places to Visit in Southeast Asia 2024/2025

Southeast Asia consists of 11 countries : Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippine, and Timor-Leste. They are full of vibrant places suitable for different seasons and travelers. You'll not be disappointed whether you're traveling for family trip, honeymoon celebration, anniversary tour, Christmas holiday , or just relaxation .

  • For sunny beaches in dry season , you can consider Bali from April to September, Phuket from November to March, Koh Samui from December to April, or Palawan from November to May.
  • For well-preserved elephant jungles , Chiang Mai, Phuket, or Luang Prabang are good choices.
  • For vibrant nightlife , don't miss Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, or Phuket.
  • For exotic food , Bangkok, Hanoi, Phuket, and Singapore are paradises.
  • For unique floating markets , the Mekong Delta in south Vietnam is a must see.

Based on our 20+ inspection journeys and 2,000+ customer reviews, 15 best places are recommended here for your upcoming Southeast Asia trip.

  • In Thailand : Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Phuket
  • In Vietnam : Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh, the Mekong Delta
  • In Cambodia : Siem Reap
  • In Indonesia : Bali
  • In Myanmar : Bagan
  • In Laos : Luang Prabang
  • In the Philippines : Palawan Island

Most travelers include more than one country in one tour as these countries are not far from each other and the visas are usually easy to get (visa free or e-visa). You can reach us for a worry-free travel planning (best flight connections, visa details, best suitable hotels...).

Check out the weather details on our Best Times to Visit Southeast Asia , Vietnam and Cambodia , and Thailand and Vietnam .

1. Chiang Mai — Old Thailand & Elephant Sanctuary

  • Best weather : from November to February
  • Suggested stay : 2–3 full days

Located in north Thailand, Chiang Mai provides you with what traditional Thailand looks like . With a calm and relaxed atmosphere, it is one of the best destinations for a Southeast Asia trip.

Top Things to Do in Chiang Mai:

  • Enjoy a leisurely walk around the Old City to see temple spires and barefoot monks.
  • Take a short bike or scooter ride out of the town to discover the countryside with its dense rain forest.
  • Visit an elephant sanctuary to walk with the elephants in the jungle, feed them with fruit, and bathe with them in the river.
  • Release your own lanterns during Thai Lantern Festivals: Loy Krathong and Yi Peng (observed on November 9th in 2022).

Check out how to plan a family trip to Southeast Asia >>>

2. Bangkok — A Mix of Modernity and Tradition

  • Best weather : from November to March

Bangkok , the vibrant capital of Thailand, is the second largest city in Southeast Asia. It is most often used as the gateway to Thailand and Southeast Asia .

From world famous temples to luxury goods shopping, from the narrow lanes to the Metropolitan Rapid Transit system, from the small street vendors to the high-end rooftop bars, Bangkok's big contrasts have so much for you to discover.

Top Things to Do in Bangkok:

  • Take a dinner cruise on Chao Phraya River to savor the gala of lights of Bangkok.
  • Hop on a colorful tuk-tuk in the evening, and satisfy your stomach with Thailand's diverse cuisines: from bizarre-shaped snacks to strange insects.
  • Experience the world-renowned Thai massage.
  • Have an exquisite cocktail in the Sky Bar at sunset — the world's highest open-air bar and set for The Hangover Part II.
  • Watch an action-packed Thai boxing match at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.
  • Hike, night safari, and camp with your kids in Khaoyai National Park (2 hours' drive away).
  • Journey out to Ayutthaya to stroll around the ruins of the former capital of the Thai Kingdom (2½ hours' driving).

Further reading: How to Plan a Trip to Singapore and Thailand . Or you can check the sample itineraries of Thailand for 10 days , 12 days , 14 days and 21 days >>>

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family 's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

3. Koh Samui in South Thailand — High-End Resorts & Less Crowding

  • Best weather : from December to April
  • Suggested stay : 3–5 full days

For beaches in Thailand, you might hear Phuket more than Koh Samui. The main reason is that Phuket was developed earlier and so has more beach recreation facilities and is easier to get to. However, if you're looking for a truly beachfront hotel room with less people walking around , Koh Samui is definitely a better choice.

You can fly directly from Thailand's major cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai to Koh Samui.

Top Things to Do in Koh Samui:

  • Enjoy quiet sunbathing on the beach.
  • Relax and enjoy a treatment in a local spa.
  • Savor the blue ocean with water sports like swimming and kiteboarding.
  • Join a Thai cooking class.

Read more details about trip costs in Southeast Asia .

4. Phuket — Largest Island in Thailand

The popularity of Phuket is matched by its abundance of activities . With snorkeling, scuba-diving, and other water sports, this magic island offers a lot of vacation choices for families , couples , and friends .

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, as well as the first to be opened to travelers. Compared with Koh Samui, though more crowded, Phuket has more hotel choices from hostels to high-end beach resorts as well as more water sport choices. It's a good choice for family and friends groups.

Top Things to Do in Phuket:

  • Enjoy the sand, waves, and sun with your loved ones.
  • Dine with your beloved under a romantic sunset.
  • Explore Phuket's night markets to see the real Phuket, meet the locals, seek out affordable buys, and taste Thai street food.
  • Snorkel or dive in the crystal blue water of the Similan Islands.
  • Discover the fantastic caves, limestone cliffs, and lagoons of Phang Nga Bay with a canoe or sea-kayak.
  • Visit the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary to observe elephants in an elephant-friendly environment, and get close to them by feeding them and bathing them.

Further reading: How to Plan a Trip to Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore >>>

5. Hanoi — Real Vietnam

  • Suggested stay : 1–2 full days

If you want to discover the real Vietnam , you have to travel to Hanoi. As the charming capital city, Hanoi has of a history of more than 1,000 years.

Locals sit and chat in front of a convenience store with a cup of beer on a small table for a whole afternoon. Numerous motorbikes ride through narrow lanes and leave no space for cars. Try a bowl of pho soup in a small street food vendor. Do a double take, and check that you're still in the 21st century!! The traditional lifestyle has been kept well in Hanoi .

Top Things to Do in Hanoi:

  • Walk through the street markets in the Old Quarter (Hanoi has thirty-six streets each with a product to sell: Jam Street, Sugar Street, Salt Street…).
  • Stroll around tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake and look for a "lucky turtle"!
  • Watch a traditional performance of water puppetry to soak in Vietnam culture.
  • Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex and the Ho Chi Minh Museum to appreciate the man who unified the nation.
  • For more, see The Top 8 Things to Do in Hanoi .

Further Reading: Itinerary options for 2 weeks in Thailand and Vietnam

6. Halong Bay — Unique Karst Scenery in the Sea

  • Best weather : late March to early July
  • Suggested stay : 2 full days

After one or two days in downtown Hanoi, you are recommended to go to Halong Bay for a 2-day cruise . It is a magnificent natural wonder, consisting of over 1,600 limestone islands and islets .

Top Things to Do in Halong Bay:

  • Enjoy your leisure time on the cruise with a variety of activities: kayaking, swimming, diving...
  • Experience a squid fishing night or cap off the night with some beauty spa services.
  • Take a seaplane flight to fly over the pillars reaching up from the emerald waters
  • Visit the village floating on the river to see how the fishermen maintain their unique boat lifestyle.
  • Visit a water-eroded cave to see stunning stalactites and stalagmites in curious shapes.

Read more about the Top 10 Kid-Friendly Destinations in Southeast Asia >>>

7. Hoi An — An Exotic Ancient Town in Central Vietnam

  • Best weather : from February to July

Hoi An is a well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port city. It's a lovely quaint old city with a slow pace of life . Enjoy a tranquil moment with your family or fellow travelers here.

You will surely marvel at the exquisite assembly halls , be amazed by the fancy lanterns , enjoy coquettish ao dai national dress , and love boating on the romantic Thu Bon River .

Top Things to Do in Hoi An:

  • Stroll around the old town as sundown approaches around 9:30pm to soak in the beauty of Hoi An.
  • Tailor-make a traditional Vietnamese dress — an ao dai — and walk around the lantern-lit streets to travel back into ancient times.
  • Take a long-tail boat to watch the sunset on the Thu Bon River with a cup of coffee or red wine.
  • Row a bamboo basket boat through the water of a coconut palm jungle, and fish with local fishermen.
  • Observe the manufacturing process of various handicrafts: embroidery, ceramics, wood carving...
  • Ride a bike/motorbike out from ancient town to enjoy Hoi An's beautiful countryside scenery.
  • Join in a full moon festivals on the 14th day of a lunar month.

8. Ho Chi Minh — Sleepless City of Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, is a noisy and dynamic metropolis . With over eight million inhabitants, four million motorbikes and numerous beer bars, Saigon (its old name), now, is truly a city that never sleeps.

Although its economy is developing rapidly, it still feels full of French romanticism and influence, earning it the nickname " Paris of the Orient ".

It is very popular among travelers because of its classic French architecture , mixture of old and modern Vietnam , tasty food combining French, Chinese, and local Vietnamese cuisine, and the Vietnam War ruins .

Top Things to Do in Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Get on a local cyclo (rickshaw) and roam around the city, passing by narrow streets, local markets, and numerous interesting sites that are not really accessible by cars.
  • Take a walking tour, traveling back to the 19th century, to visit the colonial-era buildings: War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral the Basilica of Saigon...
  • Embark on a dinner cruise on the Saigon River or drink a cocktail at a sky bar to enjoy the city at night.
  • Unlock the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine on a street food tour.
  • Take a 2-hour drive to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels to see the hardship of life in hiding and how it protected the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps.
  • More on The Top 9 Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City .

9. The Mekong Delta — the "Rice Bowl of Vietnam"

  • Best weather : from November to January

The Mekong River ends at the Mekong Delta where it discharges silt into the East Vietnam Sea, forming a continuously expanding sedimentation zone on the southern tip of Vietnam.

The Mekong Delta is only 2–3 hours' driving from dynamic Ho Chi Minh City . It is very popular to take a one-day or two-day trip to see how most villages in the Delta still keep their traditional lifestyle of fishing, farming, and trading at floating markets .

Top Things to Do in the Mekong Delta:

  • Take a sampan through natural channels to discover the villages surrounded by rice paddies.
  • Visit local orchards and sample an amazing variety of fruits.
  • Get up early to enjoy a special boat breakfast in the flourish Cai Rang Floating Market with a cup of morning Vietnamese coffee and a bowl of pho soup

10. Siem Reap, Cambodia — Ruins of Angkor Wat

  • Suggested stay : 3–4 full days

Siem Reap is famous for the ruins of Angkor Wat , an archaeological site with an amazing array of stone temples. It offers a lot of romantic experiences.

But, you can do more than just visiting Angkor Wat…

Top Things to Do in Siem Reap:

  • Ride a bike through the jungle, walk on old stone roads covered with moss, and wander in the mysterious corridors of Angkor Wat.
  • Travel into the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Ta Prohm.
  • Enjoy the best sunset in Seam Reap on the top of Bakheng Hill.
  • Get deep into the charming countryside scenery on a quad bike.
  • Sitting on a mini Tara riverboat, float by a floating village to enjoy the time-forgotten lake scenery of Tonle Sap.

11. Bali in Indonesia — Just Perfect for Everyone

  • Best weather : from April to September

If you are looking for a tropical and relaxing getaway, then Bali will be a great place for you!

Bali is a magical place that has a lot to offer: from mountain villages and paddy fields to volcano hiking and beaches . You will get no disappointments, no matter whether you are adventurer seekers, a family with kids, a couple, or food lovers.

Top Things to Do in Bali:

  • Bring a towel and smother yourself in suntan lotion for a sun-soaked rest on the white beaches.
  • Watch a mesmerizing pink sunset with glamorous sunset cocktails.
  • Challenge yourself with some wild water sports like jet-skiing and flyboarding.
  • Stretch yourself at a yoga studio with lush surroundings of tropical forests and ocean beaches.
  • Hike to the top of picturesque Mount Batur (Kintamani Volcano) and enjoy a unique sunrise.
  • Admire the outstanding rice terraces, and see how the mountain villagers live their peaceful lives.
  • Suggested reading: Best Times to Visit Bali .

>>>Read about how to plan a trip to Thailand, Singapore and Bali

12. Bagan — Romantic Pagoda Jungle in Myanmar

Bagan, a historical ancient city and a Buddhist cultural relic, is located on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River in central Myanmar. It is the gateway to an education about Myanmar.

Time flew by in Burma, but it was recorded in the ancient temples in Bagan . Between the 11th and 13th centuries, about 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries were built on the Bagan plains. But at present, only 2,200 temples and pagodas remain to tell you about its history.

Bagan is enthusiastically loved by photographers , honeymoon travelers , and people who are sympathetic to Buddhism .

Top Things to Do in Bagan:

  • Investigate the historical pagoda jungle by horse-driven cart.
  • Climb to the top of Shwesandaw Pagoda to enjoy a romantic sunset — a memory of a lifetime.
  • Take a hot air balloon ride over 2,000 pagodas and temples to watch the sunrise from the sky.
  • Stroll around Minnanthu Village to experience the charming rural culture of Myanmar and see how cigars are made.
  • Read more at The Top 9 Attractions in Bagan .

13. Luang Prabang — an Undiscovered Gem in Laos

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang is perceived as the soul of Laotian culture .

Because of its less convenient flight connections, Laos is less visited than other SE Asian countries, which keeps Luang Prabang still as it was: exotic , Buddhist , traditional , and quiet .

Top Things to Do in Luang Prabang:

  • Rise early and head to the main street to observe an alms-giving ceremony.
  • Wander around the morning market for an insight into the daily life of the locals.
  • Stroll around the ancient town to appreciate its heritage and fascinating buildings.
  • Walk into the Royal Palace Museum for a close look at Lao history and their royal family.
  • Climb to the top of Mount Phou Si for incredible sunset views.

For more, see How to Plan a Luang Prabang Trip .

14. Palawan, the Philippines — The Most Beautiful Beaches in the World!

  • Best weather : from December to March

Voted top among the 10 most beautiful islands in the world by two magazines Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler , Palawan is an ultimate island for honeymoon trips.

It has an abundance of clean white sandy beaches and mysterious lagoons . Its sea of various colors , its numerous fish groups , its uninhabited little islands , its great variety of water sports , as well as its gentle giraffes also make it outstanding from other islands.

Top Things to Do on Palawan:

  • Dive in the sea at Port Barton to see sea turtles.
  • Paddle down the longest underground river in the world to admire the variously shaped stalactites at Princess Port.
  • Take a photo with bright orange starfish on Starfish Island.
  • Take an island-hopping tour to enjoy sunbathing on best-out-of-this-world white-sand beaches and explore the inland areas of the islands.

Want to gain detailed insights on the weather in Southeast Asia? Check out the conditions in January , February , March , April , November , and December .

15. Singapore — Extremely Family-Friendly

  • Best weather : February, June, July, August, and September

Singapore, a clean and modern city, is one of the most family-friendly destinations in Southeast Asia. It is favored by families due to its arts , fashion , food , culture , and big-name events .

Top Things to Do in Singapore:

  • Walk into Universal Studios Singapore to enjoy a glorious movie world.
  • Say good night to the wild animals in the world's first night safari park.
  • Enjoy a breakfast with the orangutans at Singapore Zoo.
  • Go adventuring on the island of Pulau Ubin: cycle around, kayak between the mangroves, have a marvelous night of family camping…
  • Hunt food in Singapore's most charming food court — Lau Pa Sat, or enjoy an exquisite family dinner at a Michelin restaurant.
  • Follow the Crazy Rich Asians to the iconic Singapore spots.
  • Drink a Singapore sling in Raffles Hotel, a place of inspiration for many famous writers and movie stars.

See more on The Top 19 Interesting Things to Do in Singapore .

Discover Southeast Asia with Us

We, at Asia Highlights, specialize in tailor-made vacations and your experienced 1:1 travel consultant can help you customize your perfect vacation in Asia. From special excursions to fully personalized travel itineraries, we can help you create your dream Southeast Asia tour. Let us know your requirements when you make a free inquiry to see what we can do.

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Ultimate Southeast Asia Bucket List: 100+ AMAZING Things to Do (2024)

Planning a trip to Southeast Asia can be overwhelming as there are so many beautiful places to visit and amazing things to do. To get you started I’ve created this epic guide containing over 100 things to see and do in Southeast Asia which are perfect for any Southeast Asia Bucket List . Some of these I have visited and done myself and the rest are destinations and experiences that I have researched and added to my Southeast Asia bucket list.

I have organized this large bucket list by country but I have also created a list of my top 10 places to visit in South East Asia if you are not sure where to start.

Southeast Asia Travel Bucket List (2024)

Best Places to Visit in Southeast Asia Travel Bucket List

What Countries are in the Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia  consists of 11 countries in Southeastern Asia: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore.

Top 10 Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

Below are my top 10 destinations to visit in Southeast Asia that should be at the very top of your bucket list.

  • Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
  • Luang Prabang and nearby Kuang Si Waterfalls in Laos.
  • Halong Bay in Vietnam.
  • Bagan, Myanmar.
  • Batad Rice Terraces in Banaue, Philippines.
  • Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
  • Borobudur Temple in Indonesia.
  • White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
  • Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.

Southeast Asia Bucket List Experiences by Country

Below are the top bucket list experiences in Southeast Asia grouped by country:

Brunei Bucket List

  • See Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and Jame’ Asri Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, two beautiful mosques located in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan.
  • Do a homestay at Kampong Ayer, a large network of stilt villages over the Brunei River.
  • Visit Istana Nurul Iman (the residence of the Sultan of Brunei and largest residential palace in the world) during the first 3 days of the annual  Eid Al-Fitr  celebration. This is the only time the inside of the palace is open to the public for three days of the year.
  • Visit Ulu Temburong National Park on a day trip from Brunei .

Cambodia Bucket List

cambodia-southeast-asia-bucket-list-inspiration

  • See Angkor Wat at sunrise or sunset .
  • Explore Siem Reap.
  • Spot  Irrawaddy dolphins .
  • Visit Kep and Kampot.
  • See the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda at Phnom Penh‎.
  • Bike or drive through the Cardamom Mountains.
  • Take a boat up the Sangker River from Siem Reap to Battambang.
  • Ride the Bamboo train in Battambang.

Indonesia Bucket List

  • See the sunrise and hike up Mount Bromo .

best places to visit in indonesia bucket list

  • Hike Mount Batur in Bali at sunrise.
  • Get close to monkeys at Ubud Monkey Forest (Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary).
  • Take a photo on the Bali Swing.
  • Visit the Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud.
  • Photograph Tanah Lot Temple (one of the largest temples in Bali built on a huge offshore rocks) at sunset.
  • Explore Nusa Lembongan by motorbike. Read:  Things to Do in Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan
  • Visit Nusa Penida off the coast of Bali. Is is less touristy than the main island.  Read:  Guide to Nusa Penida, Indonesia
  • Spot a Komodo Dragon (the largest lizard in the world) at Komodo National Park. Komodo National Park also has great scuba diving and a pink beach .
  • See the ancient monuments in Borobudur, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Prambanan temple complex.
  • Visit Lombok Island- explore waterfalls and visit the incredible Pink beach.
  • Trek to the summit of the active Rinjani volcano (second highest volcano in Indonesia) in time for sunrise.
  • Visit the Gili Islands. You can swim with turtles, go wreck diving, and sit on a swing in the ocean.
  • Go scuba diving or snorkelling at the Raja Ampat Islands.
  • Hike Kawah Ijen Volcano before dawn to see electric blue flames that rise from the crater at night. After the sun comes up admire the turquoise lake in the crater, which is also the world’s largest acidic lake.
  • See the three volcanic crater lakes at Kelimutu. They are different colors and the color changes.
  • Visit Uluwatu Temple (Uluwatu Pura), perched on a coastal cliff and watch a performance of kecak, a traditional dance. This tour combines both.
  • See Lake Toba (or Danau Toba) – the largest lake in Indonesia and the largest volcanic lake in the world.
  • Visit the Thousand Islands.
  • Go diving with manta rays.

Laos Bucket List

best-places-to-visit-in-laos-bucket-list

  • Explore the beautiful city of Luang Prabang (the entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site).
  • Take a dip at Kuang Si Falls, beautiful waterfalls right outside of Luang Prabang.
  • Take the slow boat from Thailand to Luang Prabang.
  • Visit Vientiane, the underrated capital of Laos.
  • See Pha That Luang or Great Stupa in Vientiane – it is an important national monument in Laos and a national symbol.
  • Visit Buddha Park near Vientiane.
  • Go river tubing in Vang Vieng .
  • Visit Don Det (4,000 Islands).
  • Spot a gibbon at Bokeo Nature Reserve.
  • See That Ing Hang Stupa in Savannakhet.
  • See the Plain of Jars .
  • Rent a motorbike to explore the Bolaven Plateau motorbike loop.

Malaysia Bucket List

  • Visit Petronas Twin Towers, the world’s tallest twin towers in Kuala Lumpur. Read:  The Perfect Itinerary for 3 Days in Kuala Lumpur
  • See the Batu Caves. Click here to book a half day tour from Kuala Lumpur.
  • See awesome street art in Penang.
  • Visit the historical city of Melaka . Click here to book a full day tour from Kuala Lumpur.
  • See the Crystal Mosque in Kuala Terengganu, one of the most beautiful mosques in the world.
  • Ride the SkyCab cable car and walk across the Sky Bridge in Langkawi. Read:  Best Things to do in Langkawi in 3 Days: A Complete Itinerary
  • Climb Mount Kinabalu , the highest mountain in Borneo.
  • Visit Cameron Highlands known for its tea plantations. Click here to book a full day tour from Kuala Lumpur.
  • Visit Tioman Island .
  • Go snorkeling or scuba diving at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park .
  • Take a Kinabatangan River Cruise and spot wildlife.
  • Visit the Deramakot Forest Reserve .
  • Visit  Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Sabah.
  • Visit the  Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary in Sabah to see proboscis monkeys which are only found in Borneo.
  • Visit Bako National Park .

Myanmar (formerly Burma) Bucket List

Warning: Some parts of Myanmar are not safe to visit since the February 2021 military coup and resulting civil war (which is still ongoing). Make sure to do your research if you decide to visit Myanmar now. Otherwise just add these to your bucket list for the future.

  • Watch the sunrise and sunset over the temples in Bagan .

bagan best places to visit in southeast asia

  • Take a hot air balloon ride over the temples at sunrise in Bagan.
  • Take a boat cruise between Bagan and Mandalay.
  • See the sunrise at U Bein bridge (the world’s longest teak bridge) in Mandalay.
  • Watch the sunset over Mandalay from the top of the Mandalay Hill.
  • Visit Inle Lake .
  • Take a hot air balloon ride over Inle Lake.
  • See the Shwedagon Pagoda at Yangon.
  • See the Golden Rock Pagoda (or Kyaiktiyo Pagoda) a small pagoda perched on the top of a boulder covered with gold leaves and an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. Click here to book a tour from Yangon.
  • Visit Pindaya Caves  full of thousands of gold Buddha statues of various sizes.
  • Hang out at Ngapali Beach voted one of the best beaches in Asia by Tripadvisor users.
  • See the sunset at Kyauk Maumghnama Pagoda,twin pagodas that sit atop massive boulders right on the beach.
  • Take a river cruise on the Irrawaddy river.
  • Take a train ride over the Gokteik Viaduct , the highest bridge in Myanmar.

Philippines Bucket List

  • Walk through the Batad Rice Terraces in Banaue.
  • Visit Palawan.  Read:  Top 10 Things to Do in Palawan
  • Underwater river tour through caves in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

best places to visit in the Philippines Bucket List

  • See the Chocolate Hills in Bohol.
  • Hike Taal Volcano. Click here to book a tour from Manila.
  • Visit the capital of Manila .
  • Visit the picturesque city of Legazpi.
  • Visit the colonial city of Vigan, an UNESCO World Heritage Site .
  • Island hopping, snorkeling and canyoning in Cebu.  Read:  Top 10 things to do in Cebu.
  • Go island hopping. There are so many more islands to visit!
  • See the hanging coffins of Sagada .
  • Go diving at Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, probably the best place to go diving in the Philippines and one of the best dive sites in Asia  according to CNN .
  • Go  sand boarding in Ilocos Norte.
  • Swim with the sea turtles at Apo Island.
  • See whale sharks at Donsol.
  • Visit Surigao and see the blue Enchanted River .
  • Visit Bulusan Volcano Natural Park.
  • See  Taluksangay Mosque  (known for its bright red dome) in Zamboanga.

Singapore Bucket List

Gardens by the Bay at night in Singapore

  • See the nightly light and music show at the futuristic looking Supertree Grove at the Gardens By the Bay.
  • See the nightly light and water show at Marina Bay Sands.
  • Swim in the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands hotel  (you need to be a hotel guest to swim in the pool).
  • Eat at one of Singapore’s hawker centers .
  • Admire the Singapore skyline from a rooftop restaurant or bar like  CÉ LA VI Restaurant and SkyBar .

Read:  2 Days in Singapore: The Perfect Itinerary from a Local

Thailand Bucket List

  • Visit the Grand Palace and nearby Wat Pho (with its famous Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun in Bangkok.
  • Walk on the infamous Khao San Road in Bangkok.
  • Visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market , the largest and most famous of Thailand’s iconic floating markets.

what to see in Thailand Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

  • Explore Khao Yai National Park , one of largest and most visited national parks in Thailand and a great place to view wildlife, including gibbons, elephants, deer, bears, macaques and more.
  • Visit the the Historic City of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

one of the best things to do in Thailand is visit Ayutthaya

  • Go temple hopping in Chiang Mai .
  • Feed and bathe elephants at a responsible and ethical sanctuary like  Elephant Nature Park .
  • Relax in Pai, a small hippie town.

The White Temple is one of the best things to see in Thailand

  • See the stunning Wat Rong Khun (also known as White Temple) located near Chiang Rai.
  • Ride the Thai-Burma Railway (Death Railway). You can visit on a tour from Bangkok .
  • Explore Phang Nga Bay. One of the highlights is James Bond Island (a needle formed limestone rock in the sea featured in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun).

Phang Nga Bay is one of the most beautiful places in Thailand bucket list

  • Celebrate Yi Peng and Loy Krathong (Lantern Festival) .
  • Beach hop and rock climb in Krabi.
  • Climb the 1200+ steps to the summit of the Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea) in Krabi.
  • Take a speedboat to Phi Phi Islands.
  • Visit Cheow Lan Lake, a highlight when visiting Khao Sok National Park .
  • Get soaked at the Songkran Water Festival .
  • Party all night at the beach at a Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan.

Timor-Leste Bucket List

  • Visit the uninhabited Jaco (or Jako) Island .
  • Visit Dili (the capital).
  • Take a day trip to Atauro Island for snorkelling & hiking.
  • Climb the 500+ steps to the top of Cristo Rei , a tall statue of Jesus Christ.

Vietnam Bucket List

  • Take a Halong Bay Cruise .
  • Visit Hanoi. Must see attractions include the Old Quarter, Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison Museum, and Hoan Kiem Lake.
  • See the rice fields of Tam Coc, in the picturesque Ninh Binh province. You can visit on a day trip from Hanoi .
  • Visit Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Must see attractions include the War Remnants Museum and The Independence Palace.
  • Take a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels, and learn about the history of this underground system dug during the Vietnam War. Visitors can experience the tight squeeze firsthand by crawling through the tunnels.
  • Explore Hoi An. This city is a full of cheap tailors and is a good place to get affordable custom made clothing.
  • Visit Lan Ha Bay surrounding Cat Ba Island – it is just as beautiful but less touristy than Halong Bay.
  • Take a river cruise on the Mekong.
  • Go trekking in Sapa and meet the local ethnic tribes.
  • See the sand dunes in Mui Ne .
  • Walk along the new Cau Vang “Golden Bridge” in the Ba Na Hills near Danang. This bridge looks like it is being held up by 2 giant hands.
  • Explore the imperial city of Hue, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Ha Giang Extreme motorbike loop .

So there you have it – the ultimate Southeast Asia travel bucket list.  If there is an experience or place I should include let me know in the comments below!

Planning a trip to Southeast Asia?  Click here to book ground and sea transportation tickets online .

Need more travel inspiration? Check out some of my other travel bucket lists:

  • Travel Goals: 100 Things to Do Before You Die
  • Best Places to Visit in Australia
  • Europe Bucket List
  • Africa Bucket List
  • Ultimate USA Travel Bucket List: 125+ Best Places to Visit in the United States
  • Best Places to Visit in South America

The Ultimate Southeast Asia Bucket List: 100+ Epic Things to Do in Southeast Asia ******** Southeast Asia Travel Destinations Wanderlust | Southeast Asia Travel Articles | Southeast Asia Travel Places to Visit | Southeast Asia Travel Holidays | Southeast Asia Travel 2 Weeks | Southeast Asia Bucket List Adventure | SE Asia Travel Vacations | Southeast Asia Travel Destinations Beautiful #southeastasiatravel #seasiatravel #bestofseasia #bestofsoutheastasia #visitsoutheastasia #travelbucketlist

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savvyglobetrotter

I’ve had my eye on visiting Southeast Asia for a while now but it’s so hard to decide where to go. This gives me an idea what I can expect in each place. Thanks for the suggestions!

Just close your eyes and point to a map – that’s what I do! 🙂

Wow, what a list of things to see and do while in South East Asia! I haven’t ventured to that side of the world (yet…), but when I do I definitely want to do a of these, including the Gardens By The Bay 🙂 x

As somebody who went to Mount Kinabalu I wholeheartedly agree that should be in this top 100!

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The 10 Best Places To Visit In Southeast Asia In 2024

Asian Wanderlust

Southeast Asia is one of the biggest heavyweights in travel destinations in the world. And really, what’s not to love? Stunning picturesque opportunities in every corner, street food as authentic and extraordinary as they come, increasingly convenient methods of travel in between countries, and not to mention the consistently and undeniably cheap airfares that seem to go on sale every odd week.

Another popular reason why Southeast Asia often acts as the gateway drug to traveling for many people is because of how cheap it is to travel – from accommodation to food, to unique activities to sightseeing, it usually costs a fraction of the price compared to other western countries.  

Ayutthaya Thailand Coucher du Soleil

We’re offering this article as a piece of advice on how you can begin to tackle this incredible continent. The umbrella term ‘Southeast Asia’ encompasses so many differing opportunities of travel that you might be overwhelmed when trying to decide on your next place to visit, so we’ve rounded up the top (off the beaten track, even better!) 10 best places to visit to help you with your planning. Without further ado, read on and prepare to be wowed!

1. Bagan in Myanmar  

Best places to visit in Southeast Asia #1 - Bagan in Myanmar 

As one of the richest archeological discovery sites in the world, you can imagine how unique the site of Bagan in Myanmar is. Ancient Bagan began as the host of the Burmese Pagan Kingdom that once ruled over Myanmar, but now is one of the most popular places for people to visit in this charismatic country, particularly for those who are interested in exploring ancient temples and religious structures.

Not only do they offer a world of history to appreciate, but they’re also stunningly eye-capturing as well, from their differing grand entrances to intricate internal detailing through murals, ceilings, relics, and more.  

If you’re interested in getting to know Bagan in Myanmar more, click here for a more detailed post : Visit Bagan .

2. Ayutthaya in Thailand  

Best places to visit in Southeast Asia #2 - Ayutthaya in Thailand

Another city which has stemmed from rich history, Ayutthaya (also spelt Ayudhaya) is another gem off the beaten path of Thailand , bursting with ancient temples to explore, monasteries to visit, and other religious structures to capture.  

If Angkor Wat is on your list of places to visit, then we highly recommend adding Ayutthaya there as well, because the magnificence of this renowned archeological site is comparable to that of the impressive temple ground in Cambodia.  

At Ayutthaya, you can expect to be able to rent a bike to assist with your exploration escapades (the views of flat grounds and ancient structures rolling past you as you pedal along is an experience quite unlike any other), see an ancient stone Buddha head wrapped within a tree, visit the remaining structure of the Royal Palace, munch on some boat noodles (which many claim to be Ayutthaya’s signature dish), and much, much more.  

If you’re keen to learn more about this ancient temple city, we’ve detailed what an adventure there could be like right here: 8 temples to visit in Ayutthaya, Thailand .

3. Koh Rong Samloem in Cambodia

Spot #3 - Koh Rong Samloem in Cambodia

When you think about travelling to Cambodia , you think of the food safari in Siem Reap , the ancient temples of Angkor , and even the destructive aftermath of the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields in Phnom Penh , but a stunning island adventure is most likely not on the list.

However, we kid you not when we say that Koh Rong Samloem island in Cambodia is one of the most untouched and beautiful tropical islands in all of Southeast Asia, and the best thing about it? It’s off the (tourism) grid at the moment, so you get to share the unmatched solitude and beauty with only a tiny handful of other people.

Here is where you would settle in, unpack your luggage, change into bathers, head towards the beach on foot, grab a book and read right into the afternoon, enjoying the sun and the gentle lull of the waves, have a leisurely dinner and retire back to your room to just completely unplug from the world. The exquisite beauty of the place will help you with that!

Learn more about how you can enjoy this gorgeous island here.

4. Angkor Temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Best places to visit in Southeast Asia #4 - Angkor Temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Angkor Temples, just outside of Siem Reap in Cambodia, are one of the biggest attractions in Southeast Asia, let alone Cambodia, and are probably the number one thing tourists put on their list to visit during a trip to Cambodia. Whilst this generally means that those who are turned off by big crowds, lines, and loud noises will most likely find the experience frustrating, the extraordinary beauty and sheer size of the site will astound even the pickiest of travelers.  

Best places to visit in Southeast Asia #4 - Angkor Temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia

As the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire, Angkor now offers incredible insight into the architecture of religious structures, the grandness of their religious following, and is the perfect ground to appreciate the natural beauty of Cambodia.

We’ve detailed how you can make the most of this super popular tourist attraction here: Siem Reap and Angkor Temples .

5. The Lion Rock in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Best places to visit in Southeast Asia #5 - The Lion Rock in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The Lion Rock in Sigiriya, located in Sri Lanka , is one of the 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and it should be one of the things you have on your ‘definitely need to visit’ list for Southeast Asia. For those who love physical challenges, and also for those who don’t, this 1,200 step hike only takes around 45-minuets to get from the bottom to the top, which is a walk in the park for some, and for others, well, it could be worse!

What awaits you at the top of this 200m wide rock is a stunning viewpoint of what seems to be all of Sri Lanka. You’ll be able to pick out other attractions that you may have already visited in the distance, look down on the treetops of surrounding forests as if you were above the clouds (but trees), and spot mountains all the way in the horizon – suffice to say, the photographic opportunities up here are endless. Once you get to the top, prepare to spend around two hours simply exploring the rock and its features, snapping away and ensuring your camera gear doesn’t disappear with the cheeky monkeys located at the top.

Keen to learn more about this incredible natural landmark? Read more about it here: Sigiriya and the Lion Rock .

6. Dalat in Vietnam

Spot #6 - Dalat in Vietnam

Vietnam is known for its amazing streetfood, stunning coast, and incredibly rich history and culture, but when you’re feeling like you need a breather from all the traffic and the loud vendors and the boat and motorbike rides, we recommend Dalat in Vietnam, often aptly referred to as “The Paris of Vietnam”.

It’s a mountainous region known for its natural beauty and laidback vibes, and offers plenty of variety of activities to do, from hiking up a mountain to hiking to a waterfall, visiting ancient temples and pagodas, visiting a stunning flower park that’s renowned across the country, and riding a scooter across the city. A few days here would be a wonderful escape from the hustle and hustle of the larger cities.

To find out more detail on what there is to enjoy in Dalat, read more here: Dalat Vietnam .

7. Port Barton in the Philippines

Best places to visit in Southeast Asia #7 - Port Barton in the Philippines

As far as undiscovered gems go, Port Barton is a diamond. Located in the San Vicente area of Palawan  ( Philippines ), its incredible ability to fly under the radar given its extraordinary beauty is something to be in awe of.

There is no need to share the pristine clean, white sand beaches with any crowds, island hopping is just magical with most tours offering snorkeling as part of the package and there’s a chance that you might stumble across starfish, sea turtles and even sea snakes; we probably don’t even need to mention how breathtaking the sunset is, but if you can’t imagine, well, just think of a sunset so grand, it’ll remain etched in your mind for years to come.  

To find out more about this wonderfully off-the-main-grid island, read more about it on our blog here: Port Barton Palawan Philippines .

8. Siquijor Island in the Philippines

Best places to visit in Southeast Asia #8 - Siquijor Island in the Philippines

Located in the central Visayas region of the Phillipines , Siquijor Island may not get as much love as its western counterparts, but that just means there’s more for you to love. Don’t let its reputation of being entwined with witchcraft alarm you (ancient lore), because the sheer perfect beauty of the waterfalls, the white sand beaches, the corals, and the ancient caves are so indescribable, you need to see it to believe it.

On another note, the tropical vibes of this place is out of this world, so it’s quite a wonder why there aren’t more tourists flocking to this island to soak up on its total Instagram-worthy picture opportunities. From the centrury old ‘Balete Tree’, to the rope swing at Lagaan Falls, to the cliff jumps at Salagdoong Beach, it can’t get much more ‘tropical island adventure’ than this.  

