Millions of tourists flock to South East Asia every year. There are many reasons as to why this part of the world is so popular – it has something to offer every type of traveller from your average beachgoer to the more adventurous thrill-seekers. Here are just 10 reasons why you should consider South East Asia as your next travel destination.
Much of South East Asia is close to the equator (Indonesia lies directly on it), which means that the climate is hot all year round. Whether you’re looking for a summer escape or some winter sun, South East Asia is certain to offer the perfect climate you’re after for working on that tan. Most countries in the region average a temperature in the thirties for most of the year. Only in the mountains are you likely to find cooler temperatures, and even in these cases you could hardly call the climate ‘cold’ – Sagada Mountain Province in the Philippines averages about 20 degrees, which is cool enough for those that dislike the intense heat but still warm enough to wear a t-shirt in.
2. Beautiful beaches
South East Asia has no shortage of idyllic beaches. Its white sands can often be found on the front of travel brochures and are some of the most iconic spots for travel Instagrammers. Indonesia’s Bali and Thailand’s Phuket are two of the most popular beach destinations, but there are plenty of others places where you can find golden shores without the crowds and high tourist fares. Sihanoukville in Cambodia is an upcoming area with white sands and a number of undeveloped tropical islands for those wanting a relaxing vacation by the sea. Thailand’s Kho Phangan meanwhile is another gem for those looking for a more vibrant beach destination with affordable prices.
3. Stunning cities
If relaxing on a beach isn’t your style, you can always try backpacking in one of South East Asia’s buzzing metropolises. Singapore is one of the business capitals of the world – many high-flying tycoons own a penthouse in Singapore and use it as a base for their business. On top of being able to marvel at the skyscrapers in the city’s business district, you can grab a cocktail at The Raffles, tour the formula one track and even pay a visit to the city’s own Universal Studios theme park. Another lively city worth visiting is Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, which is home to the 450 metre tall Petronas Twin Towers and the vibrant shopping complex of Bukat Bintang. This city is cheaper than Singapore, whilst offering just as many sights and urban experiences. Vietnam’s Hanoi and Thailand’s Bangkok meanwhile offer a more historical experience for those wanting to explore temples and colonial architecture.
4. Buzzing nightlife
When it comes to partying, South East Asia also has no shortage of nightlife hotspots. Thailand is the most popular country for party-goers – here you can take part in the original Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan (an all night party on the beach) or hit the wild bars of Phuket. Beyond Thailand there’s also Kuta in Bali which is more friendly to all ages with a nice mix of nightclubs and jazz bars. There’s also Boracay in the Philippines, which is the Ibiza of South East Asia attracting DJs from around the world and containing an array of beach bars to suit all kinds of people. Drinks are cheap all across South East Asia with even the most popular party zones offering affordable bars.
5. Rich history
If you’re looking for a more cultured and educational adventure, there’s also a lot of history in South East Asia to delve into. There are reminders of ancient dynasties and colonial rule all across the region. Angkor Wat in Cambodia is one of the most revered historical sites and happens to be the largest religious monument in the world – the 11th Century temple covers 162 hectares and there are plenty of tours that you can take to learn about its past on top of educating yourself on the Khmer Empire that once ruled the region. Prambanan and Borobudur are two other temples located in Indonesia that date back even further to the 9th Century and are almost as vast in size. South East Asia’s cities are also full of historical sights including temples such as Bangkok’s Wat Arun and colonial buildings such as Manila’s Fort Santiago. There are also plenty of museums located in these cities for learning about this history.
6. Natural wonders
South East Asia also has a lot of natural beauty to explore. Indonesia is one of the top of places in the world for volcanic activity – Mount Bromo is one of the most scenic and one of the most regularly active in the region, whilst Krakatoa is one of the world’s most notorious volcanoes known for its violent eruption in 1883 that was so loud it could be heard all around the globe. The Philippines is meanwhile home to a number of incredible natural sights including the subterranean river of Puerto Princesa and the chocolate hills of Bohol. Thailand meanwhile has a number of natural wonders worth exploring including Erawan Falls and the iconic limestone rocks of the Phi Phi Islands. Even if some of these natural wonders do attract lots of tourists, there’s plenty to see for those willing to venture off the beaten track – the likes of Cambodia and Indonesia have huge areas of tropical rainforest that are practically unexplored.
7. Rare wildlife
There’s plenty of exotic and rare wildlife to see in South East Asia too. Komodo Island in Indonesia is the only place on Earth where you can see the legendary Komodo dragon in the wild – this man-eating lizard is also the world’s largest reptile and there are guided tours which you can take to spot this beast. The island of Borneo meanwhile is one of the top places for seeing the endangered orangutan in the wild – here you’ll find orphanages set up for rescued orangutans as well as tours that could allow you to potentially see this creature in the wild. Those with a PADI license can meanwhile explore the shores of South East Asia and see all manner of exotic aquatic creatures including sea turtles and manta rays. Palau Sipadan in Malaysia and Tulamben in Indonesia are some of the best diving spots for seeing this wildlife.
8. Fantastic food
The cuisine of this region is also worth travelling for. Plenty of famous spicy dishes comes from South East Asia including pad Thai, green curry and Satay dishes. There are also many exotic fresh fruits that come from South East Asia including mangosteen and dragonfruit. Those daring enough can even try durian – the foul-smelling fruit of the region with an incredible taste. The cities are the best places to try the local food. Singapore is one of the top places for fine dining with plenty of unique restaurants with incredible views. When it comes to street food, Malaysia’s Penang and Vietnam’s Hanoi are two of the most flavoursome cities with vendors on every corner and an array of food markets to choose from. You can also take cooking lessons and learn from locals how to cook some of the regions best dishes.
9. Fascinating culture
The culture of South East Asia is worth visiting for alone. With many religions being practiced across the region and a vast history, there are plenty of festivals held throughout the year. Some of the most unique events include Thailand’s Songkran in which the population breaks out into a huge water fight and Boun Bang Fai in Laos in which the locals launch homemade rockets into the air. There are also a number of traditional performances and arts that you can watch. Head to Bali in Indonesia and you can watch a fire dance, whilst Bangkok in Thailand is a great place to watch a Thai boxing match.
10. It’s budget-friendly
South East Asia is also one of the most affordable travel destinations in the world. Whilst getting there can be expensive due to the high price of long-haul flights, it’s easy to live on a shoestring whilst you’re there. Street food is the cheapest way to eat whilst many of the cities have tuk-tuks, which are an affordable way of getting around. When it comes to accommodation, there are also plenty of budget hotels and hostels that are a fraction of the price of those you’d find elsewhere in the world for the same quality.