South of China and North of Australia you’ll find a peninsula and a string of islands commonly referred to as South East Asia. The numerous countries in this region are home to all manner of sights and experiences from exotic beaches to sprawling urban cities. Here are just a handful of reasons to explore this part of the world.
Take in the city sights
South East Asia has some of the world’s most incredible metropolises. There are modern cities such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpar full of soaring skyscrapers for those wanting a taste of the urban life. Here you’ll find the likes of the Petronas Towers (the tallest twin towers in the world) and Marina Sands (a three-tower complex containing the world largest casino, linked by a skypark). When it comes to shopper’s paradises, Manila in the Philippines and Bangkok in Thailand are two of the greatest hotspots. On top of these modern capitals, South East Asia has several historic cities worth visiting. These include the colonial city of Melaka in Malaysia and the picturesque city of Hanoi in Vietnam.
Relax on the beautiful beaches
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches in South East Asia. White Beach in the Philippines is one such tropical paradise that enjoys a booming tourist trade. For those wanting nightlife activity, Thailand’s Haad Rin Beach is the place to go, renowned for its full moon parties on the beach. Meanwhile, in the same country, you’ll also find Phra Nang Beach known for its backdrop of huge rock monoliths rising out of the sea. South East Asia is hot all year round making it perfect for a beach holiday at any time of the year.
Visit natural wonders
If you prefer to spend your holidays exploring natural sights, there are also plenty of experiences from caves to volcanoes to jungles. Popular pursuits include travelling down the Mekong river in Laos, a brown snaking river surrounded by mountains and lush jungle. Hang Song Doon in Vietnam meanwhile is the largest cave in the world with a chamber 150 metres high and 200 metres wide that may be worth visiting if you’re a keen cave explorer. Indonesia meanwhile is the perfect volcano hotspot – its home to Krakatoa, which gave birth to the largest and loudest eruption in recorded history, and Mount Bromo, which is located by a smoking ethereal sea.
See exotic wildlife
South East Asia also has a vast ecosystem including exotic plants and rare animals. It’s the only place to see orang-utans, most commonly found in Borneo along the Kinabatangan river. Java meanwhile is home to its own rare rhinoceros – the Javan rhino. Experience divers meanwhile can spot all kinds of fascination fish and sea creatures in the reefs and shores of South East Asia. The world’s largest fish – the whale shark – can be found swimming off Thailand’s shores. Sea turtles, dolphins and dugongs also inhabit the sea’s waters. As for flora, this part of the world has everything from bamboo forests to mangroves to strangler figs.
Explore ancient settlements
Those with an interest in history can also get a lot out of South East Asia. There are many ancient settlements spread out over this part of the continent. One of the most famous ancient temples is the mighty Angkor Wat in Cambodia, built by King Suryavarman II as a symbol of the universe. The landscape of Bagan in Myanmar meanwhile is populated by thousands of temples stretching out into the horizon. There’s also the Buddhist ruins of Ayutthaya – only a stone’s throw from Bangkok. On top of these historic sites, there are also plenty of temples in the region. Almost every major city has one worth exploring.
Try new foods
Those with an adventurous palette can try some of the weirder foods making up the local cuisine. On top of your standard curries and noodle dishes, there are also many fruits worth trying out. Such as wood apple and mangosteen. Those wanting to challenge their tastebuds can even try Durian – it’s known as the smelliest fruit giving off an odour that’s been described as a mix of rotting meat and gym socks. The region also has some ridiculously spicy dishes such as Thailand’s notorious Neua Pad Prik stir fry. Not all the foods in South East Asia are extreme.
Do it all for cheap
One of the great lures of South East Asia is the fact that it’s comparatively affordable for Westerners compared to similarly exotic hotspots such as the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.
Accommodation can be easily done on the cheap – there are plenty of youth hostels for those backpacking on a budget. Long-term accommodation options such as a house rental in Malaysia are also relatively low-cost. You may pay more in a city centre – the hub of Singapore is known for it’s high-price luxury hotels. However, journey to the outskirts and you can often find some brilliant deals.
Food and transport meanwhile is also cheap. There are high-class restaurants, as you’ll find in any part of the world. But those wanting to save money can survive on the region’s tasty street food and local eateries. Tuk-tuks meanwhile are an affordable way of getting around that are an experience in themselves.
The biggest cost is likely to be getting out there. Because of it’s distance from other countries, flights are generally long-haul and quite expensive. Certain budget airlines do offer good prices, whilst it’s also possible to slash costs by arranging a multi-stop journey. The time in which you travel also makes a big difference. Christmas and the height of summer are peak season, so expect the higher prices. If you’re able to travel out of season, you’re guaranteed better prices, hot weather and less crowds on the beach.
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