Diverse cultures, beautiful scenery, exciting activities and fascinating histories are just a few attributes that describe Asia. No doubt about it, Asia is a very rich continent. It’s no wonder that it’s a very ideal travel destination. Remember, Asia in its entirety, has a land area of 43,810,582 square kilometers. It has 50 countries within it, and is subdivided into six regions. That’s a lot of land to cover.
To narrow down your options, you should first find out that the Southeast Asian Region has beautiful and enchanting tourist hot spots within them. Every year, millions of tourists flock to Southeast Asia for excitement, entertainment and to loosen up. Southeast Asia is a wonderful place to visit if you want to get away from your hectic and stressful life. The only problem that you might encounter is this: where exactly will you go?
We at Explorer-Asia is happy to share you the most TOP-RATED sights, destinations, beaches, islands, natural wonders, foods, adventures and a lot more to get you going and somehow helped you what to do and where to go in your own pace and in your own time.
Here are the TOP-RATED in Southeast Asia today. See which ones you’d like to have in your travel itinerary:
Popular Tourist Spots in Southeast Asia
1. ASIA’S ENTERTAINMENT CAPITAL: BANGKOK, THAILAND
Thailand is a country with a mix of historical sites, cultural traditions, modern structures and amazing night life. Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is known as the top tourist destination in Asia today.
Located near the Gulf of Thailand and beside the Chao Phraya River, this modern, but historical city is known as the world’s 22nd most populous city. Bangkok has an estimated population of 15 million, and a land area of 7,761.50 square kilometers. With its mix of modern and ancient Thai culture, Bangkok is a place in Asia that any eager traveler must visit.
There’s a lot to do in this city. For those who want a taste of history and culture, visiting palaces such as the Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Grand Palace is recommended.
If you want a sports-oriented excitement, you can watch Muay Thai boxing. Dining on a Chao Phraya Rriver cruise is also a favorite activity in Bangkok. There’s never a dull minute in this fabulous city.
2. ENIGMATIC GRANDEUR: ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA
The sunset view of the temple of Angkor Wat, glowing gold in the evening rays, is a showstopper. But Angkor is far more than this much-photographed monument. When it was built by the Khmer Empire in the 15th century, the temple lay at the center of the largest city in the world.
There are still buildings strewn among the surrounding rain forests and you’ll need at least three days to get an impression of the magnificent ancient capital. Almost all are as stunning as Angkor Wat. The ruins of Ta Prohm lie within thick jungle, hidden by the Gaudí-esque shapes of giant fig tree roots that have cracked the stonework open and entwined themselves around the bas-reliefs.
Bodhisattva faces watch over the tourists in smiling serenity from the temples at Bayon, and the stone arches of Banteay Srei are encrusted with filigrees of floral carving as light and delicate as sculpted icing sugar. Save Angkor Wat for last and arrive in the late afternoon: climb to the top of the temple to sit in silent contemplation and watch the sun sink, turning from orange into deep red.
3. A UNIQUE DIVING EXPERIENCE: TUBBATAHA REEF, PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES
If you enjoy diving and you’re looking for an underwater adventure, you should head out to this beautiful underwater paradise. Located at the western area of the Philippines, on the Cagayan Ridge, this remote reef ecosystem is considered one of the most beautiful marine sanctuaries in Asia. This natural treasure was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993. Tourists flock to Tubbataha Reef to view its underwater grandeur every year in peak seasons.
There are no permanent residents in Tubbataha, since the islets are too small to live in. During the diving season, locals rent out their boats to tourists and then take them to the site. The visitors dive into the reefs and enjoy their beauty. There are over a thousand animal and coral species found in Tubbataha, including a variety of tortoises, manta rays, fishes and sharks.
Tubbataha Reef is an ideal place to visit, but if you’re going, make sure you have already reserved a boat. Last minute travelers find it difficult to secure rides to the reef during diving season. It can be a little bit of a hassle, but it’s definitely worth the trouble.