Interested in this island? Read more about what it has to offer here: Siquijor Island Philippines .

9. Ubud in Bali, Indonesia

Spot #9 - Ubud in Bali, Indonesia

Whilst Ubud is undoubtedly one of the most popular places to visit whilst in Bali (aka party central of Southeast Asia), it’s still remarkably the area that tourists go to when they’re seeking a break from all the partying, drinks, music and dancing, the crowds, the traffic, and the city lifestyle.

If you’re basing yourself in Ubud, you are basically surrounding yourself with ancient temples, royal palaces, rice terraces and mountain ranges, cultural landmarks, small markets, museums and galleries, yoga retreats , and much, much more. The adventure out here is (just quietly) different from that of the party central Kuta , or the coastal city of Seminyak . You could say it’s more spiritual and more green.  

We’ve got loads more information on what beautiful Ubud has to offer, and if you want to read more about it, click here: Best things to do in Ubud Bali .

10. Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

Best places to visit in Southeast Asia #10 - Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

Singapore’s most recently revealed Gardens by the Bay is a stunning 250 acres of floral masterpiece, set right in the bay area of Singapore (of course). It’s huge, it’s colourful, it’s family-friendly but also romantic, it’s a futuristic park with loads of picture opportunities, and it even offers a ‘skywalk’ across the top of the gardens.

A bit of an interesting fact about this attraction: Singapore wanted to raise the quality of life of the country by enhancing greenery and flora in the city, and what better way to do this than to create the largest greenhouse in the world, smack bang in the middle of the city?  

While you could spend hours walking around, taking photos of flowers all day (we’re not joking, the amount of different flower types here is immeasurable to us mere mortals), there are other activities you can also participate in, including visiting the Cloud Forest for information on rare plants and get a great view of the mountain, walk along Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lakes, walk across the 128m OCBC Skyway (a great vantage point for the Garden Rhapsody light and sound show that comes on during the evening), and even grab a coffee 50m in the air at the bistro on top of the 50 meter Supertree-top at the Supertree Grove.  

Singapore is full of fascinating places to visit, so if you’re interested, we recommend you reading more here: Singapore Travel Blog .

We’ve reached the end of the list, and we bet you’re quite surprised! You probably rushed through this list, continuously adding location after location of endless new places to visit whilst in Southeast Asia. We know what it’s like, starting with one attraction, which leads to a nearby attraction in the same country, which leads to a nearby attraction in a neighboring country, which is all entirely possibly if you’re already in Southeast Asia.

We hope we’ve shed some light on some of the lesser known destinations, and that you’ll somehow find it in your holiday planning to squeeze them in. If you’ve been to any of the above and have your own suggestions on what you enjoyed there, we’d love it hear it below!

PS : For more amazing spots to visit in SEA, you can also read this blog post: Best beaches in Southeast Asia .

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Best Places to Visit in Southeast Asia: Ultimate  Guide with Favourite Destinations 

South East Asia… it’s a place that gets under your skin. I’ve been lucky enough to visit 4 times on trips as long as 9 months, and each time, it’s left me craving more.  

Whenever I go to ‘complete my bucket list,’ I return with more places added! There is a never-ending amount to see here; maybe that’s why it gets millions of travellers and backpackers alike hooked. 

There’s something about Asia that’s just captivating. It could be the mix of dramatic and breathtaking landscapes merging with Eastern architecture with hints of its Western colonial history.  Or it’s the tantalising flavours of street food, culture, and welcoming people.  

Whatever it is, it will leave an indelible mark on your soul, and you will come home as a different  person than you left (in the best way possible!) 

Where is South East Asia?: 

Southeast Asia, a region teeming with diverse cultures and breathtaking landscapes, is a traveler’s paradise. From Thailand’s vibrant cities to Indonesia’s tranquil beaches, this corner of the world offers endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.  

Situated between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, Southeast Asia is easily accessible from major international airports, making it a popular destination for travellers from around the globe. 

How to Go to South East Asia

Getting to Southeast Asia is easier than you think, with major international airports in hubs like  Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur offering direct flights worldwide.  

Once you’ve arrived, navigating the region is a breeze, thanks to an extensive network of buses,  trains, and ferries connecting major cities and remote destinations 12GO is a great travel booking app I used a lot in SEA!  

Whether you prefer the convenience of organised tours or the freedom of independent travel,  Southeast Asia offers many options to suit every traveller’s needs. 

How Much Does it Cost to Travel SEA?: 

One of the best things about travelling in Southeast Asia is that it can be incredibly affordable,  allowing you to stretch your budget without sacrificing quality or comfort.  

Accommodation options range from budget-friendly hostels at $10-20 per night to boutique resorts and eco-lodges offering luxury stays for $100 or more.  

Dining out is a delight for the senses, with street food stalls offering mouthwatering dishes for as little as $1-3. At the same time, upscale restaurants provide a gourmet experience for $20 or more per person.

Best Time of Year to Travel

  • Dry season: December to May
  • Considerations: Peak tourist season, higher prices, larger crowds 
  • Dry season: April to October 
  • Considerations: Increased tourist numbers, plan ahead to avoid crowds 
  • Dry season: November to April 
  • Considerations: Higher prices, more significant crowds during peak holiday periods 
  • Considerations: Weather variations between regions, research specific destinations 
  • Considerations: Higher prices, more tourists at popular sites during this period 
  • Ideal time to visit: Year-round 
  • Considerations: Certain events and festivals, such as the Chinese New Year celebrations in  January or the Great Singapore Sale in July, may attract more tourists and increase prices. 
  • The ideal time to visit: November to April 
  • Considerations: Be prepared for higher prices and larger crowds during peak tourist season. 
  • The ideal time to visit : March to October 
  • Considerations: Malaysia’s dry season from March to October provides excellent conditions for outdoor activities such as trekking, wildlife spotting, and diving. 

Best Places to Visit in South East Asia

Philippines.

My time in the Philippines was a tale of two halves. One of them was that I needed more culture and good food. However, the scenery and the beaches were the best I encountered on my year-long travels around SEA! So it had to be added to my list.  

The Philippines boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the world, with destinations like  Siargao and El Nido drawing travellers from far and wide. Whether you’re a surfer chasing the perfect wave or a beach bum seeking paradise, the Philippines has something for everyone. 

My Personal Highlights

Siargao, known as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines,” offers world-class waves and a laid-back island vibe. Stay at the luxurious Nay Palad Hideaway for a truly indulgent experience, or opt for the budget-friendly accommodations at Buddha’s Surf Resort.

Take the chance to dine on fresh seafood at Shaka Siargao or indulge in a sunset cocktail at Cloud 9 whilst watching the professional surfers! 

tourist attractions of southeast asia

El Nido is famous for its dramatic limestone cliffs, hidden lagoons, and crystal-clear waters. Stay at the stunning El Nido Resorts Pangulasian Island for a luxurious beachfront escape, or check out  Spin Designer Hostel for affordable yet stylish accommodations.  

Be sure to explore the Bacuit Archipelago on a boat tour. Don’t take advantage of the chance to hike to the top of Taraw Peak for panoramic views of the surrounding islands. 

Bohol, known for its iconic Chocolate Hills and adorable tarsiers, is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Stay at the eco-friendly Amorita Resort for a luxurious beachfront retreat, or check into the budget-friendly accommodations at Bohol Coco Farm.  

Explore the colourful underwater world of Panglao’s coral reefs, visit the historic Baclayon Church and Blood Compact Shrine, and cruise along the Loboc River while enjoying a traditional Filipino buffet lunch. 

Indonesia, an archipelago nation known for its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, is a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. And yes there is more to see in Indonesia to Bali!

tourist attractions of southeast asia

From the rugged landscapes of Flores to the ancient traditions of Sumba and the majestic volcanoes of East Java, this diverse and captivating region offers endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. 

My personal highlights

Bali – a place I have called home on and off for 8 years. I fell in love with  Bali’s rich culture and diverse landscapes. However, I was astonished when I first landed!  

On Instagram, it’s easy to think Bali is some picture paradise island.. but upon landing, you realise it is one of the most densely populated places in SEA! However, if you know where to go, you can have an incredible Bali experience.  

Bali is a true paradise for lovers of culture, spirituality, and natural beauty. You have the iconic  Ubud rice terraces to the tranquil Nusa Penida shores; there is so much to explore within just a few hours of each other. 

Ubud is Bali’s cultural heart, with its vibrant art scene, ancient temples, and lush rice terraces. Stay at the luxurious Hanging Gardens of Bali for a genuinely indulgent retreat, or opt for budget-friendly accommodations at the famous Puri Garden Hotel & Hostel.  

Be sure to visit the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, explore the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, and attend a traditional Balinese dance performance at the Ubud Palace. If you enjoy walking there are some beautiful rice field hikes here in Ubud too which you can easily find on Google Maps.

Nusa Islands

Nusa Penida is a hidden gem off the coast of Bali, with its rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters. Stay at the unique Tree House Rumah Pohon for an unforgettable experience,  or visit the budget-friendly Saren Cliff Resort.  

Be sure to explore the breathtaking viewpoints at Kelingking Beach and Angel’s Billabong, and don’t miss the chance to swim with manta rays at Manta Point. 

There are also two smaller islands, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Cengingan, which are well worth a visit for a few days, They are my favourite islands in Bali! 

Amed, located on Bali’s east coast, is a hidden gem known for its pristine beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and laid-back atmosphere. Stay at the charming Villa Paradiso Amed for a beachfront retreat,  or opt for the budget-friendly accommodations at Jukung Dive Resort.  

Be sure to explore the colourful underwater world on a snorkelling or diving excursion, hike to the breathtaking viewpoints at Amed’s Jemeluk Bay, and indulge in fresh seafood at one of the beachside cafes. And of course, catch the sunset and rise over the Balinese Volcano from the viewpoints! 

Uluwatu, perched on Bali’s southwestern tip, is famous for its dramatic cliffs, legendary surf breaks,  and stunning sunsets. Stay at the luxurious Alila Villas Uluwatu for a cliffside retreat with panoramic ocean views, or check into the budget-friendly accommodations at Uluwatu Cottages.

tourist attractions of southeast asia

Be sure to catch a traditional Kecak dance performance at the iconic Uluwatu Temple, surf the world-class waves at Uluwatu Beach, and dine on fresh seafood at one of the cliffside restaurants overlooking the Indian Ocean. 

Don’t Forget the Rest of Indonesia! 

Most people think that Bali is just one of the tiny islands in Indonesia (and not that impressive!)  compared to the 3000+ other islands India offers! It is a crime not to explore at least two others if you plan on going to famous Bali for a more authentic experience. 

Flores, named after its colourful flora, is an island of unparalleled beauty, with rugged coastlines,  lush jungles, and pristine beaches. Stay at the charming Plataran Komodo Beach Resort for a beachfront escape, or opt for the budget-friendly accommodations at Bintang Flores Hotel. 

Be sure to explore the iconic Kelimutu National Park, home to three stunning crater lakes with ever-changing colours. Don’t miss the chance to snorkel or dive in the crystal-clear waters of Komodo  National Park, home to the legendary Komodo dragons. 

Komodo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New7Wonders of Nature is famous for its iconic Komodo dragons, the world’s most giant lizards. Stay at the luxurious Komodo Resort &  Diving Club for a secluded island getaway, or check into the budget-friendly accommodations at  Komodo Lodge. 

Be sure to embark on a guided trekking tour to see the Komodo dragons in their natural habitat,  hike to the top of Padar Island for breathtaking panoramic views, and dive or snorkel among vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. 

tourist attractions of southeast asia

East Java, home to some of Indonesia’s most iconic volcanoes and cultural landmarks, is a land of adventure and discovery. Stay at the luxurious Jiwa Jawa Resort Bromo for a unique eco-friendly experience, or check into the budget-friendly accommodations at Bromo Cottages. 

Be sure to hike to the summit of Mount Bromo for breathtaking sunrise views over the lunar-like landscape, explore the ancient temples of Prambanan and Borobudur, and visit the vibrant city of  Surabaya, known as the “City of Heroes” for its role in Indonesia’s struggle for independence. 

Sumba, known as the “Land of the Ancestors,” is a culturally rich island steeped in ancient traditions and customs. Stay at the luxurious Nihi Sumba Resort for a luxurious eco-retreat, or opt for the budget-friendly accommodations at Manandang Hotel.  

Be sure to explore the traditional villages of Praijing and Tarung, where you can witness the ancient rituals of the Marapu religion. Don’t miss the chance to attend the exhilarating Pasola festival, a traditional spear-fighting competition held annually in February and March. 

East Java, home to some of Indonesia’s most iconic volcanoes and cultural landmarks, is a land of adventure and discovery. Stay at the luxurious Jiwa Jawa Resort Bromo for a unique eco-friendly experience, or check into the budget-friendly accommodations at Bromo Cottages.  

tourist attractions of southeast asia

I have been to Thailand twice and I can’t wait for my third trip later this year. The Land of Smiles never enchants millions of visitors with its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality.  From bustling cities to tranquil islands, Thailand has it all. 

Tucked away in the mountains of northern Thailand, Pai is a bohemian paradise that’s captured the hearts of travellers worldwide. I only booked to stay here 3 nights and ended up staying a whole month! We loved it so much that I forgot about my island trip to stay.  

With its laid-back vibe, stunning scenery, and quirky charm, Pai is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether exploring waterfalls, soaking in hot springs, or browsing the night market for handmade crafts, Pai has something for everyone. 

Known as the “Turtle Island,” Koh Tao is a diver’s paradise with crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. But there’s more to Koh Tao than just diving. You can explore hidden coves, hike to breathtaking viewpoints, or simply relax on pristine beaches with a coconut in hand. And when the sun sets, Koh Tao comes alive with beach parties and vibrant nightlife that will keep you entertained.

tourist attractions of southeast asia

Railay Beach

Tucked away on the coast of southern Thailand, Railay is a breathtakingly beautiful peninsula accessible only by boat. The railway feels like a slice of paradise with its towering limestone cliffs,  turquoise waters, and picture-perfect beaches.  

Whether rock climbing, kayaking through mangrove forests, or simply soaking up the sun on the beach, Railay offers a unique blend of adventure and relaxation that’s hard to find anywhere else. 

Cambodia is often described as home to the friendliest people in the world, and when you get there,  it’s hard not to see why. Cambodia has a recent past of genocide, which I believe is why they seem so grateful and respectful to others.  

The country alone is poor with a barren landscape compared to its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam.  However, its islands are some of my favourites in SEA, and that’s why it made it to the list. 

Angkor Wat, the crown jewel of Cambodia’s ancient temples, stands as a testament to the ingenuity and architectural brilliance of the Khmer Empire. Explore the sprawling complex of temples,  including the iconic Angkor Wat, the enigmatic faces of Bayon, and the jungle-clad ruins of Ta  Prohm. Marvel at the intricate carvings and bas-reliefs that adorn the walls of these ancient structures, and witness the breathtaking beauty of sunrise or sunset over the temple complex. 

tourist attractions of southeast asia

Koh Rong Islands

Koh Rong, a pristine paradise off the coast of Sihanoukville, offers travellers the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Cambodia’s coastline.  

Relax on the powdery white sands of Long Beach, swim in the crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life, and explore the lush jungles that cover much of the island. Whether seeking adventure or relaxation, Koh Rong offers something for everyone, from snorkelling and diving to yoga retreats and beachside hammocks. 

Laos is one of those places that took my breath away at every destination I visited. The limestone cliffs are magnificent to wander around, and coupled with a sunset backdrop and great travelling companions, I have the most magical memories in Laos.  

Laos is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, with its lush jungles, cascading waterfalls, and ancient temples. 

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant night markets, and serene Buddhist temples. For a hilltop retreat, stay at the luxurious Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao or check into the budget-friendly accommodations at  MyLaoHome Hotel & Spa.  

Be sure to explore the city’s ancient temples, including Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Mai, and don’t miss the chance to witness the alms-giving ceremony at dawn. 

Vang Vieng, nestled amidst stunning limestone karst landscapes and meandering rivers, is known for its adventurous outdoor activities and vibrant backpacker scene. Stay at the riverside Vang Vieng  Boutique Hotel for a comfortable stay with stunning views. Opt for the budget-friendly accommodations at Real Backpackers Hostel. 

Be sure to explore the surrounding countryside on a tubing adventure down the Nam Song River,  hike to the breathtaking viewpoints at Pha Poak and Pha Ngern, and unwind at one of the many riverside bars and cafes. 

In 2016, travelling past Vang View and Luang Prabang was almost unheard of. But we did, and boy,  was it worth it. Nong Khiaw, a sleepy riverside town surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and lush greenery, offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Stay at the picturesque Nong Kiau Riverside Resort for a tranquil escape, or check into the budget-friendly accommodations at Nong Kiau Riverside Guesthouse.  

Be sure to explore the nearby caves and waterfalls on a trekking excursion, take a scenic boat ride along the Nam Ou River, and soak in the stunning sunset views from the Pha Daeng Peak viewpoint. 

Vietnam, a land of timeless beauty and rich cultural heritage, allures travellers with its surreal and diverse landscapes, vibrant cities and culture, warm hospitality, and, of course… incredible food! It is one of if not my favourite countries in SEA! Its diversity and outstanding food really sets it apart for me. 

Mui Ne, a coastal town in southern Vietnam, is known for its stunning sand dunes, vibrant kite surfing scene, and picturesque fishing villages. Stay at the luxurious Anantara Mui Ne Resort for a beachfront retreat, or opt for the budget-friendly accommodations at Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel. Be sure to explore the iconic red and white sand dunes, try kite surfing on the waves of the South China  Sea, and sample fresh seafood at the bustling fishing harbour. 

tourist attractions of southeast asia

Ninh Binh, often called “Halong Bay on land,” is a scenic region in northern Vietnam known for its karst landscapes, ancient temples, and tranquil waterways. Stay at the charming Tam Coc Garden  Resort for a peaceful retreat surrounded by lush greenery. Alternatively, check into the budget-friendly accommodations at Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel & Resort.

Be sure to take a boat ride through the limestone caves and rice paddies of Tam Coc and Trang An, hike to the top of Hang  Mua Peak for panoramic countryside views, and explore the ancient temples of Hoa Lu, the former capital of Vietnam. 

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is a bustling metropolis known for its rich history, colonial architecture, and vibrant street food scene. Stay at the luxurious Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi for a taste of colonial elegance. Opt for the budget-friendly accommodations at Hanoi Old Quarter  Homestay.

Be sure to explore the historic Old Quarter, where narrow streets are lined with  traditional shops and ancient temples, visit the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple, and indulge in delicious Vietnamese cuisine at one of the city’s many street food stalls or local restaurants. 

Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the central coast of Vietnam, is famous for its well-preserved ancient town, colorful lanterns, and beautiful beaches. Stay at the charming Anantara Hoi An Resort for a riverside retreat, or check into the budget-friendly accommodations at  Hoi An Ancient House Village Resort & Spa. Be sure to wander through the narrow streets of the ancient town, where you’ll find historic architecture, traditional shops, and bustling markets, and visit the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge and Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese. 

Singapore, a bustling city-state at the crossroads of Asia, is a vibrant melting pot of cultures,  cuisines, and attractions. From its futuristic skyline and lush green spaces to its rich heritage and world-class dining scene, Singapore offers travellers diverse experiences to explore.

Whether you’re marvelling at the iconic Marina Bay Sands, strolling through the vibrant neighbourhoods of  Chinatown and Little India, or indulging in a foodie adventure at the hawker centres, Singapore is one of my personal favourite cities in the world, and you will see why for yourself.

tourist attractions of southeast asia

Malaysia / Borneo

Imagine yourself surrounded by lush rainforests teeming with wildlife, where orangutans swing through the trees, and majestic hornbills soar overhead. Imagine pristine beaches with powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters, bustling cities where ancient temples stand alongside towering skyscrapers, and incredible street food stalls. 

But Malaysia is more than just its stunning landscapes and vibrant cities. It’s a melting pot of cultures where Malay, Chinese, Indian, and indigenous traditions blend harmoniously to create a tapestry of diversity unlike anywhere else. 

My personal favourites

Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands, nestled off the northeastern coast of Malaysia, beckon with their pristine white sands, turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life. Dive into the crystal-clear waters to explore colourful coral reefs teeming with exotic fish, or simply relax on the idyllic beaches and soak up the sun. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, the Perhentian Islands offer an unforgettable tropical escape. 

Sabah, Borneo

Sabah, located on the island of Borneo, is a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.  Explore the lush rainforests of Danum Valley or Kinabalu National Park, home to an incredible diversity of plant and animal species, including the iconic orangutans.

Embark on a thrilling river safari along the Kinabatangan River to spot proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, and hornbills in their natural habitat.

For the ultimate adventure, climb to the summit of Mount Kinabalu, Southeast  Asia’s highest peak, for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. In Sabah Borneo, the possibilities for exploration are endless.

Conclusion on Best Places to Visit in SEA 

As our journey through Southeast Asia ends, I hope you’ve been inspired to embark on your own  adventure in this magical region. Whether you’re drawn to the pristine beaches of the Philippines,  the vibrant culture of Bali, or the tranquil beauty of Laos, Southeast Asia offers a wealth of  experiences waiting to be discovered. So pack your bags, follow your heart, and let the wonders of  Southeast Asia unfold before you. Safe travels, fellow explorers!

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Divergent Travelers

35 Amazing Things to Do in Southeast Asia (Across 7 Countries)

I’d be lying if I said that most people didn’t head to Southeast Asia to lie on beaches, eat cheap food and drink cheap beer. That said, there are certainly many more things to do in Southeast Asia than that.

While this is certainly the norm in the region, it is also a part of the world that holds an immense amount of adventures opportunity.

Due to the nature of the climate and proximity to the equator, most of Southeast Asia offers up a humid, tropical climate with intense jungles and landscapes to be explored.

There are towering hills on small islands, massive active volcanoes, jagged limestone cliffs, an abundance of underwater life and amazing views to be had if you’re willing to hike for them.

Don’t write off Southeast Asia as an adventure destination just because there are beaches available. Pack your hiking boots, your sense of adventure and get off the beaten path to see the real side of this beautiful part of the world.

Of course, truth be told this is a small sampling of all the adventure on offer. We asked our fellow travel bloggers to help us put together a collective of some of the best Southeast Asia adventures you can have, this is what they had to say.

34 Things to Do in Southeast Asia

Table of Contents

1. Hiking Kalaw to Inle Lake (Myanmar)

Southeast Asia adventures Hike Kalaw to Inle Lake Myanmar

Myanmar is a country that is still relatively untouched by western cultures but is quickly becoming a top destination for many explorers.

While many heads to the popular areas of Inle Lake and Bagan, many miss out on the opportunity to trek between the two common destinations.

From Bagan, you take a bus to Kalaw and begin your 2-3 day trek through the rolling hills of the countryside.

You’ll pass locals that may have never seen a foreigner before, you’ll learn about the plants you encounter and may even have them cooked up for dinner.

You spend time in a local’s home and bond with others who are on the trek with you. And most importantly you get to see how beautiful of a land Myanmar is.

Even if you are out of shape (I am and was sick when I did it), it is completely worth it to push yourself through just to understand their culture a little better, to experience the Burmese kindness, and to see a part of the country many skips.

Depending on the weather it can be a tough trek, but walking through the tea plantations and rice paddies will be a unique and personal experience for every traveler.

Contributed by Taylor, Taylor Tracks

2. Hiking Mount Kyaiktiyo (Myanmar)

Southeast Asia adventures Myanmar

One of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Myanmar is the Golden Rock, where a massive boulder’s precarious position on a ledge is attributed to it being held in place by a strand of Buddha’s hair.

The true pilgrim route is to hike from the very bottom of Mt Kyaiktiyo to the rock. The hike is steep in parts and combined with the hot and humid conditions, this is a challenging route.

For those who do not wish to hike, you can board a massive lorry from the town of Kinpun that hurtles up the steep roads and swerving around the numerous bends.

The lorry I was in did not reach the peak, and once it stops there is still a one-two hour hike to reach the summit. It is possible to procure a porter or to pay for being borne on a palanquin if you wish not to hike at all.

Lack of time meant that that full hike was not an option, but being carried to the summit seemed a bit ridiculous so the one-two hour hike was in order.

The further you climb, the hotter it gets, but there are numerous refreshment stands on offer along the twisty steep road to cool yourself down, and it is definitely needed as the humidity and heat can become intense.

Once at the peak, there are many hundreds of pilgrims in attendance. As is usual with Buddhist sites, they are best viewed near sunset and sunrise.

I approached the rock and there was a constant passage of men praying and a square of gold leaf on the Rock, women are not allowed to approach, so instead, they pray, burn incense and place offerings of food in front of the rock.

With sunset imminent, the crowds blossomed further, and when the sun did finally sink beneath the horizon, and as the ribbons of colored light slowly melted away, bright orange lamps that illuminated the revered Rock burst into life, and these lights, like many of the pilgrims, would continue their vigil until the morning.

I awoke before sunrise the following day to observe further prayers in the pre-dawn stillness that was more tranquil than the previous evening.

Mt Kyaiktiyo is only approximately 160 kilometers south-east of Yangon, but the travel time is not as short as you may think. Factor in a four-five hour journey if you are taking either the bus or the less frequent train.

These transport options stop at the village of Kyaiktiyo. The full hike from there is at least a full day excursion, but if you take transport to Kinpun the hike is at least half a day.

However, if you take the lorry ride from Kinpun, the hike is only one-two hours, though there are reports of the lorry now stopping much closer to the summit.

This is definitely one of Myanmar’s finest sites, but due to its location, the site receives fewer foreign visitors than it deserves.

Contributed by Shane, The Travel Camel

3. Kayaking the Nam Song River (Laos)

Southeast Asia adventures

Laos is a great destination for thrill-seekers. During my time there, I did a ton of adventure activities and kayaking on the Nam Song River in Vang Vieng was one of them.

It was part of a day tour so we coupled it up with some caving and tubing as well. It was a fantastic experience as you paddle down the pretty Nam Song river with greenery and limestone formations on either side.

The scenery is absolutely spectacular which definitely enhances the experience. Paddling was a little tough, to be honest, but then I went in the wet season (not the best time to go) plus my skills are somewhat rusty.

Though Laos is a year-round destination, for Kayaking and general traveling, I would suggest avoiding the rainy season from May to October even though I went in July.

Well, no wonder the Kayak flipped because of the heavy flow and rapids swelling up during the rains. No doubt it was a tad embarrassing to have strangers rescue you but hey, it’s all part and parcel of the experience.

If you haven’t yet visited Laos, you need to hear there now and try one of the many Southeast Asia adventures this laid back land has to offer.

Contributed by Jo, Wander with Jo

4. Scuba Diving with Bull Sharks at Sail Rock (Thailand)

Southeast Asia adventures Scuba diving with Bull Sharks Thailand

Are you game enough to scuba dive with bull sharks without a cage? If so, put the warm crystal clear waters of Southern Thailand on the top of your list.

Located 11km north of Koh Phangan and about 2 hours south of Koh Tao is a landmass known as Sail Rock. Because it is the only landmass between the two islands, it supports the breeding cycle of many species, the most notable of these being Bull Sharks.

Traditionally thought of as an aggressive shark, being in the water with these gracious, powerful, and beautiful animals is the ultimate adrenaline rush.

The dives at this site usually consist of a lap around the rock, and although the sharks are not known to swim right up to the rock’s surface, they can be often found gliding around just a few meters away.

Being firm believers in the old adage – that if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you – we were more than comfortable being in the water with them.

Add in the sheer variety of other sea-life and coral at the rock and it easily hits the top of my list of dive sites in Asia and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

Contributed by Vicki, Make Time To See The World

5. White Water Rafting the Mae Taeng River (Thailand)

Southeast Asia adventures White water rafting Thailand

The northern regions of Thailand are an adventure lover’s destination with a variety of outdoor and recreational pursuits. One of my favorite experiences was to go white water rafting along the Mae Taeng River about an hour’s drive north of Chiang Mai.

With class 1 to 3 rapids, the rafting experience covers agricultural areas, scenic landscapes and jungle areas that add to the river rafting experience.

For more details on this white water, experience check on my rafting tour here , along with a biking and tea tasting with a local eco-tour company.

There are many white water outfitters that cover this region along with combination tours. I ended up taking a biking/tea plantation visit and then a white water rafting tour on the Mae Taeng River through a tour provider called Asian Oasis.

They also offer a fantastic eco-retreat in the area called Lisu Lodge that is an amazing experience with the food included in the price of the stay.

Contributed by Noel, Travel Photo Discovery

6. Cliff Jumping in Chiang Mai (Thailand)

Southeast Asia adventures Cliff Jumping Thailand

Looking for an adrenaline rush in SE Asia? Chiang Mai has just the place. A few miles southwest of the city, there is an abandoned quarry that has been filled in with water.

For just a few baht, you can hire a taxi and make your way down the highway. Once you get there, there’s nothing between you and the water except open air.

Jump off the 5-meter high cliff to start off with, and then throw away your fear of heights as you vault off the 15-meter cliff. Don’t forget to hold your breath.

To get there, either find a taxi or tour who knows where it is, or hire a scooter for as little as 80 baht a day, ride south on the 120 highway, and take the first right after the PT gas station. 

Admission to the quarry is 50 baht, which includes an herbal drink. A lifeguard is on duty, but take caution all the same. This is Thailand, and things can get pretty wild. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen. Read more at Skyetravels.com/Chiang-Mai-Grand-Canyon .

Contributed by Skye, Skye Travels

7. Trekking & Camping on Doi Pui (Thailand)

Southeast Asia adventures Doi Pui Thailand

A sweet 30-minute motorbike ride from Chiang Mai is Doi Pui, one of the coolest camping spots in Northern Thailand. Nestled high up in the mountains the views of the city from the site are unreal, especially at sunset.

On my last visit, I could have just happily just stayed there and relaxed, but instead, I choose to take the two-hour walk to the local Hmong village Khun Chang Kian.

The trek was tough but took us through some untouched natural beauty. Upon arrival at the village, we were greeted by smiling kids and charming coffee shops.

You can rent everything you need there, tents, sleeping bags , and mats, you just need to set it all up yourself. It’s a world away from any technology, and a great place to unplug for some time.

We took things a step further, we collected wood and got a campfire going, it was a real back-to-basics adventure.

This is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai and can be visited any time of year, but the winter months do get a little cold, so wrap up.

Hire a scooter and make your own way there and bring some food too, there isn’t really anything to buy on site.

Contributed by Jon, Adventure in You

8. Rock Climbing in Krabi (Thailand)

Krabi is already one of my favorite places in the world, so adding in that it happens to be one of the top rock climbing spots in the world just upped it a notch in my books.

I got to say; I got pretty lucky having these incredible karsts with the most amazing beach backdrop right in my backyard. I lived in Krabi for over a year and had the opportunity to go climbing quite a few times!

Railay and Tonsai are the two hot spots featuring hundreds of routes varying in difficulty. Even chilling on the beach of Tonsai you can look over and see climbers harrowing some pretty gnarly boulders and rocks.

A few of the spots I got to climb at require you to hike up a bit which makes for even more adrenaline-pumping time as you’re already off to a high start!

Some climbs might even involve jumping off the rock wall to a stalactite. Can we say, “hell yeah!”

It’s pretty hard to describe the intensity needed to get your body up these rocks, especially if you’re like me and have jelly noodle arms.

Despite not having the upper body strength I desired, it didn’t stop me from trying pretty difficult but rewarding climbs.

After clambering up you can chill up top in a small crater or on a boulder and gaze upon the beaches, the longtail boats passing, and your teeny tiny friends below cheering you on.

There are plenty of rock climbing shops, but if you just hang out for a while and make some friends who are rock climbers, I’m sure they’d let you tag along just as long as you rented the gear.

No matter what, I’d suggest trying out  climbing in Krabi , it’s a once in a lifetime experience!

May to October is the rainy season, but really, anytime is fine as even during the rainy season as there are plenty of pockets of the sun if you have some time to hang around.

Contributed by Nina, Where in the World is Nina?

9. Kayaking & Hiking Koh Tarutao (Thailand)

Southeast Asia adventures Thailand Koh Tarutao

Koh Tarutao is the largest island in the Tarutao National Marine Park in Southwest Thailand and a former concentration camp for political prisoners. Unlike most of the Thai islands, it is completely untouched by mass tourism.

You pay a $6 entry fee and accommodation is either bungalows or camping on the beach.

It’s the perfect place to experience Southeast Asia adventures and some beach fun. It’s like being on a remote deserted island. The beaches have some incredible coral life, making it ideal for snorkeling.

The island is made up of untouched jungle, making it ideal for jungle trek passing through waterfalls, such as the Lu Du Waterfall or the 400m Tob-Bob Cliff at Ao Talo Phante Malacca.

Mountain biking is another way to see the islands and reach the more remote areas   like the very pretty Ao Son. The trail goes through the Tarutao mainland jungle and took us around 40 minutes each way.

Finally, you can also do kayaking here, which was one of our favorite activities. You rent the kayaks for the day and paddle through mangrove forests to a former crocodile cave.

It is hot throughout the year here, but due to the rainy season, it’s best to avoid May-November.

Contributed by Stefan, Nomadic Boys

10. Getting Open Water Certified in Koh Tao (Thailand)

Southeast Asia adventures scuba diving Koh Tao Thailand

Little we know we were going to fall for scuba diving while wandering around Thailand a couple of years back so badly.

But soon we learned that   Koh Tao was a learner’s paradise for its easy and great dives, affordable prices and overall good vibes. So it was a matter of time and one week in we were already there.

Apart from getting our Open Diver licenses by an SSI school, we got to dive a few cool spots: Japanese Gardens, Twins (Nang Yuan) and White Rock up to a depth of 18m.

Slingjaw wrasse, blue-ringed angelfish, longish bannerfish, chevron barracuda, blue spotted ribbon tail ray, magnificent anemone, saddleback anemonefish (Nemo), blotched porcupine fish, parrotfish, titan triggerfish, long-faced emperor fish, barrel sponge, hexagon grouper, crocodile fish and pink anemone fish were some of the species we were fortunate enough to spot during our 4 prep dives and 2 extra fun dives after getting our licenses.

For some more info about the place and if you are feeling curious,  read more about our first scuba diving experience in Koh Tao here .

Contributed by Inma, A World to Travel

11. Motorbike the Mae Hong Son Loop (Thailand)

Mae Hong Son Loop Vietnam Southeast Asia Adventures

The Mae Hong Son Loop is the trip of a lifetime, and it’s affordable too!  If you are comfortable driving a motorbike in Thailand then this is adventure is perfect for you.  

Starting in Chiang Mai you can rent a motorbike for $10-$20/day and find hotel rooms for anywhere from $6-$10/day along the way.  We did it in 5 days but the more time you have the more you’ll be able to see.  

Since the drive is a loop you can start by heading south to Mae Chom then Mae Hong Son and Pai or vice versa like we did.

Between each city, you’ll pass gorgeous rice paddies, massive mountains, national parks, temples and more.  

Definitely stop at Lod Cave, a massive river cave cutting through the jungle and a perfect afternoon break.  You’ll also find plenty of waterfalls and hot springs to relax in near Pai.

Along the route, tiny villages welcome foreigners with open arms and you’ll eat some of the most authentic Thai food you can find.  Be careful when driving the loop though!  

For safety, we made 3 rules: no driving at night, no driving in the rain (we had to fudge that a few times) and new drunk driving.  There are a few sketchy passes and especially between Pai and Chaing Mai you’ll cross dozens of blind corners.  

Stay hard on your horn to warn vehicles coming the other way, follow the 3 rules and you’ll be fine.

You can easily drive the loop any time of the year but I recommend NOT doing it in the rainy season like we did. Whether you drive the whole loop or just part of it you’re sure to enjoy the wild ride, beautiful scenery and welcoming locals.  Best of all the Mae Hon Son Loop is great for any budget.

Contributed by Michael, Live Travel Teach

12. ATV Tour Through Siem Reap (Cambodia)

Southeast Asia adventures ATV Cambodia

While most people venture to Siem Reap to take in the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, an alternate adventure takes you on a tour through the outskirts of the city.

A great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of Pub Street and Psar Chah is on the back on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

Even if you’ve never driven an ATV before, you’ll have a blast rolling through the rice paddies and villages surrounding Siem Reap.

You’ll venture into areas that are virtually untouched by modern society, driving across rugged farmland and through herds of cattle.

You’ll even have the chance to take a quick walk around a small local temple. A variety of tour packages are available, ranging from easy rides for beginners to full-day treks that circle the entire area.

How far you go and how much you get to see depends on you. The faster you drive, the more you get to take in.

But even if you opt for a slow ride, you’ll get to see plenty of traditional homes, children playing, and farmers wading through the waters of the rice fields.

You’ll feel like you’ve taken a time machine to another time and place.

Despite the relatively flat terrain, hardcore ATV riders won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of rough roads and obstacles to keep you entertained. There’s no bad time of year to take this tour.

