A list of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia to visit at any time of the year with friends, family or your partner.
Southeast Asia is an area that has become very fashionable in the last decade. Millions of travellers excitedly buy their plane tickets in order to venture through unexplored beaches, jungles with exotic animals and strange century-old sacred temples.
The popularity of this zone is due to the sheer diversity that its different places offer. There are so many that it's difficult to choose the best ones in order to make the most of your time here! The internet is overloaded with countless blogs, articles and tips on what to visit in Southeast Asia. This is why we decided to do all the work for you and put together a list of the 25 most beautiful places in Southeast Asia. (Thank us later!)
1. El Nido, Philippines
Tucked away in the south of the Palawan Islands, El Nido is not just another photographic paradise but it's also an ideal place for water activities such as snorkelling and offshore trips that can be booked on site.
2. Bali, Indonesia
Rent a motorcycle and speed into the depths of Bali's exotic beaches and volcanoes while making sure to stop every once in a while and enjoy some of the most unique panoramas in the world. Bali is also an incredible place to get to know the locals and to learn about their distinctive culture.
Don't forget to taste the rich and abundant Indonesian cuisine on offer, but be sure to keep an eye out for the naughty monkeys that might try to steal off your plate!
>>> The best hostels in Bali.
If you arrive to Singapore after having already travelled around the neighbouring areas, you will surely be in for a big shock as you experience the cultural change! The contrast between Singapore and other places in Southeast Asia couldn't be more apparent, and you will notice this as soon as you step foot within this autonomous state situated in the extreme south of Malaysia.
It's a rich, luxurious country with a truly incomparable city atmosphere, making it a place that is often feared by the pockets of many travellers. However, there is nothing that a good low-cost hostel can't fix! Don't forget to dive into the famous infinity pool located at the top of Marina Bay Sands and enjoy the views of the skyscrapers. This is a prime photo spot so make the most of it and get that camera out!
>>> The best hostels in Singapore.
4. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
This is the capital of Cambodia, and it's known that Asian capitals are very dynamic and offer countless things to do. Admiring the old French and Colonial style architecture is definitely one of the highlights.
The most interesting thing is the tragic and historical event that happened in the past, the sad genocide caused by the fearsome community of Khmer Rouge.
>>> The best hostels in Phnom Penh.
5. Penang, Malaysia
Malaysia, the land of the famous Malaysian Tigers and the impressive Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Penang offers a surprising contrast where you will see how several Asian cultures are mixed.
George Town, its main urban settlement, with its modern culture and lively atmosphere, hosts an exceptional artistic scene and a series of incredible carnivals that should not be missed.
6. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand. It's fame is not only due to its particular culture, people and street food, but also thanks to the overwhelming media attention it has received in recent years (movies, documentaries etc.).
It is a hot, frantic and somewhat writhing city, but at the same time presents its history through temples, traditions, gastronomy and technology.
>>> The best hostels in Bangkok.
7. Bagan, Myanmar
Many say it should be classified as one of the wonders of the World, others say it should be a destination that brightens up magazine covers and luxury travel brochures. What we do know is that it is a spectacular place which is home to one of the most beautiful sunrises on the planet.
You can explore the site on foot or by bike, but try to climb to the highest peaks to observe those fabulous views of the temples and pagodas which are so frequented by the laughing families living there (who are very friendly by the way!)
>>> The best hostels in Bagan.
8. Trat, Thailand
Trat is not just another island or unknown destination. Trat is a Thai province located in the south of the country, next to its neighbour Cambodia. This area is the ideal place to experience the famous Thai street food.
Walk through the small stalls and try some spicy noodles or fried chicken as you watch local children ride their bikes at full speed around you.
9. Siargao, Philippines
Welcome to the Philippine's surfing capital, where not only will you run into very high waves, but also many opportunities to explore other areas independently should you choose to do so.
If you're an avid surfer, we advise you to go to Jacking Horse or Daku, both beautiful spots. If you know little about the sport, why not go swimming at Magpupungko's pools, or if you really have guts grab a flashlight and head over to Tayangban Cave Pool. You won't believe your eyes!
10. Monkey Island, Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay is another popular place visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. The geographical concept is simple: a series of mountains located in an extensive bay.
But this is not all, the past is somewhat darker: a legend tells that when a war broke out between the Vietnamese and Chinese people, a reddish dragon descended and defended the village. "Ha Long" literally means "descending dragon".
>>> The best hostels in Halong Bay.
11. Tam Coc, Vietnam
Rice fields, spectacular canals, long rivers and rock formations are some of the natural qualities of Tam Coc. We recommend day trips to really get to know the area and soak up the culture.
"Tam Coc", meaning three caves, is located 90 km from Hanoi, and a few years ago it became a top destination of the Vietnamese country. Let's not forget that this place has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
12. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Strolling through the old Cambodian temples is mandatory for all backpackers travelling around the province of Siem Reap. Some say it's like travelling back in time to many centuries ago.
Bayon or Ta Prohm are two monuments to visit. They even appeared in the popular Tomb Raider saga in the scene in which Angelina Jolie approaches the ruins that are under the roots of the trees.
>>> The best hostels in Siem Reap.
13. Bolaven Plateau, Laos
Laos really is an excellent country, thriving and warm in every which way... Hot and hospitable! You can't miss the villas of the old villages and the coffee bean farms, however the cherry on the top has to be the beautiful waterfalls you can find here.
We also recommend renting a motorcycle starting from Paske and ride along the 500 km fresh, wild route this country offers. Cross the Mekong River and stop to take pictures along the way (it's definitely worth it). Take care to watch out for the cows you may meet along the way!
14. Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi, the chaotic city with more than 8 million inhabitants, offers the possibility of a close encounter with Vietnamese culture, something hard to come by in the multicultural region of Southeast Asia.
If you want to start with a spectacular view of the city, we recommend you go up to the Lotte Center Hanoi, an imposing tower that boasts 360 degree views of the city. Then, to give your nerves a rest, you can go to the Temple of Literature and walk through the busy paths of Hanoi's most popular neighbourhood, the Old Quarter.
>>> The best hostels in Hanoi.
15. Temburong, Brunei
Photo credits: Adib Wahab @flickr
Don't listen to those people that say Brunei is boring, or that it is not worth visiting. We can guarantee the opposite; mosques, floating villages and rainforests await you in this amazing corner of the world.
The central jewel is located within the perimeter of the Ulu Temburong National Park, where flora and fauna intermingle, resulting in a pure and beautiful environment.
16. Inle, Myanmar
The most peculiar and authentic corner of Southeast Asia according to many backpackers, travel agents and bloggers. It's an inhabited village that settled many years ago upon a large lake called Inle.
The most striking thing here is the transport, which is reduced to only a simple, long wooden boat guided by a fisherman in rustic clothing who sails the boat by standing on one leg and paddling at the same time. You definitely have to go and see it!
17. Atauro Island, East Timor
An tiny, exotic island whose weeds cover most of the perimeter. Walking and getting lost in the jungle is a perfect activity here as it is very safe. You must visit the Beloi Market where you can buy fresh fruit and fish.
It's essential to know how to reach this curious town since there are not many ways to get there. Ideally, take the public boat that departs from the Dili pier, only on Saturdays, and in three hours (each way) you arrive. It costs 4 dollars each trip.
18. Tanjung Puting, Indonesia
Tanjung National Park is a must-see for all those curious travellers who seek different experiences, thirsty for exotic sites. It's a park located in Kalimantan, and it has the originality of being completely inhabited by dozens of orangutans!
These monkeys rule the island from the treetops and swing through the thick vines, demonstrating their dominance throughout the beautiful park. Be careful of the food you bring and your cameras. You won't want to lose them!
19. Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Kho Phi Phi is the central island within this archipelago of 4 islands and also the only one inhabited. It's divided into two zones, Tonsai Beach and Loh Dalum Bay. The best thing about this location is that there really are many things to do.
Some places we recommend visiting: Maya Beach, Phi Phi Le and Mosquito Island. Another unmissable ride is the long boat that runs through Bamboo Island, Viking Cave and La Lagoon.
20. Phuket, Thailand
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, and the funny thing is that it was actually deserted land only a few decades ago. Now, due to mass tourism, an entire structure of incredible lodging and shops has been built upon it.
This will not ruin your vacation however, as you can stray away from the crowds and visit the 25 metre tall Great Buddha Monument, or enter the most important temple on the island, Wat Chalong, with its great relics. If you're a fan of viewpoints you must go up to the Prompthep Cape and Karon viewpoint to admire the beautiful panoramas.
>>> The best hostels in Phuket.
21. Bohol, Philippines
Bohol is known for its Chocolate Hills, large grassy mounds that are made up of pure stone. They are considered the National Monument of the Philippines and a symbol of their local flag.
Panglao Island is recommended if you like snorkelling and observing marine life. If you don't have a phobia of heights you can cross the Loboc river, 80 metres wide, on the incredible bamboo suspension bridge. Even more of an adrenaline seeker? Ok, why not rent a kayak on that very same river!
22. Lombok, Indonesia
Lombok is an ideal place for backpackers seeking tranquility and peace because it has not yet been invaded (entirely) by mass tourism. We recommend spending about 3 to 4 days here, it's surely a place where you won't get bored!
The Rinjani Volcano is a great attraction of the area, and you can climb it as part of a tour. Bear in mind that it takes a long time, but yes, the views from the top are definitely worth the effort. If you are staying here for a couple of days and have some extra time on your hands then visit the Gili Islands; they offer the perfect rest from your long journey through Southeast Asia.
>>> The best hostels in Lombok.
23. Hong Kong
There are some who say it doesn't belong to Southeast Asia, but today many people say that it does. In short, Hong Kong, the former British colony attached to the Asian giant of China, is an overpopulated city that really is worth visiting.
A small island, but with many activities for you to discover. For example, you can climb Victoria Peak (522 metres), go to Stanley Beach or go soak up the culture in one of the most interesting museums in Asia: the Hong Kong History Museum.
Tip: don't miss out on the nightlife of Lan Kwai Fong.
>>> The best hostels in Hong Kong.
24. Yogyakarta, Indonesia
The capital of culture. This place has hundreds and thousands of years of history with multiple stories to tell its visitors. Buddhist roots, Hinduists and Islamic influences all combine with each other to offer tours with so much information that it's even worth taking note as you go.
You can take a Bechak (traditional transport from the Island of Java) and tour the bustling, vibrant Maliboro Street in the evening. The next day explore the Water Palace or, Taman Sari, which is a real symbol of Muslim architecture and El Kraton, where the Sultan resided.
>>> The best hostels in Yogyakarta.
25. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Last but not least, Kuala Lumpur is another metropolis full of buildings, a city that never stops expanding thanks to the constant flow of money that floods into these lavish streets. The interesting thing here is the cultural diversity that exists. Although Muslims rule the territory, it's not hard to find other communities such as Hindu or Islamic.
Take a selfie with the Petronas Towers, visit the glamorous KLCC neighbourhood or simply wander around the renowned shopping centers with their large food courtyards offering everything from typical fast food chains to traditional dishes of the surrounding countries.
>>> The best hostels in Kuala Lumpur.
We hope this article has inspired you to travel Southeast Asia and see these amazing sites for yourselves!
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