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Top 10 Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

Where to go.

Ancient, exotic and diverse – these qualities set Southeast Asia apart. Whether you’re a solo traveler or a globetrotting family, this must-see area with a plethora of fascinating places to visit will captivate your soul (in a good way).

Regardless of the country – Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, East Timor, Myanmar, Laos, Singapore or maybe Vietnam – you’ll find pure beauty on almost every corner. Among modern cities buzzing with life, picturesque villages, dream-like rice fields, stunning beaches, and UNESCO Heritage sites, the choice becomes difficult.

Start with these iconic places to visit in Southeast Asia, and follow the unstoppable desire to never stop exploring.

1. Angkor Wat or “Temple city” – Cambodia

Sometimes the visual presentation of famous attractions is inflated and followed by deep disappointment called reality. Simply, photos might easily deceive us.

It’s quite an opposite with 12th-century Angkor Wat!

No matter how impressive the visual display might be, this Cambodian architectural diamond always exceeds all expectations. Much more than a temple, Angkor Wat is the largest religious complex on the globe, respected for its insanely detailed carvings and sculptures.

As one of the seven ancient Wonders of the World, Angkor Wat is a perfect starting point for your Southeast Asia tour.

2. Impressive Petronas Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Southeast Asia has both archaic and modern wonders to offer. After experiencing a trip to the Cambodian past, prepare to be blown away by the state-of-the-art landmark, Petronas Towers. The secret to their uniqueness is based on traditional Islamic geometry, symbolizing the core principles of Malaysian culture: unity, stability, harmony and, rationality.

Either by day or night, visit these 88-floor giants and delight in the spectacular view on Kuala Lumpur.

3. White Temple – Chiang Rai, Thailand

When your journey leads you to Thailand, visit the fairy-tale-like Buddhist temple of Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple. Its easily recognizable eery and dreamy facade attracts tourists from each corner of the world. Created from a vision of an artist and a painter Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple is mesmerizing both on the outside and inside. Behind the white walls representing Buddha’s purity, a bit bizarre murals are inspired by pop culture.

White Temple is nothing like any contemporary monument you’ll ever see.

4. Pak Ou Caves – Laos

Laos has been a hidden jewel of Southeast Asia. Undoubtedly, there’s a lot this country can offer to the curious, wandering guest.

If you head to the north, more precisely up the Mekong river, you’ll find the one-of-a-kind Pak Ou Caves. Reachable by road or water, caves are not only the wonder of nature, but also a cultural monument. Filled with miniature sculptures of Buddha, Pak Ou Caves tell the story of his teaching and life.

5. Floating Market – Bangkok, Thailand

Let’s change the perspective from religious to everyday, but equally interesting culture. An ideal example of a colorful, vivid life in Thailand can be found in floating markets. Take time to enjoy entertaining and exotic scenes, grow your photo archive, and of course, taste some of the delicious, fresh food right there on the canals.

6. Mekong Delta – Vietnam

Speaking of canals, Southeast Asia is indeed a place where water and land co-exist in most beautiful of ways. Also called the rice bowl of Vietnam, Mekong Delta will refresh your body and soul with its breathtaking scenery.

In order to completely relax and stay fully present here and in places like these, consider solutions such as WanderSnap, which provides affordable and skilled photographers. Surely, having a local photographer by your side, while you gaze upon the endless net of canals, streams, and rivers, brings the joy of travel to a brand new level.

Finally, you won’t have to worry that your camera or phone might fall into a canal.

7. Rice Terraces of Ifugao – Philippines

The list of best places to visit in Southeast Asia is not complete without rice terraces. The rice terrace technology exists in this area for a few thousands of years. IIt has been brought to the Philippines from China by overland migrants and spread across the incredible Ifugao hillsides.

Extremely steep slopes are covered by impressive built-by-hand terraces. The clearest of mountain streams and springs irrigate them, enabling the best quality rice to be produced. Make sure to get there during the harvest season and be amazed by the greenest valleys glowing beneath the sunshine. You’ll thanks us later.

8. Kuang Si Falls – Laos

Another gift of nature we’ll show you is Kuang Si. This magnificent attraction is usually crowded, as it stands among most popular sites in Laos. Kuang Si is an excellent place to breathe in the freshest air and rest your eyes on the ravishing landscape. According to astonished visitors, this three-tier, 50-meter-high falls are best described with one word – spectacular.

9. Lantern Festival – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Besides the mind-blowing architecture and breathtaking nature, Southeast Asia also has a lot of incredible events. Festivals, in particular, are a wonderful chance to take a peek into the tradition, culture, and history. In November, Chiang Mai becomes decorated with thousands of lanterns, floating in a miraculously illuminated air. The festival itself is called Yi Peng, a celebration of the full moon in the ritual of letting go (of all sins and worries).

10. Komodo National Park – Indonesia

Visiting Southeast Asia without meeting at least one dragon is a serious oversight. Komodo National Park is Indonesia’s natural treasure. The park itself consists of several islands – Rinca, Padar, Komodo being the largest ones. The richness of the underwater life, as well as the popular hiking trails through valleys, leave guests speechless.

Still, the main reason for most visits are Komodo dragons, which can only be found on these islands. Since there’s a history of attacks, make sure to stay away and admire these extraordinary creatures from a safe distance.

Southeast Asia is waiting for you

Hope we paved the path of your future exploration. Here is our choice of ten glorious places to visit in Southeast Asia, in the order of appearance:

Angkor Wat – Cambodia
Petronas Towers – Malaysia
White Temple – Thailand
Pak Ou Caves – Laos
Floating Markets – Thailand
Mekong Delta – Vietnam
Ifugao Rice Terraces – Philippines
Kuang Si Falls – Laos
Lantern Festival – Thailand
Komodo National Park – Indonesia

Filed under: Travel Guide

About the Author:

Vagabond Journey scours the globe for the most interesting, informative, and straight up strangest stories out there. has written 19 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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