Even if it rains, it will just add another layer of excitement to the ride. It’s a great way to get off the beaten path and see another side of this city that most tourists don’t even know exists.

Contributed by Heather, Wanderlust Wayfarer

13. Trekking Up the Mekong River (Cambodia)

Southeast Asia adventures Mekong River Cambodia

Cambodia isn’t just a country known for ancient ruins and a brutal civil war. Adventurers will love the opportunity to get off the beaten track here and explore some of the lesser-known spots while traveling in their Southeast Asia adventures here at Cambodia.

One adventure that can’t be missed is taking a trip up the Mekong River to see the famous pink dolphins, as well as all the other amazing  activities to do in Stung Treng , a province in northern Cambodia.

The journey starts in the city of Stung Treng where you can cycle, motorcycle or catch a long-tail boat up the Mekong, close to the Cambodia-Laos border town of Preah Romkel.

From there you can trek out even further up the river to the colossal waterfalls. As the sunsets over the Mekong River, you can see the rare pink river dolphins swimming and playing in the water.

With no electricity and only nature to enjoy, it’s an early night in a hammock that overlooks the river.

In the morning wake up to the sunrise and a swim in the Mekong, before making your way back down the river in a long-tail boat, through the flooded forest.

When the river is high these monstrous trees are submerged up to the middle of their trunks, but when the river is low all the roots are left exposed on sandy banks in the middle of the river.

You can stop off along the way to explore or continue cruising down the river at a leisurely pace.

Contributed by Jules, Don’t Forget to Move

14. Hot Air Balloon over Angkor Wat (Cambodia)

Southeast Asia adventures hot air balloon Angkor Wat Cambodia

I hopped into a hot-air balloon to see the sunset over Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I jumped into the basket with about four fellow tourists and the operator of the balloon.

The balloon generated hot air and it was pretty hot in the basket. It was a bit scary the moment the balloon took off, but I got used to the feeling of being in the air once the balloon took off. We were flying in the air.

The temples looked very small below us. It was wonderful to see the ancient city of Angkor Wat right below us.

We could see the vast green land, the animals, the palm trees and the nearby village below us. We were flying around slowly for about 20 minutes until the sunset.

The weird thing about the hot-air balloon is that it is not navigated. It is taken by the wind and the driver will land the balloon on the ground somewhere in the middle of the field when he finds a suitable landing field.

Once we landed, we were picked up and driven back by a car to the village. Watching the sunset from up there was a very memorable experience.

Contributed by Barbara, Jet Settera

15. Trekking to Hang Son Doong- World’s Largest Cave (Vietnam)

Southeast Asia adventures Vietnam Hang Son Doong

Hidden in the jungles of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Central Vietnam lies the  largest cave in the world , Hang Son Doong. Translated as “Mountain River Cave”, this colossal cavern was first discovered in 1990 by local man Ho Khanh while seeking shelter from a storm.

He, unfortunately, he lost his bearings on his way back to the village and didn’t find it again until 2008. When he returned with a team of British caving experts they surveyed the cave and determined it to be the largest ever found.

The local tour company Oxalis fought hard to run sustainable and responsible expeditions to Hang Son Doong, and ran their first trip in 2013.

Numbers every season are strictly limited and sell it a year in advance. Today more people have stood on the summit of Everest than have seen the inside of this beautiful natural wonder.

To reach Hang Son Doong involves a tough two-day trek through dense jungle, with a night spent camping in Hang En, the third-largest cave in the world.

Two nights are spent inside Hang Son Doong, exploring the enormous chambers, with one more night in Hang En on the way out.

Large enough to have its own climate, cloud system, jungle and underground rivers, Hang Son Doong is epic in every way. It truly is an adventure like no other.

Contributed by Jarryd & Alesha, NOMADasaurus

16. Trekking in Ha Giang (Vietnam)

Southeast Asia adventures Trekking Ha Giang Vietnam

Adventurous types have long gone trekking in Vietnam seeking indigenous culture and endless rice fields. Instead, they might find Sapa, a once quaint hill-station town turned messy tourist hub.

Sure, Sapa might be worth the crowds, but if it’s unbridled nature and authenticity you’re after, trekking in Ha Giang makes a nearly perfect alternative.

Just south of the Chinese border, Ha Giang is the northernmost point in Vietnam, and often referred to as the country’s final frontier.

With surreal views in every direction, Ha Giang is an illustration of how nature can flourish when left to its own devices.  Far off the tourist trail, you’ll wander mountainsides and form friendships around curiosity rather than commerce.

You can trek for days in any direction, learning about the local culture within family homes. It’s green, splendid, and full of authentic adventure.

Contributed by Taylor & Daniel, Travel Outlandish

17. Cycling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

Cycling Vietnam Southeast Asia adventures

There’s no better country to take on a cycling adventure than Vietnam. With two main cities – one in the north ( Hanoi ) and one in the south (Ho Chi Minh City) – cyclists typically ride between the two, taking in the majority of the country as they go, and leaving only one big decision to be made – which route to take.

No matter where you choose to start, be sure to explore all the things to do in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi before setting off again.

There are just two main roads that run the length of the country, and both provide for quite different adventures.

The Ho Chi Minh Highway is a favorite amongst keen cyclists, providing stunning views (some of the best you’ll find in Vietnam) and many off the beaten path destinations.

However, with its position inland, it cuts through many hills, and offers a far limited number of villages to rest, requiring quite a bit more effort from a cyclist than the coast bound Highway One.

As the alternative, Highway One provides plenty of places to stop as it passes through a number of top destinations – Mui Ne, Nha Trang, and Hoi An to name a few – as it sneaks it’s a way through central Vietnam.

It also provides greater opportunity for getting off the main road, with more development bordering it.

However, as it is the main road across the country, it is constantly full of other vehicles that often put a cyclist at the bottom of their list of things to worry about.

With either route, a cyclist will cover about 2,000km, with the best time to take it on being from February to May. As long as you can ride a bike and you can push yourself to keep going, you’ll be able to achieve this adventure – it’s one for everybody.

In the end, you’ll have cycled across the length of a country, seen many stunning views, spent many evenings in small villages with just the local communities and seen the best parts of a country that you’d otherwise have only glimpsed through a window.

Contributed by Caitlin, A Girl Abroad

18. Hiking in Sapa (Vietnam)

I was absolutely buzzing about taking a boat tour around Halong Bay. Little did I know that I’d be majorly underwhelmed and pretty disappointed by the litter at Halong Bay but blown away by Sapa Valley in Northern Vietnam!

We arrived in Sapa at 5 am after a comfortable overnight train and short bus journey to be greeted by young lads and rice wine, they’d taken a shine to Craig’s tattoos over breakfast and wanted to cheers him for the ink.

We would be seeing rice wine again within the next 10 hours. Rice wine is rocket fuel, just what we needed for hiking in the typical Asian downpours through the lush  rice fields of Sapa Valley . We stayed with locals and showered in the natural swimming pools, a pretty perfect way to spend two days.

Contributed by Gemma, Two Scots Abroad

19. Climbing Mt. Batur in Bali (Indonesia)

Southeast Asia adventures Mt Batur Bali Indonesia

Climbing a volcano is an experience of a lifetime, but to do it during night time is one of the SouthEast Asis adventures you will never forget.

Our adventure started when we jumped on our motorbikes and crossed the island, passing by rice paddies, waterfalls, temples, and lovely people.

We drove from south to north and slept in a tiny village overlooking Mount Batur. At 3 AM we woke up and with a flashlight, in hands, we made our way to the top of Batur.

The trail is full of stones, sandy paths and some deadly cliffs that you can only see during the daytime. Step by step we conquered the mountain.  At the summit, we were rewarded with a stunning sunrise, one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.

It’s not an easy climb, it took us 2:30 hours to reach the summit that is 1,717 meters above sea level. Climb Mt Batur at nighttime is one of the best things to do in Bali , and we suggest you to do it is during the dry season (May to September).

Don’t forget to bring a warm jacket , is cold at the top. You don’t need proper hiking shoes, runners work fine, but don’t try to climb Mt Batur wearing flip flops sandals, you might hurt yourself.

Hire a guide at the local hotel, or at the parking lot near to the volcano, it’s better to have with you someone that knows the trail, just in case you need extra help or orientation.

And don’t forget to bring your camera, the views you have from the top of Mt. Batur are breathtaking.

Contributed by Rob & Nati, Love, and Road

20. Downhill Cycling in Bali (Indonesia)

Downhill cycling in Bali Indonesia Southeast Asia adventures

Last summer in Indonesia, I went cycling in Bali through rice terraces in the countryside. We started off overlooking Mount Batur, a beautiful volcano with a crater lake at its feet.

After eating a hearty breakfast, we were ready to begin our downhill cycling tour!

We barely had to pedal as we sped down the hills of the Balinese countryside, braking to stop to look at beautiful vistas and visit inside traditional Balinese housing compounds.  

Finally, after a lot of downhill cycling, we reached where we had been heading the whole time: the gorgeous rice terraces.

We got off our bikes and walked around, taking in the serene beauty of these deserted, remote rice terraces.

Unlike the popular touristy rice terraces of Tegalalang, these were all ours. I walked into the rice fields, teetering precipitously on the edges of the muddy terrain — even slipping in a bit at one point, resulting in a very dirty leg!

After walking around these beautiful terraces and taking in the beauty, we had the choice of taking on an uphill portion. Energized by the sights seen, I took them up on the offer: a decision I’d regret about 10 minutes later, cycling in Bali humidity.

Luckily, a delicious buffet feast awaited me as a reward for the adventure I’d undertaken that day.

This adventure is great to do year-round, as the weather in Bali is almost always fantastic — just try to avoid the rainy season (October through March) as you have a higher chance of having bad luck with the weather.

Contributed by Allison, Eternal Arrival

21. Climbing Kawah Ijen Volcano (Indonesia)

Southeast Asia adventures Kawah Ijen Indonesia

Choking on the billowing smoke all around me under the 2 am moonlight barely able to see and engulfed by an awful rotten smell. This sounds like the beginning of a misadventure, but in fact, I did this to myself on purpose…

Exploring the incredible volcanoes in Indonesia is a must-do experience when you’re wandering around the archipelago, but Kawah Ijen offers up a few extra characteristics that might not be for everyone.

If you’re fit and game enough, your hike will start around 1 am and lead you down a dangerous caldera filled with sulfuric gasses seeping out from below. The smell is intense and far from pleasant. But you’re down here for a reason.

Taking a closer look, you’ll see locals hard at work in these intense condition mining for sulfur, a strenuous job that involves hours in these conditions and lifting 60-90kgs of yellow sulfur bricks in straw baskets and hiking it out! I thought this was an onerous way to earn a few bucks.

The most spectacular sight, though, is the dancing flames and lava-like blue substance that pours out from the earth. It’s an ignited sulfuric gas that’s incredibly hot making the hiking conditions dangerous, but totally worth it experience.

Keep in mind the sulfuric smoke gusting past you. Like I mentioned, hiking Kawah Ijen isn’t for everyone, but it’s simply entrancing to see this phenomenon.

After the hike, take a rest at the rim of the crater and enjoy the spectacular sunrise over the top of the volcanoes that surround you and the eerie green and highly acidic lake that you unknowingly were just next to!

June to August will be the best month but also the busiest. You can go anytime, just remember conditions are a bit more difficult when it’s windy, which is when I went! Definitely, check out my hiking Kawah Ijen  post for more details and tips on how to survive and enjoy this hike.

Contributed by Nina, Where in the World in Nina

22. Orangutan Trekking in Sumatra (Indonesia)

Southeast Asia adventures Indonesia Orangutans Sumatra

Orangutans are an endangered species and currently only exist in the wild in two places; Sumatra, Indonesia and the island of Borneo. Access to the jungles where they exist in Sumatra is done through the sleepy little riverside village of Bukit Lawang.

You’ll be lucky to encounter a handful of other foreigners here and it is about a 4-hour drive from the closest airport.

Bukit Lawang gives access to the Gunung Leuser National Park and is the starting point for all trekking trips into the jungle.

While it is possible to take day treks, we highly recommend a minimum of 3 days to get yourself deep into the jungle and a chance to see some of the last Orangutans that exist on our planet.

You’ll camp in the jungle, swim in the river and hike your legs off. The terrain is rough and there are no cut paths. It’s a real trek in the real jungle.

The region is very hilly and it is not uncommon to climb 3-4 tall peaks in one day. You’ll be exhausted, but it is incredibly rewarding when you get the chance to see Orangutans.

Orangutan Trekking in Sumatra is one of our Top 100 Travel Adventures in the world.

23. Free Diving in Bali (Indonesia)

Freediving in Bali Southeast Asia adventures

There really isn’t a bad time to visit Bali when you’re going to be spending your time underwater.

But if you also want to enjoy the beach, the best time to visit is during the dry season, between April and October. An initiation to freediving is a unique experience to try.

The quaint little strip of fishing villages along the coast East Bali is known as Amed is a spectacular place to do so.

Stunning views of Mount Agung wait while out on the water, as well as underwater wonders such as sunken statues and WWII ships. All this really transforms things into an almost magical experience.

Free Diving alone is something that everyone should try just to test the limit of their own mind and body, and doing it in Bali is just extra special. I completed my Free Diving Level 1 course in Bali and loved every minute of it.

Contributed by Amelie, Mostly Amelie

24. Climb Mount Bromo Volcano Crater (Indonesia)

Southeast Asia adventures Indonesia Mount Bromo Hiking

Due to the remoteness of the volcano, you will likely arrive late in the night to a high elevation with cold air. If you’re lucky, you will be able to find a room for the night at one of the hospitable homestays.

Don’t count on freshly laundered sheets or a functioning toilet, but it sure beats sleeping in the vehicle you arrived in.

A 3 am wakeup call will send you into the chaotic streets of Cemoro Lawang and into a rusty land rover to journey into the volcanic area of the region.

You’ll watch the sunrise over Mount Bromo and the surrounding area before heading back down to the base of the volcano crater.

From here, you’ll begin the long hike across the plateau before starting the steep climb to the top of the crater. When you reach the top, you’ll peer inside smoking, an active volcano.

As I mentioned before, the area is remote but it is possible to reach by hiring private transport. It is hours from the closest tourist area and you’ll find pretty slim pickings once in Cemoro Lawang.

However, the views and hike up the crater is well worth the journey. Read about our Mount Bromo Hiking Adventure

25. Sailing from Flores to Lombok (Indonesia)

Southeast Asia adventures Indonesia Flores to Lombok sailing

Want to see Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat? You’ll need to hop on a boat and sail through the Komodo Islands to do that. You can travel the route either way, but we started in Flores and worked our way West.

The trip took us 5 days and involved stopping at many unimaginable islands along the way but the highlight was stopping at the Komodo Islands, trekking inland and seeing the world’s largest lizard with our own eyes.

At the time of our visit, the Bima volcano had just erupted so the islands were covered in ash, creating clouds of dust as we trekked inland. This didn’t stop the Komodo Dragons from being active and we had several great sightings on our visit.

The weather is excruciating with the sun beating down so take plenty of water and good shoes, you’re going to be climbing large hills and hiking all over the island in search of sightings.

There is very little shade, so a hat is also a good idea. When you’re not chasing dragons, you’re going to be traipsing around islands in a very remote corner of the globe.

Read about our sailing adventure from Flores to Lombok .

26. Swimming with Blacktip Sharks in the Perhentian Islands (Malaysia)

southeast asia adventures Malaysia

The Perhentian Islands are among the most beautiful tropical islands of Southeast Asia . They are located near the northeastern coast of Malaysia.

The two principal islands are Perhentian Kecil, which is the smaller island with a backpacker vibe and Perhentian Besar, which is more expensive and is popular amongst Malaysian families.

The best season to visit these islands is between April and October since during the rest of the year there’s a quite intense monsoon season resulting in bad weather and very rough sea.

Most of the accommodations on the island stay closed off-season.

There are fantastic beaches on the island and a really cool vibe that made us stay for 2 whole weeks.

However, probably greatest experience on Perhentian is the half-day long snorkeling excursion you can take part in for around 25-30 RM (5-6 Euros).

The excursion consists of stops at several points around the island and includes swimming with marine turtles for instance.

Nevertheless, the best moment of the snorkeling trip is the stop at Shark Point, where we had to chance to swim near blacktip reef sharks.

These sharks are not considered dangerous, but they are still sharks, and it was impressive to see them swim so close to us. I don’t have to say that our adrenaline level rose significantly.

They were not too big, but still, I would not have chosen to wrestle with one of them. We can recommend Perhentian to all fellow travelers. It’s a real paradise with lots of fun stuff to do.

Contributed by Gabor, Surfing the Planet

27. Kinabatangan River Safari in Borneo (Malaysia)

Southeast Asia adventures Kinabatangan River Borneo

Known as one of the best birding areas in the World, located smack dab in the Amazon of the east, literally one of the last patches of lush primary rainforest on the Earth, the Kinabatangan is an adventurer’s paradise.

Not to mention you can also see Orangutans and Proboscis primates.

Base yourself at one of the rustic lodges in the small village of Sukau for at least 5 days and spend your time on the river seeking out wildlife, exploring tributaries and hiking into the leech-infested jungle.

When the sun goes down, head out to see what goes bump in the night, I think you’ll be surprised at all that lurks in the darkness.

Read about our time spent in the Kinabatangan Rainforest .

28. Beach Camping on Palau Kapas (Malaysia)

Beach Camping Palau Kapas Malaysia Southeast Asia Adventures

When most travelers make there way over to Malaysia, they tend to visit islands like Penang, Langkawi, or Perhentian Kecil. 

While I have been to all of these destinations, and really do love them — I’m always telling people that they are truly missing out if they do not visit this little paradise called Pulau Kapas.

This island is the ideal place for a relaxing escape, but also for the adventurous soul.  The snorkeling just a few meters off the beach is absolutely mind-blowing! 

You’re guaranteed to swim with turtles, hundreds of different species of fish, and even spot a few sharks if you’re lucky.

There are also two different jungle hikes through the island that is well worth your time, and you can even rent your own boat to cruise around and find your own private beach.

One of my favorite parts about visiting though is the  beach camping on Pulau Kapas .  You don’t even have to bring your own tent, as you can rent one there. The camping vibe is awesome, and you’ll definitely meet some awesome fellow travelers.”

The island actually shuts down during the Monsoon season between November – February, so I always recommend visiting during June, July, and August for the best weather and snorkeling conditions. 

If you’ve got some spare time in your Malaysia itinerary, definitely check out Pulau Kapas!”

Contributed by Dave, Jones Around the World

29. Climb Mt Kinabalu in Borneo (Malaysia)

Southeast Asia adventures Mt Kinabalu Climb Borneo

I’d been dying to visit Malaysian Borneo for years, to explore the rain forests and hot springs, to sea turtles and orangutans. But when my husband and I booked our trip, there was one part that I wasn’t looking forward to.

Enter Mt Kinabalu. Standing at 4095m, it is the tallest mountain in Malaysia and the 5th highest in SE Asia. 

Most ascents take two days, beginning with a 6km uphill hike through the cloud forest to a rest house where, if you’re lucky, a few hour’s sleep can be snatched.

You then wake at an ungodly hour to scramble up bare rock for 2km to catch the sunrise at the summit, before walking the whole 8km back.  I wasn’t sure that I was cut out for it.

My first glimpse of the mountain didn’t do much to allay my fears.  Kinabalu looms imposingly above the lush park below, it is grey peak shrouded by clouds much of the time. 

However, once the hike started, I was proved entirely wrong.  The trails weren’t difficult and the views of the surrounding area were phenomenal. 

Luckily, I was unaffected by altitude sickness and pulling myself up the steep expanse of rock near the top was exhilarating.

Kinabalu is climbable all year round. We climbed in August and the weather was ideal. 

The rainy season runs from November to March and climbing conditions can be made trickier by heavy rainfall.  Just don’t forget to bring hiking boots, warm clothing, and a head torch.

Contributed by Emily, Kids, and Compass

30. Caving in Gua Tempurung (Malaysia)

Gua Tempurung Caving Malaysia Southeast Asia adventures

Malaysia has some sneaky good adventures across the country including caving at Gua Tempurung 90 minutes from Kuala Lumpur.

It’s off the beaten track for travelers but for ~12 USD you’ll get an epic three-hour cave adventure inside the beautifully jagged limestone hillside.

You have four tour options, but take tour number four as the dry cave tours sound boring! Tour #4 starts off sedate, walking along the man-made path for one kilometer.

As soon as you get off the track the real adventure starts as you move from dome to dome. The cave is best described as a series of honeycombs (domes) connected by the chambers you squeeze, crawl and walkthrough.

You won’t really notice as you move through in real-time but the water level, marble content, and temperature difference between each dome, which is rather unique.

Eventually, you’ll get to the halfway point for a break where you chat about the creepy crawlies the guide spotted and your close encounters with the bats.

The guides won’t be able to tell you much about the cave, as they’ll be speaking in Malay mostly, but embrace the adventure.

You’re going to end up hot, wet and sweaty no matter what time of the year you visit but August was a good as time as any with not so many fellow people joining you on tour.

Contributed by Jub, Tiki Touring Kiwi

31. Hiking in Taman Negara National Park Penang (Malaysia)

Southeast Asia Adventures Taman Negara Penang Malaysia

Most people go to Penang to bum on the beach and relax. What they are missing is a chance to trek through one of the most prominent National Parks in Malaysia, the Taman Negara.

The most popular route is to start at the ranger station and hike all the way to the tip of the island and visit Monkey Beach. This route takes roughly 4 hours one way with options to add additional climbs and trails along the way.

Once at Monkey Beach, you can relax, swing over the ocean and if you’re keen, set up a tent and stay a few days.

Monkey Beach is a great place to base yourself if you want to explore further into the park with additional trails that get into some pretty remote areas.

Always hike with enough water and provisions and let someone know your route before you set off beyond Monkey Beach. There are no facilities here so prepare to pack in what you need and pack out all your garbage.

Read about our hiking adventures in Taman Negara National Park .

32. Skydiving in the Philippines (Philippines)

Southeast Asia adventures Skydiving in Philippines

There are few countries in the world that are famous for beautiful skydive drop zones, but only a handful know that you can also experience this in the Philippines. Skydive in this country is done in two sites – Cebu and Zambales, and the locations are on a beach.

This makes for a wonderful view while fearlessly falling from thousands of feet above the sky.

I chose to skydive in Zambales, which is conveniently just a few hours away from Manila. We were given two choices: solo or tandem jump. I chose solo skydive even though I had no prior experience in skydiving.

There was an orientation in the morning where a skydiving master taught us the proper way to jump from the small plane and how to use the radio, which would be used by the skydive master to give instructions to the skydiver.

After the orientation, we rode the plane and instructed to jump one by one.  If you think the idea of skydiving is scary, wait until you’re holding onto a part of the aircraft, split seconds before letting yourself go.

It’s indescribable. So is the fall itself, the rush and at the same time the calm upon seeing a bird’s eye view of the beach and the surrounding land areas. A solo skydive costs about P13500 and above. It can be done as long as the weather is good.

Contributed by Hali, Tara Lets Anywhere

33. Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Bohol (Philippines)

Southeast Asia adventures SUP Bohol Philippines

We spent a month in the Philippines, and our favorite destination was Bohol. That’s because the island offers everything the Philippines are famous for – stunning beaches, great diving, and wonderful nature.

There are plenty of things to do in Bohol , but if we had to recommend one it would be stand-up paddleboarding.

To do that, we left Panglao Island, where we were staying, and headed to the Loboc River in the center of Loboc. The jeepney journey was a fun way to start an adventurous afternoon. The Loboc River is a famous tourist destination in Bohol, with restaurant boats offering lunch cruises with live music.

Our paddle boarding tour took place in the afternoon when the lunch boats had finished for the day, and we had the chance to enjoy the river in total peace and quiet, with nothing but nature and birds to keep us company.

We paddled 5 km to a waterfall where we had a swim and paddled back during sunset. When we arrived it was already dark and the fireflies were out – a magical ending to a magical experience.

Contributed by Margherita, The Crowded Planet

34. Diving in Coron (Philippines)

Southeast Asia adventures Diving in Coron Philippines

Coron is said to have the best scuba diving in the Philippines, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Secluded lagoons and bays are home to spectacular coral reefs full of a variety of fish and turtles.

There are also 14 diveable Japanese shipwrecks in the waters surrounding the 80 islands that makeup Coron, lying at depths from 5 – 40 meters.

Among our Asia adventures, Coron is also home to the cleanest lakes in Asia and Barracuda Lake makes for an interesting freshwater dive to cap off your diving experiences in Coron with.

The lake is a thermocline with layers of fresh and saltwater and varying temperatures from an underground hot spring reaching up to 38°C (100°F).

There aren’t corals or many fish to see in this bizarre environment, but it’s like the mountains from the movie  Avatar  in an underwater world.

Contributed by Jen, Luxe Adventure Traveler

35. Kayaking Expedition in Palawan (Philippines)

Southeast Asia Adventures Kayaking in Philippines

While just the prospect of setting foot on lesser-visited islands is an inspiration for some people, the true adventure comes in paddling between uninhabited islands, camping on beaches and living off only what you can obtain from the small villages you visit along the way.

In the Philippines, the ultimate adventure is to take a kayaking expedition between Coron and El Nido .

Averaging 9 days, you’ll spend your days paddling, snorkeling, hiking, interacting with locals, cooking and setting up your camp each night. Showers? Who needs em.

You won’t encounter another foreigner for the duration of the trip unless you want to, it is that remote and that incredibly secluded.

Prices vary depending on how much support you want, but we definitely recommend booking with a reputable operator that knows the waters and studies the weather patterns for this region.

A kayaking expedition in the Philippines is one of our Top 100 Travel Adventures in the world.

Hopefully, this article will not only inspire you to add some adventures into your travels but also tease you off the beach, away from the beer can and out into nature to explore.

Southeast Asia is a beautiful part of the world with a lot of secrets to discover, so don’t be shy, grab some water and head out on the trail.

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Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

6 thoughts on “35 Amazing Things to Do in Southeast Asia (Across 7 Countries)”

This is a wonderful article. I really enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for sharing such detailed information.

Thanks for the great post! SEA fits for so many kinds of travelling styles and offers a load of diverse activities. Regarding Vietnam, I think you should include the scuba diving and snorkeling in Phu Quoc Island or Nha Trang because of rich coral reef.

This is a detailed and great post, Lina and David! I love reading posts which include stunning places and unforgettable memories!

Thanks so much for including me on this superb post. Congrats on putting this all together! It was great meeting you twice this year, hope to meet you again in 2017.

Great list! Did only trekking in Batur in Bali, but some other activities already in my list – just need to plan it and do it 😀

Excellent post. We really miss SE Asia for the variety and it’s so easy on the bank balance at the same time!!

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101 things to do in southeast asia – ultimate bucket list.

Things to do southeast bucket list

Table of Contents

This post may contain affiliate links to things like tours, hotels, Amazon associates and products. These help me earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Since many backpackers visit multiple Southeast Asian countries in one trip, I decided to compile a list of all the best things to do in Southeast Asia from nature to culture and food. There are so many additional items you could add to your Southeast Asia bucket list but half the fun is finding them along the way. These 101 items should give you a solid start!

ASIA ESSENTIALS E-sim data plan Getting around: train / bus ( 12GoAsia ) / flight ( Skyscanner ) Accommodation: Hotels on Booking.com // hostels on Hostelworld Tours: GetYourGuide / Viator Travel insurance:   True Traveller  (European travellers) /   Hey Mundo  (other nationalities) /   Safety Wing  (digital nomads)

Southeast Asian countries

Just to clear up what’s meant by Southeast Asia , the official definition is:

Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Brunei and Timor-Leste.

In terms of the popular countries for backpackers, it’s this list minus the last two. In this Southeast Asia bucket list, I’ll be including my favourite things to do in these nine amazing countries.

If you’re wondering how to string these experiences together, check out my 3 month Southeast Asia itinerary .

Things to do in Southeast Asia

I did a lot during my two year-long trips to Southeast Asia, the first from 2015-16 and the second from 2018-19. During the first, I backpacked around seeing everywhere with fresh eyes. During the second, I spent longer getting to know my favourite places in-depth while working online. Both trips were special in their own way and I’ll never get tired of this unique and wonderful region of the world. These are some of my must-dos and sees around Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar. Enjoy!

Related read: 101 backpacking Asia travel tips

Southeast Asia bucket list – Thailand

Thailand is a fantastic introduction to Southeast Asia for many backpackers thanks to its friendly locals, ancient temples like Ayutthaya , spectacular islands, lively nightlife and delectable street food. A pet peeve of mine is foreign travellers deeming it ‘too touristy’ after having travelled exclusively to tourist places. There are plenty of places to get off the beaten path in Thailand so be adventurous! Don’t miss the following…

Read next: where to travel solo in Thailand

1. Eat street food in Bangkok (not just pad Thai)

Thai street food Asia

If you begin your trip by flying into Bangkok, this might be one of the first things you do. Bangkok is renowned as one of the best foodie cities in the world. While the infamous Khao San Road attracts plenty of backpackers, I would recommend delving deeper into the many places to eat street food in Bangkok . Don’t miss papaya salad, pad kra pao (Thai basil stir-fry) Khao kha moo (pork leg rice) and the classic Thai dessert, mango sticky rice. I especially loved the food in Bangkok ‘ s Chinatown where you can try classic Thai dishes as well as authentic Chinese cuisine. To find all the best bits, I’d recommend a food crawl with A Chef’s Tour .

2. Find paradise on the Thai Islands

There’s a Thai island for everyone. Maybe you want to party in Koh Phangan, cruise Maya Bay (where The Beach was filmed) near Koh Phi Phi, rock climb on Railway Beach near Krabi or ditch the crowds and relax on a lesser-visited Thai island . My personal favourite is Koh Lanta which doesn’t feel too touristy despite having excellent beaches, nightlife, restaurants and nature.

3. Explore over 300 temples in Chiang Mai

Temples Chiang Mai things to do Southeast Asia

The city of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand is one of the temple capitals of the world with over 300 in a small radius. Spend 3 days in Chiang Mai visiting top temples like Wat Chiang Mai, the oldest in the city with beautiful elephant carvings; Wat Chedi Luang known for its huge serpent statues; and Wat Sri Suphan carved entirely from silver. For temples further afield, hike the Monk’s Trail to Wat Pha Lat in the middle of the forest and visit the King and Queen Pagodas in Doi Inthanon National Park . The temples aren’t the only reason to visit Chiang Mai. The city within Chiang Mai’s Old City Walls has no chain restaurants or cafes, just independent Chiang Mai coffee shops and lively night markets. The food in Chiang Mai is different to Southern Thai cuisine – eat as much as possible!

4. Visit Bangkok’s Grand Palace

Grand Palace Bangkok

It may be busy and touristy but Bangkok’s Grand Palace should be on every traveller’s Southeast Asia bucket list. Not only is it the official ceremonious home of the Thai royals, but the grounds are full of shrines and Buddha statues, including the greatly revered Emerald Buddha, the most important relic to Thai Buddhists. Make sure it’s included in your Bangkok itinerary !

5. Try Muay Thai boxing

The national sport of Thailand is a type of martial art practiced for centuries. While in Thailand, tick it off your T hailand bucket list by taking a full Muay Thai training course, a lesson, or simply jumping in the ring and tackling another tourist during a competitive evening show.

6. Feel the vibe in Pai

There’s more to Northern Thailand than Chiang Mai . A particularly special place to add to your Southeast Asia bucket list is the mountainous town of Pai. This hippie paradise on the banks of the Pai River is known for its natural sights like Pai Canyon, Tha Pai Hot Spring and Mo Paeng Waterfall. In the heart of Pai town, there are hippie cafes, a delectable night market serving everything from Thai street food to sushi, and some unusual backpacker hostels like Pai Circus School .

7. Experience a full moon party in Koh Phangan

One of the best things to do in Southeast Asia for backpackers is attend the iconic full moon party on Koh Phangan. Held each month on – you guessed it – the full moon, this celebration of up to 30,000 partygoers goes throughout the night until daylight. Grab your rave paint and a bucket of booze and see how long you last!

8. Go inside off-beat White Temple in Chiang Rai

White Temple Thailand

Another iconic place to visit in Northern Thailand is Chiang Rai. Unlike the 800-year-old temples of Chiang Mai, some of the temples in Chiang Rai are brand new, built by wacky Thai artists. This includes the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) which, despite looking elegant from the outside, is full of Minion art and even an ode to Michael Jackson! If it wasn’t on your Southeast Asia bucket list before, add it there for novelty factor. Other things to do in Chiang Rai include visiting the equally new and impressive Blue Temple, the gigantic Goddess of Mercy (Wat Huay Pla Kang) on the hillside and Baan Dam, otherwise known as the Black House, home to Thai art and animal skeletons. Gulp. Take a tour from Chiang Mai if you don’t have time to stay overnight in Chiang Rai.

9. Learn to dive in Koh Tao

Not only is diving one of the best things to do in Southeast Asia but it’s a right of passage for backpackers to get their Open Water diving license in Koh Tao since it’s one of the cheapest places in the world to get PADI or SSI qualified. Book your Open Water course including accommodation, equipment and lessons for $380 USD . Unfortunately, the steady flow of wannabe divers coming to Koh Tao has negatively impacted the sealife of Koh Tao. I didn’t see much but once I had my qualification, I moved onto other dive sites in Southeast Asia .

10. Experience the Lantern Festival Chiang Mai

Yi Peng festival thailand

If you’re visiting Chiang Mai towards the end of the year, I would highly recommend adding a November festival to your Southeast Asia bucket list. Yi Peng is a Thai festival symbolising the release of bad energy. Paper lanterns drift into the skies in their throngs as their owners make wishes down below. It’s celebrated alongside Loy Krathong , an equally important Thai festival held to honour Mother Nature. During these celebrations, offerings are released into the rivers rather than the skies.

11. Celebrate Songkran

Another of the best things to do in Southeast Asia is celebrate Thai New Year in style. Unlike in the West where we pretty much drink away the old year, Thai people wash away their sins and bad luck with an enormous, chaotic water fight. Participants grab water pistols and buckets to drench passersby. You won’t want to walk down the street with non-waterproof valuables on you during Songkran! For a fun and memorable experience, head to a designated Songkran zone in Bangkok .

Southeast Asia bucket list – Vietnam

My favourite country in Southeast Asia and, let’s face it, the world is Vietnam . I’ve wracked up months of experience in this country and believe many of the best activities in Southeast Asia are located here, from visiting the largest caves in the world in Phong Nha to exploring hidden gems in Quy Nhon beach town.

Read next: complete 2 week Vietnam itinerary

12. Attempt to cross the road in Hanoi!

Crossing the road as a Southeast Asia bucket list item? Once you see the throngs of scooters winding through Hanoi with no apparent rules or lanes, you’ll see why! Crossing the street in Hanoi is more than a necessity; it’s a rite of passage in Vietnam. My best advice is to relax and focus on the other side. The scooter drivers of Hanoi are skilled at weaving around obstacles, which include bemused tourists! For another crazy road crossing, check out Train Street Hanoi .

13. Fall in love with Hoi An

Hoi An Vietnam

Is there a more perfect place in Asia than the crumbling yellow UNESCO Heritage Centre of Hoi An in Central Vietnam? With colourful lanterns and charming Hoi An cafes , it’s nothing short of enchanting. Saying that, Hoi An Ancient Town is pretty packed with tourists these days! You can spend 5 days in Hoi An exploring not just the Old Town’s heritage houses, Japanese Bridge, sampling Hoi An street food and night markets, but travelling further afield to An Bang Beach, Tam Thanh Mural Village and Tra Que Vegetable Garden. You can also take day trips to the Cham Islands, My Son Temples and Marble Mountains in Da Nang.

Read next: where to travel solo in Vietnam

14. Explore artisan guilds in Hanoi Old Quarter

Hanoi Old Quarter vietnam

Sure, you’ll see other travellers in Hanoi Old Quarter but there’s enough local life to feel the mad rush and charming chaos that is Vietnam. As the name suggests, this area is the oldest part of the capital with over 2,000 years of history. Originally a collection of 36 artisan guilds, the streets sell the same items today. Hang Gai Street is known as the place to buy silk clothing while Hang Ma sells paper products and Lan Ong Street sells herbal medicines. You’ll get lost wandering Hanoi Old Quarter but that’s half the fun. The other half is grabbing lunch at Bahn Mi 45 and sipping coffee in one of the many Hanoi cafes . Other adorable neighbourhoods to discover afterwards include Ngoc Ha and Truc Bach .

15. Cruise through Ha Long Bay

One of my favourite memories from Northern Vietnam is cruising by boat through Ha Long Bay , a collection of 1,600 islands translating as ‘descending dragon’. Kayaking through the craggy islands and eating fresh seafood on deck is a must for any Southeast Asia bucket list.

Ha Long Bay Southeast Asia bucket list

After visiting Ha Long Bay twice, I would recommend spending longer than one night in the region. By choosing a boat cruise that includes a second night on Cat Ba Island, you’ll get deeper into the bay and leave the other tourist boats behind, observing floating villages and fishing farms en route. Take a 2-day Ha Long Bay cruise including return bus travel to Ha Long port.