4. MALAYSIA’S BEACH PARADISE: PANGKOR ISLAND
Aside from its rich culture and beautiful scenery, Malaysia is also known to have some of the most beautiful, tropical beaches in Southeast Asia. Pangkor Island is a popular example.
As the largest island situated on the western coast of the country, Pangkor is known for its blue, crystalline waters, sunny, golden beaches and cool and refreshing breezes. If you’re into fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and wind surfing, you’re going to love this place.
Pangkor also offers several interesting places that tourists will definitely find enjoyable. The Pangkor Forest Reserve houses many rare and beautiful birds, orchids and butterflies. The Fu Lin Kong Chinese temple is also a must-visit place. This serene attraction is ideal for those looking for a little peace and quiet.
5. THE CRADLE OF INDONESIAN ENTERTAINMENT: BALI
When Indonesia is mentioned, the first place that many people think of is Bali. This Western island is the largest tourist destination in the country. Nestled between Lombok and Java, Bali is home to Indonesia’s Hindu minority and is also known as a place of entertainment, relaxation and leisure. This tropical paradise boasts of sunny white beaches, mountain scenery and lush jungles.
6. MAJESTIC SETTING: HUE, VIETNAM
The UNESCO-listed imperial city of Hué has a magical setting to rival Angkor. Towering Indo-Chinese pagodas, fortified citadels and temples lord it over the Perfumed River on a range of lushly forested hills. Some are pristine. Others lie broken by the Vietnam War.
Make sure you see the Forbidden Purple City – once reserved for the Emperor and his retinue – and the seven-storey octagonal Thien Mu Pagoda. The old Austin car behind is a shrine; it once belonged to Thich Quang Duc – the Buddhist monk who made international headlines by committing self-immolation in Saigon as a peace protest.
7. ISLAND OF FUN: SENTOSA ISLAND, SINGAPORE
Anyone who’s traveling to Singapore should not miss out on this very popular tourist destination. Sentosa is just 15 minutes away from the main city, and this 500-hectare island offers a wide variety of recreational and leisure activities and sights for its guests.
With a beautiful white sand beach, sea sports, comfortable accommodations and modern attractions such as the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon, and the famous Carlsberg Sky Tower (the tallest, observation tower in Asia), Sentosa is worth every minute of your trip. You’ll never get bored while you’re in this tourist resort.
Popular Beaches in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia has long been a favorite among beach lovers where there is no other region of the world that can match the concentration of gorgeous beaches known for their exceptional white powdery sand, limestone rock formations, lush mountain greenery, and crystal clear turquoise waters and lovely tropical weather. So it’s no surprise that countries like Indonesia and Thailand enjoy a steady stream of tourists all keen on experiencing not only the culture, but also the fabulous beaches and fun they have to offer.
Here are some of the most popular beaches you might want to check out in Southeast Asia:
1. Kuta Beach, Bali – Indonesia is the most famous in Bali and certainly the most frequently visited by tourists. Kuta is Bali-on-a-budget, a raucous, infamous holiday enclave dedicated to fun and sun This long strip is home to plenty of surfing opportunities, shopping establishments and food galore. Kuta is all about bacchanalian nights and rampant commerce. Prepare yourself for plenty of attention from the shopkeepers and armies of hawkers that comb the streets here.
2. Chaweng Beach Koh Samui – Thailand is real fun in the sun and the best of the Koh Samui Island’s beaches is a recreational haven with pleasant facilities and amenities and, of course, warm blue waters, powder-fine white sand, and a palm fringed 4-kilometer beach that provide a getaway paradise for a perfect holiday.— and also the wildest nightlife!
3. White Beach, Boracay - Philippines is the perfect island getaway, with its warm blue waters, powder-fine white sand and a palm-fringed 4-kilometer beach there’s a reason why it remains a superlative on travel rankings. Still lays a respectable claim to its “tropical paradise” name. Boracay has something for everyone, from powdery beaches to water sports and spas and after dark, the clubs and discos here are legendary.
