Cultural Experience | Cambodia

10 of the most beautiful places to visit in South East Asia

Explore the vivid cultures of South East Asia.

The combination of vivid cultures, tempting cuisine, white sandy beaches and steamy jungles make South East Asia to a perfect travel destination. If you are thinking of taking your first trip to this region, here are 10 of the most beautiful places you should visit.

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1. Luang Prabang, Laos

French colonial buildings, Buddhist temples and extensive natural beauty make this little town an unforgettably beautiful destination.

Take a cooking class, rent a bicycle, read a book by the Mekong river or have a coffee in one of the local bakeries. There are so many reasons to fall in love with this place! One thing you shouldn’t miss is the ancient Buddhist tradition of Tak Bat, the morning alms round. Each day at dawn, hundreds of barefoot monks in orange robes walk through the streets to collect food from the local people.

If you want to discover the beautiful nature outside of Luang Prabang, you should definitely plan a trip to the crystal clear Kuang Si Waterfalls. At the bottom of the falls there are several turquoise nature pools that provide the ultimate wild-swimming experience. You can make your own way to the waterfall by hiring a motorcycle. The roads however are very rocky and not easy to drive on, therefore an easier option is to book a tour which usually costs around  $5- $10 per person.

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2. Halong Bay, Vietnam

With its exceptional scenic beauty and outstanding geological values Halong Bay is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in South East Asia. The bay features thousands of giant limestone karts islands in various sizes and shapes.

In 2011 the magnificent landmark of Vietnam was declared as one of the “New Seven Natural Wonders of The World”.

However, Halong Bay is not all about breathtaking natural beauty. It is also a significant place for cultural and historical reasons. A community of around 1600 people live on Hạ Long Bay in four different fishing villages: Ba Hang, Cua Van, Vong Vieng and Cap La.

Most of the cruises pass by one floating fishing village to give tourists the chance to observe the villager’s daily life. Learning about the traditional culture and customs of these fishermen is definitely an experience you shouldn’t miss!

3. Ko Phra Thong, Thailand

Gilded temples, white sandy beaches, and hospitable people – these are just a few of the many delights Thailand has to offer. It’s no wonder that the land of smiles attracts countless tourists. Nevertheless, you can still find untouched nature and some “off-the beaten path” paradise islands. One of those is Ko Phra Thong, the Golden Buddha island. With over 15 km of largely uninhabited white sandy beaches, the island is the ideal destination for those seeking a quiet and relaxing holiday.

The best place to stay on the island is Golden Buddha Beach Resort, one of Asia’s finest eco-resorts. The Resort is a collection of 28 individual and beautifully designed wooden homes, generously sprinkled along the shoreline.

In order to ensure a relaxing and yet adventurous holiday, the Golden Buddha Beach Resort offers a wide range of land and sea activities like snorkeling, kayaking, sailing or trekking.

If you would like to take up diving during your holidays, the Blue Guru diving school offers daily guided fun dives at the house reef and 2 Day 1 Night Safaris to the world famous Richelieu Rock- widely regarded as Thailand’s best scuba diving location.

4. Angkor, Cambodia

With more than two million visitors a year, Angkor is the most famous tourist site in Cambodia. The whole area stretches out over 400 square kilometers and has more than a thousand temples. The biggest and most popular one is Angkor Wat. It’s also said to be the largest religious monument in the world. Get up early to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat. It’s something that you will remember for the rest of your life!

For a bird’s eye view of Angkor Wat, take a balloon flight. The balloon carries up to 30 people and costs $15 for the flight which lasts around 10 minutes.You will be overwhelmed by the panoramic views of the magnificent temple complex, mountains and the surrounding green rice fields. An experience that is simply breathtaking and totally worth its price!

5. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is everything you’d expect from the capital of Vietnam: it’s noisy, crowded, busy and motorbike-clogged but still the city has its own charm. Visitors may see locals taking tai-chi lessons in beautiful parks or street vendors carrying fresh fruits and flowers in their baskets.

The best place to experience Hanoi is in the Old Quarter, a tangled maze of streets. Each street is named after the merchandise they sell.

A visit to Hanoi wouldn’t be complete without sampling the city’s most famous dish, pho. This delicious noodle soup is traditionally served at breakfast time or late at night and is known as the favorite dish of the Vietnamese. One of the best and most authentic pho restaurants is the Pho 10.


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6. Borneo rainforest, Malaysia/Indonesia/ Brunai

Borneo, the third largest island in the world is an incredibly biodiverse area and and a virtual paradise on earth for anyone who shares a love for plants, wildlife, and adventure.

Borneo’s tropical rainforests are home to over 15,000 plants as well as a number of birds and mammals like the colorful hornbills and the strange looking proboscis monkeys.

Borneo is one of two places on Earth, Sumatra is the other, where endangered orangutans can still be seen in the wild.

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in the Malaysian Sabah District is the most popular place to view orangutans in Borneo. The centre opened in 1964 and cares for young orangutans orphaned as a result of logging and deforestation or illegal hunting.


7. Bangkok, Thailand

That the “City of Angels” is one of the greatest places on earth was once again confirmed when Bangkok was voted World’s Best City by readers of the Travel + Leisure magazine. The Thai capital is home to a number of must-see sites including the Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Kaew, an architectural wonder of gleaming gold and mosaic-encrusted pillars. If you are in Bangkok during a weekend, be sure to drop by the Chatuchak weekend market, Asia`s largest outdoor bazaar. It`s not only a shopping paradise but also a great place to mingle with locals and immerse yourself in everyday Thai life.

8. Small village, Laos

If you are interested in visiting a remote ethnic minority village and experience the authentic lives of the local people, you should definitely travel to Laos. Despite its small population, Laos has an official count of over 47 ethnicities. In many villages, people still maintain the traditions and practices of their ancestors. Many of these villages offer overnight home stays, providing visitors with a close insight into Laos’ magnificent cultural heritage.

9. Singapore

Being a melting pot of different cultures, Singapore has been dubbed as a country where “East meets West”.

Embark on a journey through Singapore`s Litte India or China Town to experience the multi-cultural aspects of Singapore. If you prefer the modern Singapore, stroll through Singapores central business district and the Orchard road, the main shopping street of Singapore.

At nights, you should head to the luxury Raffles Hotel to sip on the world famous Singapore Sling or enjoy a drink on the remarkable Sands SkyPark that offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Singapore’s city skyline.

Singaporeans are also obsessed with good food. Therefore a trip to a hawker center is an absolute must when visiting Singapore. In these open-air food courts, you can find a selection of local dishes as well as flavors from across the world.


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10. Hoi An, Vietnam 

Unlike Vietnam’s bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hoi An has a tranquility and timelessness that attracts visitors from all over the world. The charming little town is packed with picturesque wooden houses, pagodas, street-side cafes and hundreds of tailor shops.

To get an insight into the daily Vietnamese life, visit the Hoi An Central Market, where you can pick up souvenir and taste a vast array of local food. Due to its riverside location there is also a fish market which is worth visiting. Be warned that it can get very messy and loud, nevertheless the market, with its electric mix of pungent smells and flamboyant colors is certainly a sight not to be missed.

10 of the most beautiful places to go in South East Asia

Julia Wiesmann

Abilene Christian University | 4 stories

Hi everyone! My name is Julia. I am a Swiss communication and photography student currently living in Vienna, Austria. In 2014 I traveled around the world and since then my love of travel (and capturing those travels) keeps me on the go. I can't wait to share my adventures with the College Tourist community!

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