16. Get an outfit made in Hoi An

Hoi An has a reputation as one of the cheapest places in Southeast Asia (and possibly the world) to get clothes custom-made. You can go into any tailor in Hoi An and show them a dress, suit or another item of clothing. The staff will mock up your measurements and have it ready in a couple of days, often for less than $20 USD. Bargain!

17. Try egg coffee

Egg coffee in Hanoi

Say what? Egg coffee sounds weird but tastes like delicious liquid tiramisu. Whipped egg white stirred into bitter black coffee makes for the perfect blend of sweet and bitter. Drinking egg coffee in Hanoi is your best bet since the drink was invented when the city was short of cow’s milk during the War. Take a coffee-lovers walking tour with GetYourGuide .

18. Go sandboarding in Mũi Né

A fun sport to add to your Southeast Asia bucket list is sandboarding in Mũi Né . This city on the south coast of Vietnam is known for its golden dunes which you can ride in the early morning before the sand gets too hot. Other things to do in Mũi Né include watching sunrise over the dunes and visiting the magical Fairy Stream.

19. Wallow in a mud bath in Nha Trang

Nha Trang mud bath Vietnam

Nha Trang may not be the nicest city in Vietnam but most travellers pass through to break up the long journey between Hoi An and their next stop of Da Lat, Mũi Né or Saigon. Luckily, there’s one very cool attraction in Nha Trang: mud spas! Hire a private egg-shaped bath for 100 VND (less than $5 USD) at 100 Eggs Spa and wallow to your heart’s content in oozy mud.

20. Trek in Sapa

Sapa Vietnam

Another bucket list item for Southeast Asia is trekking in Sapa, a mountainous hill station in Northern Vietnam . This magical region in the clouds feels totally different to the rest of the country, not just because it’s chilly throughout the year. You can spend around 3 days in Sapa , staying in homestays and taking guided treks with the locals. It’s also a fantastic place to meet and learn about Hmong people, an ethnic group with their own languages and style of dress. Compare prices on Sapa tours .

21. Learn about the Vietnam War in Saigon

One of the most important things to do in Southeast Asia is learn about the war that shaped much of the region. Not only was Vietnam devastated by the 1955-75 war with the US, but neighbouring countries, Cambodia and Laos were heavily bombed to halt supply of smuggled goods and weapons. In Saigon , also known as Ho Chi Minh, you can visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, an intricate maze of narrow tunnels where Vietnamese soldiers lived for years. You can also visit the War Remnants Museum, one of the most powerful and heartbreaking museums in Southeast Asia.

22. Experience ‘Ha Long Bay on land’ in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh Vietnam

If you don’t get your fill of mountainous islands in Ha Long Bay, a second fantastic destination for your Southeast Asia bucket list is Ninh Binh. This gorgeous natural region just a couple of hours south of Hanoi is most famous for Tam Coc, a series of striking limestone cliffs that can be cruised through by small rowing boat. Other things to add to your Ninh Binh itinerary include hiking to the Mau Caves viewpoint (pictured), visiting Bich Dong Pagoda and taking a second boat cruise at Bai Dinh, the quieter and less touristic version of Tam Coc.

23. Sail the Mekong Delta from Saigon to Cambodia

Mekong Delta Southeast Asia

The Mekong Delta is a maze of rivers and islands taking up much of southern Vietnam and Cambodia. One of the best adventures I had in Southeast Asia was taking a cruise from Saigon, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Granted, it took a lot longer than the bus (three days to be precise) but we had plenty of experiences along the way including visiting temples, riding in basket boats and shopping at floating markets in Can Tho.

24. Visit ancient temples in Hue

Hue temples things to do Southeast Asia

The Imperial City of Hue, also known as Hue Citadel, is a must for temple lovers visiting Southeast Asia. This historical walled city was once the imperial capital of Vietnam before it was destroyed during the War. Most of the colourful temples have been restored and can be easily visited while staying in the Central Vietnamese city of Hue. Once you’ve seen the Citadel, you can spend 2 days in Hue exploring the ancient capital’s other sites: The Royal Temple of Tu Duc, Tu Hieu Pagoda, The Tomb of Khai Dinh, Minh Mang Tomb, The Temple of Literature and Linh Mu Pagoda. If you travel afterwards to Hoi An, make sure to take the Hai Van Pass .

25. Find the cheapest bia hoi you can (my record was 8p)

The beverage of choice for Vietnamese locals and foreign backpackers is bia hoi, a type of fresh beer brewed by the barrel in local bars and restaurants. I once paid 2,000 VND (10 cents) so I challenge you to find it cheaper than that! The most atmospheric place in Vietnam to drink fresh beer is Bia Hoi Corner in Hanoi Old Quarter.

26. Eat pho, banh mi and bun cha

Pho Vietnamese food

Who could pick just one type of Vietnamese food? The food in Hanoi is some of the best in the world thanks to dishes like bun cha (smoky pork in a tangy broth with noodles and crispy spring rolls), pho noodle soup and banh mi baguettes. Take a Street Food Hanoi Gastronomy tour to experience it fully. In Hoi An, don’t miss white rose dumplings , Mi Quang noodles with pork, prawn and quails eggs, and famous cau lau noodles made by one local lady with the recipe. There are also some great vegetarian restaurants in Hoi An . The best foods in Saigon include com tam (smoky pork with rice and a gooey fried egg), bun riêu (crab noodle soup) and some of the best banh mis in Vietnam .

27. Break into the Abandoned Waterpark in Hue

Abandoned Waterpark Hue Vietnam

This off-beat attraction in Southeast Asia has become popular in recent years despite the offical line being that you’re not allowed inside. Hue Abandoned Waterpark in Central Vietnam was a tourist attraction before it was shut down and abandoned. Bold backpackers who bribe the security guide or trek through the undergrowth can explore the roaring dragon tower and empty water slides. It’s weird but definitely wonderful!

Southeast Asia bucket list – Laos

The small landlocked nation of Laos is a bit of an underdog where tourism is concerned. For several years, it was known predominantly for tubing in Vang Vieng but when it was deemed too dangerous, Laos returned to its roots of nature and eco-tourism. Laos is a country with a troubled history. Many regions today remain littered with American landmines, product of the Vietnamese War. All the more reason to visit and support tourism in this friendly and beautiful nation. Vientiane may be Laos’ capital but there’s not much to do. Luang Prabang is the cultural capital with exquisite temples, night markets and cafes.

28. Swim in Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang

Kuang Si Falls SE Asia bucket list

This gorgeous three-tier waterfall just outside of Luang Prabang is one of the best you’ll visit in Asia. With shallow temperate pools, it’s almost like a refreshing bath! You can catch a songtaew (shared local taxi) from Luang Prabang and spend half a day climbing the falls and relaxing in the water.

29. Experience eco-tourism in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng Southeast Asia

A little tubing still goes on in Vang Vieng but most of the bars have closed down after several tourists died as a result of mixing alcohol with risky river rapids. Luckily, tourism in Vang Vieng didn’t dry up with the tubing scene. There are plenty of amazing locations for eco-tourism thanks to Nam Song River and the many limestone caves and mountains. Activities include rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, trekking and kayaking. Don’t miss Kaeng Nyui Waterfall, Pha Ngeun viewpoint, Tham Chang Cave and the Blue Lagoon.

30. Zipwire through the jungle on the Gibbon Experience

An activity I still need to tick off my Southeast Asia bucket list is zipwiring between treehouses in Nam Ka National Park. If you’re lucky, you’ll spy elusive gibbons during your time in the misty Laos rainforest. You can visit as part of a 3 day, 2 night tour with the Gibbon Experience which includes food, treks, treehouse accommodation and guides. It’s pricey for Laos at $209 but sounds like a most memorable experience.

31. Eat at Luang Prabang Night Market

tourist attractions of southeast asia

Ever eaten Laos food before? One of the most iconic dishes, which can also be found in Thailand, is larb , a rich meat salad flavoured with lemongrass, chilli and mint. You can eat it all over the country or do what I did and make it from scratch during a Laos cooking class. Another bucket list item for foodies is visiting Luang Prabang Night Market. There’s affordable food galore served buffet-style.

32. Kayak with dolphins around Laos’ Four Thousand Islands

One of the more underrated things to do in Southeast Asia is explore Southern Laos. Many people visit Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng in the north but don’t go further. While I do understand why (take a look of a map of Laos to see how far away the Four Thousand Islands are), it would be a shame to miss staying in a $3 bungalow and watching sunset over the islands. You won’t exactly find the Four Thousands abandoned and untouristy; the larger islands like Don Det are known for their tourist cafes playing Friends all day and serving mushroom milkshakes. If you prefer, you can skip this scene and book on a kayaking tour to spy pink river dolphins. Despite once being on the verge of extinction, Irrawaddy Dolphin numbers are growing. They can only be found in this stretch of river measuring just over 100 miles separating Laos and Cambodia.

Southeast Asia bucket list – Cambodia

With its impressive Angkor temples and beautiful beaches, Cambodia is a popular addition to the Southeast Asia tourist circuit. The following Cambodia stops comprise some of the best things to do in Southeast Asia…

33. See sunrise over the Angkor Wat temples

Angkor Wat Cambodia

No Southeast Asia bucket list would be complete without Angkor Wat which even appears on the Cambodian flag. As the largest religious monument in the world when measured by area, you can spend several days exploring the temples and still only make it to a fraction. A few of the most popular include like Ta Phrom, Pre Rub and Bayon. The best place to stay is the nearby city of Siem Reap. A temple pass is expensive these days at $62 but you wouldn’t want to miss it. Take an early morning Angkor Wat sunrise tour , return for a nap then explore again later in the day.

34. Find peace on Koh Rong Sanloem island

Koh Rong Sanloem Cambodia

Once a hidden gem, the gorgeous island of Koh Long Sanloem is very ‘discovered’ yet still feels like paradise. With a dense jungle at its heart and white sand beaches around the outside, it’s prime for snorkelling, boat trips and relaxing on the beach. While Koh Rong is a party island, you can escape to smaller Koh Rong Sanloem for a more laidback feel.

35. Cruise Siem Reap floating villages

One of the more unusual things to do in Southeast Asia is explore floating villages where locals live, work, fish and eat from houses on stilts. The best example is probably Tonle Sap Lake, a huge body of water in Cambodia home to four floating villages. You can easily visit as a day tour from Siem Reap.

36. Watch the Cambodian circus

A must for experiencing Cambodian culture is a trip to Phare, The Cambodian Circus. Ambitious aerobics, dance and circus tricks characterise this lively show which can be seen in Siem Reap. It’s a chance to support talented young Cambodian performers as they share folk stories passed down through generations.

37. Ride the Battambang bamboo train

One of the most unique attractions in Southeast Asia is surely Cambodia’s Battambang bamboo train. The ‘norry’ train is nothing but a flat plank on wheels that trundles along the tracks with a unique twist: traffic runs both ways. When two cars meet, the one with the fewest passengers has to be folded and removed from the tracks to let the other pass. The Cambodian government say they may be replacing the iconic bamboo railway soon so add it to your Southeast Asia bucket list while you can!

38. Eat fish amok

Fish amok Cambodian food

Cambodian food isn’t as well known around the world as Thai or Vietnamese but there are some tasty Khmer dishes you shouldn’t miss. My favourite is fish amok, a chilli, lemongrass and coconut curry served inside banana leaves. Yum!

Southeast Asia bucket list – Myanmar

Formerly known as Burma, this friendly and fascinating country in Southeast Asia was the location of my first ever solo trip. Following 50 years of civil war and military dictatorship, Burma only recently opened to foreign travellers. Tourism may be in its infancy compared to Thailand or Bali but things are changing fast. Visit sooner rather than later…

39. Explore Bagan, Myanmar’s ancient temple site

Bagan things to do Southeast Asia

Myanmar’s answer to Angkor Wat is Old Bagan, the former royal capital of Burma. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts more than 3,500 temples dating back 1,000 years. Hire an e-bike and explore the archaeological site, stopping at popular temples like Ananda, Thatbyinnyu and Shwesandaw. The visual mix of gold domes and red stone temples was like nothing I’d seen before. A bonus Southeast Asia bucket list experience is a hot air balloon over the temple site at dawn!

40. Climb 777 stairs of Mount Popa

Summiting a 1518m volcano to reach a Buddhist shrine at the top couldn’t be more bucket list-worthy. It takes about two hours to hike the 777 steps up Mount Popa but the views from the peak are worth it. The extinct volcano is in Central Myanmar, a 2-hour drive from Yangon.

41. Marvel at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay Southeast Asia bucket list

One of the first sites to be seen in Myanmar’s capital, Yangon, is Shwedagon Pagoda. This 99-metre gold stupa can be seen from all round the city. You can visit any time of the day and also at night when the gleaming religious site is particularly mesmerising. Ancient legend says that a hair from the Buddha resides inside.

42. Read from the world’s largest book in Mandalay

Kuthodaw Pagoda Mandalay

As an avid reader, I was intrigued to visit Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, home to a set of stone scriptures dubbed the world’s largest book. Wandering between the 700 stone slabs was indeed a bucket list Southeast Asia experience though, alas, I couldn’t decipher the ancient texts.

43. Eat Burmese street food

One of my favourite things about visiting Myanmar was joining the street parties on every corner. Locals sit and sip tea and eat delicious local dishes like Burmese tea leaf salad. There’s street food all around Asia but there’s something special about joining the locals in friendly Myanmar. Another spot not to miss is 19th Street in Yangon, otherwise known as Myanmar Barbecue Street. Tuck into a whole grilled fish with stir-fried greens and a cold beer. Bliss!

44. Trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake

There are few better places to get immersed in the countryside in Southeast Asia than Myanmar where many regions are totally untouched by the modern day. Spend three days trekking and observing local life while eating and sleeping in local homes on the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake. It’s an experience I’ll remember forever! Arrive into Kalaw and find Sam’s Family, a restaurant and tour operator who organise three-day treks (sending your main luggage by car to your next hotel so you don’t need to carry it – woo!). Prices may have inflated since 2015 but I recall paying about £20 for the whole tour.

Inle Lake fisherman

45. See one-legged fisherman in Inle Lake

Once you’ve completed the Kalaw to Inle Lake trek, you’ll want to relax. The best way to do this is by enjoying a wooden boat ride around the unique floating villages of Inle Lake. As well a seeing how the locals live and stopping at crafts markets and a famous cat monastery, you’ll spy the famous one-legged fisherman. Relax, they don’t actually have one leg! This unique style of fishing sees the fisherman row with one leg while watching fish. They’ll either row with one leg and hold their fishing basket with both hands or row with one hand and hold the basket with a foot. It’s a bizarre yet fascinating sight to see.

46. Take a pilgrimage to the Golden Rock near Yangon

Golden Rock Myanmar

Kyaiktiyo Pagoda is a temple like no other, built on top of an enormous gold rock and adventurously named… the Golden Rock 😉 Buddhists travel from far and wide due to an ancient legend proclaiming that it’s balanced upon a hair from the Buddha.

Southeast Asia bucket list – Malaysia

Malaysia isn’t as popular on the backpack trail as Thailand or Bali and it’s underrated in a totally different way to Laos and Cambodia. It’s modern and developed with higher prices and more English spoken than the countries above.

Read next: a complete 2 week Malaysia itinerary

Malaysia has a bit of everything from glitzy cities, heritage towns like Georgetown and spectacular nature. Large Chinese and Indian communities mean there are Hindu temples, Buddhist temples (like Kek Lok Si ), churches and mosques. Don’t miss…

47. Street art in Georgetown

Asia bucket list penang street art

Thanks to an artist named Ernest Zacharevic, Malaysia has become a street art hub. Some of the best pieces can be found in Georgetown, the capital of Penang Island. These interactive works of art incorporate real furniture and bicycles which can be sat upon for photo opportunities. An afternoon exploring Penang street art is time well spent.

48. Drink with a skyline view of the Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers Malaysia

Briefly the tallest set of buildings in the world, the iconic Petronas Towers remain dominate KL’s skyline. While you can head to the pricey sky deck at the top, I would recommend instead visiting SkyBar on the 33rd floor of Traders Hotel. This bar opposite offers unrivalled views of the towers while you sip your drink.

49. Visit a Malaysian Chinatown

Some of the best food and most colourful temples in Malaysia can be found in Chinatowns. I’ve visited these in Kuala Lumpur , Ipoh, Melaka and Penang. Eat Hainanese chicken rice, wander incense-lined Taoist temples and observe the Chinese Malay community going about their daily lives.

50. Eat everything in Penang

Penang street food Malaysia

Penang Island, in particular the city of Georgetown, is known as one of the foodie capitals of Southeast Asia. As well as modern Penang cafes , you’ll find endless Penang street food including char koay teow (flat stir-fry noodles with prawns), assam laksa (tamarind noodle soup), Indian-inspired roti canai and Chinese-inspired wantan mee noodles and chee cheong fun. There’s also plenty of healthy food in Penang if you need to detox after.

51. Visit the colourful Batu Caves

Batu Caves Malaysia

This colourful destination just outside of Kuala Lumpur is the most iconic place in Malaysia, especially since it got a facelift. A few years ago, the huge staircase leading up to the gold statue and set of limestone caves was painted in rainbow colours. The Batu Caves make for a fantastic photoshoot, especially if you beat the crowds and get there early.

52. Visit communities of sea gypsies in Semporna, Borneo

One of the most unique things to do in Southeast Asia is visit communities of sea gypsies off the coast of Malaysian Borneo. The Bajau Laut are a nomadic community who spend most of their lives at sea, rarely setting foot on dry land. The best way to visit them is by booking a dive or boat trip from Semporna.

53. Wander charming Melaka

This quaint city halfway between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is known for its low-rise heritage houses and cultural blend of mosques and Chinese and Indian temples. Spend 1-2 days exploring the many things to do in Melaka which include eating delicious Melakan food along Jonker Street walk, spotting street art , taking a trip to Melaka Straits Mosque (known as the Floating Mosque) and hopping between the charming coffee shops in Melaka .

54. Walk canopy bridges in Taman Negara

Taman Negara things to do Southeast Asia

Taman Negara translates as ‘national park’ and is one of the best places to explore the sights and sounds of Malaysia’s 130 million-year-old rainforest. There’s a small village at its heart, Kuala Taman, which is best reached by riverboat. From here, you can experience daytime and nighttime nature walks, gingerly cross hanging bridges and observe the traditions of local tribespeople. There are even tigers in the forest but they’re very rare.

55. Visit endangered orangutans in Malaysian Borneo

As well as experiencing the culture of the Bajau Laut, one of the best things to do in Borneo is support orangutan conservation and observe these fascinating animals in their natural surroundings. Head to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan where orphaned orangutans are cared for. You can fly to Sandakan from Kuala Lumpur for $50 and it’s easy to reach the rehabilitation centre from the city.

56. Visit cave temples around Ipoh

With a similar small town vibe to Melaka, the sleepy city of Ipoh in Central Malaysia is another of my favourites in Southeast Asia. There are plenty of activities to enrich an Ipoh itinerary including posing with interactive street art on Market Lane and Mural Art’s Lane (don’t miss the Ernest Zacharevic street art in Ipoh ), eating delicious Indian and Chinese-inspired cuisine, and taking a trip to the atmospheric cave temples around Ipoh .

Southeast Asia bucket list – Singapore

I’d heard Singapore described as boring, expensive and polluted before my trip. I’ve since been three times and couldn’t disagree more! The tourist attractions and upmarket restaurants can be expensive but there’s also incredibly affordable (world-class) street food and lots of culture to be seen in Chinatown and Little India. I would recommend spending 2 days in Singapore to do the following things…

57. Eat the world’s cheapest Michellin star meal

The food in Singapore can’t be missed. You’ll find many dishes similar to those in Malaysia like laksa, kaya toast and nasi lemak, as well as Singapore classics like chilli pepper crab. Try the world’s cheapest Michellin star meal for less than $2 at Liao Fan Hawker Chan . They serve soya sauce chicken with rice or noodles which, to be honest, didn’t blow me away. Make your own mind up by ticking them off your Asia bucket list.

58. See the Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay Southeast Asia

The emblem for Singapore needs to be on your Southeast Asia bucket list. Wandering around beneath the 50m futuristic sky trees is surely how it feels to be an ant! You can go to the top for a cocktail and stick around in the evening for the OCBC Garden Rhapsody where thousands of colourful bulbs dance in time to music.

59. Wander colourful Koon Seng Road

Koon Seng Road Singapore

In addition to the Singapore street art , a colourful Singapore attraction is Koon Seng Road , a collection of Peranakan Chinese houses with photo-worthy windows, doors and shutters. Catch a bus or Uber there from central Singapore and spend a while wandering around.

60. Drink a Singapore sling

One of the fanciest things to do in Southeast Asia is surely visit Raffles Hotel for an iconic Singapore sling. This gin-based cocktail was invented in 1915 by bartender, Ngiam Tong Boon. Today, it’s popular for tourists to splash out $30 SGD to try one in its birthplace.

Southeast Asia bucket list – Indonesia

First thing’s first: Indonesia is so much more than just Bali! While many tourists deem Bali over-rated these days, I’ve enjoyed both my trips. As long you work a little harder, you can get off the tourist trail, for example the many hidden places in North Bali . Saying that, there are so many other worthwhile islands to visit in Indonesia; I loved my 2018 trip to Yogyakarta city on Java island, partly due to the delicious Javanese cuisine . Here are my top Southeast Asia bucket list items for Indonesia…

61. Snorkel with turtles off Gili T

Some of the best things to do in Southeast Asia are free, like grabbing a snorkel and sticking your head in the shallow waters surrounding Gili T. This small island is one of three in the Gili trio, just off the coast of larger Lombok. Gili T is home to enormous Green and Hawksbill turtles which you can see without an organised boat trip or diving tour.

62. Visit ancient temple site, Borobudur

tourist attractions of southeast asia

Borobudur temple site near Yogyakarta (on Java island) was high on my Southeast Asia bucket list after missing it during my first trip in 2015. When I finally made it to the world’s largest Buddhist temple site, it was just as magical as I’d expected. If you can, arrive in time to watch sunrise over the bell-shaped sculptures.

63. Hike Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo things to do Southeast Asia

Also on Java island, this active volcano is yet to be ticked off my Southeast Asia bucket list. Summiting 2,000m Mount Bromo requires a midnight start to reach the peak for sunrise. The views from the top over the surrounding volcanos within the Sea of Sand look truly mesmerising. If you don’t make it over to Java, hike Mount Batur as a day trip from Ubud instead.

64. Visit the colourful village of Malang, Java

There are few places in the world more colourful than Malang on the island of Java. Every house is a different rainbow hue and there’s plenty of street art in the alleyways. The best bit? Local’s painted it themselves as an inspiring community project. Malang would be a perfect stop if travelling Java overland as it sits between Yogyakarta city and Mount Bromo.

65. Take a yoga class in Bali

While Eat, Pray, Love is probably my least favourite film ever, you can’t deny it put Ubud on the map as a spiritual hub for yoga-loving expats. There are plenty of popular places in Ubud to take yoga classes, the best-known being The Yoga Barn . In north Ubud, there are studios where you can take classes amidst the rice fields.

66. Eat vegan food in Ubud

Vegan food Ubud Southeast Asia

For a break from the meaty street food of other Southeast Asian countries, tuck into the plant-free food of Ubud. From the stylish Ubud brunch cafes to local Balinese food , it’s all delicious. The best bit? If you eat at authentic warungs in Ubud , it’s very affordable. I ate pumpkin, coconut and jackfruit curries daily, washing them down with soya lattes and vegan cake at Ubud cafes like Sawobali . There’s also a lot of excellent vegan food in Canggu if you head over that way.

67. Find the hidden gems of Bali

After exploring the main things to do in Ubud and Canggu , you should venture further afield. Instagram feeds will show you well-photographed places like Lempuyang Temple but I preferred finding the lesser-known spots. Use my hidden gem Bali guide to shake off the crowds and find abandoned ghost hotels, sleepy beaches and hidden waterfalls.

68. Spot manta rays around the Nusa trio

Manta rays Southeast Asia bucket list

A bucket list experience in Indonesia is hopping the Nusa islands . In order of size, these are Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Here you can go snorkelling or diving with enormous manta rays. Nusa Lembongan is the most touristic Nusa Island which is why I’d recommend escaping to Nusa Penida too. Many people visit Penida as a speedboat day tour from Bali but if you have the time, it’s best to spend 3 days in Nusa Penida to explore fully. While staying on Lembongan, you can easily take a day trip across the Yellow Bridge to Nusa Ceningan by scooter or on foot.

69. See dragons on Komodo Island

Another item yet to be ticked off my Southeast Asia bucket list is Komodo Island. The island is home to 4,000 Komodo dragons, many measuring more than 3 metres in length. It can be tricky to visit Komodo Island on a budget but it is doable! I hope to get there someday soon.

70. Learn to surf

Bali is known for its fantastic surf. It’s a great place to ride waves whether you’re a beginner or pro. Uluwatu is known as an intermediate destination whereas Kuta and Canggu are perfect for beginners to take affordable lessons. Book a class here .

Southeast Asia bucket list – Philippines

Backpacking the Philippines was one of my favourite adventures during my first Southeast Asia trip. The diverse and friendly nation of the Philippines has over 7,000 islands so you should dedicate enough time to see a fair few, especially since getting between the islands can be long-winded.

71. Dive with Thresher Sharks on Malapascua island

Many of my favourite bucket list experiences in Southeast Asia involve the underwater world. The best was diving with rare Thresher sharks which can only be seen daily around Malapascua , a small Filipino island off the north coast of Cebu island. Don’t let the long journey from Cebu city deter you; not only is the diving amazing, but Malapascua is a little slice of paradise, worth a visit even for non-divers. Nearby Kalanggaman sandbar also shouldn’t be missed.

72. Visit the dancing jail in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

This won’t appear on many lists of things to do in Southeast Asia, yet I believe it deserves a slot. Palawan, the gritty capital of Puerto Princesa island, is little more than a stopover for many backpackers arriving by air and heading north to the beaches of El Nido. However, I spent a couple of weeks volunteering in Puerto Princesa and discovered Iwahig Prison where convicts perform daily dance shows to raise money for their rehabilitation. I stayed several hours after the show chatting with the prisoners (most of whom were detained for minor offences under the harsh Filipino justice system) and listening to them beatbox. They were so friendly; it’s something I’ll remember forever!

73. Trek the Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue rice terraces things to do Southeast Asia

Dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Banaue Rice Terraces are said to be so large they’d cover half the planet if laid out end-to-end. Rather than being a natural wonder, they were carved out by Filipino farmers around 2,000 years ago. You can reach Banaue from Manilla by 10-hour bus or 1-hour flight.

74. Island-hop in El Nido

El Nido Philippines

The most famous thing to do in the Philippines is island-hop around popular beach town, El Nido on Palawan island. It’s no longer a hidden gem: El Nido is very touristic and busy these days, but you can’t deny the turquoise waters and striking craggy islands are bucket list-worthy. You can choose between boat cruises A, B, C, D which can be booked in El Nido town.

75. Party in Borocay

I debated including this activity in my Southeast Asia bucket list. Borocay Island, AKA Filipino party central, is tacky as hell but I can’t deny I had a great time. Boracay was recently shut due to overtourism and pollution so make sure to visit responsibly, clean up after yourself and bring your own metal straw to reduce waste. As long as you do those things, there’s no shame in enjoying the hostels and bars of Borocay.

76. Visit a healer in Siquijor

Another off-beat thing to do in Southeast Asia is explore Siquijor island near Cebu. Not only is this a gorgeous and less touristic island with deals to be found on beach hotels, but you can also experience a unique part of the local culture: healing magic. There were no hospitals on the island until recently which is why the locals developed their own forms of medicine. Ask a local driver to take you up the hill at the centre of the island to visit a healer. My sister and I had our auras cleaned with bulo-bulo magic. I have no idea if it worked but at least it’s a tale to tell!

77. Dive a shipwreck in Coron

Shipwreck dive Coron Philippines Southeast Asia bucket list

Coron island north of Palawan is another of Southeast Asia’s best dive sites. If you’ve always wanted to dive a shipwreck, this is the place to do it. If you have time, catch a multi-day boat cruise from El Nido, sleeping on the boat and stopping to snorkel and fish.

78. Find the sardine run in Moalboal

One of the best things to do in Southeast Asia for nature lovers is find this famous shoal in Moalboal, Cebu. Although snorkelling for sardines may not sound in the same league as whale sharks and manta rays, this experience is incredible. I grabbed a snorkel and ducked my head underwater to find millions of shimmering sardines, moving together in complete symmetry. It was mesmerising.

Anywhere Southeast Asia bucket list

79. take a cooking class.

Cooking classes are fun anywhere in the world but they’re super affordable in Southeast Asia. So far, I’ve taken Vietnamese, Thai, Laos and Balinese cooking classes and I’d love to try some others, too. Often they include a colourful local market trip and, in Hoi An, even a boat ride to reach your cooking school. In Bangkok, you can even stay in a home cooking hostel .

80. Get stuck into hostel life

For the complete Southeast Asia experience, stay in hostels to meet other travellers and enjoy the nightlife. Many have private rooms so you don’t need to sleep in a room of ten smelly strangers if you don’t want to. Also, staying in hostels will stretch your Southeast Asia budget and keep you travelling for longer.

81. Learn at least a few words of a new language

Unlike travelling in South America, it’s not necessary to equip yourself with basic language skills in Southeast Asia. Languages vary between countries and even within countries. However, it’s best to be polite and learn a few hellos and thank yous. Here are a few ways to say hello: Xin Chao (Vietnamese). Sawasdee Ka (Thai). Om Swastiastu (Bali). Choum reap sor (Khmer).

82. Sample each country’s local beer

If you’re on a backpacker budget, you’ll want to drink whatever’s cheapest. This is always beer. Look out for the following: Saigon Beer (Vietnam). Bintang (Bali). Angkor Beer (Cambodia). Beer Lao (Laos).

83 – work online

If you’re thinking of starting a blog, passion project or anything else, the low living costs of Southeast Asia are undeniably appealing. Check out my nomad guides:

  • Digital nomad guide to Hoi An
  • Digital nomad guide to Penang .

To finish my guide, here are a few quick specific bucket list items!

Things to do in Asia for foodies

84. Take a night market food tour by Vespa (best in Vietnam!) 85. Buy lunch at a floating market in Thailand 86. Sample fresh crabs in Kep, Cambodia 87. Graze through the many night markets in Chiang Mai 88. Have a floating breakfast in Bali (one for Instagrammers!) 89. Flip your own banh xeo (crispy pancakes) in Hoi An, Vietnam 90. Sip refreshing Thai tea in Thailand 91. Eat halo halo in the Philippines 92. Experience the fear factor – try a cricket or a preserved ‘century egg’ in Thailand 93. Try smelly fruit, durian!

Things to do in Asia for adrenaline junkies

94. Kayak around Ha Long Bay, Vietnam 95. River raft the Ayung River in Bali 96. Rock climb in Railay and Ton Sai near Krabi, Thailand 97. Zip line above Langkawi, Malaysia 98. Go trekking in Northern Thailand 99. Try canyoning in Da Lat, Vietnam 100. Base jumping in Singapore (if you’re really brave!) 101. Try off-road biking in Laos

Need travel insurance? (if you’re travelling, you do!) I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote . For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing .

Things NOT to do in Southeast Asia

Don’t put paper in the toilets. Don’t drink the tap water. Avoid anything unethical with animals – this includes tiger temples, elephant rides , civic coffee plantations (also known as weasel poo coffee, a process where the animals are severely mistreated) and interacting with marine life in environments where they’re fed to alter their natural migration patterns. Do NOT treat locals like they’re there to accommodate your holiday or serve you. Don’t be rude or lose your temper if their English is limited. Don’t be a d*ick, basically.

Liked this? Check out my other bucket list guides: South Korea bucket list / Mexico bucket list

Essentials for Southeast travel

Copy of Lonely Planet Southeast Asia on a shoestring . Travel luggage – I use the Osprey Farpoint backpack ( men’s ) ( women’s ) A handy bum bag with secure zip to keep your belongings secure. A Combination padlock (ideal for hostel lockers) . A camera – I use the Sony DSC-HX350 Digital Compact Bridge Camera which I think is one of the most affordable options based on the zoom and quality of photos. A GoPro if you’re into making videos – I use the HERO8 Black . Solo travel pick: a tripod or mini GorillaPod to get yourself in the shot – I use the Manfrotto tripod and Joby Gorillapod .

Sustainable items

Sadly, Southeast Asia is one of the world areas in the world for plastic pollution and many bars and street food vendors serve everything in single-use plastic. To reduce your carbon footprint, bring your own:

Stainless steel reusable water bottle that you can fill up with filtered water (your accommodation will have this).

Alternatively, a filtering water bottle that allows you to safely drink tap water Reusable coffee cup (collapsable) for hot takeaway drinks.

Reusable Tupperware box  for takeaway and leftover food and a  reusable bamboo cutlery set .

Metal straw kit with straw cleaner and cloth bag to reduce the use of plastic straws

How many of these Southeast Asia bucket list activities have you done? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Thanks for reading!

For more travel content, follow me on Instagram , Facebook , Twitter and YouTube .

If you liked it, please share it 🙂

See you next time for more adventures,

Ps. Pin this for later!

Southeast Asia bucket list

Rose is a solo traveller from the UK who has been on the road since 2015. She wants to show other women that solo travel isn't scary and doesn't have to be expensive! Rose has lived in Mexico, Canada and all over Asia, seeking out food, bubble tea and street art wherever she goes!

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51 Best Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

Best Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia is an enchanting tapestry of modern cities, ancient wonders and sprawling wilderness.

Think you know it all? Think again. Veering off the tourist trails reveals the true spirit of this diverse region, and trust us, it’s a treasure trove.

Beyond the lively metropolises, you’ll find a mosaic of arts and history, with gems like Borobudur and the Angkor temples. And oh, the cuisine! From street food stalls to upscale eateries, your taste buds are in for a treat.

Natural wonders? They’re in abundance. Halong Bay’s cliffs, Bali’s rice terraces and more are waiting just around the corner.

So, dive deep into the best places to visit in Southeast Asia , where nature and rich heritage blend into a thrilling adventure.

1 – Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

In Bangkok, bustling street markets and ancient temples vie for space among towering skyscrapers.

Admire the gilded splendor of the Grand Palace and Wat Arun , and get lost in the labyrinthine Chatuchak Weekend market.

Embark on a delicious food tour in this bustling Asian metropolis, with the options ranging from grabbing a tasty Pad Thai from a roadside stall, to enjoying the growing fine dining scene.

This city of contrasts blends the old with the new, offering explorers an exciting adventure at its heart.

  • Bangkok tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Bangkok and best day trips from Bangkok

2 – Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Bali, the enchanting island of the Gods, where the verdant landscape of terraced rice paddies meets the golden hue of pristine beaches, captivating at every turn.

In this tropical nirvana, the sacred intertwines with the everyday, presenting a unique blend of culture and nature. Delve into the spiritual core of Bali at Tanah Lot and Uluwatu Temples, perched precariously on rugged cliff edges overlooking the Indian Ocean, their mystical charm only amplified by the dramatic sunsets.

Ubud , the cultural heart of the island, invites you to stroll through the vibrant art markets or discover tranquility in the Sacred Monkey Forest. For those in pursuit of serenity, the placid Lake Batur, encased by the towering Mount Batur, provides an idyllic retreat.

Venture to Seminyak and Kuta for an exhilarating mix of lively beach clubs and impressive surf spots.

Feast on a plethora of food experiences in Bali, from warung-served sate to high-end Indonesian fusion cuisine, encapsulating the rich flavors of the archipelago. From rejuvenating yoga retreats amidst lush landscapes to the rhythmic beat of traditional Kecak dance shows , Bali offers a kaleidoscope of experiences that enchant, stimulate, and inspire.

See also:  Fun things to do in Bali , Best places to visit in Bali

3 – Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, where the turquoise water hugs the golden sand.

Explore the famous Phi Phi Islands , soak in the vibrant offshore coral gardens, or simply relax on Patong Beach.

The Chinese-Portuguese architecture of Phuket Old Town offers a surprising cultural contrast, while the bustling night market serves up a variety of flavors on a food tour.

Don’t miss the impressive Big Buddha , a symbol of the island’s spirituality. From adventurous water sports to breathtaking sunsets, Phuket promises a diverse and exciting experience.

  • Phuket tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Phuket , Best boat trips in Phuket with map , Best day trips from Phuket

4 – Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

Located at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, Luang Prabang is a jewel of history.

The city’s golden temples, such as Wat Xieng Thong, exude peace, while the Royal Palace Museum offers a glimpse into its regal past.

Stroll through the evening handicraft market and don’t miss the magical beauty of Kuang Si Waterfall .

From participating in ceremonies that celebrate dawn to exploring local Laotian cuisine in one of the many food tours!

Luang Prabang offers a soul-soothing retreat.

  • Luang Prabang tours

5 – Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui

Replete with emerald waters and lush landscapes, Koh Samui is a tropical adventure every day.

