Unfortunately, I’ve not yet been able to find my way to Asia in my travels, but throughout the week, I’ve been thinking a lot about finding my way over there in the next couple of years. Of course, this means that I’ve found myself searching through all of the amazing things to do in this part of the world, particularly in South East Asia. Whether you’re looking for a family beach holiday or a rugged backpacking adventure, you’re certain to find what you’re looking for in this part of the beautiful continent. Here are just a few reasons to explore this region of the world.
You can sunbathe on the beaches all year round
South East Asia is warm all year round. This makes it a great destination for a beach holiday, whatever time of year it may be. You can expect blue water and white sands from many of these beaches and all kinds of other perks such as turtles and the opportunity to surf. Some of the most popular places for a beach holiday include Bali in Indonesia (a place I’ve wanted to go since I read Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Eat, Pray, Love), Boracay in the Phillipines (another place I want to see with my friend who lives in the Philippines!), and Phuket in Thailand (hello, have you seen pictures of this place? How can you not want to go?!). If you’d rather avoid the crowds, there are countless other places to go; both Vietnam and Cambodia are becoming more popular beach destinations – you can expect calmer beaches here and cheaper prices.
You can try new foods
As you well know, I’m an absolute sucker for any new culinary treat. In fact, I often find myself gravitating toward Asian food when I decide to eat out, so it can’t come as a surprise that food is one of the top reasons to visit. The food of South East Asia is a mixture of noodle dishes, soups, and curries. If you’ve tried Thai food before, you’ll know what to expect. Different countries have their own delicacies – in Indonesia you’ll find lots of spicy dishes such as such as rendang, whilst Laos has great desserts such as Khao Tom. There are also plenty of unusual street foods for those with more daring tastes – Cambodia are known to eat fried spiders (which my arachnophobia would never allow me to try), whilst Thailand is known for it’s pungent-smelling fruit Durian. Even if you’re not keen on the local dishes, you’ll find plenty of restaurants selling Western style foods in the cities and resorts.
You can go sightseeing in the cities
The cities of South East Asia are huge. You’ll find epic skyscrapers such as the Petronas towers in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur and you’ll find giant observation wheels such as the Singapore Flyer. The cities may also sport a number of old buildings such as Bangkok’s Wat Arun. With my love of historic architecture, these are places that I know I’ll be searching out once landing in this region of the continent.
There are all kinds of accommodation methods when visiting the cities, from staying in a luxury five star hotel, or by backpacking from hostel to hostel as you make your way from one adventurous city to the next. Sites like https://rumahdijual.com/medan/ also have apartments to rent for those wanting to stay for long periods of time. The likes of Singapore may be expensive, whilst Bangkok can be relatively cheap.
Of course, you’re going to need to make your way around these cities, and thankfully, there are plenty of options for doing so. Tuk tuks are super popular, and are one of the cheapest ways to get around – far cheaper and more exhilarating than a regular ol’ taxi.
You can shop at the night markets
Many of the cities of South East Asia have night markets. Here you can try exotic street food and shop for local souvenirs from handmade bags to jewellery whilst not having to bear the midday heat. Night markets can be a great experience – they’re an assault on the senses and make for a unique evening out. Loving to visit markets of all kinds while on my travels, this is another activity that holds a top spot on my list of things to do while exploring South East Asia.
From what I’ve read, some of the best night markets are Luang Prabang in Laos and the Ben Thanh market in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Mihn City.
You can hike up a volcano
From the time I was little, I always thought it would be amazing to climb ip a volcano. In fact, a rather adventurous (and admittedly stupid) Emily 14-year-old wrote “climb an active volcano” on the first page of her Travel Bucket List. That being said, it appears that there are plenty of volcanoes to see in this region of the world. Organized hikes can take you up to the peak of these volcanoes, while others may be best viewed from the ground.
Indonesia is the top place for these natural wonders. It’s home to the infamous Krakatoa – one of the most violent eruptions in recent history. This volcano still has minor eruptions now and again. Ijen volcano in the same country is also worth seeing – a boiling hot lake sits in the crater which is known to produce blue flames at times. If that doesn’t intrigue you enough to hop on a plane and fly to visit, I can only wonder where your sense of adventure is.
