If you haven’t explored much of Southeast Asia then you’re missing out. It’s quickly become a favourite for tourists young and old for its low travel cost, flavour filled food and amazing sights. There’s so much to do in this region it’s hard to pick what to do, so here’s a list of some of our favourite must see places in Southeast Asia to help you out when you’re planning your trip to this amazing area.
Ayutthaya - The Lost City
Image thanks to Pantip
Ayutthaya was once the most populated city in the world, with over 1 million citizens, but the Thai Government has since made this area to be a sacred monument. After being destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th Century, this area is now considered one of the best historical attractions in Southeast Asia.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Image thanks to Pantip
Often just referred to as just Doi Suthep (although that’s name of the mountain where the temple’s located) this temple is one of Northern Thailand’s most sacred temples, as well as being one of it’s best. The temple is reached by climbing a 306 step staircase guarded by serpents on either side. Once you’re at the top (if the weather is right) there’s amazing views over Chiang Mai. The inner terrace sparkles gold and is all centered on a large chedi that is said to enshrine a piece of bone from Buddha himself.
You can get to Doi Suthep a number of ways. The best (and generally cheapest) way is by taking a Rót daang (literally red truck) which run from all around Chiang Mai to the steps of the temple. They only leave when they have enough passengers and the price can vary with the drivers mood so bartering can be effective in getting a good deal. If you’re keen for a hike you could also walk from Chiang Mai University.
Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple)
Image thanks to Pantip
Wat Rong Khun, often referred to by foreigners as the White Temple is actually only kind of a temple. Located in the Chiang Rai area, Wat Rong Khun is a contemporary, privately owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple. It was opened in 1997 after Thai painter turned architect Chalermchai Kositpipat decided to rebuild the original Wat Rong Khun which was in a state of disrepair with no funds to fix it.
Image thanks to Pugun SJ
To enter the temple you cross a bridge and walk over hands reaching out that are souls trying to be saved. Within this temple, there are murals of idols such as Michael Jackson and Freddie Krueger to influence visitors that people are wicked. To date, Chalermchai Kositpipat has spent millions of Baht on the project. The works are still ongoing and aren’t expected to be completed until 2070.
Luang Prabang - See Laos In A Different Way
Image thanks to How Do I Go
Much like the rest of Laos Luang Prabang has been in flux for hundreds of years, and only in the last 40 years has it had time to settle. In the past Luang Prabang has been controlled by the French and since then has forged it’s path forward as a communist country.
This has resulted in one of the most beautiful cities in Southeast Asia and an explosion of interesting food and culture with intricate French architecture being within walking distance of Luang Prabang’s classic temples. Surrounded by mountains that look so amazing it’s like they’re out of a film and stunning waterfalls that spill over into the Mekong River, who wouldn’t want to stay in this paradise?
Don Det - 4000 Islands To Party On!
Image thanks to Kitikhun’s Pix
Don Det is known as the backpacker's hub! What a better way to spend your summer than partying it up in Laos? Food, drink and accommodation is cheap so if you're travelling on a budget, Don Det is a must go. See the local dolphins in the river, spend some time at the local waterfalls or float down the Mekong chilling out in an inner tube. You can even buy beer and snacks beforehand so you can have a drink while you watch the world go by. If you’re looking to relax while also getting some of that island fun, Don Det is the place to be for your next summer.
Pub Street - Siem Reap
Image thanks to laliew
Starting at 6pm with the party not ending until the early morning Siem Reap’s Pub Street is Cambodia's hotspot for nightlife, filled with great bars and local cuisine options for all. The place is filled with people from all corners of the globe so you’re more than likely to make a new pen pal. The Top Banana Rooftop Beach Bar is one place to try, with good vibes and $0.50 beer who wouldn’t enjoy this experience?
Koh Rong - Idyllic Island
Image thanks to Pantip
Located in the Sihanoukville Province of Cambodia this island paradise is known for having a small number of guesthouses for tourists. Koh Rong has an idyllic charm that can’t quite be described. With a remote feel on such a beautiful island it’s the kind of place that keeps you constantly relaxed. But while it feels remote, it’s not as deserted as you think, the island has become more popular in the past few years meaning that it’s got plenty of bars and eateries if you’re looking for a change of pace and party all night long. Featuring everything from tropical snorkelling, to lush forest, to fantastic sunsets traveling to this paradise is a choice that will never ‘Koh Rong’ (I’m sorry).
Củ Chi Tunnels - Underground World
Image thanks to Vietnam Guide
The Củ Chi tunnels are an immense network of tunnels located just outside of Ho Chi Minh City. They’re actually part of an even larger network of tunnels that zig-zag underneath most of the country and were used in the Vietnam War (often referred to as the American War by the Vietnamese) for hiding during combat. They also served as routes for communication and the transport of goods and wounded soldiers. Since the war, the tunnels have been turned into a war memorial park that’s preserved by the Vietnamese government. The tunnels have also been made wider and taller to accommodate tourists, but don’t be fooled, the tunnels are still pretty cramped.
Imperial City - An Emperor's Home
Image thanks to The Christina’s Blog
The Imperial city is located in Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. The Imperial City has played host for many battles over the years and as such the place is partially destroyed. Since then the city is now a world heritage site and is currently being restored and preserved. This historic monument allows visitors to see how the former emperors of Vietnam lived. Now, the grounds are used as a monument and as a training ground for young monks.
About two hours outside of Hanoi lies the Mua Cave. But it’s not the cave you should come for, it’s the mountains. Take a train from Hanoi through rural Vietnam to Ninh Binh. From there you can either walk or rent a motorbike and head to the cave. The base of the mountain is an ecolodge that leads up to a steep set of stairs with over 500 steps total. Climb your way to the top of the mountain to an altar for the goddess Quan Am (the goddess of mercy). From there you can look out onto the beautiful Ngo Dong river as well as the stone dragon that winds across the mountains protecting the shrine.
Southeast Asia is the kind of place where worlds collide. It’s a place where stunning natural landscapes border on bustling cities and new world culture magically mixes with old world tradition. It’s a place with everything to offer, awesome food, welcoming people, amazing locations and luckily, it’s a cheap place to travel around. While these are some of our top picks, there’s so much more out there that we haven’t discovered. If we missed your favourite spot, let us know on our Facebook.
These are our top picks for places to see whilst in Southeast Asia. The Stray Lot Pass explores some of them and is now $500 cheaper!