Relax on Chaweng Beach and admire the famous Big Buddha temple. Take a sightseeing tour to discover the mysteries of hidden Buddhist gardens tucked away in the hills, or visit the bustling Fisherman’s Village for a taste of local life.

Don’t forget the meal scene, where there are many gastronomic experiences in Ko Samui. From spicy curries at beachside restaurants to international cuisine at luxury resorts, Koh Samui has something for everyone.

  • Koh Samui tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Koh Samui

6 – Pattaya, Thailand

Pattaya, Thailand

With azure waters and sunny beaches, Pattaya is a paradise for those seeking both relaxation and adventure.

Admire the stunning Sanctuary of Truth , a testament to Thai craftsmanship, or immerse yourself in the botanical wonderland of Nong Nooch Tropical Garden .

With a vibrant nightlife on the Walking Street and many shows in Pattaya, the city offers an abundance of entertainment

Of course, the bustling Jomtien Night Market offers plenty of delicious food, from the market to fine dining experiences in Pattaya.

Not far from the hustle and bustle of the city, the tranquility of Buddha Mountain awaits.

Indeed, from its bustling city center to its picturesque suburbs, Pattaya has a world to discover.

  • Pattaya tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Pattaya

7 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

At the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, Phnom Penh is a city of vivid contrasts.

Explore the majestic Royal Palace , the solemn Killing Fields , and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum , each telling a different story about Cambodia’s past.

Stroll through the bustling Central Market to discover unique handicrafts and savor the city’s delicious cuisine in one of many food tours, a fusion of Khmer traditions and French influences.

Phnom Penh’s vibrant charm and captivating history make for an immersive experience.

  • Phnom Penh tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Phnom Pehn

8 – Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, a city imbued with age-old architecture and contemporary fervor, presents an eternal charm, making it one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia.

The narrow streets of the Old Quarter are filled with dynamic energy, echoes of its historic past can be felt in every corner.

The calm waters of Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the peaceful atmosphere of the Temple of Literature speak to the city’s vast heritage.

Enjoy a food tour with steaming hot pho in a bustling street restaurant or watch a traditional water puppet show .

A harmonious blend of French colonial influences and Asian descent, Hanoi captivates and leaves lasting impressions.

  • Hanoi tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Hanoi

9 – Malacca, Malaysia

Malacca, Malaysia

Discover a melding of past and present in the historic city of Malacca.

Stroll down Jonker Street, lined with antique shops and night markets, and explore the iconic A’Famosa Fortress and the Dutch-inspired Stadthuys.

Be sure to sample the city’s unique cuisine, a fusion of Malay, Chinese and Portuguese influences.

Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a treasure trove of cultural experiences. From a romantic Malacca River cruise  to the colorful costumes at Nyonya dance performances, you’ll encounter a city steeped in heritage.

  • Malacca tours

10 – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Under the gaze of majestic Doi Suthep , Chiang Mai offers a peaceful retreat.

Explore the ancient capital, visit tranquil temples such as Wat Chedi Luang, and take traditional cooking classes .

In the evening, stroll through the bustling Warorot Market and discover a new world of flavors with some amazing food tours.

Immerse yourself in its cultural offerings, from the vibrant Songkran Festival to the tranquil Lanna Folk Museum.

Chiang Mai is a city that rewards those who delve deep into its character.

  • Chiang Mai tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Chiang Mai

11 – Vientiane, Laos

Vientiane, Laos

Blending traditional Laotian rhythms with French colonial influences, Vientiane is a fascinating city to explore.

Embark on a city tour to discover the golden glow of the national symbol, Pha That Luang, and the intricate details of Wat Si Saket, the city’s oldest surviving temple.

Stroll through the bustling morning market and admire the Patuxai monument, which is inspired by the Arc de Triomphe.

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the mesmerizing Mekong River sunset. Vientiane is a multi-sensory city that offers cultural experiences with a relaxed atmosphere.

  • Vientiane tours

12 – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia

The gateway to the majestic Angkor Wat , Siem Reap is a city of wonders.

Explore the spectacular ruins of this ancient temple complex, an architectural marvel that needs no introduction.

Visit a floating village on Tonle Sap Lake or immerse yourself in Cambodia’s art scene at Artisan’s Angkor. Try going on a pub crawl in the Pub Street which is guaranteed to offer a vibrant and unique experience, local markets are brimming with Khmer crafts and flavors, get to know these crafts and flavors on a unique food tour.

More than just a stepping stone to Angkor, Siem Reap is a melting pot of cultures in its own right.

  • Siem Reap tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Siem Reap

13 – Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok, Indonesia

A tranquil paradise of turquoise waters and green hills, Lombok offers an idyllic escape.

Hike the majestic Mount Rinjani , soak up the sun on the pristine beaches of the Gili Islands , or discover the indigenous culture at the Sasak village .

With vibrant coral reefs and tranquil waterfalls, Lombok is a place for both adventure and relaxation.

  • Lombok tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Lombok

14 – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Past and future converge in Ho Chi Minh City, a metropolis of colonial architecture and sophisticated skyscrapers.

Experience its rich history at the War Remnants Museum and Independence Palace, or explore the maze of Cu Chi Tunnels .

Join a food tour in Ho Chi Minh City to sample fragrant pho or head to Ben Thanh Market for local sweets and trinkets.

From bustling streets to quiet pagodas, Ho Chi Minh City offers an exciting journey of discovery.

  • Ho Chi Minh City tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Ho Chi Minh CIty

15 – Bohol, Philippines

Bohol, Philippines, Southeast Asia

Easily reached on a day trip from Cebu, Bohol is rich in natural heritage, home to the famous Chocolate Hills and adorable tarsiers.

Stroll along the white sandy beaches, soak in colorful coral gardens and visit the atmospheric Hinagdanan Caves.

A visit to the 16th-century Baclayon Church provides a glimpse into the region’s Spanish influence.

Whether you seek adventure or serenity, Bohol offers a rich island experience.

16 – El Nido, Philippines

El Nido, Philippines

Welcome to El Nido, the crown jewel of the Philippines, where limestone cliffs tower majestically over turquoise lagoons, hiding secret beaches and enchanting coves.

Here, an island-hopping boat tour is more than just an activity, it’s a voyage of discovery through an aquatic wonderland. Dive beneath the crystal-clear waters to explore an underwater paradise teeming with vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life.

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the hidden lagoons, and make sure to book a sightseeing tour so you don’t miss this one!

Where the silence is broken only by the soft lapping of azure waters against the kayak. Traverse the lush trails of Cadlao Island for panoramic vistas that capture the raw beauty of this tropical utopia.

As the sun dips, dine on fresh catch-of-the-day, grilled to perfection under a canopy of stars.

From the awe-inspiring Big Lagoon to the shimmering sands of Nacpan Beach, El Nido is a spicy cocktail of adventure and relaxation that leaves you yearning for another sip.

  • El Nido tours

17 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Under a skyline dotted with glittering skyscrapers, Kuala Lumpur thrives.

The Petronas Twin Towers , a symbol of Malaysia`s ambition, soar over the city, while beneath, bustling street markets like Jalan Alor burst with flavor and color.

Don’t forget to stroll through the historic streets of the Old Town and the historic ‘Merdeka Square’.

Grab a bite of Indian Curry on a food tour, experience a mix of cultures with a Chinese temple there and a Malay art gallery just nearby.

For a different experience, Leave the city behind and venture to Batu Caves , a sanctuary of nature and spirituality.

Kuala Lumpur’s diversity is truly a feast for the senses.

  • Kuala Lumpur tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Kuala Lumpur

18 – Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia

Unparalleled exploration awaits in the heart of Penang, where multicultural heritage comes alive.

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town, where colonial architecture and street art tell the story of the city’s past.

Discover the spiritual side of Penang at the gorgeous Kek Lok Si Temple , a hilltop sanctuary of tranquility. Let your taste buds lead the way as Gurney Drive is famous for its delicious street food gastronomic experiences.

A melting pot of traditions, cultures and cuisines, Penang offers a unique blend of experiences for every traveler.

  • Penang tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Penang

19 – Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, Thailand

Krabi is a seaside paradise with limestone cliffs jutting into emerald waters, perfect for beach lovers.

Go island hopping in the Andaman Sea, sunbathe on the shores of Railay Beach or explore the charming Thung Teao Forest Nature Park.

Dive into vibrant coral reefs or hike to Tiger Cave Temple for panoramic views.

Combining adventure and relaxation, Krabi is a must-visit destination.

  • Krabi tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Krabi

20 – Singapore

Singapore

From its futuristic gardens to its towering skyscrapers, Singapore is a wonder that bridge East and West.

Explore the diverse neighborhoods of Little India , the vibrant colors of Chinatown , and the historic shops and vibrant nightlife of Clark’s Quay, with many music and shows, creating an enchanting cityscape.

Marina Bay Sands and Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay are must-sees.

Don’t forget the Hawker Centre, where you can enjoy myriad flavors. Singapore is much more than just its skyline. A hidden gem awaits the adventurous.

See also:  Fun things to do in Singapore

  • Singapore tours

21 – Langkawi, Malaysia

Langkawi, Malaysia

An archipelago of 99 islands, Langkawi offers a buffet of natural and cultural attractions.

Climb a skybridge or ride the Langkawi Cable Car for panoramic views or explore the mesmerizing mangroves at Kilim Geoforest Park.

Immerse yourself in local legends at Eagle Square or relax on the sandy beaches of Pantai Cenang.

With its diverse landscapes and bustling night markets, Langkawi offers a wide range of experiences.

  • Langkawi tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Langkawi

22 – Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is alive with history and culture, with lantern-lit streets and centuries-old architecture.

Stroll through the ancient city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or explore the lush rice paddies nearby.

A cooking class introduces you to the culinary heart of Vietnam as you cruise along the Thu Bon River and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

With the vibrant streets of Da Nang and the imperial majesty of Hue just a short drive away, a visit to Hoi An promises a rich experience.

  • Hoi An tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Hoi An

23 – Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville, where the Khmer spirit blends seamlessly with pristine natural beauty, is a beach lover’s paradise nestled in South West of Cambodia.

Saunter along the soft, white sands of Otres Beach, where the turquoise waves of the Gulf of Thailand whisper tales of serenity.

Witness the golden sun sinking into the ocean’s embrace from the lively Serendipity Beach, dotted with vibrant beach bars.

Go on a food tour and indulge in the flavors of Khmer cuisine at local markets or beachfront eateries, savoring everything from amok to kampot pepper crab. From fiery sunsets to fiery curries, Sihanoukville provides a tantalizing escape that sets the senses alight.

  • Sihanoukville tours

24 – Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos

Beneath towering karst peaks, Vang Vieng captivates with its wild beauty.

Go on a kayaking tour along the serpentine Nam Song River, explore the mystical Tham Phu Kham Cave, or seek the thrill of rock-climbing.

Dine on fiery Laotian cuisine, setting your senses ablaze, or relax at a riverside bar under a sunset-painted sky.

From adrenaline-fueled exploits to its pulsating nightlife, Vang Vieng promises an intoxicating adventure, the perfect blend of natural allure and exciting escapades.

  • Vang Vieng tours

25 – Ko Lipe, Thailand

Ko Lipe, Thailand

A jewel in the Andaman Sea, Koh Lipe promises a paradisical retreat.

Snorkel among vibrant coral reefs, lounge on powdery beaches and explore the local Chao Lay community for an authentic experience.

Small but abundant, Koh Lipe is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

26 – Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon, one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia, is a city that captivates with its blend of British colonial architecture, radiant pagodas, and diverse experiences.

Be awestruck by the golden splendor of Shwedagon Pagoda , immerse yourself in the lively energy of Bogyoke Market in one of the many food tours, and find tranquility by the serene Kandawgyi Lake.

As Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon effortlessly merges the pulse of modern life with deep-rooted culture and history, offering an authentic peek into the heart of this enchanting country.

  • Yangon tours

27 – Boracay, Philippines

Boracay, Philippines

Nestled in the azure waters of the Western Visayas region, Boracay is a tropical paradise known for its powdery white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters.

Beyond its vibrant nightlife and watersports, there are many attractions waiting to be discovered.

Explore the stunning beauty of Puka Shell Beach, a tranquil retreat known for its unique shells, or visit the tranquil Ilig Iligan Beach, a hidden gem perfect for snorkeling tours.

For panoramic views of the island, a hike to Mount Luho, the island’s highest peak, is a must see. Experience the excitement of kitesurfing at Bulabog Beach. Embark on a mesmerizing paragliding experience at sunset and admire the breathtaking colors of the sky.

After a long day, enjoy fresh seafood at the D’Talipapa Market. Choose your meal at the bustling seafood bazaar. From adventures to tranquil excursions, Boracay offers wealth of experiences for all types of travelers.

  • Boracay tours

28 – Sa Pa, Vietnam

Sa Pa, Vietnam

Located in the northern highlands of Vietnam, Sa Pa is a perfect blend of natural wonder and cultural diversity.

A mosaic of rolling hills, rice terraces and rugged mountain peaks create a landscape of magical beauty.

Trek through the Muong Hoa Valley and marvel at the majestic Fansipan, the roof of Indochina.

Experience local life in the rustic villages of Tapin and Cat Cat, home to Red Dao and Hmong communities, where centuries-old traditions are still part of daily life.

Don’t miss the bustling Sapa Market, embark on a food tour, which features a colorful display of local handicrafts and fresh produce.

Boasting stunning landscapes and rich culture, Sapa is a paradise of discovery.

  • Sa Pa tours

29 – Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar

Step into the timeless world of Bagan, where more than 2,000 ancient pagodas and temples dot the skyline.

Pass the impressive Ananda Temple or climb Shwesandaw Pagoda for a breathtaking sunset. Beyond its spiritual heritage, Bagan also offers opportunities to explore traditional Burmese handicrafts at morning markets.

Visit Mount Popa , an extinct volcano with a monastery atop it, or delve into Bagan’s rich history at the Archaeological Museum.

Looking for a unique experience? Book a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Bagan temples.

  • Bagan tours

30 – Borneo, Malaysia

Borneo, Malaysia, Southeast Asia

Heed the call of the wild in Borneo, a nature lover’s paradise.

Hike through the dense rainforest of Danum Valley, home to diverse wildlife including orangutans, pygmy elephants and clouded leopards.

Visit the sacred summit of Mount Kinabalu or step into the underground wonders of Deer Cave.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant seas of Sipadan Island or float down the Kinabatangan River to see the wildlife along the coast. Experience the unique culture of the indigenous people at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Rich in biodiversity and traditional heritage, Borneo promises unforgettable adventures.

31 – Kuantan, Malaysia

Kuantan, Malaysia

Discover a charming sanctuary in Kuantan, where sparkling beaches and a rich heritage beckon visitors.

Soak up the sun at Teluk Chempedak, visit the magnificent Sultan Ahmad Shah State Mosque.

Enjoy rich local cuisine at night markets and take a river cruise through mangrove forests.

Kuantan offers an exhilarating journey that combines natural beauty with cultural experiences.

  • Kuantan tours

32 – Palawan, Philippines

Palawan, Philippines

An oasis of pristine beaches and azure waters, Palawan will enchant any explorer.

Discover the UNESCO-listed underground rivers of Puerto Princesa and the spectacular lagoons of El Nido.

Dive in the middle of Tubbataha Reef or immerse yourself in the culture of local tribes.

Seek ultimate tranquility and relax on the shores of Coron Island. With its diverse marine life and breathtaking scenery, Palawan is a tropical utopia.

  • Palawan tours

See also:  Fun things to do in Puerto Princesa

33 – Kuching, Malaysia

Kuching,  Malaysia

Offering a medley of culture and history, the city of Kuching is a fascinating travel destination.

Visit the Sarawak Museum, the bustling Main Bazaar and the graceful Kuching Mosque.

Stroll along the waterfront, taste Sarawak Laksa and explore Bako National Park.

A gateway to modern city life and pristine nature, Kuching has a variety of attractions to satisfy any curiosity.

  • Kuching tours

34 – Nusa Islands, Indonesia

Nusa Islands, Indonesia

A charming trio near Bali, the Nusa Islands are a treasure trove of natural wonders.

From the pristine beaches of Nusa Lembongan to the rugged cliffs of Nusa Penida and the serene atmosphere of Ceningan Island, each isle has its own charm.

Swim with manta rays, explore the Blue Lagoon, or climb the Kelingking ‘T-rex’ cliffs for panoramic views.

The Nusa Islands promise an unforgettable island-hopping adventure.

See also: Best boat trips in Bali

35 – Komodo, Indonesia

Komodo, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

With its roaming dragons and sparkling pink beaches, Komodo is a world of adventure.

Come face-to-face with ancient Komodo dragons, dive into the colorful underwater world of the Coral Triangle and navigate rugged terrain.

Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Pink Beach or hike to Padar Island for breathtaking views.

Komodo is more than just a tourist destination. It’s a leap into the realm where nature reigns supreme.

36 – Perhentian Island, Malaysia

Perhentian Island, Malaysia

The Perhentian Islands rank high on the list of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia, especially for those who adore coastal retreats.

Especially for those who love seaside hideaways. Immerse yourself in the vibrancy of coral reefs with snorkeling, see vibrant marine life with a dive or find tranquility on picturesque beaches.

These islands cater to adventure seekers and peace seekers alike. Create an enchanting vacation and add a touch of magic to your Southeast Asian trip.

37 – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Yogyakarta is a city where tradition melds with modernity to create a rich culture.

Explore the magnificence of Borobudur Temple , the world’s largest Buddhist monument, or discover the intricacies of Hindu mythology at Prambanan Temple .

Wander the bustling streets, sample local delicacies and soak up Javanese art at bustling markets.

Yogyakarta is a journey into the soul of Indonesia.

  • Yogyakarta tours

See also: Fun & unusual things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

38 – Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Kanchanaburi, Thailand

A city full of history and natural beauty, Kanchanaburi is a captivating travel destination.

Visit the solemn Death Railway and the moving War Cemetery, symbols of its wartime past.

From admiring the beauty of the seven-tiered Erawan Waterfall to exploring the ancient ruins of Prasat Muang Singh, Kanchanaburi offers a deep dive into Thailand’s past and its enchanting landscapes.

  • Kanchanaburi tours

39 – Phú Quốc, Vietnam

things to do in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

With its tropical forests meeting white-sand beaches, Phu Quoc may look like something out of a dream. But this island is even more spectacular than you could imagine.

Discover the magical beauty of Suoi Chan Waterfall, immerse yourself in a food tour at Duong Dong Market, and learn about the island’s past at the Phu Quoc Prison Museum.

Dive among vibrant coral reefs, relax on the scenic Bai Sao Beach and enjoy fresh seafood at Ham Ninh Fishing Village.

Don’t forget to visit the local pepper plantations and the famous Phu Quoc National Park. With its laid-back charm and pristine beauty, Phu Quoc is a hidden paradise waiting to be discovered.

  • Phú Quốc tours

See also: Fun & unusual things to do in Phu Quoc, Vietnam

40 – Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand

Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand, Southeast Asia

An island where full moon parties light up the night and quiet beaches soothe the soul, Koh Pha Ngan is a dream destination.

Dance under the stars at Haad Rin, rejuvenate at a yoga retreat or immerse yourself in the colorful underwater world around Sail Rock.

Explore the lush Than Sadet National Park or seek tranquility at Wat Phu Khao Noi.

Enjoy fresh seafood at Thong Sala Night Market and go on a kayaking tour at Aonai Wok. Whether you’re looking for a party, nature or spiritual exploration, Koh Pha Ngan offers a variety of exciting experiences.

  • Ko Pha Ngan tours

41 – Ha Long, Vietnam

Ha Long, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay is a natural wonder, with thousands of limestone karsts rising from emerald waters.

Cruise among picturesque islands, explore the fascinating Sung Sot Caves and visit floating villages.

From kayaking tours through towering karst terrain to hiking in Cat Ba National Park, Ha Long Bay offers a dreamy trip through Vietnam’s iconic landscapes.

  • Ha Long tours

See also:  Best Ha Long Bay luxury cruises

42 – Ko Chang, Thailand

Ko Chang, Thailand, Southeast Asia

An island of serene beauty where rainforests cover rugged mountains and white sandy beaches spill into azure waters, Koh Chang is a breathtaking spectacle.

Explore the dense trails of Mu Koh Chang National Park, dive into the mesmerizing Klong Phlu Waterfall or simply soak up the sun on the beach.

Adventure-seekers can immerse themselves among vibrant coral reefs, while tranquility-seekers can find peace in quiet fishing villages.

From seafood festivals to elephant trekking and firefly watching at Salak Phet, Koh Chang is an island full of diverse attractions just waiting to be discovered.

  • Ko Chang tours

43 – Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

With emerald waters crashing against stunning limestone cliffs, the Phi Phi Islands offer a captivating cocktail of beauty and adventure.

Explore enchanting Maya Bay, snorkel the colorful reefs, or hike to Phi Phi Viewpoint for breathtaking views.

Relax at Monkey Beach or dance the night away at the lively beach bars. Combining leisure and thrills, the idyllic Phi Phi Islands will leave you wanting more.

44 – Hua Hin, Thailand

Hua Hin, Thailand

Royal tradition? Enchanting beaches? Hua Hin has it all.

Book a food tour and stroll through the bustling night market, walk along the historic Hua Hin Train Station and visit the Mrigadayavan Palace.

Relax on Hua Hin’s pristine beaches, play a round of golf or explore the breathtaking Phraya Nakhon Caves.

Offering a relaxed atmosphere and a touch of luxury, Hua Hin is a unique seaside experience.

  • Hua Hin tours

45 – Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

A seaside gem where rusty hills mingle with turquoise waters, Mui Ne promises an unforgettable vacation.

Explore otherworldly landscapes of white and red sand dunes, visit Fairy Stream, and explore local fishing villages.

Kitesurf over the vibrant waters or sample the region’s freshest seafood.

Mui Ne is an oasis of tranquil scenery and exhilarating experiences.

46 – Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

An archipelago of colorful biodiversity, Raja Ampat is a diver’s paradise.

Admire the diverse marine life, explore Mysore Island or sail to the enchanting Pianemo Islands.

Hike through lush rainforest to see unique wildlife and discover the ancient petroglyphs of Misool.

Raja Ampat offers unparalleled underwater exploration and awe-inspiring natural beauty.

See also: Most beautiful places in Asia

47 – Panay, Philippines

Panay, Philippines

There’s always something new to discover on Panay Island, whether it’s cultural traditions or natural wonders.

Wander the enchanting streets of Iloilo City, hike to the breathtaking Nadsadjan Falls, or explore the scenic rice terraces of Banaue.

Don’t miss Kalibo’s vibrant Ati Atihan Festival, a colorful celebration of the island’s indigenous culture.

A fascinating blend of history, nature and culture, Panay is rich in experiences.

  • Panay tours

48 – Kampot, Cambodia

Kampot, Cambodia

Kampot is a city of subtle charm that blends Cambodian countryside tranquility with French colonial influence.

Wander the quiet streets, sail the Kampot River and explore the mystical Phnom Chung Ngok Cave Temple.

Taste the famous Kampot peppers from a local farm and don’t forget to learn about the city’s vibrant food scene.

Kampot is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life, offering an enchanting glimpse into Cambodia.

49 – Sarawak, Malaysia

Sarawak, Malaysia

In the land where verdant rainforests play host to a symphony of wildlife, Sarawak is a dream for the intrepid explorer.

Make your way to Niah National Park, where the grand Niah Cave awaits. Venture into this prehistoric wonder, where ancient cave paintings and archeological discoveries whisper tales of civilizations past. The cave’s immense chambers and surreal stalactite formations are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Feast on a medley of flavors at a local hawker center, where Sarawak laksa and kolo mee offer a tantalizing taste of the region’s culinary diversity. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie, Sarawak, with its cultural tapestry and natural splendor, provides a captivating adventure that defies expectations.

  • Sarawak tours

50 – Cebu, Philippines

Cebu, Philippines, Southeast Asia

Where cerulean seas caress sugar-white beaches, Cebu is a tropical dream brought to life. This Philippine gem is a confluence of diverse experiences that set the senses ablaze.

Wander through the remnants of history in Fort San Pedro, where stone walls whisper tales of the past. Immerse in the city’s fervor at the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, especially during the vibrant Sinulog Festival.

But Cebu’s allure extends beyond the city’s bounds. Embark on a journey to Kawasan Falls , a cascading spectacle of pure nature nestled amidst verdant jungles. Dive into the clear waters of Moalboal, where swirling sardine shoals create an underwater spectacle.

Tantalize your taste buds with lechon, the island’s spicy, succulent roast pig, a gastronomic delight that’s equally fiery and addictive.

From the energetic beats of local street dances to the tranquil moments on secluded beaches, Cebu offers a sizzling blend of adventure, culture, and culinary wonders.

See also:  Fun things to do in Cebu

51 – Koh Lanta, Thailand

Koh Lanta, Thailand

Ah, Koh Lanta! This hidden jewel in Thailand’s crown is a breath of fresh air compared to its more bustling siblings.

Here, you’ll find beaches where the only footprints might be yours. Picture yourself lounging under a palm tree, the sea breeze gently teasing your hair, as the sun dips below the horizon in a spectacular show of colors.

It’s not just about lazy days, though; the local sea-gypsy culture offers a peek into a life beautifully untouched by time.

Think bustling markets, where the chatter and laughter are as colorful as the wares on display. And the food? Oh, it’s a dance of flavors – every bite tells a story of the sea and the island’s rich heritage.

Koh Lanta isn’t just a place; it’s a mood, a vibe, a slice of paradise that calls for those who yearn for a taste of the authentic Thai way of life.

Final thoughts

As we draw the curtains on this vibrant voyage, it’s our sincere hope that the best places to visit in Southeast Asia have kindled your wanderlust for this mesmerizing region.

From bustling metropolises and centuries-old landmarks to pristine nature and eclectic gastronomy, Southeast Asia offers something for every kind of traveler.

Soak up the sun on pristine beaches, seek tranquility in ancient temples, and enjoy delicious street food, each with its own unique insight into the diverse cultures that make up this dynamic region of the world. can be obtained.

Wherever your Southeast Asian excursion takes you, every moment will enrich the whole journey. We wish you a pleasant trip.

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  • 36 Best Places To Visit In Southeast Asia In 2024

16 Feb 2024

Be it the most beautiful beaches or the most unusual hills, the best places to visit in Southeast Asia have got it all. They are spellbinding, surreal & absolutely sensuous when it comes to satiating your desire for an impeccable holiday. And what makes them more special is the fact that most of these places can easily be explored in just a week. So, you don’t have to convince your boss or family too much because you’ll be back from these paradises before they know!

By offering a vast variety of options to travelers with destinations that are both rich in culture and history, Southeast Asia is undoubtedly the place to be. From being culturally rich to historically significant, these destinations await you with a lot of adventurous surprises in store.

36 Best Places To Visit In Southeast Asia

Here’s a list of the best countries in Southeast Asia for your next trip. Have a look, take your pick, pack your bags, and oh, don’t forget to take your camera because you surely wouldn’t want to miss capturing the heavenly sights.

  • Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia
  • Kota Kinabalu – Malaysia
  • Chiang Mai – Thailand
  • Phi Phi Islands – Thailand
  • Phuket – Thailand
  • Bali – Indonesia
  • Komodo – Indonesia
  • Gili Islands – Indonesia
  • Siem Reap – Cambodia
  • Phnom Penh – Cambodia
  • Ha Long Bay – Vietnam
  • Hanoi – Vietnam
  • Boracay – Philippines
  • Bohol – Philippines
  • Yangon – Myanmar
  • Si Phan Don – Laos
  • Vientiane – Laos
  • Sihanoukville – Cambodia
  • Sa Pa – Vietnam
  • Perehentian Island – Malaysia
  • Vang Vieng – Laos
  • Taman Negara – Malaysia
  • Lombok – Indonesia
  • Palawan – Philippines
  • Hoi An – Vietnam
  • Borneo – Malaysia
  • Luang Prabang – Laos
  • Borobudur – Java
  • Angkor – Cambodia
  • Inle Lake – Myanmar
  • Bagan – Myanmar
  • Timor-Leste
  • El Nido – Philippines
  • Penang – Malaysia

1. Singapore

singapore skyline at night, which is one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

Image Credit: ID 12019 for Pixabay

A well developed, technologically thriving city, Singapore is one of the famous places to visit in Southeast Asia. Be it a holiday with your family or a sweet getaway with your loved one, you can always count on this place for an exquisite experience. Isn’t it one of the best countries to visit in southeast Asia? Hands down, it is. The adventure activities in Singapore are galore.

Ideal for: Everyone who’s either a thrill seeker or an explorer Best time to visit: February to May Top things to do in Singapore : Visiting the Gardens By The Bay, taking a tour of Bintan Island, exploring Sentosa, shopping at Bugis Street, visiting the Casino in Marina Bay Sands, and more. How to reach: Changi Airport is an international airport which is connected by all major airlines where flights ply regularly. Places to stay in Singapore : Checkers Backpackers, Hotel 81 Orchid, and Ibis Singapore Places to eat: Rhubarb, Ubi Place Eating House, and Zam Zam Restaurant Top attractions: Merlion, Universal Studios, Singapore Flyer & more Suggested duration: 5-6 days Language: English, Malay, Chinese Currency: Singapore Dollar (SGD)

Must Read: 54 Singapore Tourist Attractions 

A mesmerising view of brunei capital

Image Source

They say good things come in small packages. Brunei is that small package that will fill you with joyous wonders. It is one of the eleven countries in Southeast Asia and also among the best places to visit in Asia. Famous for oil and pangolin, Brunei will surprise you with an abundance of flora and virgin landscapes. Also, it is the best place to escape to if you hate crowds because the tourism in the region is still flourishing. If you are looking for places to visit in Asia in September , this could be it.

Ideal for: Nature lovers Best time to visit: June-September, January-May Top things to do: Explore rainforest, water villages, mosques, and beaches How to reach: Dubai, London and Singapore have direct flights to Brunei with layovers in Bangalore and Mumbai. Places to stay: Hostelite Brunei, The Brunei Homestay, Poni Homestay Places to eat: Singa Chicken Rice, Restoran Semporna Enak, Big Papa’s Restaurant Top attractions: Gadong Night Market, Kampong Iyer, Bandar Seri Begawan, Ulu Temburong National Park, Muara Beach Suggested duration: 7-8 days Language: Brunei Malay Currency: Brunei dollar (BND)

3. Timor-Leste

A picturesque view of Timor leste which is one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

Timor-Leste is one of the least heard southeast Asian countries to visit. The reason that it is so offbeat makes it intriguing to visit. Learn about the culture and tradition of this third country that will welcome you with picturesque beaches, lush flora, and rich experiences. This place is a heaven for the certified divers. It could be one of the most unique honeymoon destinations in Asia in summer .

Ideal for: Certified divers, nature lovers Best time to visit: April-July Top things to do: Whale watching, water sports, beach hopping How to reach: You will find the cheapest flights from Denpasar, Bali to Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. Places to stay: Da Terra Hostel & Snack bar, Atauro Dive Resort, Timor Plaza Hotels & Resort Places to eat: Agora Food Studio, Dilicious, Caravela, Dominican Cafe Top attractions: Atauro Island, Jaco Island, Baucau, Dili Suggested duration: 7-8 days Language: Portuguese, Tetun Currency: United States Dollar (USD)

Suggested Read: 37 Places To Visit In Myanmar 

Places To Visit In Southeast Asia – Malaysia

Here are the best tourist places in Malaysia that deserve your attention. You could either decide to tour them all at once or take your time to savour the beauty. The currency and language are the same all over Malaysia.

Language: Malay, Bahasa Malaysia Currency: Malaysian Ringgit

4. Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Tower overlook the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is another one of the happening southeast Asia destinations. The city which is also the capital of Malaysia, is a busy town. One of the top places to see in Southeast Asia, the capital is known for shopping and amazing culinary scenes. Enjoy a family vacation here and if you like some adventure, then trek to the spectacular Batu Caves. There are plenty of day trips for couples in Kuala Lumpur for a serene getaway.

Ideal for: Those who are looking for a luxurious vacay Best time to visit: May to July and December to February Top things to do in Kuala Lampur : Visiting Petronas Twin Towers, exploring Batu Caves, shopping at Bukit Bintang, and more. How to reach: The Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in Sepang is 50 km from the city centre and boasts modern facilities. It is well-connected with major international carriers.  Places to stay in Kuala Lampur : Regalia Suites, Furama Bukit Bintang and Sunshine Bedz Kuala Lumpur Places to eat: Fuego at Troika Sky Dining, Quivo Restaurant, and Iketeru Top attractions in Kuala Lampur : Central Market, Menara, Dataran Merdeka, and more Suggested duration: 4-5 days

5. Kota Kinabalu 

kota kinabalu is counted among the top places to visit in Southeast Asia

Apart from Kuala Lumpur and the Perhentian Islands, if there’s one place in Malaysia that has got it all, it’s Kota Kinabalu. Bustling markets, modern boardwalks, beaches, and mosques are some of the top attractions of this city that would make it the most beautiful places to visit in southeast Asia and your trip to this place absolutely soul-satisfying. There are so many things to do in Kota Kinabalu and never get bored of this place.

Ideal for: Those who love to relax, eat, and explore Best time to visit: January to March Top things to do: Conquering Mt. Kinabalu, exploring the beaches, island hopping, staying in a luxury resort, visiting the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, indulging in fresh seafood, and more How to reach: The best option to visit Kinabalu is through flights. Tourists can choose between three airlines that fly to and fro and take one and a half hours from Kuala Lumpur. Places to stay : Oceania Hotel, Borneo Tree House and Hilton Kota Kinabalu Places to eat: Yee Fung Laksa, Welcome Seafood Restaurant, Little Italy Top attractions: Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, Manukan Island, Tanjung Aru, Atkinson Clock Tower, and more Suggested duration : 2-3 days

Suggested Read: 10 Best Beach Honeymoon Destinations In Asia 

6. Perhentian Islands

A wonderful view of Perhentian Islands which is counted among the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

The Perhentian islands are a small group of coral-fringed islands that are situated off the coast of northeastern Malaysia. The islands are an ideal destination for backpacker travellers as it offers cheaper accommodations. The number of things to do in Perhentian Islands will blow your mind away.

Ideal for: Backpackers and offbeat vacationers Best time to visit: March to November Top things to do: Scuba diving, Snorkeling, Dinner at Santai, Jungle Trekking, beach hopping, and camping at Teluk KK. How to reach: You have 2 options to reach the Perhentian Islands. You can take a domestic flight or travel by road for 8 hours from Kuala Lumpur. Places to stay: Coral View Island Resort, Perhentian Island Resort, and Ombak Dive Resort Places to eat: Belinda Cafe, Bayu Restaurant, Ombak Cafe Top attractions: Turtle Beach, Teluk Keke, Lata Air Berani, and more Suggested duration: 4 days

7. Taman Negara 

An amazing view of Taman forest, one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

Located in the Titiwangsa Mountains in Malaysia, Taman Negara is a paradise for nature-lovers and eco-tourists. Those who think Malaysia is all about modern landscapes should come to this place to get a taste of Malaysia’s nature’s bounty.  It is the world’s oldest rain forest. If you are wondering where to go in southeast Asia, well, here is your answer.

Ideal for: Nature lovers Best time to visit: February-September Top things to do: Wildlife exploration, trekking, canopy walk, night jungle walk. How to reach: Taman Negara is easily accessible from the main city of Kuala Lumpur. You can drive for about 4 hours by car to reach here.  Places to stay : Mutiara Taman Negara, Xcape Resort Taman Negara Places to eat: Seri Mutiara Restaurant, Acah Corner, Mawar Floating Restaurant Top attractions: Mount Tahan, Lata Berkoh, Bukit Terisek, and more Suggested duration: 2 days

Suggested Read: 21 Malaysia Islands You Must Visit

A wonderful view of Borneo Island which is one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

There is no doubt that the third largest island in the world has various surprises for you. Known for its picture-perfect beaches, lush rainforests, and amazing wildlife, Borneo Island attracts nature lovers for a serene holiday. The island in Malaysia is perfect for spending some time amidst nature and evoke your love and gratitude for nature. If you want a break, then Borneo is one of the best places to travel in Southeast Asia.

Ideal for: Nature lovers and adventurous souls Best time to visit: March-October Top things to do: Climb Mt. Kilabanu, Spend a night on the desert island – Sabah, go diving in Sipadan Island How to reach: Flights are the best and only option. You can fly into Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu, Brunei’s Bandar Seri Begawan, and Sarawak’s Kuching on a direct flight. Places to stay : Sepilok Forest Edge Resort, The Waterfront Hotel, and Gaya Island Resort Places to eat: Ming Cafe, Tip Top Restaurant, Little Italy Top attractions: Gunung Mulu National Park, Tanjung Puting, Danum Valley Conservation Area, and more Suggested duration: 3-4 days

Places To Visit In Southeast Asia – Thailand

Since Thailand is a large group of enchanting islands, covering all of these at once is a mammoth task. Plus, to be able to enjoy each and every place, it is best if you traveled one at a time.

