Asia is the largest continent both in terms of size and population. It spans 17,139,445 square miles— 29.1% of Earth’s total land mass— and has a population of 4.1 billion people; which means there’s literally no shortage of things to do and places to visit in Southeast Asia.
From the amazing rice paddies in Bali, breathtaking hills in Batanes, bridges in Malaysia, and historic temples in Thailand, Southeast Asia never fails to mesmerize its locals and visitors.
Take a look at the top 10 tourist destinations in Southeast Asia that capture some of the most incredible beauty of a wonderfully diverse region.
10. Hpa An – Myanmar
One of the Southeast Asia tourist spots that backpackers will surely enjoy is Hpa An. It is home to impressive karst mountains similar to Vietnam’s famous Halong Bay, except without the crowds. The highlight of this place is Sadan Cave, a towering place full of pagodas and Buddhas, where you can walk under the entire mountain and take a tiny wooden boat back through the paddy fields. You can also check out the Hpa-An Lodge where you can book a stylish teak cottage.
9. Angkor Wat – Cambodia
If you want to see Southeast Asia at its most charming, you shouldn’t miss Angkor Wat in Cambodia. You can see there carvings depicting scenes from the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, stand alongside statues of serene bodhisattvas.
8. Jaco Island – East Timor
This uninhabited paradise lies within Nino Konis Antana National Park, an ancient coral reef built up of dramatic limestone cliffs. Jaco Island is considered sacred as the land sits at the convergence of two seas: the Banda and the Timor that’s why locals respect it so much. This reverence has a firm policy against any development or construction in the island, so day trips are the only means of visiting. No wonder that the integrity of its natural beauty remains entirely untouched. This island is definitely one of the must-see top 10 tourist destinations in Southeast Asia.
Penang – Malaysia
Penang is known as being one of the important linking points between the east and west of Asia. The culture here is varied and fascinating, offering a truly Asian experience. Head to Penang’s George Town to experience a variety of restaurants and bars which really embody this cultural pastiche. Alternatively, the Penang National Park’s jungle trails might just get even the slowest of people moving faster. It might be a newer park but the sights are incredible. Don’t miss Penang as this is one of the best Southeast Asia tourist spots.
7. Kandy – Sri Lanka
Kandy offers culture, culture and more culture. And if this is what you’re looking for, you can consider Kandy as this is among the best cities in Southeast Asia to visit. The city is brilliant for anyone looking to see some authentic South East Asia. Head to one of the city’s many attractions such as the Temple of the Tooth, the Royal Botanical Gardens or Kandy Lake and you’ll see what we mean.
6. Kampung Ayer – Brunei
Kampung Ayer (water village in Malay) is one of the largest stilt house settlements in the world. It is located across the river from the city center of Bandar Seri Begawan. Ride a water taxi (ferry) from the waterfront for a quick tour around Kampung Ayer to see local life in the village.
5. Ayutthaya – Thailand
Ayutthaya is one of the most interesting places to visit in Southeast Asia because of its rich culture and history. You can find some of Thailand’s most beautiful temples here like Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, and Wat Lokayasutharam.
4. Son Doong Cave – Vietnam
Located in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – the oldest karst mountains in all of Asia formed 400 million years ago – Son Doong is the world’s largest cave. It was only discovered in 1991 by a local villager and was only open to the public in 2013. The cave has its own subterranean river, campsites, beaches, and even a localized weather system making it among the most beautiful places to go in Southeast Asia.
3. Luang Prabang – Laos
If you want to see the best countries to visit in SE Asia that’s like stuck in old times, consider visiting Laos. Luang Prabang is an out-of-time Laotian city that has ancient temples, colorful markets, and Mekong River boat rides but is free of the frantic hustle of so many other regional urban centers.
2. Batanes – Philippines
If you’re to ask which place in the Philippines is most breathtaking, we’d confidently say Batanes! For most Filipinos, Batanes is a dream destination. Its vast greenery, rolling hills, and clean environment catch everyone’s hearts. That’s why it’s called “Breathtaking Batanes”. And the Ivatans—Batanes’ locals—are, without a doubt, the kindest people you’ll ever meet!
1. Tegallalang Rice Terraces – Indonesia
Indonesia, without a doubt, is really one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia because of its jaw-dropping sites that amaze its visitors. The Tegallalang rice terraces in Ubud is a must-see for every traveler! This stunning site is part of the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises cascading emerald-green fields worked by local rice farmers.
Lombok – Indonesia
With the incredible views from Mount Rinjani, the Pusuk Monkey Forest and relaxing Senggigi, Lombok has a little something for everyone. Usually overshadowed by Bali, Lombok’s friendly attitude makes it just a good a place to visit as its neighbor. To top it all off, right next door are the Gili Island and if you really want, you can always head over to Bali nearby. You can find some of the best Southeast Asia tourist spots here.
Chiang Mai – Thailand
Dubbed the “rose of the north,” Chiang Mai was largely tucked away from the rest of civilization well into the 20th century. This has meant that much of the local experience is still preserved. Head here to see one of Thailand’s most famous temples, Wat Phra Singh. Chiang Mai is definitely one of the best cities in Southeast Asia to visit.
Gardens by the Bay – Singapore
Among the best countries to visit in SE Asia is Singapore and when in the Lion City, you should never miss Gardens by the Bay. It is one of the most iconic destinations in the country. Gardens by the Bay is surely one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia as it shows you the photogenic Supertree Grove and an impressive indoor waterfall. You can spend a day and not get tired of walking around to see the spectacular views of the different gardens and parks, and the best shopping spots are found here.
Coron – Palawan
If discovering hidden lagoons, island hopping, and witnessing astounding colorful corals sounds like something you’re fascinated of, then Coron, Palawan should be your next destination! Get your jaws ready to be dropped when you finally see the breathtaking lagoons and underwater world that Coron has to offer! You can check out Kayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake, Twin LAgoons, Malcapuya Island, and Siete Pecados.
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