Whether you’re joining the gap year backpacker craze or planning a round-the-region trip, here’s the lowdown on where to go in Southeast Asia.
From buzzy Bangkok to the tourist favourite of Phuket and the many paradise islands (try Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi), Thailand has so much to offer every traveller. Exciting cities, tropical beaches, elephant sanctuaries… and let’s not forget the exceptional flavours that make tasting Thai food a feast you want to enjoy again and again.
Of course, any trip to Cambodia would be incomplete without a visit to Angkor Wat, the iconic temple, but there are other temples to discover too. Why not hire a guide and hike through the jungle, passing rivers, waterfalls and lush landscapes as you go, for a bird’s eye view across the forest of the temple tops? These ancient masterpieces are just as breathtaking from afar as they are up close. It’s a perspective not every traveller in Southeast Asia will get.
This is where every history buff should go when they travel around Southeast Asia. Ho Chi Minh City is a hit for many tourists, but try to avoid the most touristy attractions when a cruise ship has just docked if you don’t fancy crowds.
Alongside this city, also known as Saigon, Hanoi should also be on your list of where to go. Both cities were significant during the Vietnam War and, as such, you’ll find a wealth of museums, buildings and artefacts to uncover. As you travel between the two, you’ll also take in the rice paddy fields, a landscape iconic of Southeast Asia. These are just a few of the reasons Vietnam makes it onto my travel bucket list – you can see the rest here.
Extremely well connected, you’ll almost undoubtedly end up travelling through Singapore as you explore Southeast Asia. It deserves so much more than a cursory glance, though. Thriving and at the cutting edge in many ways, it’s a fascinating place to spend a few days. The term urban jungle gets a whole new meaning in Singapore too. Head to Supertree Grove to witness the wonder of towering man-made trees, overflowing with lush planting, yourself
While blissful Bali, a hotspot for honeymoons, is one of the most popular places to go in Indonesia, it’s not the only option. Thousands of islands make up the Indonesian archipelago, so there’s plenty of opportunity to head off the beaten track if you’d like. That being said, if you do stay in Bali while you’re in Southeast Asia, Ubud and Seminyak are sought-after for good reason. If it’s a wellness escape you’re after to rejuvenate mid-trip, then you’ll love these Bali yoga retreats.
Planning your Southeast Asia trip of a lifetime? Have a nosy at these 11 things you only know if you’ve been travelling there. You might just be surprised by how many you experience…
And if you’ve been sitting on the fence about jetting off, now is the time to do it! Find out why with these eight reasons to book your flight to Southeast Asia today!
Thailand! My son went in September and enjoyed it. It sounds like it’s amazing so that’s what I’d like to rise to the top of my bucket list. Thanks for the highlights.
Great little post. Asia is so diverse. Truly a melting pot of different cultures!
I love Thailand and Vietnam but still need to visit Cambodia and Indonesia. Hopefully, I will get to Bali sometime soon 🙂
I have done Singapore, but the Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam tour is a trip already in the works!
Born and bred in Vietnam, I can say all these destinations in South East Asia are worth a visit! I know I’m biased due to my nationality, but Vietnam itself has always surprised me every time I travel within my country. To everyone out there who hasn’t been to Vietnam (and South East Asia) yet, I’d say “Let’s go!”
I’ve never been to SEA before but definitely have it on my list! Thanks for all the country specific recs. I think Indonesia might be my first destination!
Yeyii, did all five – which by no means means ‘check’: In Indonesia I’ve been only to Bali which – like you point out, too is just one and probably the least Indonesian part. I did hardly do beaches in Thailand since they are so overcrowded and I went rather for the cultural part up north – haven’t you been there? It’s very inspiring. In Cambodia, too, Angkor is of course the country’s most touristy – and hence least Cambodian – part, but yes, it has to be on the list. Viet Nam was very impressive – travelled the route form HCMC (I appreciate it, that you call it that way 😉 ) up north to Hanoi which is really very interesting and mainly because of their political system quite different from other Asian countries – something to think about. And Singapore is one of my favorite cities in the world – but of course representing more internationalism than SEA.
Nice list. I want to go to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. Singapore is also on my list. Great photos.
Indonesia was absolutely incredible when I went. Bali was actually one of my least favourite areas and such a shame that everyone only seems to go there. There are so many other beautiful places such as Borneo, Komodo and Java that give a stunning Indonesian experience!
We are yet to explore South East Asia in detail, but all these destinations look wonderful. There’s a wealth of nature and heritage and culture and architecture waiting to be discovered in each of these. I may be more inclined towards Cambodia and Vietnam to begin with.
Somehow I’ve yet to make the trip to Southeast Asia, but now i know exactly where i want to go! Singapore has been on my list, and now Vietnam is as well. Thanks so much for this overview.
We are trying to get to Southeast Asia asap. We want to spend a long time in Bali and other areas explore rice fields and relaxing. We of course want to get to Angkor Wat in time. I think the hardest decision when traveling to Southeast Asia from America is how long do you go? Do you go for a short time and come back later for more countries or do them all in one trip?
Well I think that really deepens of your budget, organisation and what else you wanna see. Ive always wanted to go there for longer time and explore as much as I can but there are stuff back home which didn’t allowed me to do that. But if South East Asia interest you the most you can always have 2-3 weeks holiday every now and then in each country.
Nice list. Budget and Beauty are the major factors why they are so popular. We have been to Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia yet to visit Cambodia & Vietnam. There are lot of other places in Thailand which you can include on your list and also Philippines 🙂
I absolutely love Southeast Asia (whatever I have seen of it). Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia are some of the best countries I have been to and I particularly liked the food! I don’t think I’ve liked the food anywhere else in the world as much as I have in Thailand and Malaysia (by the way, you could add that to the list too, its a fabulous country to visit). I must visit Vietnam and Cambodia (and Laos) soon, it’s on my list for 2019.
I do so want to see the temples of Cambodia (and of course, most of Asia, LOL). Southeast Asia has so many beautiful places to see and visit, it’s going to be hard to know where to start. Rice and tea fields! Beaches, history, yummy food. What an amazing guide. I’ve pinned it for future reference!