Language: Siamese  Currency: Thai Baht

9. Chiang Mai 

chiang mai thailand, one of the majestic places to visit in Southeast Asia

Located in mountainous northern Thailand, this city is a paradise on earth for both adventure lovers and shopaholics. From getting a Thai massage to exploring its various attractions, there’s a lot to do here making it one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia. You’d have the time of your life here not just during the daylight, but also after the sun goes down as this vibrant city has a lively nightlife. Considering the recent visitor trends, Thailand is gaining popularity as one of the best southeast Asia destinations for water adventures and island hopping.

Ideal for: Those who are looking for an adventurous yet blissful holiday Best time to visit: December to May Top things to do in Chiang Mai : Indulging in snorkeling, scuba diving & kayaking, witnessing the Namuang Waterfall, attending the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, enjoying a spa treatment, and more. How to reach: It takes approximately 15 hours to reach Chiang Mai from Bangkok. The best way to reach is by the express trains plying on a regular basis. Places to stay in Chiang Mai : Hollanda Montri Guesthouse, Rainforest Boutique Hotel, and ECO Resort Chiang Mai Places to eat: Tanita Coffee House, The Service 1921 Restaurant & Bar, B Samcook Home16 Top attractions: Wat Chedi Luang, Doi Suthep–Pui National Park, Tha Phae Gate, and more Suggested duration: 3-4 days

Suggested Read: 10 Places To Visit In Chiang Mai 

10. Phi Phi Islands 

couple on phi phi island beach

This is one of the most beautiful Southeast Asia destinations that should be on your list. Head here on your next vacation to spend time in the lush green environs. Relax at the spectacular sandy beaches and enjoy sunrise and sunset views. If you are an adventurous soul, then you can also enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving here. While you are it, you can also explore islands near Phi Phi on your tropical vacation.

Ideal for: Those who like thrilling water activities Best time to visit: November to April Top things to do: Snorkeling, beach hopping, relaxing at the beach, enjoying water activities and more How to reach: You can get to Phi Phi with ferries and speedboats. Either, Phuket or Krabi are the closest places to ply from – which takes round about 2 hours of travel. Places to stay : Ibiza House, Coco Bella Resort, and Phi Phi Top View Resort Places to eat: Oasis Bar & Restaurant, Aroy Kaffeine Cafe, Anna’s Restaurant Top attractions: Ton Sai Beach, Bamboo Island, Ko Bida Nok, Viking Cave, Maya Bay, and more Suggested duration: 3-4 days

11. Phuket 

A splendid view of Phuket, one of the stunning places to visit in Southeast Asia

If a vacation for you means relaxing at the beach, then Phuket should be your top pick. It is one of the top places to visit in Southeast Asia with beautiful beaches and stunning shores. Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries to visit in southeast Asia. This island takes credit as one of the reasons as to why Thailand is so amazing. You could even plan your dope bachelor party in Phuket .

Ideal for: Those who are looking to relax and unwind at the beach Best time to visit: December to March Top things to do in Phuket : Beach hopping, diving, enjoying water sports, relishing local food, and more How to reach: Phuket International Airport is the best option and has regular international flights connecting it to the world. Places to stay in Phuket : EcoLoft Hotel, Little Nyonya Hotel, and Phuket Merlin Hotel Places to eat: One Chun Cafe & Restaurant, Suay Restaurant, Ko Ang Seafood Top attractions in Phuket : Old Phuket Town, Thalang Road, Thai Hua Museum, and more Suggested duration: 2-3 days

Suggested Read: New Year Parties In Bali

Places To Visit In Southeast Asia – Indonesia

While Indonesia is mostly known for Bali, there is more to it than meets the eye. Discover other magical islands in Indonesia that deserve your as much attention as Bali does.

Language: Bahasa Indonesian, Sasak Currency: Indonesian Rupiah

A legendary view of bali during evening

Home to places like Kuta, Ubud, and more, Bali has always been a popular place to visit in Southeast Asia. Irrespective of what time of the year it is, this place continues to look like a tropical paradise, offering the utmost luxury and comfort to its travellers in the lap of nature. So, if you ever plan on having a blissful beach vacation, head to this place. It is in the league of must-visit places in Southeast Asia.

Ideal for: Everyone who loves to experience bliss in the lap of nature Best time to visit: April to October Top things to do in Bali : Visiting the famous Tanah Lot, indulging in water sports in Bali like surfing, diving & more, visiting the Bali Safari and Marine Park, shopping in Bali’s famous markets, and more. How to reach: The city is served by the Ngurah Rai International Airport, connected with major international flight carriers. Places to stay in Bali : Senetan Villas & Spa Resort, Halaman Depan Hostel, and Nandini Jungle Resort  Places to eat: Restaurant Locavore, Secret Garden Restaurant,  Kubu at Mandapa Top attractions in Bali : Uluwatu Temple, Seminyak, Mount Batur, Tirta Empul Temple, and more Suggested duration: 4-5 days

13. Komodo 

komodo dragon in komodo

Located between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa in eastern Indonesia, Komodo Island is a not-so-popular Jurassic Park-like island, and also one of the cheap places to visit in Southeast Asia. Apart from being home to the famous giant monitor lizard, it is also a paradise for both nature & adventure lovers. So, don’t think much and put this one on your list too!

Ideal for: Those who are brave-hearted and desire for unique experiences Best time to visit: April to December Top things to do: Visiting the Pink Beach, wildlife spotting at the Komodo National Park, scuba diving at Tatawa Kecil, and more How to reach: You need to first travel to Bali and then to Labuan Bajo by either plane or boat. From there, you can find regular boats to the Island.  Places to stay : Kampung Komodo Homestay, KPN Komodo, and Komodo Resort Places to eat: Happy Banana Komodo, Manta Point, Bistronomy Komodo Top attractions: Pulau Kalong, Lawa Darat Gili, Taka Makassar, and more Suggested duration: 2 days

Suggested Read: Safari In Jakarta

14. Gili Islands 

view of gili during daytime, one of the spectacular places to visit in Southeast Asia

Image Credit: kolibri5 for Pixabay

Located in northwestern Indonesia off the coast of Lombok, these three islands are perfect for you if you wish to get away from the bustling everyday life. There are plenty of things to do on Gili Islands to make your holiday memorable. The mere fact that you can only commute through horse carriages and cycles here since cars are not allowed will take you back in time and leave you amidst an abundance of bliss. No doubt, it is one of the places you must visit in Southeast Asia.

Ideal for: Those who desire to go back in time, and also, the adventurers Best time to visit: June to September Top things to do: Snorkeling, diving, exploring the town on a horse carriage, and more How to reach: The best and easiest way to reach Gili Islands is Lombok airport, from where you can hire a taxi, or cab which will take approximately 30 minutes to reach. Places to stay : Grand Sunset Gili Air, Les Villas Ottalia Gili Meno, and My Mate’s Place Places to eat: Ya Ya Warung, Ikan Restaurant Gili Trawangan, Karma Kayak Top attractions: Gili Meno, Gili Meno Saltwater Lake, Masjid Agung Baiturrahman Gili, and more Suggested duration: 3 days

15. Lombok 

A stunning view of Lombok Waterfalls cover

If you have had enough of Bali, then you should really take a ferry to Lombok. The lesser-known island is more pristine and picturesque than Bali, just like Bali used to be when the tourism boom came. You will find plenty of things to do on Lombok Island. Lombok in November also seems like a good idea if you want to take a vacation. This place is counted among the tourist attractions in Southeast Asia. 

Ideal for: Laid back vacation, backpackers Best time to visit: July to August Top things to do: Visit Tiu Kelep Waterfall, Air Kalak Hot Springs, Hiking to Mount Rinjani, Explore Sekotong Islands. How to reach: The best way to reach Lombok is through flights, which takes about 4 hours form Jakarta. Various carriers including Merpati Airlines, Indonesia AirTans, and Garuda Indonesia are available. Places to stay : Origin Lombok, Makarma Resort Lombok, and Rascals Kuta Lombok Places to eat: Waroeng Alam Damai, Cafe Alberto Lombok, Warung Buana Top attractions: Gili Trawangan, Lake Segara Anak, Kuta Beach, and more Suggested duration: 2 days

Suggested Read: Lombok Travel Tips

16. Borobudur 

Borobodur temple in Yogyakarta, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

Borobudur Temple in Java is one of the must visit places in Southeast Asia because of its historical temples. These Mahayana temples date back to the 9th century and are deemed as one of the most prestigious temples in the world. The fine architecture and the interesting temple trivia will leave you spellbound. Java is one of the best islands to visit in southeast Asia if you want to reflect on its history and architecture.

Ideal for: For spirituality and striking architecture Best time to visit: April-October Top things to do: Watch the sunset or sunrise from the temple How to reach: Buses are the best way to reach Borobudur. You can catch the local buses to Magelang or Muntilan. From either place, you can catch another bus to the Borobudur terminus. Places to stay : The Amrta Borobudur, Sarasvati Borobudur Hotel, and Manohara Resort Places to eat: Dapoer Gending, Gio Pasta, Patio restaurant Top attractions: Wisata Alam Pos Mati, Bukit Rhema Gereja Ayam, Desa Wisata Wanurejo, and more Suggested duration: 3 days

Places To Visit In Southeast Asia – Cambodia

Cambodia has its fair share of places to visit. Keep enough days aside to experience this small southeast Asian country to the fullest.

Language: Khmer Currency: Cambodian Riel, US dollars acceptable

17. Siem Reap 

A mesmerising view of siem reap

The capital city of the Siem Reap Province in Cambodia, this place has gradually become a popular tourist spot because of being home to hippest hotels, a class apart dining & wining, soothing spas, and more. But there’s more to this place when it comes to offering incredible experiences. So, head out and uncover this one of the best cities to visit in Southeast Asia.

Ideal for: Those who are looking for an experiential holiday Best time to visit: November to February Top things to do in Siem Reap : Temple hopping, visiting Siem Reap floating villages , partying on Pub Street, quad biking, shopping at a night market, and visiting the Angkor National Museum. How to reach: The best way to reach Siem Reap is through flights. The Siem Reap International Airport is close to the city centre and connected from major international airports and towns. Places to stay in Siem Reap : Santa Clara Boutique Hotel, The Cyclo Siem Reap Hotel, and Angkor Elysium Suite Places to eat: Marum, Genevieve’s Restaurant, Cuisine Wat Damnak Top attractions in Siem Reap : Banteay Srei, Preah Khan, Baphuon, and more Suggested duration: 3 days

Suggested Read: 7 Places To Visit In Phnom Penh 

18. Phnom Penh 

phnom penh castle city road street, one of the wonderful places to visit in Southeast Asia

One of Asia’s top-visited cities, Phnom Penh is a traveler’s paradise. The capital city of Cambodia sees a lot of tourists from November to March and if one wants to ditch the crowd, they can explore the city from May to October. Enjoy the variety of cuisines and spend time at a local cafe here. Phnom Penh is one of the best places to visit in March in Asia.

Ideal for: Those who enjoy exotic vacations Best time to visit: November to March Top things to do in Phnom Penh : Exploring the classic architecture, museum hopping, shopping at the Central Market, and Phnom Penh nightlife How to reach: The best way to reach Phnom Penh is through flights. The Phnom Penh International Airport is the major airport and attracts airlines from all over the world. Places to stay in Phnom Penh : Mad Monkey, Manor House Hostel, and Grand Waterfront Hotel Places to eat: Phnom Penh Indía Restaurant, Backyard Cafe, Mok Mony Top attractions: The Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, Central Market, and more Suggested duration: 4 days

19. Sihanoukville 

A splendid view of Sihanoukville, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

Calling all beach bums, Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s popular beach destination that attracts a lot of tourists all year round who come here to relax and unwind. Get working on that perfect tan while relaxing at the beach after a tiring day of sightseeing. You could also indulge in snorkelling and other water sports adventures, which are some of the best things to do in Sihanoukville . This amazing place is counted among the must-see places in Southeast Asia. 

Ideal for: backpackers, solo travelers Best time to visit: November to February Top things to do: Sunbathing at Serendipity Beach, head to Kbal Chhay Waterfall, go on a sailing tour, explore local food, and gamble your money at Kampongsom City Hotel & Casino. How to reach: The best way to reach Sihanoukville is by taking a bus, a private taxi, a train, or a flight from the capital city of Phnom Penh.  Places to stay : Treehouse Bungalows, M’phai Bei Resort, and Sun Leo Hotel Places to eat: Sandan, Modern Nomads, Bamboo Bistro Top attractions: Otres Beach, Long Set Beach, Leu Pagoda, and more Suggested duration: 2-3 days

Suggested Read: 10 Spots Famous For Scuba Diving In Cambodia

20. Angkor 

Outside view of a cottage in Angkor, one of the spectacular places to visit in Southeast Asia

So full of history and heritage, Cambodia is one of the best Southeast Asian countries to visit. The Angkor Wat in Cambodia is located here as you visit Angkor for a culturally rich place heavily armed with archaeological sites and history. Located in the northern part of Cambodia, Angkor houses one of the world’s most important historic remains. The confluence of Hindu and Buddhist cultures rests here with the Bayon temples and Ta Prohm, a temple ruin of the Buddhist era. Get around this city, which was the capital of the Khmer kingdom back in the 9th century and was a major art centre. Angkor Wat is one of the best places to visit in Asia.

Ideal for : Those who want to explore the ancient Buddhist and Hindu culture Best time to visit : November to March Top things to do : Visit the majestic temples, pay tributes at the Landmine Museum, camp at  Angkor National Park, and more. How to reach : The best way to reach Angkor is by cab or local bus services from Siem Reap. You can reach Siem Reap from Phnom Penh by flights that ply regularly.  Places to stay : Angkor Village Resort, Le Méridien Angkor Places to eat : Malis Restaurant, Angkor Reach Restaurant and Khmer Grill  Top attractions : Elephant Terrace, East Mebon, Srah Srang and Terrace of the Leper King Suggested duration : 3-4 days

Places To Visit In Southeast Asia – Vietnam

For those who are planning to visit Vietnam, here are the top places that you make it to your itinerary. If you have not visited these places in Vietnam, then you have not been to Vietnam.

Language: Vietnamese  Currency: Vietnamese Dong

21. Ha Long Bay 

A breathtaking view of ha long bay, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

Located in northeastern Vietnam, this place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia in November. Being a popular attraction for nature admirers & adventure seekers, it has become a popular spot over the years. If nothing else, this one of the best vacation spots in the Southeast boasts beautiful limestone islands that will surely captivate your heart and soothe your mind.

Ideal for: Everyone who’s a nature admirer or a thrill seeker Best time to visit: March to May and October to December Top things to do: Indulging in diving & kayaking, cruising, taking a helicopter tour, trying local cuisines, wildlife spotting, shopping at the local markets, and more. How to reach: The best way to reach Ha Long Bay is by bus. From Hanoi, a bus to Halong city takes about three and a half hours and from the bus station, the pier is only 15 minutes away. Places to stay : Novotel Ha Long Bay, La Paz Resort Halong, and Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long Places to eat: 14 Pizza Halong, 1958 Restaurant, Papas BBQ Restaurant Top attractions: Tuan Chau Island, Sun World Halong Complex, Ha Long Queen Cable Car, and more Suggested duration: 2 days

Suggested Read: 10 Best Places To Visit In August In Asia 

An iconic landscape of Hanoi, one of the wonderful places to visit in Southeast Asia

The capital city of Vietnam has influences of the Southeast Asian, Chinese and French in its amazing culture. The city has beautiful temples and other attractions that make it one of the unique places to visit in Southeast Asia. Relish the street food while on your trip here.

Ideal for: Those who enjoy old architecture and rich culture Best time to visit: September to November and March to April Top things to do in Hanoi : Visiting the century-old temples, spending time at the Hoàn Kiếm Lake, heading to the Temple of the Jade Mountain, and more. How to reach: There are 2 ways to reach Hanoi. You can either take direct flights from Noi Bai International Airport, in Hanoi or travel via train. You will definitely get scenic views in a 3 day journey from Ho Chi Minh city. Places to stay : Hanoi Old Quarter Hotel, Lotte Hotel Hanoi, and The Oriental Jade Hotel Places to eat: Duong’s Restaurant, Home Hanoi Restaurant, Essence Restaurant Top attractions in Hanoi : Hoàn Kiếm Lake, One Pillar Pagoda, West Lake, and more Suggested duration: 3-4 days

Sapa town in Vietnam, which is one of the serene places to visit in Southeast Asia

A quaint town which is surrounded by mountains, rice paddy fields, local villages and hill tribes, Sa Pa is ideal for trekking and exploring the local culture in these traditional villages. Sa Pa also houses various French colonial sites that are truly picturesque. It is one of the unique places to visit in Southeast Asia since there are plenty of things to do in Sa Pa . So if you want to go offbeat and looking for the cool places to visit in the Southeast, this is where you should be.

Ideal for: Culture vultures, backpackers, offbeat tourists Best time to visit: March-May, September-November Top things to do: hiking, explore the local villages, shop for local handicrafts, find your way to Silver Waterfalls, and visit Fairy Cave. How to reach: The most convenient as well as easiest way to visit Sapa is by train. The journey usually takes around eight hours from Hanoi. Places to stay : Amazing Hotel Sapa and Sapa Elegance Hotel Places to eat : Aira Sapa Restaurant & Bar, 24 Restaurant Top attractions : Fansipan Mountains, Muong Hoa Valley, Tram Ton Pass Suggested duration : 2-3 days

Suggested Read: Scuba Diving In Malaysia

24. Hoi An 

A aweinspiring view of Hoi An, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

Image Credit: cyon760 for Pixabay

If you are seeking wonderful trips to Southeast Asia, Hoi An deserves a spot in your list. A well-preserved ancient town in Vietnam, Hoi An is one of the top places to visit in Southeast Asia. The wooden Chinese shop houses and colourful French colonial buildings look so out of the postcard. An interesting thing about the place is that it is a hot melting pot of various cultures. If you are planning to spend your new year in Vietnam , then you must include this place on your list.

Ideal for: History and architecture lovers Best time to visit: February-June Top things to do: Take a cycle tour, savor Vietnamese food, hit the beaches How to reach: The only way to reach Hoi An is by road. You can hire a taxi from the neighbouring city of Da Nang, which has an airport with daily flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Places to stay : Sun Paradise Villa, Hoi An Historic Hotel, and Under The Coconut Tree Places to eat: Restaurant & Cafe Tuấn, MIX Restaurant, Streets Restaurant Café Top attractions: Japanese Covered Bridge, An Bang Beach, Phung Hung House, and more Suggested duration: 3 days

Places To Visit In Southeast Asia – Philippines

The Philippines is a little slice of heaven with idyllic islands like Boracay to offer. Missing out on these places will give you a major FOMO.

Language: Filipino, English Currency: Philippine Peso

25. Boracay 

A picturesque view of Boracay, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

Amongst all the top tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, Boracay Island is a small island in the Philippines, located around 320 km away from the country’s capital, Manila. Famed for its beaches and attractions like Wiley’s Rock, this place is set to give you the experience of a lifetime and a holiday as unique as you may have dreamt of.

Ideal for: Beach lovers and those who love to explore Best time to visit: November to May Top things to do: Visit Wiley’s Rock, witness the beautiful sunset at Yapak, collect white shells, and more. How to reach:  The quickest way to reach Boracay is by taking a plane from Manila domestic airport and fly to the Panay island in Visaya. From there, it is a boat ride for 30 minutes to reach Boracay.  Places to stay : Mad Monkey Hostel Boracay, Shore Time Hotel, and Savoy Hotel Boracay Places to eat: Nonie’s Restaurant, Spicebird, Subo Boracay Top attractions: White Beach, Puka Shell Beach, D’mall de Boracay and more Suggested duration: 2-3  days

Suggested Read: 20 Best Places To Visit In Asia In October 

A wonderful view of Bohol

If you are looking forward to exploring some astonishingly unique places in Southeast Asia, head to the Philippines. Situated in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, this city is known for its unusual chocolate hills, surreal coral reefs, and unique geological formations. If you’re looking for a place that’s not too far, and also offers one-of-its-kind experiences, don’t think much & visit here right away, it is truly among the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia. Make sure you visit this place on your Philippines honeymoon .

Ideal for: Those who wish to explore the unusual and unique wonders of nature Best time to visit: November to April Top things to do: Visit Panglao Island, explore the Chocolate Hills, swim near the Hinagdanan Cave, visit the Danao Adventure Park, and more. How to reach: Your best option to reach Bohol is through flights. You have to fly from Manila or Cebu City to the Bohol Airport in Tagbilaran. Daily flights from Cebu Pacific, Philippines Airlines or Asian Spirit fly regularly. Places to stay : Loboc River Resort, Villa De Gloria, and TR3ATS Guest House Places to eat: Gerarda’s Place, Paprika Restaurant, Prawn Farm Restaurant Top attractions: Chocolate Hills, Panglao Island, Hinagdanan Cave, Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary and more Suggested duration: 3 days

27. Palawan 

A gorgeous view of Palawan philippines, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

Image Credit: BKD for Pixabay

A beautiful island in the Philippines, Palawan Island seems like an idyllic place to relax and enjoy your vacation. It is one of the most beautiful tourist places in southeast Asia where you can relax for days. The province offers the best diving spots for avid divers. Explore the ruins of Japanese ships from World War I. You will also get to see limestone karst cliffs that are unique to this place.

Ideal for: divers, nature lovers, island vacation Best time to visit: October to mid-June Top things to do: Scuba diving in El Nido, island hopping, exploring Tabon Caves, Taste Tamilok, shopping in San Jose Market. How to reach: The best way to reach Palawan is by flight. The most common route is taking a plane from Manila to Puerto Princesa, and then taking a cab/van from Puerto Princesa to Palawan. Or you can take a direct flight from Manila to Palawan. Places to stay : Costa Palawan Resort, Blue Palawan Beach Club, and Dang Maria’s Palawan Places to eat: Kalui Restaurant, La Terrasse Cafe, Haim Chicken Top attractions: Kayangan Lake, Shimizu Island, Secret Lagoon, and more Suggested duration: 3 days

Suggested Read: Cebu In August

28. Si Phan Don 

Kuang Si Falls Laos

Also known as the Four Thousand Islands, this place is situated in southern Laos and is among the most amazing places in Southeast Asia for a backpacking holiday. Waterfalls, paddy fields, and temples are some of the surreal attractions here that make it a perfect holiday destination for experience seekers. In fact, this place has some of the best waterfalls in Laos .

Ideal for: Those in pursuit of both bliss and adventure Best time to visit: November to March Top things to do: Dolphin spotting, indulging in kayaking or cycling, witnessing the sunset, visiting the Big and Small Waterfalls, and more. How to reach: The best way to Si Phan Don is by taking buses. The local bus service is pretty awesome for travel, and pretty affordable too! Places to stay : Kulap Kao Bungalows, Don Som Riverside Guesthouse, and Souksan Sunset Bungalows Places to eat: The Garden Of Nang, Chez Fred et Lea, Crazy Gecko Top attractions: Irrawaddy Dolphins, French Railroad Locomotives, Khon Phapheng Falls, and more Suggested duration: 2-3 days

29. Vientiane 

A glorious view of Vientiane, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

The capital of Laos, it is located on the Mekong River that borders Thailand. While travelling to Vientiane, don’t miss out on exploring the Pha That Luang, a Buddhist Stupa that dates back to 1586. Apart from Buddhist temples and sites, the travellers can stroll around the Mekong Riverside Park and take a breath of fresh air. It is also one of the best places to enjoy Laos nightlife .

Ideal for: Spiritual people, explorers Best time to visit: November to February Top things to do: Visit Patuxai Victory Monument, Hog street food to Vientiane Night Market, learn history at Laos Vietnam Museum, take a cycling tour. How to reach: The best way to reach Vientiane is through flights. The Wattay International Airport is connected with major carriers from across the globe. Places to stay : Crowne Plaza Vientiane, Rashmi’s The Plaza Vientiane, and Funky Monkey Places to eat: Pimenton Restaurant Vientiane, Kualao Restaurant, Kung’s Cafe Top attractions: Wat Si Saket, Haw Phra Kaew, That Dam, and more Suggested duration: 3-4 days

Suggested Read: The Complete Guide To Applying For A Laos Visa For Indians

30. Vang Vieng 

A stunning view of Vang Vieng, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

A picturesque town north of Vientiane, it is known for limestone karst formations. Located on the Nam Song River, the town is surrounded by karst hills, making the whole landscape very scenic. It is popular amidst backpackers and hikers. Don’t forget to enjoy scrumptious Laos food for a unique experience.

Ideal for:  backpackers, adventure lovers Best time to visit: November to March Top things to do: Rock climbing, Visit Tham Chang Cave, Ziplining, go tubing down the river. How to reach: The best way to reach Vang Vieng is through the bus. Local buses from Vientiane and Luang Prabang ply on a regular basis and take approximately 4-5 hours to reach. Places to stay : Savanh Sunset View Resort, River View Bungalows, and Laos Haven Hotel & Spa Places to eat: Restaurant du Crabe d’Or, Victor Place, A.M.D. Restaurant Top attractions: Tham Jang, Wat Kang, Kaeng Nyui Waterfall, and more Suggested duration: 3 days

31. Luang Prabang 

A delightful view of Luang Prabang, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

If you are looking for tourist places in Southeast Asia, then there is no reason why you should miss visiting Luang Prabang. Lying at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan, Luang Prabang in Laos used to be the ancient royal capital until 1975.

There must be a special reason why royals chose to inhabit this place and you should go check it out. Go, explore one of the most interesting and culturally rich places to go in Southeast Asia. There is plenty of things to do in Luang Prabang to make your trip exciting.

Ideal for: History buffs and culture vultures Best time to visit: November-January for river travel, October-April for pleasant weather Top things to do: Temple-hopping, visit the night market, watching the sunset at Mount Phousi. How to reach: Luang Prabang is well served by major international airlines including Thai Airways International, Lao Airlines, PB Air and Bangkok Airways, with regular services to Chiang Mai, Vientiane, and Bangkok Places to stay : Mad Monkey Luang Prabang, Ancient Luang Prabang, and Smile Luang Prabang Hostel Places to eat: BOUANG Asian Eatery, Manda de Laos, Bamboo Garden Restaurant Top attractions: Mount Phousi, Wat Xieng Thong, Phra Bang, and more Suggested duration: 2 days

Suggested Read: 32 Best Places To Visit In January In The World

Places To Visit In Southeast Asia – Myanmar

Here are the top spots in Myanmar that should be on your bucket list if you want to do justice to this beautiful country.

Language: Burmese Currency: Burmese Kyat 

32. Yangon 

A mesmerising view of yangon myanmar, one of the amazing places to visit in southeast Asia

Myanmar is one of the most beautiful countries in Southeast Asia. Initially known as Rangoon, this vibrant city in Myanmar has got to be a part of one of your Southeast Asia tours. From attending festivals to visiting various temples, there’s a lot to do & places to see in Myanmar . And if you’re ever in a dilemma to go or not to go, just know that Yangon is also one of the safest places to visit in Asia.

Ideal for: Those who love to explore cultures and indulge in new experiences Best time to visit: November to February Top things to do: Visit  the Shwedagon Pagoda, shop at the Bogyoke Market, try Burmese cuisines, chill near the Inya Lake, and more. How to reach: The best way to reach Yangon is through flights. The Yangon International Airport serves as a major airport for airlines all over the world. Places to stay : Lil Yangon Hostel, Thanlwin Guest House, Yangon Regency Hotel Places to eat: Green Gallery, Shan Yoe Yar Restaurant, Rangoon Tea House Top attractions: Maha Bandula Park, National Museum of Myanmar, Sule Pagoda, and more Suggested duration: 3-4 days

33. Inle Lake 

Serene lake view

So beautiful and enchanting, Myanmar is one of the best countries to visit in Southeast Asia. Exploring this lake is one of the best things to do in Myanmar . The second largest lake of Myanmar needs a mention in the top places to visit in South Asia – for its absolute beauty and views. Located in the southern part of Myanmar, the lands around the lake are habitable by the Intha people. They live in small villages or floating houses on the lake itself. The locals live a very simple life with their main sources of livelihood being fishing, and selling fruits and vegetables. The modes of transportation include skiffs, tourist motorboats and commuters. Not just the southeast, but Inle Lake is one of the most beautiful places to go in southeast Asia.

Ideal for : Those who love nature and travel bloggers who like to explore different traditions Best time to visit : June to October Top things to do : Photograph the beauty, boating, enjoy traditional fishing, witness the sunset and visit the Kayan villages How to reach : By train, it usually takes 30 hours to reach Yangon as there is a 5-hour stop in Kalaw.  Places to stay : The Serenity Inle Resort, Paramount Inle Resort Places to eat : Eyeful Lake Restaurant, Inle Palace Top attractions : Visit the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards, attain nirvana at multiple Pagodas including Shwe Indein Pagoda, Hpaung Daw U Pagoda and Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, explore the Floating Gardens, and more Suggested duration : 2 days

Suggested Read: 13 Hidden Myanmar Beaches 

Aerial view of Green hills in Bagan, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

If you are wondering where to go in Southeast Asia, Bagan is another supreme and astounding place in Myanmar. Situated on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, Bagan houses one of the largest conglomerations of Buddhist pagodas, temples and stupas. One of the biggest reasons is that Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire in earlier centuries. This is a truly captivating place for tourists with an overwhelming number of Myanmar temples in the region. This is indeed, one of the best places to travel in Southeast Asia.

Ideal for : Those who want to learn about Buddhism, culture lovers and peace enthusiasts Best time to visit : November to February Top things to do : Witness the amazing sunset, explore the temples and pagodas, enjoy a hot air balloon ride, see the temples along the river, interact with the locals, and more. How to reach : The best way to visit Bagan is by taking a flight from Yangon to Nyaung U. From there, a cab will take approximately 20 minutes to reach Bagan. Places to stay : Bagan Hotel, Bagan Thande Hotel, and Ostello Bello Bagan Places to eat : Royal Restaurant, Sarabha Restaurant and Misan Restaurant Top attractions : Ananda temple, Bupaya Pagoda, Bagan Archaeological Museum, Popa Mountain National Park and Shwezigon Pagoda Suggested duration : 2-3 days

35. El Nido – Philippines

a mesmerising view of El_nido, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

Image Credit: Author Name for Wikimedia Commons Disclaimer: The image is for representation purposes only.

El Nido is one of the popular Southeast Asia tourist spots where you can capture beautiful pictures and create wonderful memories for yourself. If you are an adventure enthusiast then El Nido is a perfect place for you for indulging in the water sports such as snorkeling. Visit the Philippines in July as it offers a pocket-friendly option.

Ideal For: Capturing beautiful and scenic photographs Best Time To Visit: Between November and May Top Things To Do In El Nido: water sports like snorkeling How To Reach: Take a plane from Manila to Puerto Princesa and then hiring a cab from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. Places To Stay in El Nido: El Nido Corner Pension, The Nomad’s Lodge, Floresita’s Beach Resort Places To Eat: Trattoria Altrove, Tambok’s El Nido, Hapines Beach bar Top Attractions: Nacpan Beach, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon Suggested Duration: 3 to 4 days Language: Palawano Tagalong Currency: Philippine Peso

Suggested Read: Indonesia In August

36. Penang- Malaysia

A heart-stealing view of Penang, one of the amazing places to visit in Southeast Asia

Penang is a place in Malaysia where you will view how several Asian cultures are amalgamated. George Town is the fundamental settlement of Penang which is popular for its modern culture and great environment. You will also get to witness world-famous carnivals and exceptional artistic scenes. Penang is one of the most popular Southeast Asia tourist places. Visit Malaysia in April and taste amazing food along with Malaysian culture.

Ideal For: Soft sandy beaches Best Time to Visit: November to January, February to April Top Things To Do In Penang: Visit Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang Hill How To Reach: Penang is easily accessible by air, road and rails. Places To Stay In Penang: Magpie Heritage, Nice Inn, JSW INN, Wifi Boutique Hotel Places To Eat: My Own Café, Orinea by Farquhar Mansion, Kebaya Dining Room Top Attractions: Penang Hill, Cheong Fatt Tze- The Blue Mansion Suggested Duration: 2 to 3 days Language: Manglish (Malaysian-English) Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (RM or MYR)

Further Read: 18 Honeymoon Destinations Outside India In March 

Excited to explore these places in Southeast Asia? Before you head out, don’t forget to plan and trip to international with for an impeccable affair! We are sure you’d have one hell of a trip exploring these paradises with your loved ones!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

Which is the best country in Southeast Asia?

The best country to visit in Southeast Asia is arguably Thailand and Indonesia. Most travelers visit Thailand to bask in its culture and heritage. The most renowned tourist places in Thailand are its beaches, dense forests, ancient monasteries, and floating markets. Indonesia, on the other hand, is equally famous for its temples, scenic coral reefs, waterfalls, and retreats.

Which is the most beautiful place in Southeast Asia?

The most beautiful place in Southeast Asia is arguably Vietnam. It is known for its serene and peaceful environment. The country is buzzing with floating markets, paddy fields, ancient architectural marvels, and vibrant cultural gems.

What should I not miss in Southeast Asia?

You should not miss sampling the local street food in Southeast Asia. It is bursting with flavors and has a distinct aroma. Some of the popular street food items are minced meat noodles, rice cake, coconut rice, and fruit and vegetable salad.

Which is the richest village in Southeast Asia?

Madhapar village in Kutch, Gujarat is the richest village in Southeast Asia. The village boasts of bank deposits of over INR 1200 crores.

Which is the most visited place in Southeast Asia?

The most visited place in Southeast Asia is arguably Agra (India) and Bali (Indonesia). Agra is popular among a lot of foreign tourists for its architectural marvels and charm. On the other hand, Bali is a top destination for beach lovers and people looking to relax and rejuvenate.

Which is the coldest place in Southeast Asia?

The coldest place in Southeast Asia is Sapa in Vietnam. The scenic mountainous town is famous for its rice terraces, rolling hills, trekking trails and local street food. Its unparalleled beauty will definitely give you goosebumps.

Which are the best places to visit in Southeast Asia in Summer?

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Chiang Mai in Thailand and Singapore are some of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia in Summer.

What are 3 tourist attractions in Asia?

The continent of Asia has thousands of majestic landmarks and tourist attractions that are worth making the trip for, and three of the most popular among them can be noted as the Angora Wat temple in Bali, Taj Mahal in India, and the Great Wall of China in Beijing.

Which is the most visited place in Asia?

Asia’s dynamic history, culture, and architecture make it one of the most alluring parts of the world that travellers can explore. Some of the most visited places in Asia are Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and much more.

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Top 10 Tourist Attractions In Southeast Asia You Have To See

tourist walking around

There are just so many diverse and alluring attractions – natural and man-made – across this fantastic region, that selecting the best Southeast Asia attractions could be classed as a near-on impossible task – albeit fascinating. However, we’ve managed to compile some top attractions in Southeast Asia, covering our highlight countries, that will hopefully inspire your travels in this wondrous corner of the globe!

angkor wat temple

1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Cambodia’s star attraction is stupendous Angkor Wat, set within Siem Reap’s Angkor Archaeological Park, a World Heritage Site containing hundreds of ancient temples and monuments of an ancient Khmer Empire. Built in the 12th century , Angkor Wat is one of the world’s greatest ancient wonders and largest religious monuments, a testament to the impressive Khmer civilization and a revered national symbol – its iconic five-tower structure even features on the Cambodian flag.

This incredible sandstone temple complex takes a good few hours, even days to explore , soaking up all the incredible architectural detail and history. One of the best ways to appreciate Angkor Wat’s magnificence is at dawn, watching the sun casting its auburn-orange rays over the silhouetted towers and lotus flower-strewn moat.

tree branches and a lake

2. Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

There is a big chance that you will spend some time in Hanoi on your Vietnam endeavors . Hoan Kiem lake is an unexpected oasis of tranquility and beauty at the heart – literally – of Hanoi, Vietnam’s thousand-year-old capital. One of many lakes in Hanoi, Hoan Kiem is the most beloved, awarded ‘Special National Relic’ status. Translating as ‘Lake of the Restored Sword’ and steeped in legends, today, ringed by age-old trees and picturesque with Tortoise Tower and Ngoc Son Temple set on two separate islets, Hoan Kiem Lake makes a lovely place to relax any time of day.

Be sure, however, to come at sunrise, when Hanoians flock here to exercise on the lake’s shaded shores and on weekend evenings when the usually frenetic streets surrounding the lake are off-limits to traffic. Hoan Kiem’s vibrant pedestrianized zone is thronged with locals and visitors strolling past the open-air music performances and cultural activities.

islands in komodo national park

3. Komodo National Park, Indonesia

As the name suggests, Komodo National Park, a dramatically beautiful cluster of islands amid the Indonesian archipelago, is where you can spot the elusive Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat. It is here, especially on the Park’s main islands, Komodo, Padar, and Rinca, that the now endangered Komodo Dragon has peacefully existed for millions of years, the only place on the planet where the planet’s largest reptiles can be observed.