4. Patong Beach, Phuket – Thailand is perhaps the island’s most popular tourist haunt, offers plenty of fun within its varied terrain, owing to its easily-accessible beachfront, raucous nightlife, and cheap shopping. Patong is also the first stop for tourists seeking earthier pleasures: Bangla Road in particular is known for its go-go bars.
5. Haad Rin beach, Koh Pha Ngan – Thailand is Koh Phangan’s most famous beach thanks to the Full Moon Party. In fact there’re two beaches in Haad Rin, one on either side of the coastline. There’re many nightclubs, restaurants and bungalows to welcome you. Whatever the tide, it’s always a good place to go for a swim and during the day the beach is crammed with sun-worshippers. At night the place transforms into a busy spot with people eating, drinking and dancing on the beach.The famous Full Moon Party is held here once a month and about 10.000 people arrives here then and up to 30.000 during the New Year’s party.
6. Pantai Cenang Beach, Langkawi – Malaysia is Langkawi’s most popular tourist destination and is located near the airport and 25 km away from Kuah Town, attracting endless holidaying Europeans. The hallmark of this beach is the 3 km stretch of sandy goodness, beautiful scenery, and tourist attractions. This place is also famous for a host of shopping opportunities, exciting nightlife, and convenient facilities.
7. Mui Ne Beach, Phan Thiet, Vietnam is just a few hours from Ho Chi Minh City, the weather is perfect for beach-lovers, as Mui Ne enjoys the lowest annual rainfall in Vietnam. (Saigon), development is in full swing here, and there are some great boutique resorts along the stunning white sands of Mui Ne Beach. Golfers will enjoy the Nick Faldo-designed course, the seafood here is good, and the town of Phan Thiet itself is an interesting little fishing port worth a wander.
8. Jimbaran Beach, Bali – Indonesia is one of favorite tourist spots in Bali. The white sands that extends along the shoreline and the calm waves give an elegant atmosphere in Jimbaran bay. In the evening, you will feel the romantic night life. Cafes start to open and begin offering the Jimbaran seafood. The smell and its distinctive seafood taste is the life of the jimbaran beach.
9. Phi Phi Don – Thailand is a stunning and the largest island of the group lying in the Andaman in the south of Thailand. Phi Phi Don is a tropical exotic island between Krabi and Phuket and its breathtaking in every sense of the word- a tropical island in paradise surrounded by clear, turquoise waters with excellent diving and snorkeling. There are no roads here so there´s no need for motorbikes or cars. This makes life more relaxed than usual. But not less exciting, you can go walking, climbing, kayaking, snorkeling, deep sea fishing or scuba diving. Water skiing, windsurfing and parasailing can be done as well.
Fascinating Natural Wonders of Southeast Asia
There are so many natural wonders in Southeast Asia waiting to be explored from gazing out into Mt. Kinabalu summit, or underwater at the Tubbataha Reef, visiting the natural wonders of the world is an experience almost anyone in your family can appreciate. With so many natural wonders around the Southeast Asia you almost never have to venture far to get a glimpse of one of nature’s beauties.
Southeast Asia is increasingly being known for its rapid development and man-made feats of architectural splendor, but there are plenty of natural marvels waiting to be explored. Here’s a brief run-down of the sights at the top of our list…
1. Mount Kinabalu – Sabah, Malaysia
Sabah, Borneo is home to the mighty Mount Kinabalu, The island is divided amongst three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei.the highest mountain in South East Asia, pristine coral-fringed islands and lush rainforest in between.Climbing the summit takes will power and loads of energy, but natural beauty and unique range of wildlife, flora and fauna is worth every step.
2. Halong Bay – Vietnam
A tranquil and captivating bay in North Vietnam consisting of over 3,000 wondrous limestone islets ranging in size and shape jutting up from the emerald water. Some of the islets contain deep caves that explore or paddle a sea kayak through the enchanting landscape.