You can explore a cave
South East Asia is also home to a number of impressive caves. Han Son Doong in Vietnam is the biggest cave in the world – it’s so huge that it has it’s own river, jungle and climate. I could hardly believe that when I read it. Tourist trips to this cave are fairly expensive, but there are plenty of other less expensive caves to explore. The Batu Caves of Malaysia are particularly impressive as they contain a Hindu temple. There’s also the Puerto Princesa River in the Philippines – this is a cave with a river running through it which can be accessed by boat tours (dolphins are known to swim in this cave! *cue internal squealing*).
You can trek through the rainforests
Many of the countries making up South East Asia contain tropical woodland. Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia contains one of the most expansive jungles and is home to all kinds of wildlife including rhinos, monkeys, tapirs, leopards, and tigers. There are many treks into this national park that allow you to see these sights, which means that this animal-loving girl of yours would most likely be spending a solid amount of time fawning over the beautiful wildlife of these jungles.
Ba Be National Park in Vietnam is a similar example. A giant river runs through this jungle which is perfect for a boat tour. Rare animals such as pangolins and snub-nosed langur monkeys populate this rainforest.
You can spot exotic wildlife
I found out that there are plenty of exotic animals to see in South East Asia, much to my excitement. Whilst the rainforests contain plenty of these animals, they aren’t the only place to spot unusual wildlife.
Komodo Island in Indonesia for example, is the only place to see the fearsome Komodo dragon, the largest lizard in the world. These are creatures that I was always fascinated with as a child, staring at them in awe-struck wonder when I saw them lazing under heat lamps at the zoo. Donsol in the Philippines meanwhile, is a popular diving spot where you can see dolphins and whale sharks (you can see from my recent post on Instagram that I absolute adore marine life). As you walk along many of these beaches, it seems that you’ll find that a lot of them are nesting grounds for sea turtles.
You can meet an Indigenous tribe
Across South East Asia, you’ll find many local tribes still living traditionally. There are many guided tours and overnight trips (found at sites like https://www.renown-travel.com/daytripschiangmai/hilltribetour.html) that can allow you to experience life as a tribesman. In Northern Thailand, you can stay overnight with the hill tribes, and while in Indonesia, you can meet local tribes in the rainforest. This can be a great cultural experience as well as an incredible opportunity for personal challenge.
You can visit ancient monuments
South East Asia has a lot of ancient history. The ruins of temples and palaces can be found across this region, places that history buffs like me flock to. Needless to say, these are places that I would adore the opportunity to visit one day.
Angkor Wat in Cambodia is amongst one of the most famous and remarkable monuments. It’s the largest temple in the world, covering 162 hectares (!!!), and is thought to have been built by the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. For a sight that’s even more impressive, the ancient city of Mrauk U in Burma is well worth a visit. Taking a boat ride through these fog-ridden ruins appear to be a truly ethereal experience.
You can see other historical sites
The more recent history of South East Asia is also worth exploring. There are plenty of reminders of the region’s colonial past, evident in the Raffles hotel in Singapore, and the many Spanish churches of Manila in the Philippines. On top of this, there are even more recent reminders of wars and regimes. It’s possible to take a battlefields tour of Vietnam as available at http://www.vietnambattlefieldtours.com/ and explore the sites of previous bloody encounters in the Vietnam war. There are also tours to the killing fields of Cambodia that could offer a similarly educational and humbling experience.
Like I said before, though I’ve not yet been able to find my way to Asia in my travels, going through and discovering all of the amazing sights and adventures available for tourists in South East Asia, there’s not a doubt in my mind that I’ll be making it a priority to find my way over there in the next couple of years. With the beautiful climate and variety of landscapes, this is the ideal place to vacation, whether you’re looking for a family beach holiday or a rugged backpacking adventure. There really is something for every kind of traveller in this part of the beautiful continent.
Have you ever been to South East Asia? What are your favourite, must-see locations while visiting? Let me know in the comments!