Take a guided tour in the volcanic hills and rainforests for wild encounters with these dinosaur throwbacks. However, if fork-tongued dragons aren’t your thing, this Park, embedded within the Coral Triangle, boasts some of the planet’s richest and pristine marine environments with astonishing biodiversity – providing some of the most spectacular diving sites imaginable. And amongst dazzling white sand beaches, a stunning pink beach, one of only seven on the planet!

Komodo is a national park, so you will be most likely staying on the island of Flores, with Labuan Bajo being the nearest port. Some amazing cruises can take you deep into the park – to dive, kayak, or meet the dragons. Otherwise, rent a local boat or a guided tour, as you can’t explore the area on your own.

temples at bagan

4. The Temples at Bagan, Myanmar

Explorer Marco Polo once described Bagan, the ancient capital of several Burmese Kingdoms in central Myanmar, as one of the ‘one of the world’s finest sights’ – and there’s a good chance you will too, once you see this otherworldly scene . From the original 10,000 or so temples, stupas, pagodas and monuments constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries, only around 2,200 still stand today.

However, sprawled across vast plains beside the Irrawaddy River, Bagan’s collection of religious sites now form one of Asia’s richest archaeological zones and a recently designated World Heritage Site, emanating an evocative sense of history like no other. Each of Bagan’s majestic treasures has its own unique story to tell, but all are superb examples of ancient Burmese architecture.

The best way to explore these ancient relics is by hot air balloon; the bird’s eye, panoramic views over Bagan’s dreamy plains is even more spectacular, timed as the sun dramatically rises or sets over the dozens of mist-shrouded spires.

sun sets in hoi an

5. Hoi An Ancient Town, Vietnam

Formerly known as Faifo, Hoi An was once a thriving Silk Road trading port, dating back to the 16th century. Today, revered as one of Southeast Asia’s oldest towns and a designated World Heritage Site, utterly charming Hoi An ranks amongst Vietnam’s top drawcards. Set alongside picturesque Thu Bon River, the narrow streets of Hoi An’s beautifully preserved Ancient Town are crammed with centuries-old cultural treasures, historic sites, and quaint buildings, a hybrid of the port’s Chinese, European, and Japanese architectural legacies.

As a compact pedestrianized zone, the Ancient Town’s fascinating attractions are easily walkable, so too, the open-air restaurants lining the river, where you can watch the fishing boats chug past and sample the famed local delicacy, freshly grilled fish. This old quarter is at its most atmospheric at the monthly Full Moon Lantern Festival when the streets are beautifully aglow with hundreds of multi-colored silk lanterns and filled with joyous crowds and traditional festivities.

Hoi An airport is in Da Nang, central Vietnam, making it a great stopover between Hanoi and Saigon. Planning your Vietnamese holiday , do put Hoi An on the map of must-see places in Vietnam.

bankgkok at night

6. The Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand’s dynamic capital, Bangkok, or ‘City of Angels,’ ranks as one of the world’s most popular city destinations, providing an endless list of things to see and do. It’s almost impossible to travel to Thailand without visiting Bangkok.

One of Bangkok’s top tourist attractions and most famous landmarks is the majestic Grand Palace, the official residence of Thai kings since 1782, with the monarch, his court, and royal government based in the sumptuous grounds until 1925.

Today, partially open to the public, the palace compound is still used to host royal ceremonies, official events, and state functions and remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. Staggering in both historical significance and Thai craftsmanship, there are more than 100 impressive buildings here, including royal halls and pavilions, set around manicured gardens and courtyards. Part of the palace compound is dedicated to Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist site, housing a highly – revered Emerald Buddha image carved from a single block of jade that dates back to the 14th century.

rice fields in bali

7. Rice fields of Bali, Indonesia

If you think of Bali, set in the Indonesian archipelago and one of the world’s leading holiday destinations , a number of iconic images come to mind. But perhaps emerald-green rice fields peppered with coconut palms, or terraced down idyllic hillsides, is the most quintessential Bali image of all. In fact, no visit to this ‘Island of the Gods’ is complete without marveling at these beautiful rice fields, or better still hiked through on early morning guided walks.

The omnipresent rice paddies are highly important to the island’s culinary heritage, a sacred component in Balinese Hindu beliefs and display ancient Subak culture (co-operative irrigation systems). No matter where you stay in Ubud, lush rice fields are never far away, but for the most striking terraced varieties, head to stunning Tegallalang, just outside town. The gorgeous s western regency of Tabanan Regency, is Bali’s rice bowl and where you’ll find Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, a spectacular World Heritage Site and Bali’s most celebrated rice fields, cascading down volcanic foothills that meet the sea.

Luang-Prabang-Old-Town

8. Luang Prabang Old Town, Laos

Enchanting Luang Prabang tops most lists of favorite destinations in Southeast Asia and is an essential part of any trip to Laos. In fact, this former royal capital, nestled at the confluence of two rivers surrounded by mountains, is so mesmerizing, countless travelers have ended up staying far longer than expected. The town’s infectiously relaxed ambiance, ethereal setting, and centuries-old Buddhist traditions and spirituality are just some of the reasons for Luang Prabang’s popularity.

But mainly, the well-preserved Old Town, not a tourist attraction per se, but its atmospheric narrow streets are home to many cultural treasures, striking Indochinese and Lao architecture, and key landmarks. Highlights include the former stately residence of Laos royalty, 30-plus golden pagodas, of which, the most spectacular is Wat Xieng Thong, and sunset watching from the summit of Mount Phousi.

Phang-Na-Bay

9. Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Southwest Thailand’s sparkling Andaman Sea is renowned for its breathtaking islands, bay, and beaches. One of the most popular natural attractions is Phang Nga Bay, distinctive for its sheer limestone karsts and towering cliffs jutting out of the emerald-green sea. Many of the peculiar-shaped islets are uninhabited, revealing caves and pretty beach coves. The best way to savor Phang Nga Bay’s jaw-dropping scenery and abundant wildlife is on a leisurely boat tour, either a traditional longtail boat, speedboat, or private chartered yacht.

Protected by a marine national park, with calm, shallow waters, this bay is perfect for boating. The more adventurous should opt for sea-kayaking, paddling deep into hidden hongs – collapsed cave systems open to the sky and rich in flora and fauna. Don’t miss boating around the iconic pinnacle, ‘James Bond Island,’ so-named after featuring in the Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. Its top-heavy formation is a spectacular wonder, as is the surrounding water world. Stop off at quiet coves and a fresh seafood lunch at Koh Panyee, a traditional Muslim fishing village built over the sea on stilts.

Borobudur-temple

10. Borobudur Temple, Indonesia

Located on Java Island, resting atop a hill ringed by volcanoes on tranquil plains, the magnificent Borobudur temple complex is the world’s largest and most celebrated Buddhist monument and one of its greatest archaeological sites. Constructed in the 9th century to resemble a pyramid-shaped mandala, Borobudur was abandoned after catastrophic volcanic eruptions, lying buried under layers of ash and jungle for around a millennium.

Today, this well-preserved monument is one of Southeast Asia’s greatest religious relics and a magnet for Buddhist pilgrims. This Mahayana Buddhist temple is best experienced at dawn, not only to avoid the stifling daytime heat, but when it’s at its most spiritually charged. In the early hour’s darkness, ascend the seven stone terraces ringed with dozens of Buddha sculptures leading up to an uppermost central stupa. From this sacred perch, watch the sunrise over mist-shrouded volcanic peaks. Afterward, explore the intricate bas-reliefs lining the temple walls, allegedly the world’s largest ensemble.

While Rainforest Cruises aim to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information herein or found by following any link on this site. Rainforest Cruises cannot and will not accept responsibility for any omissions or inaccuracies, or for any consequences arising therefrom, including any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the display or use of this information.

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Places To Visit In Southeast Asia

Best Time: Winter (Nov-Feb) Read More

Budget: Cheap-Moderate

Here are the top 78 destinations to visit in Southeast Asia

1. khao lak.

tourist attractions of southeast asia

1 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Khao Lak is a string of villages which lie on the west coast of Thailand. Once a quiet and relatively untouched region of the country, these villages are fast becoming a hotspot for adventure sports and beachside vacations for Thai locals and tourists alike. The best way to reach Khao Lak is via roa...

2. Ba Be National Park

2 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Located at a distance of 240 kilometres from the city of Hanoi, Ba Be National Park is a stunning national reserve blessed with rolling hills, tall limestone karsts and over 550 plant varieties. It is also populated by 353 types of butterflies, 65 types of mammals and the rare Vietnamese Salamander.

3 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Bac Ha is a village located in the Northwest of Vietnam and is a sleepy little town, the economy of which is centred around its Saturday and Sunday markets. The exchange, the colours, the local wares and an ever-bustling affair, these markets are usually visited on a day trip from the neighbouring S...

4. Koh Chang

4 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Koh Chang is one of the most beautiful islands of Thailand with pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, great for snorkeling and diving. There are also some breath taking mountains and jungles where hiking is very popular. All in all, Koh Chang is an idyllic destination for a backpacke...

5. Bai Tu Long Bay

5 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Bai Tu Long Bay in Northeastern Vietnam is an extension of Ha Long Bay - A UNESCO World Heritage site -  located at a mere 30 km from it. However, this small distance creates a vast difference in the experience that you can have here! The same limestone karsts, teal blue waters and languid crui...

6. Hoa Binh

6 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Hoa Binh is the Capital City of the Hoa Binh province of Vietnam. Located but a short distance from Hanoi, this hidden gem offers spectacular natural beauty, coupled with a rich culture. The natural beauty, rich history, and unique culture have made Hoa Binh a tourist attraction.

7 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

The original beach resort city of Thailand, Hua Hin, is a renowned destination among both locals and tourists alike. Located a little over three hours away by road to the south of Bangkok, the city is also serviced by Hua Hin airport. Once known as the beach getaway for Thai royals because of their ...

8. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

8 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Phong Nha ke Bang National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its many cave systems, old karst mountains, thick green forests and scintillating underground rivers. There are many spectacular caves in the region, including the most extensive cave network on earth. Spread across 10,000 hec...

9 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Nestled in the midst of mountains and valleys, Lao Cai, an obscure yet well developed Vietnamese region offers you something out of the ordinary - rich Vietnamese culture sans the sultry tropical heat. Lao Cai offers you a picturesque scenery, adventure and a peek into the rich culture and history o...

10. Koh Lipe

10 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Koh Lipe is one of the islands of the Tarutao Marine National Park. Initially, this island was predominantly settled by the Chao Ley or the sea gipsies who live in small villages here. Tourism has increased in Koh Lipe since the 1990s and hasn't seen a pause ever since. The vast coral reefs and gorg...

11. Chiang Rai

11 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Chiang Rai is a mountainous city in northern Thailand, near the borders of Laos and Myanmar. It has many ancient temples and tribal villages along the Mekong River. Chiang Rai is part of the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar and is an excellent base for exploring this region. The s...

12. Ayutthaya

12 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Ayutthaya, short for Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, is a small city in Thailand containing archaeological sites like temples, monasteries, palaces, etc. It lies just 80 kilometres north of Bangkok and is an ideal destination for a day trip from Bangkok. Often referred to as Krung Kao or 'ancient capital'...

13. Petaling Jaya

13 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Located close to the capital of Malaysia, Kualua Lumpur, Petaling Jaya is a little township which has developed into a city. Locals fondly call it 'PJ'. It is also supposed to be the rainiest area in all of Malaysia, having little to no dry seasons to speak of. Nonetheless, it makes for a lovely exp...

14. Haiphong

14 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Haiphong is Vietnam's third largest city and a major port. Haiphong is an industrial city and you can feel it in the air as soon as you enter. However, Haiphong also offers you with hidden relaxation, tucked and hidden away in the industrial town. It has a number of beaches and markets in addition t...

15. Cebu City

15 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Cebu City is also called as the Queen City of the South and is one of the fastest developing cities in Philippines. This city is second largest city of Philippines and over the years is rapidly attracting the tourists and hence is seeing a growth of 5 per cent annualy. It is known to contain numerou...

16 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

The picturesque beach resort town of Mui Ne is located at a four-hour train ride away from the city of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Once a sleepy fishing beach village, the town is now dotted with swanky beach resorts, posh cafes and restaurants, attracting a large number of seaside-loving tourists and loc...

17. Koh Tao

17 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Koh Tao is an island in the Chumphon Archipelago group of islands in the southeastern part of Thailand. It is largely popular for scuba diving and snorkelling as it has some of the best and cheapest diving spots in the world. The island is also known for its pristine white sand beaches, lantern...

18 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Da Lat is a refreshing hill station located in the southwestern highlands of Vietnam and is about 6 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City. It is the capital of Lam Dong Province, known as the 'City of Eternal Spring' for its distinctive temperate climate. A far cry from the tropical heat of the...

19. Makassar

19 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

A bustling port, Makassar is the largest city in East Indonesia. Its cosmopolitan nature and urban attractions make it a must-visit city in Indonesia. It is relatively more modern, as a city, but also has traces of Dutch architecture in a few places, with Fort Rotterdam standing as one of the remain...

20. Koh Phangan

20 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Koh Phangan, located in the Gulf of Thailand, is famous for its serene beaches and electrifying Full Moon Parties. Located between the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao, it is easily accessible from the mainland at Surat Thani via ferry or boat. Boats and ferries are also available from Koh Samui and...

21. Surat Thani

21 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Not a go-to destination in itself, Surat Thani provides a base point from which travellers meander to its neighbouring provinces and regions in Thailand. Once the seat of the Srivijaya empire, Surat Thani today is an important trade and transport hub. A typical suburban town in the country, Surat Th...

22 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Railay Beach, nestled on the Andaman coast of Thailand, is renowned for its stunning limestone cliffs and pristine beaches. Accessible just by boat, this secluded paradise of limestone crags is a beautiful destination for a laid-back rest during your Thailand holiday. An absolute best for ...

23. Sangkhlaburi

23 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Sangkhlaburi is a high-altitude city at the end of Thailand, just 25 kilometers from the Burma border. It has the beautiful Vajiralongkorn Lake (Khao Laem), where most travelers take a boat ride, rest, and enjoy the day. Most of the city is covered by dense forests and limestone ranges. Sangkhlaburi...

24. Nong Khai

24 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Lying on the southern bank of the Mekong River in Northeast Thailand, Nong Khai is a lively town just 20 minutes from Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The entire city is filled with images of the Naga, the giant serpent of the Mekong. There are several waterfalls, riverside villages, forest temples, ...

25. Phetchaburi

25 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Dating back to the 8th century, Phetchaburi is a small town in southern Thailand, around 130km from Bangkok. Known to have the oldest settlements in Thailand, it is situated on River Phet and is home to some beautiful temples, beaches, and the famous Royal Palace. Phetchaburi is more of a worki...

26. Lopburi

26 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Lopburi is one of the oldest cities in Thailand, located around 150 kilometres from Bangkok city which takes around 2.5 hours. It is a city which houses historic ruins and artifacts which play a major role in Thailand's culture. It is famous for monkeys, architectural remains of Khmer empire, rock c...

27. Chanthaburi

27 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Chanthaburi is a laid-back town in eastern Thailand, situated on the banks of the Chanthaburi river. Officially the capital of its namesake province, this town and its surrounding regions are primarily known for its rich history, wonderful countryside culture, relaxed vibe, scenic waterfalls, forest...

28. Krabi Town

28 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Although it doesn't have any beaches of its own, Krabi Town is a charming choice for people who want to experience a very local Thai culture. Most tourists use this town majorly as a pass through to go to the nearby island towns, but Krabi in itself is very beautiful, especially in terms of its mark...

29. Koh Kood

29 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Koh Kood, commonly spelt as Koh Kut, is one of the few islands in Thailand that is not overrun by tourists and is increasingly becoming popular among people looking for a peaceful getaway to beautiful islands. Housing a population of fewer than 2000 people, this island stands to be the sixth-largest...

30. Khao Yai National Park

30 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Khao Yai National Park is Thailand's oldest and most visited national park established in 1962. It covers more than 2,100 square kilometers. The park boasts a lush green landscape, rugged mountains with thick forests, marvellous waterfalls, exotic species of birds and a...

31 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Melaka was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, in 2008. It is a city that is culturally rich and also has a number of historical sites for visits. There is also a little river running through the city, providing it with a calm, peaceful aura.

32. Koh Samet

32 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Located about 168 kms from Bangkok and 74 Kms from Pattaya to the south, Koh Samet is a popular weekend getaway for locals and tourists alike. This slender island, known for its pristine blue waters, colourful coral reefs, marine life and several powdery white beaches, was once a backpackers haven b...

33. Con Dao Islands

33 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

A picturesque archipelago of 16 Islands, Con Dao lies off the southern coast of Vietnam. Out of the 16, Con Son is the largest and the only inhabited island. However, even the uninhabited islands are rich with stunning beaches. Emerging out of its past as prison islands for prisoners of war, the de...

34. Similan Islands

34 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Similan is an archipelago of 11 small islands located around 120 km from Phuket in the Andaman Sea. They are part of a protected National Park focusing on the conservation and protection of wildlife. These are one of Thailand's most stunning places, with splendidly picturesque white sand beache...

35 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Trang is a city in Southern Thailand known for its food and culture. It shares the same traditional heritage as the nearby cities of Krabi and Phuket. It is not crowded, but still a very lively city with many natural attractions surrounding it. Most people use Trang just as a transit destination to ...

36. Kanchanaburi

36 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Blessed with ancient rainforests, waterfalls and limestone caves, Kanchanaburi is a popular resort town located at the confluence of the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai Rivers in western Thailand. Regarded as Thailand's microcosm, Kanchanaburi and its surrounding region boast stylish resorts, scenic reservo...

37. Lai Chau

37 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Nestled in the midst of sloping mountains and plateaus, Lai Chau is a quaint town with monumental government buildings. This town offers you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the mystic scenery of the Vietnamese countryside. In addition to that, you can learn about the locals, go trekking, backp...

38. Sukhothai

38 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Sukhothai is home to approximately 190 ancient sites and temple ruins. It is known to mark the beginning of the Thai civilisation. Most of the monuments and ruins are restored at the Sukhothai Historical Park, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

39 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Son La is a picturesque Vietnamese town hidden amidst towering mountains. The town has a dark past as it played house to one of the most brutal prisons in the world. Today, all that remains is the ruins and a tiny town with ghosts of its past deceptively hidden behind its natural rivers, trees and f...

40. Koh Samui

40 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

The second-largest island of Thailand after Phuket, Ko Samui is a gem of an island in the Koh Samui (or Samui) Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand. It is a part of the Surat Thani province and located 35km from Surat Thani. Once a hidden secret of only persevering travelers, Samui Island has transfo...

41 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Located between Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai, this beautiful little town of Pai is surrounded by mountains everywhere, and is a dream destination for a traveller. The alluring river Pai flows across this town which makes rafting a popular sport here. Besides that, trekking and hiking are other advent...

42. Nha Trang

42 out of 78 Places To Visit in Southeast Asia

Home to some of the most beautiful bays in the world, Nha Trang, on the coast of southern central Vietnam, is a popular beach resort city. While the fine powdery white crescent beach is a highlight of the shoreline, regular makeovers have produced parks, sculpture gardens, bright promenades, and bea...

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  • 20 Must Visit Attractions In...

Must-Visit Attractions in Thailand

Wat Rong Khun also known as the White Temple, cant be missed on a trip to Thailand

Millions of tourists visit Thailand year after year, and the country surely has an attraction for everyone. From sleepy northern cities to a thriving capital and pristine islands galore, the country is eager to please all visitors. See what the hype is about with these must-visit attractions in Thailand.

You can experience the best of Thailand through the eyes of a Local Insider by joining Culture Trip’s exclusive 10-day Northern Thailand adventure , or our specially curated 10-day Southern Thailand tour .

1. The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

Buddhist Temple

Wat Phra Kaew Temple of the Emerald Buddha inside the Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

Located adjacent the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok is both the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. It was built next to the river strategically in order to help defend the palace from possible invasions. Construction of the palace began in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, and was not finished until the late 1800s. No member of the royal family has lived here since 1925 – today it mainly acts as one of the biggest tourist hot spots in the city. This is also where visitors will find the stunning temple of Wat Phra Kaew, otherwise known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Grand Palace is one of the most frequented attractions in the world, and it is estimated that some eight million tourists visit each year.

2. Doi Suthep

Woman tourist with red traditional Thai umbrella near Pagoda and blooming tree with pink flowers at Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand

3. Ayutthaya Historical Park

Park, Ruins

Old famous temple, Wat Yai Chaimongkol, in Thailand

Buddhist Temple, School

The woman pay respect to the Load Golden Buddha, Wat Pho in Bangkok ,Thailand

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Full Moon Party

Backpackers and partiers flock to the Full Moon Party in Thailand each month to see for themselves what all the hype is about. The festivity goes down on the island of Koh Phangan on Haad Rin Beach. The infamous party is known for the large crowds of neon painted and bikini-ridden tourists who frequent them, with vibrant buckets of booze in tow to get the party started. Fire shows and live DJs are guaranteed to make an appearance, with parties raging until early morning.

Head to Haad Rin Beach for a Full Moon Party

5. Railay Bay

Natural Feature

Landscape of scenic big cliffs on seashore coastline on empty West Railay Beach

6. New Lumpinee Boxing Stadium

Stadium, Sports Center

Thai Boxing Lumpinee Stadium Bangkok Thailand

Floating Markets Near the Capital

Before the capital was furnished with roadways, the many weaving waterways acted as the main form of transportation. Many of these waterways have since been filled in to make way for the capital’s urban decor, but venture outside the city center and visitors will find many of these floating markets still exist. Floating markets provide visitors to Thailand with a unique shopping experience. Colorful boats are filled with even more vibrant goods, equipped with everything from souvenirs to tasty traditional Thai food.

Stock up on goods at a floating Market near Bangkok

7. Wat Arun

Wat Arun Temple, Bangkok

8. Maya Bay

J5JMHX Sunset Phi phi Le island Maya bay Thailand

9. Chatuchak Weekend Market, Kamphaeng Phet 3 Road

Market, Shop, Store, Gym, Park

colorful people at the Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok

10. Khao Yai National Park

Natural Feature, Park, Hiking Trail

Monkey Thailand Khao Yai National Park

Erawan Falls

Though the city of Kanchanaburi is known for its many museums and historic relics found throughout, one of the most noteworthy finds in this western town are the Erawan Falls . Found in Erawan National Park, which spans over 1.5km, the seven-tiered fall is one of the main reasons why visitors frequent this park. Both tourists and locals take to the cool, emerald pools found at each level, finding refuge from Thailand’s heat.

Discover stunning waterfalls in Erawan National Park

Chao Phraya River

The Chao Phraya River , otherwise known as the River of Kings, is one of the most important waterways in Thailand. Some of the top attractions in the capital are found along its banks, and it is one of the major transportation hubs in the city. Whether visitors take to the river to enjoy a dinner cruise or hop on the Chao Phraya River Express Boat to explore Bangkok, there are many ways to explore this particular waterway.

Take a river tour boat on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

11. Sukhothai Historical Park

Buddha image in ruined church of temple in Sukhothai historical park, travel destination of Thailand

12. Elephant Sanctuary

Natural Feature, Park

North of Chiang Mai, Thailand. A girl is stroking an elephant in a sanctuary for old elephants.

13. White Temple

Art Gallery

The Wat Rong Khun White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Khao San Road

No backpacking trip is complete without a night out on the infamous Khao San Road. It is about 410 meters in length and takes only about five minutes – depending on the crowd – to walk it in its entirety. The street is lined with bars, clubs, cheap street eats and loads of affordable accommodation, which is why budget-friendly backpackers tend to flock to this particular stretch of road. Whether visitors are hankering for a scorpion or want to experience a unique night out, this is the place to visit.

Bangkok’s Khao San Road can’t be missed on a trip to Thailand

Red Light Districts

Whether visitors make their way to Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza or Patpong, they must feast their eyes upon at least one red light district before departing the Land of Smiles. These streets are some of the most vibrant, seedy, yet interesting stretches of roads and areas in all of Thailand. Be warned, however, that prostitution has been illegal in Thailand since 1960.

Red Light District ‘Soi Cowboy’ in Bangkok

Sunday Walking Street Market

Though there are many markets and night bazaars located in the city of Chiang Mai, none are as noteworthy as the Sunday Walking Street Market. It is centrally located, and the one-kilometer road where it is found is closed to traffic, so visitors can meander and browse the plethora of goods in peace. The market is filled with handmade handicrafts this region is well-known for. Be sure to barter with vendors to get the best prices.

See local art pieces at the Sunday Walking Street Market in Chiang Mai

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7 of the best places in Southeast Asia for solo travelers

Morgan Awyong

Jul 12, 2024 • 11 min read

tourist attractions of southeast asia

Stay safe, stay on budget and experience Southeast Asia solo at these welcoming destinations Jackyenjoyphotography / Getty Images

One day you're staring at waterfalls; the next, skyscrapers. As one of the smaller subregions in the world, Southeast Asia is incredible, with diverse cultures and landscapes that stand vividly distinct once you cross borders.

For the solo traveler – both aspiring and seasoned – the region has all the appealing hallmarks of a satisfying destination. Firstly, there's all that life-changing food. From the invigorating kick of tom yum soup to the alluring wok-y smokiness of char kway teow (stir-fried thick noodles), each day is already a win with delicious eats.

Then, a dense network of flights, trains and buses gives you access to the smallest of provinces, encouraging free-spirited exploration. Sometimes luxurious, other times rickety, it all adds to the checkerboard experiences that make trips memorable. 

And while expenses and safety are often concerns for solo travelers, Southeast Asia proves to be welcoming in those aspects. It's not difficult to find single rooms in boutique hotels to save on costs, especially for hot spots like Thailand and Vietnam. Hostels are also plentiful and provide a great way to meet people and share activities with. Local transportation and street food remain affordable, and crime rates are low in most cities. More often than not, it is the feeling of unfamiliarity that travelers confuse as being unsafe.

Admittedly, with so many cities to choose from, narrowing down your options can be a challenge. Bearing in mind the cornerstones to successful solo travel – reliable wi-fi, ease of communication, and accessible transportation – here are the best places to travel solo in Southeast Asia.

A path lined with palm trees leads to a golden domed mosque

1. Singapore

Best for first-time solo travelers

With skyscrapers that kiss the clouds and gardens that seem AI generated, the island state of Singapore is commonly relegated as a layover "bucket list" destination in Southeast Asia, famous for its magnificent attractions but also eye-watering price tag . 

Ignore the latter. One can circumvent this deliciously by dining at its hawker centers , where the UNESCO-approved heritage comes in the form of savory Hainanese chicken rice, peppery Bak Kut Teh (pork spare rib soup) and other local delights. Travel anywhere around the island on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), and expect to pay S$2 for an average trip. And while it's easy to dismiss the country as just a place to eat and shop, the country's trading hub history means cultural remnants are sprinkled everywhere, including in some of its busiest, modern zones.

Thian Hock Keng , the oldest Chinese temple, sits right at the fringes of the business district, an everyday sight for the suits passing by. Just two streets from the golden dome of the Sultan Mosque , is the gothic Parkview Square tower and chart-topping lobby bar, Atlas . The best part – these places are free to visit. This stark contrast combined with easy accessibility is what makes Singapore compelling for solo travelers who want to ease themselves into the region, supported by outstanding infrastructure and safety, English-speaking locals and densely-packed easy-to-reach attractions.

A hawker prepares a noodle dish in a wok at a street food market

2. Penang, Malaysia

Best for vibrant street food and creative local culture 

Penang itself is divided into two parts – that of the mainland and Penang Island. The latter is where the UNESCO-listed streets of George Town reside, a treasure trove of decorated pre-war shophouses and clanhouses intermixed with cute cafes and a street art scene that adds whimsy to the sleepy city. And because of its humble appeal, operators accept smaller numbers, which means individual travelers will find it easier to be confirmed for activities such as cooking classes and walking tours.

The relaxed atmosphere is only happily disrupted by one thing – the street vendors. The meal-centric hawkers often operate for short hours only, with some showing up for breakfast, and others for dinner. These seasoned masters will quickly whip up a bowl of wonton (dumpling) noodles or Penang Laksa (spicy noodles) for hungry diners. Popular venues include New Lane, Kimberly St and Chulia St. Solo diners can enjoy budget meals as low as RM10, and the makeshift seatings encourage tables to be shared, so it's a great opportunity for some chat with fellow diners. 

Other than its melting pot of Malay, Chinese and Indian influences, the Peranakan culture is also evident in the city, with a museum and hotels such as Cheong Fatt Sze and the Edison George Town capitalizing on its intricate designs. While there are no single rooms, with rooms starting from under RM600, those into affordable luxury can consider these a heritage treat. Just a few steps away, the new the George Penang offers the same but in a more colonial setting.This, when stacked next to the random murals and weekend maker markets, such as Hin Bus Depot , give Penang an artsy vibe and endearing appeal. For the solo visitor who loves serendipitous street discoveries, the city rewards with its pretty (and delicious) surprises.

A long sandy beach, with a solo figure walking along, shrouded in mist

3. Danang, Vietnam

Best for an idyllic coastal escape and gateway to varied experiences

Danang 's graceful arc of a coastline is as stunning as they come, punctuated at the end by the majestic Lady Buddha statue on the Son Tra peninsula. The hotels by the bay recognize this, often maximizing room views with large windows, balconies and infinity pools. Gazing out to the endless blue is therapy on its own. Solo travelers on a budget needn't worry about missing out as rooms here average 1,000,000d.

As the gateway to the more bucolic central Vietnam , the city is far less hectic than the two other "capitals". For those unused to the country's hectic moped culture, this can be a lifesaver, as the traffic here is easier for pedestrians to navigate. And for moving about, the Grab app offers motorbike and car options, with fares as low as 20,000d.

The beaches are free of touts and particularly good for hassle-free solo strolls. It's also a great stretch for people watching, with the odd chance to witness live catches by local fishers. Solo travelers who love to connect with locals will find them especially amenable to sharing their stories here – and sometimes even their bounty. Otherwise, the southern stretch invites one to linger with its food trucks and photogenic spots.

It's easy to take a break with the amount of cafes in town, serving up excellent Vietnamese coffee and fruit juices. And when one needs to connect home or check on some emails, they act as ideal hot spots for the roving traveler or digital nomad.

But when one wants to switch it up, there's the quaint town of Hoi An with its old-style architecture an hour away south, and the ancient imperial fortress complex of Hue less than two hours to the north. You can even opt in for some cooler weather (and some spectacular cable car rides) by heading up Bana Hills, a French colonial resort that's been integrated into a theme park.

Large stone heads line a walkway towards an ancient gateway

4. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Best for intimate small city vibes and ethical tourism

The fame of Angkor Wat , and other temples like Ta Prohm and Banteay Srei , can sometimes eclipse what Siem Reap is all about. Past the world-famous sites, the humble city, in its small craft markets and leisurely street-side dining, offers an authentic look at its people who have lived in the heritage site's shadow.

When shopkeepers or tuk-tuk drivers hawk their services in Cambodia , it is often a gentle invite that can be easily declined. Often clustered in the town's Old Market, this means the solo traveler can comfortably pick and choose any of these services and be spontaneous in their planning. And when you wish to connect with other travelers, Pub St's many eateries and bars are a great place to hang out, with tourists gathering after a day of temple-hopping. 

If conscientious travel is a priority, then Siem Reap offers plenty of opportunities to give back to the community. Phare Circus funds education for underprivileged children and Haven restaurant provides free training for young adults to boost their job prospects, while Lotus Farm offers employment and fair wages to local women and farmers.

Tourists walk along a street lined with neon signs

5. Bangkok, Thailand

Best for inclusivity

If diversity is what you crave, then Bangkok is the place to visit – and the capital doesn't hold back in the slightest. As you stroll down the streets, you'll be met with constant human and vehicle traffic, waylaid by vendors selling anything from fresh-cut fruits to cheeky slogan tees. Behind them, gleaming malls tempt you in for some air-conditioned relief.

And yet, this doesn't feel chaotic at the least, which is perhaps the magic of Bangkok. In its kaleidoscope of people and attractions, it balances itself out. The riotous Khao San Rd is met with tranquil temples like Wat Pho and Wat Arun. The frayed nerves from catching a ride on a moped is easily soothed by a massage. And after being soaked with perspiration from a steaming tom yam hotpot, an elegant rooftop bar and its fancy cocktails welcome you just the same. With its evocative platter of offerings, spontaneous solo travelers who hate to plan can still easily fill their itinerary in this city.

The popular destination has seen intense competition from operators, so expect to find rooms at a steal and without single supplements. Hostels are sprinkled all about town, and although many are concentrated around Khao San Rd, the noise and crowds can be overwhelming. Instead, head to Chinatown or Silom for more relaxed vibes, with options like Silom Space Hostel , Kinnon Hostel , and Prince Theatre Heritage Stay offering themed experiences at incredible value.

Having just legalized same-sex marriage, the city continues to be the region's leading champion in LGBTIQ+ rights. The secret, perhaps, lies with the country's warm people, easily felt through their easy smiles and open spirit. This tolerant and inclusive atmosphere makes Bangkok an undeniably electric destination for all travelers, regardless of their background or identity, whether they're traveling alone or as part of a group.

People walk over a red bridge leading to a temple on a lake

6. Hanoi, Vietnam

Best for its unpretentious vibes

Despite decades of attention from tourists, Hanoi is one of the few cities in the region that has remained relatively unchanged by its popularity. Sure, certain cafes may have gotten a fresh coat of paint, and hotels took the chance from the pandemic to renovate, but by and large, most of the businesses remain the same, speaking to the resilience of the Vietnamese and their slow but steady ways.

More importantly, the city isn't trying to be something it's not. Locals go about their daily lives with a genuine, unpretentious spirit that keeps Hanoi feeling refreshingly authentic; which to casual observers might seem aloof, but is largely not personal. It is this unvarnished appeal that has won it fans, including from the late Anthony Bourdain .

Once you've mastered the traffic crossings (pro-tip: when the traffic thins, walk at an even pace and the vehicles will avoid you), the city opens up for easy exploration. Wander through the enchanting Old Quarter, a colorful maze of narrow streets lined with shops and street food stalls. Take a break at one of the local cafes and order a strong coffee with condensed milk, best enjoyed on a short stool as you watch the world go by. Or hover around Hoan Kiem Lake , especially on the weekends, when the roads close and residents spill into the streets, letting visitors witness buskers, dancing troops and impromptu skipping groups as a slice of local recreation. Feel free join in anytime – Vietnamese people are a sociable lot, and solo travelers will find themselves making transient connections easily. Don't be surprised if you're approached by local youths when walking about – they often just wish to practice their English skills and are more than happy to make recommendations. 

Hanoi also serves as a springboard for neighboring attractions in northern Vietnam. Sail between the dramatic limestone pillars of Halong Bay , or opt for the less crowded beauty of Lan Ha Bay , an emerging sister site. Ninh Binh 's picturesque mountains and hidden caves are similar to Halong's but on land. And for those who love to trek, Sapa 's cooler climate, breathtaking rice terraces, and local ethnic groups like the Hmong, will certainly add to a fuller Vietnam experience.

People in a standing tree pose at an outdoors yoga class

7. Bali, Indonesia

Best for wellness, beaches and digital nomads

Depending who you speak to, Bali 's transformation from small spiritual island to global mecca for alternative therapies is as much a curse as it is a gift. After both Eat, Pray, Love , both the book and 2010-movie, highlighted the destination, its popularity has seen rapid developments from an international set, adding beach clubs and pool villas stretching northwards from Kuta Beach .  

But despite what some might think, the "Island of the Gods" remains a paradise for nature lovers and spiritual seekers. The opportunity to trek through lush rice paddies in Ubud , relax on pristine beaches in South Kuta, or climb Mount Batur to witness a breathtaking sunrise are still entrancing, and Bali's rich Hindu culture is very much present in its ornate temples and daily shopfront offerings.

For solo travelers seeking like-minded individuals, meet them easily through the many activities, including ubiquitous wellness retreats and yoga classes. Furthermore, the demographic has also evolved into one welcoming of digital nomads – often clustered in the Canggu area – so those wishing to network with others can easily form connections and friendships at a local business, while sipping on cocktails or tucking into a vegan poke bowl.

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Travel + Leisure Readers’ 25 Favorite Asia and Southeast Asia Resorts of 2024

The best resorts in Asia and Southeast Asia in our annual “World’s Best Awards” survey for 2024.

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What readers loved about asia resorts, asia resorts winner, asia resorts full list, what readers loved about southeast asia resorts.

  • Southeast Asia Resorts Winner

Southeast Asia Resorts Full List

Courtesy of Alma Resort

You could devote all your vacation days to Asia — a titanic continent that spans more than 17 million square miles, with 48 countries — yet there will always be more to uncover. You’ll find beaches on remote islands, hole-in-the-wall restaurants that cozy up to Michelin-starred venues , ruins of lost civilizations, and yes, hotels that offer enough of an excuse to pack your suitcase and go east. Asia is a destination that excels in both the classic and cutting-edge, and nowhere is that more apparent than in this year’s World’s Best Awards survey.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Hotels were classified as either resort hotel, city hotel, inn, or safari lodge based on their location and amenities, and they were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Rooms/facilities

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

When you’re a hotel in the world’s largest continent, the competition is unquestionably stiff, so being ranked among the best carries great weight. This year, Travel + Leisure readers favored properties in Southeast Asia in particular, with nearly half located in Thailand, Vietnam, or Indonesia. Among them was Capella Ubud, Bali (No. 4), which one reader described as “an absolute dream,” thanks to its incredible staff and attention to detail.