3. Krabi – Thailand
The most diverse natural beauty in the Andaman Sea in the South of Thailand with stretches of soft coral sand and surrounded by crystalline waters home of colorful coral reefs, jagged limestone cliffs, caves harboring Buddhist temples, waterfalls, seemingly endless plantations of rubber and oil palm trees, lush and green national parks home to different species of fauna and flora. A few of the adventurous opportunities include rock climbing, island hopping, or just relaxing at a slow pace to admire the wondrous natural beauty.
4. Taman Negara – Malaysia
Thought to be one of earths oldest rain forest, Taman Negara is a dense ecosystem of plant life. It’s history that stretches back to 130 million years ago. Undisturbed for millennium, one can walk on hundreds of miles under a continuous canopy of green, marveling at an abundance of plant and animal species equaled by no other location in the entire world.
5. Palawan – Philippines
At the most western edge of the Philippines is Palawan an Eden of 1768 islands and islets in the fringes of the South China Sea like one foot bridge. Blessed with immense natural beauty and abundance, it shelters one of the country’s thickest forest cover, where rugged mountain fastness fives way to rivers running wild and fissures digging deep into the dark and cold bowels of the earth. Palawan exhibits a landscape of exotic lagoons, furtive coves, exhilarating limestone cliffs, and excellent white- sand beaches- a true wonderland for those who love the shores for respite and recreation.
6. Chocolate Hills – Bohol, Philippines
The perfect little rounded cone shaped hills on the island of Bohol, Philippines, appear to be evenly spaced throughout an area of 50 square kilometers. These symmetrical mounds of earth transform to a chocolate brown color during the dry season, resembling a field full of giant Hershey Kisses!
7. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – Vietnam
Situated in Quang Binh Province of north central Vietnam, this interesting park is known for its beautiful and fascinating network of limetone karsts and grottoes. It is called “the paradise of researchers and explorers of grottoes and caves.” and is one of the world’s largest limestone regions. The most beautiful cave of all is the Phong Nha cave, from which the park gets its nam. The karst formation of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park has evolved since 400 million years ago, and it is also the oldest major karst area in Asia. Also found in the park is the Ke Bang forest, another unique and diverse area of great natural beauty.The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
8. Yeak Laom Volcano Lake, Ratanakiri – Cambodia
A volcanic lake in the middle of a beautiful landscape of mountainous forests. Swimming in the cool, deep and clear water or hiking around the crater rim of the 700,000 year old volcano gives you a sense of calmness in these tranquil surroundings. It is considered steeped in local myth and legend and is referred as sacred by many Khmer Loeu people.
9. Gunung Mulu, Sarawak – Island of Borneo, East Malaysia
Dominated by three mountains hidden underneath the forested slopes of these mountains is one of the largest limestone cave systems in the world. This system, a breath-taking natural wonder of limestone karst formations in a mountainous equatorial rainforest setting is Gunung Mulu on the island of Borneo in the State of Sarawak. It contains a number of recorded caves with the world’s largest cave passage (Deer Cave), the world’s largest natural chamber (Sarawak Chamber) and the longest cave in Southeast Asia (Clearwater Cave), which makes Mulu a captivating sight to behold! Gunung Mulu National Park also well-known for its bio-diversity including rich primary rainforests and a whole range of nature-based activities.
10. Banaue Rice terraces, Ifugao – Philippines
Rice terraces are common throughout Asia but nowhere are they as spectacular as in the rugged mountains of Bontoc in northern Luzon and one of the idyllic villages in the province of Ifugao. The surrounding terraces of the village look, as some say, as a ‘tribune in a amphitheater’. The Ifugao Rice Terraces, which follow the natural contours of the mountains, only enhance the region’s rugged natural beauty. They also epitomize a harmonic, sustainable relationship between humans and their environment. For 2,000 years the mountains of Ifugao province in the Philippines have been carefully cultivated with a seemingly endless series of terraced fields that climb thousands of feet.
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