Everyone has a bucket list, right! Some wants to visit Antarctica; for someone else its Rio de Janeiro or Ibiza. But the aura & mojo of the south-eastern region of the world is mesmerizing. It will take you into other dimension and will make you spellbound. The feeling is ineffable and the experience is beyond the world. Southeast Asia, thanks to its diversity and exotic grandeur, has been revered as one of the world’s must-see destinations for solo travelers, globetrotters and backpackers.
Addictive and utterly entrancing, it’s a fabulous hodgepodge that will put you on a state of euphoria with its buzzing cosmopolitan cities, small ethnic villages, rice paddies and UNESCO World Heritage sites. What’s more? Southeast Asia is blessed with a wealth of natural wonders, including rivers, thundering waterfalls, verdant mountains and pristine beaches. Moreover, the hospitality industry is always booming thanks to the aforementioned reasons. According to a report by WEC, (World Economic Forum) south-east Asia is one of the most fave place for tourism in the world and 56% of the people who participated in the survey said ‘YES’ to visit any south-east sightseeing place if they get the chance, ever! So, here are the 7 best places in south-east Asia that no wanderlust or gallivant can afford to skip during their visit.
1. Trekking in Sapa, Vietnam
If you’re travelling all the way to Northern Vietnam, you shouldn’t miss trekking in Sapa. This is, after all, one of the most scenic regions of Northern Vietnam, and if there is one thing the frontier town of Sapa is known for, its rice terraces with sweeping mountain vistas. Famed for its marvelous rugged scenery, Sapa is a rather photogenic Vietnamese town that will unleash your inner shutterbug with its plunging valleys, alluring rice terraces and thick mist rolling across it peaks. Established in 1922 as a hill station by the French, this burgeoning destination also boasts a myriad of delicious Vietnamese treats and charming French colonial villas. To top it all off, a visit to this part of Southeast Asia lets you meet its hill tribe as well as immerse into their culture.
2. Temples at Bagan, Myanmar
There are few sunsets in the world that compare to the light that shines on the thousands of temples on the Bagan plains. The appeal of the Buddhist temples at Bagan lies not in their individual majesty, but rather in the high-density and endless array of similar structures lunging out of the plains. 13,000 temples used to stand in the city of Bagan, the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Pagan. Some 2,000 still remain, and it’s this spiritual plenitude that makes a trip to Bagan unmissable.
3. Leisure around in Bali, Indonesia
Nothing gets better than Bali, Indonesia. Period! It’s a globetrotter’s paradise and most of the travelers want to visit the place, at least once. Indonesia has over 13,000 islands and Bali is the one that everyone wants to visit—and for good reason. Bali offers a potent mix of hospitable people, a visually bewitching culture, and enticing beaches that appeal to surfers, divers, and standard-issue beachcombers alike. There's something for everyone here, and despite the waves of tourists that wash up on the beach, Bali still offers a level of peace that you simply won't find anywhere else. It's no wonder that most international visitors to Indonesia ignore everything else and head straight for Bali's shores.
4. Visit the Angkor Temples, Cambodia
Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. Famous attractions can suffer from inflated or unrealistic expectations. That isn’t the case with the Temples of Angkor. The sheer size of the temple complex is bound to impress. Most tourists tend to congregate around the main events like Angkor Wat, Bayon and the vine-covered Ta Phrom. The rest of the 400 square kilometers? All yours to discover. Generations of Khmer rulers built hundreds of architecturally jaw-dropping temples around the site. One day isn’t nearly enough to see it all.
5. Check-out the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Even though it was built as a Buddhist temple, Wat Rong Khun quite frankly looks like a fortress in Game of Thrones, with an eerily magical façade as well as interior walls splashed with disturbing dark cartoons. When completed, the white temple compound will have nine buildings, including the existing ubosot, a hall of relics, a meditation hall, an art gallery, and living quarters for monks. The bridge of "the cycle of rebirth": the main building at the white temple, the ubosot, is reached by crossing a bridge over a small lake. In front of the bridge are hundreds of outreaching hands that symbolize unrestrained desire. The bridge proclaims that the way to happiness is by foregoing temptation, greed, and desire. Next to the lake stand two very elegant Kinnaree, half-human, half-bird creatures from Buddhist mythology. Gate of Heaven: After crossing the bridge, the visitor arrives at the "gate of heaven", guarded by two creatures representing Death and Rahu, who decides the fate of the dead.
6. Dive deeper in the Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
If the Garden of Eden were underwater, it would look a lot like Tubbataha Reef, a marine formation 98 nautical miles southeast of Puerto Princesa City on the island of Palawan. Seasoned sports divers keep coming back for Tubbataha coral walls, home to teeming schools of great jacks, manta rays, lionfish, Moorish idols, hawksbill tortoises, clown fish, and moray eels. Above the waterline, Tubbataha serves as a stopover and sanctuary for migratory terns, boobies, and frigate birds. All in all, over a thousand species—many of them on the endangered list—call Tubbataha reef home. The area has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. To get there, you can hire dive operators in Puerto Princesa or other areas to bring you to Tubbataha. Puerto Princesa itself is serviced by flights from Manila through local carriers Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines, SEAIR, and Cebu Pacific.
7. Dine at Hawker Centers, Singapore
Singapore may be full of gleaming skyscrapers these days, but its executives are still nourished by a culinary tradition that goes back generations. Hawker centers are open-air food courts that serve a wide variety of Asian dishes, and the best, cleanest, and tastiest ones are right here in the Lion City. There is no ambiance and no air conditioning, but boy, do these hawker centers make up for it in taste. Prices are low ($4-5 buys you a big meal, what more do you want!) and choices tend to be rather vast, reflecting the polyglot populace—Indian biryani stands stand next to Western food booths and noodle stalls. Tourists can visit the centrally located Lau Pa Sat Festival Market and Maxwell Food Centre for an authentic taste of Asia. As Singapore is one of Southeast Asia's largest aviation hubs, all airports eventually lead to Changi and by extension the hawker centers that dot the city-state.
So, let your inner-child out and start making plans to visit these picturesque places because as they say, “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.”