India was not far behind, impressively snagging seven spots — the most of any one country represented — including big-name brands like the Taj, Six Senses, and Oberoi. The beachfront Taj Exotica pulled in at No. 10, with one reader noting it’s a “great place for families to get together and enjoy time at the beach.” Another wrote, “Their food and beverage are yum. Staff is attentive. This property has my heart.”

The Maldives also had a strong showing with four properties: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi (No. 3). Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas (No. 6), Joali Maldives (No. 8), and Gili Lankanfushi (No. 17).

One entity took home the winning title in not just Asia, but also this year’s list of top 100 hotels in the world. Read on to discover why.

The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur

Courtesy of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

“Truly magical” was one T+L reader’s impression of this year’s winner, the Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, designed to resemble a Rajasthani fort. Set on 32 acres just outside India’s Pink City , the property’s address promises serenity — as does the 18th-century on-site temple and accommodations, which range from elegant rooms to spacious villas with private pools to glamping tents with claw-foot tubs. But it’s not just the lodging and location that received rave reviews. One reader shared, “The staff and management team is extremely friendly, capable, and will exceed all of your expectations.”

1. The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur : India

Reader Score: 99.79

2. Alma Resort : Cam Ranh, Vietnam

Reader Score: 99.20

3. Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi : South Malé Atoll, Maldives

4. Capella Ubud, Bali : Bali

Reader Score: 99.09

5. Six Senses Fort Barwara : Rajasthan, India

Reader Score: 99.06

6. Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas : Baa Atoll, Maldives

Reader Score: 98.95

7. The Mulia : Bali, Indonesia

Reader Score: 98.92

8. Joali Maldives : Raa Atoll, Maldives

Reader Score: 98.88

9. Nihi Sumba : Sumba, Indonesia

Reader Score: 98.85

10. Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Goa : India

Reader Score: 98.80

11. (tie) The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra : India

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Reader Score: 98.74

12. (tie) The St. Regis Bali Resort : Indonesia

Reader Score: 98.74

13. The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur : India

Reader Score: 98.67

14. The Oberoi Vanyavilas Wildlife Resort, Ranthambhore : India

Reader Score: 98.53

15. Hyatt Regency Koh Samui : Thailand

Reader Score: 98.50

16. Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach : Bali, Indonesia

Reader Score: 98.44

17. Gili Lankanfushi : Maldives

Reader Score: 98.35

18. The Laguna, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Nusa Dua, Bali : Indonesia

Reader Score: 98.22

19. The Leela Palace Udaipur : India

Reader Score: 98.13

20. The Standard, Hua Hin : Thailand

Reader Score: 97.82

Southeast Asia is home to some of the best hotels in the world — this we know. But T+L readers are here to pinpoint the best of the best, and this year’s top properties had a common refrain: above-and-beyond service. Of The Standard, Hua Hin, in Thailand (No. 3), one reader effused, “I’ve had the pleasure of staying at this remarkable hotel multiple times, and each visit surpasses the last.” This is in part thanks to the “consistently friendly and attentive” staff and “hotel’s proximity to nature [that] creates a serene and tranquil atmosphere.” Over in Vietnam, the family-friendly Hyatt Regency Danang Resort & Spa made the cut at No. 5, with one reader calling out the “friendly staff,” also adding that the “pool villas are amazing.”

But, of course, it takes more than warm, welcoming service to land the No. 1 spot, and this year’s winner delivered. Read on to find out more.

Southeast Asia Resorts Winner 

Alma Resort

A 30-hectare stunner on Cam Ranh Peninsula in southern Vietnam, Alma Resort not only holds the title of best hotel in Southeast Asia, but also one of the best in Asia and the world. “Alma is exceptional,” wrote one T+L reader, calling out its laundry list of “incredible facilities.” This comprises 12 (yes, 12) swimming pools, a water park with a lazy river, and other kid-friendly to-dos like a science museum and cinema. But grown-ups will be spoiled for choice, too, thanks to a spacious spa and 14 restaurants and bars that include a fine-dining Italian venue and the beachfront Atlantis with fresh, local seafood. Add to that beautiful accommodations, some with private pools, and service that one T+L reader called “phenomenal,” and you have a recipe for a perfect beach vacation.

1. Alma Resort : Cam Ranh, Vietnam

2. Hyatt Regency Koh Samui : Thailand

3. The Standard, Hua Hin : Thailand

4. New World Phu Quoc Resort : Vietnam

Reader Score: 97.64

5. Hyatt Regency Danang Resort & Spa : Vietnam

Reader Score: 97.27

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Healthcare in Southeast Asia - statistics & facts

Medical tourism to southeast asia, future investments in southeast asia's healthcare sector, key insights.

Detailed statistics

Health ranking of countries worldwide in 2023, by health index score

Total health expenditure per capita SEA 2020, by country

Number of medical tourists to Malaysia 2013-2022

Further recommended statistics

  • Premium Statistic Gross medical cost trend worldwide in 2021-2023, by region
  • Premium Statistic Spending per capita on healthcare expenditure worldwide 2014-2029
  • Premium Statistic Spending per capita on healthcare expenditure in Southeast Asia 2014-2029
  • Premium Statistic Hospital market revenue SEA 2020-2029, by segment
  • Premium Statistic Hospital revenue SEA 2020-2029, by country

Gross medical cost trend worldwide in 2021-2023, by region

Gross medical cost trend rates worldwide from 2021 to 2022 with a forecast for 2023, by region

Spending per capita on healthcare expenditure worldwide 2014-2029

Spending per capita on healthcare expenditure worldwide from 2014 to 2029 (in U.S. dollars)

Spending per capita on healthcare expenditure in Southeast Asia 2014-2029

Spending per capita on healthcare expenditure in Southeast Asia from 2014 to 2029 (in U.S. dollars)

Hospital market revenue SEA 2020-2029, by segment

Hospital market revenue in Southeast Asia from 2020 to 2029, by segment (in billion U.S. dollars)

Hospital revenue SEA 2020-2029, by country

Estimated hospital market revenue in Southeast Asia from 2020 to 2029, by country (in million U.S. dollars)

Hospitals and healthcare facilities

  • Premium Statistic Number of hospitals SEA 2024, by country
  • Premium Statistic Number of hospital beds in Indonesia 2020-2022
  • Basic Statistic Number of beds in public and private hospitals in Malaysia 2017-2022
  • Premium Statistic Number of beds in inpatient healthcare facilities Singapore 2022, by facility type
  • Premium Statistic Total number of hospital beds Thailand 2016-2021
  • Premium Statistic Number of patient beds in Vietnam 2010-2022

Number of hospitals SEA 2024, by country

Estimated number of hospitals in Southeast Asia in 2024, by country

Number of hospital beds in Indonesia 2020-2022

Total number of hospital beds in Indonesia from 2020 to 2022

Number of beds in public and private hospitals in Malaysia 2017-2022

Number of beds in public and private hospitals in Malaysia from 2017 to 2022 (in 1,000s)

Number of beds in inpatient healthcare facilities Singapore 2022, by facility type

Number of beds in inpatient healthcare facilities in Singapore in 2022, by facility type

Total number of hospital beds Thailand 2016-2021

Total number of hospital beds in Thailand from 2016 to 2021 (in 1,000s)

Number of patient beds in Vietnam 2010-2022

Number of patient beds in Vietnam from 2010 to 2022 (in 1,000s)

Healthcare staff

  • Premium Statistic Number of physicians in Indonesia 2022, by type
  • Premium Statistic Number of registered doctors Malaysia 2015-2022
  • Premium Statistic Number of medical staff in Singapore 2022, by type
  • Premium Statistic Total number of doctors Thailand 2011-2021
  • Premium Statistic Number of doctors in Vietnam 2010-2022

Number of physicians in Indonesia 2022, by type

Number of medical doctors in Indonesia in 2022, by type

Number of registered doctors Malaysia 2015-2022

Number of registered doctors in Malaysia from 2015 to 2022 (in 1,000s)

Number of medical staff in Singapore 2022, by type

Number of medical staff in Singapore in 2022, by type

Total number of doctors Thailand 2011-2021

Total number of doctors in Thailand from 2011 to 2021 (in 1,000s)

Number of doctors in Vietnam 2010-2022

Number of doctors in Vietnam from 2010 to 2022 (in 1,000s)

Medical tourism

  • Premium Statistic Annual number of health tourists SEA 2022, by country
  • Premium Statistic Comparative costs for hip replacement surgeries SEA 2021, by country
  • Premium Statistic Comparative costs for knee replacement surgeries SEA 2021, by country
  • Premium Statistic Comparative costs for CABG surgery SEA 2021, by country

Annual number of health tourists SEA 2022, by country

Estimated annual number of medical tourists in Southeast Asia as of 2022, by country

Comparative costs for hip replacement surgeries SEA 2021, by country

Treatment costs for hip replacements in Southeast Asia compared to the United States as of 2021, by country

Comparative costs for knee replacement surgeries SEA 2021, by country

Treatment costs for knee replacements in Southeast Asia compared to the United States as of 2021, by country

Comparative costs for CABG surgery SEA 2021, by country

Treatments costs for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery in Southeast Asia compared to the United States as of 2021, by country

Pharmaceutical industry

  • Premium Statistic Pharma market revenue SEA 2019-2028, by segment
  • Premium Statistic Pharma market revenue SEA 2019-2028, by country
  • Premium Statistic OTC pharma market revenue SEA 2019-2028, by segment
  • Premium Statistic OTC pharma market revenue SEA 2016-2028, by country
  • Premium Statistic Pharma trade balance SEA 2022, by country

Pharma market revenue SEA 2019-2028, by segment

Pharmaceutical market revenue in Southeast Asia from 2019 to 2023, with forecasts to 2028, by segment (in million U.S. dollars)

Pharma market revenue SEA 2019-2028, by country

Revenue of the pharmaceutical market in Southeast Asia from 2019 to 2023, with forecasts to 2028, by country (in million U.S. dollars)

OTC pharma market revenue SEA 2019-2028, by segment

Revenue of the OTC pharmaceuticals market in Southeast Asia from 2019 to 2023, with forecasts to 2028, by segment (in million U.S. dollars)

OTC pharma market revenue SEA 2016-2028, by country

Revenue of the OTC pharmaceuticals market in Southeast Asia from 2016 to 2023, with forecasts to 2028, by country (in million U.S. dollars)

Pharma trade balance SEA 2022, by country

Trade balance of pharmaceutical products in Southeast Asia in 2022, by country (in million U.S. dollars)

Medical technology industry

  • Premium Statistic MedTech market revenue SEA 2020-2029, by segment
  • Premium Statistic MedTech revenue SEA 2024, by country
  • Premium Statistic MedTech funding deals share SEA Q1 2020-Q1 2023, by country
  • Premium Statistic Ten largest MedTech funding deals SEA Q1 2020-Q1 2023, by funding share
  • Premium Statistic Distribution of top 50 HealthTech startups SEA 2021-2023, by sector

MedTech market revenue SEA 2020-2029, by segment

Estimated medical technology market revenue in Southeast Asia from 2020 to 2029, by segment (in billion U.S. dollars)

MedTech revenue SEA 2024, by country

Estimated medical technology market revenue in Southeast Asia in 2024, by country (in million U.S. dollars)

MedTech funding deals share SEA Q1 2020-Q1 2023, by country

Share of funding deals in the medical devices and digital health sector in Southeast Asia between 1st quarter 2020 and 1st quarter 2023, by country

Ten largest MedTech funding deals SEA Q1 2020-Q1 2023, by funding share

Largest deals in the medical devices and digital health sector in Southeast Asia from 1st quarter 2020 to 1st quarter 2023, by funding share

Distribution of top 50 HealthTech startups SEA 2021-2023, by sector

Distribution of top 50 HealthTech startups in Southeast Asia from 2021 to 2023, by sector

Consumer perspective

  • Premium Statistic Leading health challenges to resolve SEA 2023, by country
  • Premium Statistic Preferred channels for medicine purchases SEA 2023, by country
  • Premium Statistic Most popular health and wellness products and services SEA 2023, by country

Leading health challenges to resolve SEA 2023, by country

Leading health concerns that consumers desired to resolve in Southeast Asia as of January 2023, by country

Preferred channels for medicine purchases SEA 2023, by country

Preferred channels for purchasing prescribed medicines in Southeast Asia as of January 2023, by country

Most popular health and wellness products and services SEA 2023, by country

Preferred products and services purchased for health and wellness in Southeast Asia as of January 2023, by country

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17 Top Tourist Attractions in Moscow

By Alex Schultz · Last updated on May 4, 2024

The capital of Russia is an incredible place to explore. Visitors to Moscow come away spellbound at all the amazing sights, impressed at the sheer size and grandeur of the city. Lying at the heart of Moscow, the Red Square and the Kremlin are just two of the must-see tourist attractions; they are the historical, political and spiritual heart of the city – and indeed Russia itself.

A fascinating city to wander around, stunning cathedrals, churches, and palaces lie side-by-side with bleak grey monuments and remains from the Soviet state. In addition to its plethora of historical and cultural tourist attractions, Moscow is home to world-class museums, theaters and art galleries.

Renowned for its performing arts, fantastic ballets and amazing circus acts, catching a show while in Moscow is a must. The wealth of brilliant restaurants, trendy bars, and lively nightlife means there is something for everyone to enjoy.

See also: Where to Stay in Moscow

17. Tsaritsyno Palace

Tsaritsyno Palace

Once the summer residence of Catherine the Great, the stunning Tsaritsyno Palace is now a museum-reserve. The architecture is magnificent and there is a lovely park surrounding it for visitors to explore.

Located in the south of Moscow, the palace was commissioned in 1775 and recent renovations mean its lavish interior looks better than ever before with its elegant halls and beautiful staircases.

The exhibits on display look at the life of the empress as well as the history of Tsaritsyno itself. The huge palace grounds are also home to some other delightful buildings with the elegant opera house and wonderful brickwork of the Small Palace being particularly impressive to gaze upon.

VDNKh

Starting out in 1935 as the ‘All-Union Agricultural Exhibition’, VDNKh has slowly morphed over the years into the fascinating open-air museum of today. Remarkably, over 400 buildings can now be found within its confines.

The huge park complex has numerous pavilions representing former Soviet republics on show, such as those of Armenia and Turkmenistan and the distinctive architecture of each of the buildings is always interesting to gaze upon. In addition to this there is the fascinating Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics which is dedicated to space exploration and the fun Moskvarium aquarium even offers you the chance to swim with dolphins.

With lots of eateries scattered about and numerous entertainment options such as horse-riding and zip-lining, there is something for everyone to enjoy; the Friendship of Nations fountain truly is wonderful.

15. Kremlin Armoury

Kremlin Armoury

One of the oldest museums in the city, the Kremlin Armoury has a wealth of treasures; highlights include the ornate Grand Siberian Railway egg, the historic Cap of Monomakh and the stunning Imperial Crown of Russia which often has a crowd of tourists around it, jostling to take a photo.

Once the royal armory, there are loads of fascinating objects on display. Perusing the many sabers, jewelry, armor and more is as interesting as it is educational and entertaining and the swords are so finely crafted that you’ll almost wish you could pick up one and wield if yourself.

Established in 1851, the museum is situated in the Moscow Kremlin.

14. GUM Department Store

GUM Department Store

Standing for ‘Main Universal Store’ in Russian, GUM is stunning. Its wonderful skylights and beautiful facades mean it doesn’t look out of place alongside its illustrious neighbors on Red Square.

With over 200 shops, boutiques and upmarket eateries inside, it is a shopaholic’s heaven and concerned partners will be glad to find more affordable options alongside luxury brands such as Dior and Prada.

The main department store in the city, GUM was opened in 1893. The stunning architecture makes it well worth a visit even if shopping isn’t your thing.

13. Moscow Metro

Moscow Metro

It’s not often that public transport looks like a work of art. So many stops on the Moscow Metro will astound visitors with their beauty and elegance.

Decked in marble and with frescoes covering the walls, the stations are amazing to gaze upon and are part of one of the longest metro systems in the world, with the first stations opened in 1935.

Using the metro is the quickest and easiest way to get around Moscow and braving the crowds of commuters is well worth it for the beauty all around you.

12. Arbat Street

Arbat Street

An elegant yet lively street, Arbat is full of impressive architecture and was once a popular place to live for aristocrats, artists, and academics.

A historic place, it is down Arbat Street that Napoleon’s troops are said to have headed on their way to capture the Kremlin.

Nowadays, there are many cafes, restaurants, and shops, as well as various monuments and statues to former residents such as Alexander Pushkin who was reputed to be a lover of the Russian Empress due to his massive influence in court.

11. Novodevichy Convent

Novodevichy Convent

Drenched in history, the Novodevichy Convent is located in a striking building that was once a fortress. This captivating place is well worth visiting when in Moscow.

Founded in 1524, the convent houses four cathedrals; Smolensk Cathedral is the undoubted highlight due to its delightful 16th-century frescoes.

Wandering around the grounds is like stepping back in time. The Novodevichy Cemetery is where many famous leaders of the Soviet Union are buried, such as Yeltsin and Khrushchev.

10. Pushkin Museum

Pushkin Museum

Despite its name, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts actually has no connection at all to the famous poet other than that it was named in his honor after his death. A delight to visit, its extensive collection focuses on European art with masterpieces by Botticelli, Rembrandt, and van Gogh all featuring.

Sculptures, graphic art, paintings and more can be found in its beautiful galleries; various sections look at themes and epochs such as the Renaissance, the Dutch Golden Age, and Byzantine art.

Among the many highlights are the clownish characters which can be found in Cezanne’s Fastnacht (Mardi Gras) and the twirling ballerinas who look so elegant in Degas’ Blue Dancers. Picasso’s Young acrobat on a Ball is also well worth checking out for its interesting use of shapes and colors.

9. Christ The Savior Cathedral

Christ The Savior Cathedral

This gorgeous Russian Orthodox cathedral is located on the banks of the Moskva River, just a stone’s throw away from the Kremlin.

The church as it stands today was consecrated in 2000, as the original church that stood here was destroyed on the command of Josef Stalin in 1931 due to the anti-religious campaign.

With its delightful golden dome, spires and dazzling white facades, the Christ the Savior Cathedral is stunning. The interior is just as captivating to wander around, with its beautifully tiled floors and impressive altar.

8. Lenin Mausoleum

Lenin Mausoleum

Opened to the public in 1924, Lenin’s Mausoleum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Moscow. The red granite structure is located at the heart of the city in Red Square.

Lenin’s embalmed body lies in a glass sarcophagus; it is a somewhat eerie experience walking past the former leader of the Soviet Union but is well worth doing as you understandably can’t do it anywhere else in the world.

After visiting the mausoleum, head to the Kremlin wall right next to it for more graves of important communist figures such as Stalin and Brezhnev.

7. Tretyakov Gallery

Tretyakov Gallery

Home to the most extensive and impressive collection of Russian fine art in the world, the State Tretyakov Gallery is definitely worth visiting when in Moscow for the wealth of amazing art pieces that it has on display.

Having started out as the private art collection of the Tretyakov brothers, there are now over 130,000 exhibits. Highlights include the iconic Theotokos of Vladimir which you will almost certainly recognise despite probably not knowing the name and Rublev’s Trinity which is considered to be one of highest achievements in Russian art.

An absolute must for art lovers, the State Tretyakov Gallery will delight visitors with all that is has to offer.

6. Kolomenskoye

Kolomenskoye

Once a royal estate, Kolomenskoye is now a museum-reserve and lies a few kilometers outside of the city center. A captivating place to visit, there is a plethora of history on show and the site overlooks the Moskva River.

Consisting of four historical sites, there are extensive gardens for visitors to explore, as well as loads of interesting old buildings, the former village of Kolomenskoye itself and the impressive Palace of the Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich – once considered the Eighth Wonder of the World by contemporaries.

Among the many stunning sights, it is the brilliantly white Ascension Church that is the undoubted highlight – dating back to 1532.

5. Gorky Park

Gorky Park

Lying alongside the Moskva River, the huge Gorky Park is a lovely place to visit. Its extensive gardens are home to numerous cultural institutions and visitors should definitely check out the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and while the eclectic exhibits may not always feature such incredible sights as a balloon-covered rider on a zebra; they certainly always succeed in pushing back the boundaries of art.

Pop-up exhibitions and festivals can be found from time to time in the park itself and there is an open-air theatre and numerous eateries alongside a plethora of leisure activities.

Whether it’s cycling, table tennis or yoga that you are after or beach volleyball and rowing, Gorky Park certainly has it. In winter, there is a huge ice rink for visitors to enjoy.

4. Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre

The Bolshoi Theatre is the main theater in the country. The amazing opera and ballet performances it has put on over the centuries go a long way in explaining Russia’s rich history of performing arts.

While the Bolshoi Ballet Company was established in 1776, the theater itself was opened in 1825. The glittering, six-tier auditorium is lavishly and decadently decorated; it is a fitting setting for the world-class performances that take place on its stage.

Spending a night watching a performance of such classics as The Nutcracker or Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Theatre is sure to be a memorable experience and the beauty all around you only adds to the sense of occasion.

3. Moscow Kremlin

Moscow Kremlin

This famously fortified complex is remarkably home to five palaces and four cathedrals and is the historic, political and spiritual center of the city. The Kremlin serves as the residence for the country’s president. It has been used as a fort, and this fact is made clear by its sheer size. The Kremlin’s outer walls were built in the late 1400s.

Under Ivan III, better known as Ivan the Great, the Kremlin became the center of a unified Russian state, and was extensively remodeled. Three of the Kremlin’s cathedrals date to his reign that lasted from 1462-1505. The Deposition Church and the Palace of Facets were also constructed during this time. The Ivan the Great Bell Tower was built in 1508. It is the tallest tower at the Kremlin with a height of 266 feet (81 meters).

Joseph Stalin removed many of the relics from the tsarist regimes. However, the Tsar Bell, the world’s largest bell, and the Tsar Cannon, the largest bombard by caliber in the world, are among the remaining items from that era. The Kremlin Armory is one of Moscow’s oldest museums as it was established more than 200 years ago. Its diamond collection is impressive.

The Kremlin’s gardens – Taynitsky, Grand Kremlin Public and Alexander – are beautiful. The Kremlin has also served as the religious center of the country, and there is a tremendous number of preserved churches and cathedrals here. The collections contained within the museums include more than 60,000 historical, cultural and artistic monuments. Those who enjoy the performing arts will want to consider attending a ballet or concert at the State Kremlin Palace. Completed in 1961, it is the only modern building in the Kremlin.

2. Red Square

Red Square

Lying at the heart of Moscow, Red Square is the most important and impressive square in the city. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions due to its wealth of historical sights and cultural landmarks.

Drenched in history, the huge square is home to incredible sights such as the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s Mausoleum, among others. Consequently, it is not to be missed when in Moscow as it really is home to the city’s most stunning monuments.

It is here that many important moments in Russian history took place; the former marketplace has hosted everything from Tsar’s coronations and public ceremonies to rock concerts and Soviet military parades. Wandering around the massive square is a humbling experience and undoubtedly one of the highlights the city has to offer.

1. Saint Basil’s Cathedral

Saint Basil's Cathedral

Located in the impressive Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral is gorgeous; its delightful spires appear as if out of a fairytale. The most recognizable building in the country, the cathedral is very much a symbol of Russia. No visit to Moscow is complete without having taken in its unique and distinctive features.

Ivan the Terrible ordered the cathedral’s construction in the mid-16th century, and legend holds that Ivan put out the architect’s eyes so that he would be unable to build another cathedral more glorious than St. Basil’s. Designed to resemble the shape of a bonfire in full flame, the architecture is not only unique to the period in which it was built but to any subsequent period. For various reasons, both Napoleon and Stalin wanted to destroy the cathedral but fortunately did not succeed.

Known for its various colors, shapes and geometric patterns, St. Basil’s Cathedral houses nine different chapels that are all connected by a winding labyrinth of corridors and stairways. On the lower floor, St. Basil’s Chapel contains a silver casket bearing the body of St. Basil the Blessed.

Throughout the cathedral are many beautiful murals, frescoes, wooden icons and other art works and artifacts. Outside the cathedral is a lovely garden with the bronze Monument to Minin and Pozharsky, who rallied an all-volunteer Russian army against Polish invaders during a period of the late 16th century known as the Times of Troubles.

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15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Moscow

Written by Diana Bocco Updated Dec 23, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Moscow is one of Europe's most enigmatic destinations, home to a fascinating history and colorful, awe-inspiring architecture you won't find anywhere else in the world. Moscow might be one of the most populous cities in the world with over 11 million inhabitants, but this hasn't changed its strong cultural and social traditions.

Walk the cobblestone streets of the Red Square or the banks of the Moskva River early in the morning, and it's hard to tell what century you're in.

Tsarist architecture, must-see churches, and glamorous shopping opportunities blend together for a visual experience you won't forget. For ideas on what to see and do while visiting Russia, here's our list of top tourist attractions in Moscow.

1. Marvel at the Size of the Kremlin

2. catch a performance at the bolshoi theatre, 3. shop at the luxurious gum, 4. make your way into lenin's mausoleum, 5. spend an hour (or three) at red square, 6. discover history at the museum of cosmonautics, 7. ride the stunning moscow metro, 8. explore the moscow state integrated museum-reserve, 9. spend a rainy day at the tretyakov gallery, 10. walk up and down arbat street, 11. stop by the vdnkh all-russian exhibition centre, 12. wander around gorky park, where to stay in moscow for sightseeing, map of tourist attractions & things to do in moscow.

Kremlin

Moscow's most recognizable structure is without a doubt the Kremlin, a 15th-century fortified complex that covers an area of 275,000 square meters surrounded by walls built in the 1400s.

The Grand Kremlin Palace -which has over 700 rooms- was once home to the Tsar family and is now the official residence of the president of the Russian Federation, although most heads of state choose to reside elsewhere.

The massive complex also includes many other buildings, some of which are open to the public and can be visited regularly. Aside from three cathedrals (including one where the Tsars were once crowned) and a number of towers, the Kremlin is also home to the Armory building, a museum holding everything from the royal crown and imperial carriages to the ivory throne of Ivan the Terrible and Fabergé eggs.

Bolshoi Theatre

The Bolshoi Theater is home to the largest and one of the oldest ballet and opera companies in the world . While the theater has undergone several major renovations over the past century-including a recent one in 2011 to restore some of the imperial architectural details-it still retains all of its Neoclassical grandeur.

The Bolshoi Theater you see today opened in 1824, after several older versions burned down. Inside, red velvet, a three-tiered crystal chandelier, and gilt moldings give the place a Byzantine-Renassaince grandiose feel like no other.

Catching a show from the resident ballet and opera troupes is a treat, as the theater often presents a number of classic performances, such as Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa and Rachmaninoff's Francesca da Rimini, both of which originally premiered here.

GUM

Moscow's oldest and most upscale shopping center is an architectural marvel. GUM (short for Glávnyj Universálnyj Magazín or "Main Universal Store") was built in the late 1800s in neo-Russian style to showcase a beautiful mix of a steel skeleton and 20,000 panels of glass forming an arched roof.

This was a unique construction at the time, since the glass had to be strong enough to support the snow-heavy Russian winters. The building is just as impressive outside, with all three levels covered in marble and granite.

While GUM is no longer the largest shopping center in Moscow, it's still by far the most beautiful. Home to brands like Gucci and Manolo Blahnik, this might not be the ideal destination for most budget-conscious visitors, but the beauty of the building itself is worth a visit.

On the third floor, there are also great dining options, including a Soviet-style canteen that serves traditional Russian food, and a stand selling ice cream made by hand using an original 1954 recipe originally approved by the Soviet government.

Lenin's Mausoleum

Lenin's Mausoleum, the final resting place of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, occupies a central spot in Red Square. His body has been in the mausoleum since his death in 1924-and although the original plan was for him to be buried after a short period of public display for mourning, the plan quickly changed.

After over 100,000 visited the tomb over a period of six weeks, it was decided that a new sarcophagus and a more permanent display space could actually preserve Lenin's body for much longer than expected-and Lenin's Mausoleum was built.

Over the years, the mausoleum and its marble stairs also became the main spot from where Soviet leaders would watch parades and events happening in Red Square.

Lenin's embalmed body can still be seen today, lying down in a bulletproof glass sarcophagus as if he's sleeping. While a visit to the mausoleum is certainly unusual, it has become a must-do for history buffs looking to understand how Lenin's legacy truly changed the nation. Come ready to wait, though -there are usually lines to get in.

St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square

All of Moscow's main streets start at Red Square, so it's easy to see why this is considered the heart of the city. A massive space of 330 meters by 70 meters, the square is flanked by the Kremlin, Lenin's Mausoleum, two cathedrals, and the State Historical Museum.

In 1945, a massive Victory Parade was held here to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviet Armed Forces.

St. Basil's Cathedral , one of the most recognizable buildings on the square, was built in 1555. The unique cathedral has architectural details inspired by Byzantine and Asian design, as well as details that resemble those found in famous mosques. There are nine individual chapels inside the church, all decorated with colorful mural art.

Both the square itself and the Kremlin are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites . On weekends, there are sometimes stalls selling souvenirs and traditional items here, such as matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls), at the entrance of the square.

Monument to the Conquerors of Space

At one point, Russia and the US were toe-to-toe when it came to space exploration. While that might no longer be the case, the museum's amazing collection-which includes over 85,000 items-is still awe-inspiring.

Main exhibits include the space capsule used by Yuri Gagarin , the first human to travel into outer space; a USSR flag with moon fragments; a Soviet spacesuit; and a rocket propulsion unit from the 1960s. A special two-story hall showcases sections of the Mir space station interior, and there are also models of the first sputniks and a replica miniature spaceship.

English-language tours are available, and there's also a Cinema Hall showing subtitled short films about the history of space exploration programs and the first manned space flight.

The museum is located inside the base of the monument to the Conquerors of Space, which was built almost 20 years before the museum opened.

Komsomolskaya Station on the Moscow metro

Riding the Moscow metro is an experience all in itself, but even just heading underground to walk through the stations is something no visitor should miss. With 223 stations and 12 metro lines crosscutting through Moscow, however, this can be tricky, so visiting at least a few of the most impressive ones is a good start.

Arbatskaya station was designed by a skyscraper architect, so it's no surprise that it features multicolored granite slabs and impressive bronze chandeliers.

Park Kultury station , located next to Gorky Park, is covered in marble and features reliefs of people involved in sports, while Teatralnaya station is decorated with porcelain figures dancing and wearing traditional Russian costumes.

The metro is open between 5:30am and 1:00am but it's very crowded in the early morning and after 4pm, so it's better to visit in the late morning or early afternoon to really appreciate the architecture without the crowds.

Kolomenskoye Estate

The Moscow State Integrated Art and Historical Architectural and Natural Landscape Museum-Reserve is a cultural open-air museum complex comprised of four different historical sites.

The most important site, the Kolomenskoye Estate, was once the summer residence of Tsars as far back as the 14 th century. The complex, which covers almost 300 hectares, is home to fairy-tale wooden palaces; a tent-roof stone church built in the 1500s; a water tower; fort towers and structures; and the 24-room Museum of Wooden Architecture , which includes the restored dining room of Tsar Alexei I.

Beautiful manicured gardens , riverside picnic areas, and a massive collection of both artifacts and structures make this a great destination to help you see what medieval Russia looked like. English-language tours are available, but you're also free to wander the grounds on your own.

Tretyakov Gallery

The largest collection of Russian art in the world sits here, with over 180,000 paintings, sculptures, and religious art dating back to over a millennia ago. The gallery, built using beautiful red and white colors from classical Russian architecture, is located near the Kremlin and it was built in the early 20 th century.

Significant art pieces include the Vladimir Mother of God; a Byzantine icon of the Virgin and child dating back to the 1100s; Andrei Rublev's The Trinity icon from the 15 th century; and several works by Ilya Repin, the most famous realist painter in Russia.

On the grounds of the museum, there is also an 86-meter-tall statue of Peter the Great, as well as a number of Socialist Realism sculptures.

Night view of Arbat Street decorated for the holidays

Moscow's one-kilometer-long pedestrian street has been around since the 15 th century. Originally a trade route in the outskirts of the city, Arbat Street is now very centrally located, home to posh buildings and lots of places to eat and shop.

Beautiful street lamps and two significant statues-one of Princess Turandot (from Puccini's last opera) and one of Soviet-era poet Bulat Okudzhava-adorn the street, which fills up with both locals and tourists on evenings and weekends.

A great place to pick up souvenirs or sit down at an outdoor café, Arbat Street also offers a chance to visit the former home of poet Alexander Pushkin and the café both Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy used to visit.

VDNKh All-Russian Exhibition Centre and the Friendship of the Peoples Fountain

Although it was originally designed as a general-purpose trade show venue, this park complex now houses amusement rides , ice rinks , and a number of galleries and other attractions for all ages.

The park's most famous landmarks are the Moskvarium, a marine biology center home to over 8000 species of marine animals, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, and a shopping center selling traditional products from former Soviet countries.

There's even a film museum showing Soviet cartoons or even a full-length film (for an extra fee) and an education center offering masterclasses on everything from becoming a barista to video montage (call or write in advance to find out which ones are English-friendly).

Soviet-era pavilions, sculptures, and fountains abound here as well, including the famous Friendship of the Peoples Fountain, which features statues of women dressed in costumes from different former Soviet countries.

Main entrance gate to Gorky Park

Named after the famous Russian writer Maxim Gorky (who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature five times but never won it) and sitting right across the Moskva River, Gorky Park covers 120 hectares of beautiful ponds and green spaces.

Popular with both locals and tourists, the park offers a variety of things to enjoy-from sunbeds, hammocks, and drinking fountains to free yoga classes and children's playgrounds. There's free Wi-Fi and sockets for charging your phone, as well as many food stands and plenty of wild animals, including deer, rabbits, and pheasants.

Visitors can rent paddle boats and bicycles to explore the park-and from May to October, there is also an open-air movie theater, as well as scheduled presentations by street performers, musicians, and artists. Gorky Park attracts the young and old, so don't be surprised to see a mix of people exercising, playing chess, and sunbathing.

Luxury Hotels :

  • Lotte Hotel Moscow is one of the top 5-star properties in Moscow offering the largest Royal Suite in Russia. The trendy rooms and suites here all have contemporary style and great city views. On-site amenities are plentiful. There are two restaurants: one serving contemporary Italian fare, and the other Japanese. There is an impressively lit indoor swimming pool, a well-known spa, and a state-of-the-art gym.
  • Another excellent luxury hotel is the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow . The residential-style property is in the heart of Moscow just next to the Bolshoi Theatre and within walking distance of the Kremlin and Red Square. The rooms and suites have been opulently designed by Tony Chi. The on-site restaurant serves a mix of European and Armenian specialities. There is also a Japanese sushi bar and a rooftop lounge with fabulous city views.
  • The St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya also has a central location just a few minutes from the Kremlin and Red Square. The 5-star property has a mix of elegant rooms and suites, including interconnecting room options for families with kids. There are multiple restaurants on-site including an Italian bistro. Other amenities include the fabulous Iridium Spa, which does a full range of treatments and has an indoor swimming pool, sauna, and steam room.

Mid-Range Hotels :

  • Palmira Business Club is a top mid-range choice. The contemporary lifestyle hotel offers well-appointed rooms and suites, including options for families. Suites are quite spacious and have kitchenettes. Amenities here include a complimentary breakfast at the on-site restaurant, a hot tub, sauna, and spa. There is also a fitness center.
  • The trendy Mercure Moscow Baumanskaya offers a mix of rooms and suites with contemporary decor. The mid-range hotel can arrange airport transportation and offers baggage storage. Other amenities include a restaurant and room service. The front desk is open 24 hours.
  • Boutique Hotel Brighton is about 10 minutes from the city center in a leafy park area. It offers excellent value for money and has charming rooms and suites with sound-proof windows and doors, as well as blackout curtains. A complimentary breakfast is served, and there is also an indoor swimming pool.

Budget Hotels :

  • Hotel Ibis Budget Moscow Panfilovskaya is about a 15-minute drive from Moscow's downtown, and it's within walking distance from a metro station that will take you there. The soundproof rooms at this budget property are clean, comfortable, and can sleep up to three people. The hotel is pet friendly, has paid parking available on-site, and also has a salon.
  • If you just need a budget hotel near the airport then check out Aviator Hotel Sheremetyevo . Located right at the airport, it has soundproof rooms, including options for families. Amenities include an indoor play area for kids, a sauna and swimming pool, and a free breakfast.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

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Exploring Russia: Whether you are interested in history, nature, or architecture, there's much to see in Russia. For a good introduction to some of the most fascinating spots in the country, take a look at our article on the Best Places to Visit in Russia . For more on Russia's second-largest city and all it has to offer, check out our piece on the Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in St. Petersburg .

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