With the winter fast approaching, one of the best places to visit and escape the cold is Southeast Asia. With hundreds of great cities and islands to visit, it can be hard to know where to go to Southeast Asia.
Today I’m going to share with you my ten favorite Southeast Asian best places to visit, to help inspire your next trip.
10Hoi An, Vietnam
If you are looking to immerse yourself in the culture and unique decoration of Vietnam, I’d highly recommend a visit to Hoi An. This laidback town is perfect for relaxing and strolling around and is located on the South China Sea coast.
Also, in Vietnam will find a couple of nice beachside resorts that you might want to try.
If you have come from Ho Chi Minh City, you will notice a massive difference between these two locations. I loved walking around enjoying the shopping and dining on offer here.
The town center is only for pedestrians and cyclists, so renting a bike here is a great way to get around and explore the area. You’ll want to spend a few days here enjoying everything the town has to offer, as it’s definitely one of the top South East Asia destinations.
See also: Hoi An Nightlife Travel Guide
9Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Without a doubt one of the top places to visit in Southeast Asia, Angkor Wat is located in the northwest of Cambodia in Siem Reap. Located just six kilometers from the city, this 12th Century complex covers a massive area of land.
I absolutely loved visiting here, and I’d definitely recommend taking your time to explore the temples in the area.
If you want to learn more about the history of the area, don’t miss The Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Center. Come nighttime, I loved strolling the markets here to sample the delicious street food.
Angkor Wat is known as one of the top landmarks in Southeast Asia which brings more than 2.5 million visitors every year.
Check our tips for booking accommodation in Siem Reap.
If you are looking for a shorter Southeast Asia vacation, consider visiting Singapore. This city-state can be visited alone or easily combined with a visit to Malaysia and Thailand.
It’s an extremely modern city that still has places of culture and natural beauty for visitors to explore. Don’t miss the astonishing Marina Bay Sands hotel, with its infinity pool on the rooftop. Check the best hotels and hostels in Singapore
Enjoy experiencing the culture and cuisine of Chinatown and spend an evening enjoying the lights at the Gardens by the Bay.
For anyone traveling with kids and teens, head over to Sentosa Island. It’s an entertainment complex featuring Universal Studios Singapore and plenty of other attractions to keep the whole family entertained.
When you arrive and depart the country, prepare to be impressed by the airport. It’s consistently named one of the best in the world and has gardens and a waterfall!
If you are looking to visit it on a fast forward, check this one-day itinerary for a better experience.
7Vang Vieng, Laos
One of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia that I visited was Vang Vieng in Laos. Located further north than Vientiane, it’s known for its incredible limestone formations.
Surrounded by luscious hills, the town sits on the Nam Song River. Backpackers love visiting here for the active adventures available to them. I loved tubing and kayaking along the river.
I’d also highly recommend taking a trip to hike and explore the caves here. The best way to sightsee here is by renting a mountain bike. This allows you the freedom to explore the beautiful scenery surrounding the town.
See also: Laos Travel Guide
6Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Another great place to visit in Southeast Asia is Kuala Lumpur. As the capital city of Malaysia, it is one of the best cities to visit in Southeast Asia. It’s a busy city featuring the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and incredible skyscrapers.
Based on 2018 statistics, Kuala Lumpur sits in the top 5 tourist destinations in Southeast Asia.
I highly recommend getting tickets to visit the Petronas Twin Towers and enjoying the amazing views from high up over the city.
Another of my favorite activities here was seeing the Batu Caves, which feature one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India.
The temple is set within limestone caves, and it’s a popular excursion for visitors to the city.
In Kuala Lumpur, I also loved enjoying street food and markets. The cuisine here is delicious, and it’s the perfect introduction for anyone visiting Malaysia for the first time.
If you are here only for a short stay then I suggest you find a 2 days Kuala Lumpur itinerary to get the most out of it.
See also: When is the Best Time to Visit Malaysia
5Chiang Mai, Thailand
Everyone knows that Thailand is one of the best countries to visit in Southeast Asia, especially for its nightlife. But Thailand is not just about nightlife, drinking, and wild parties.
Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is easy to access via train or plane from Bangkok. With only 700 THB I took the overnight train here, which was a great experience in itself.
It’s one of the most important cities in the country and is visited by tourists and expats alike.
It’s known for being an inexpensive place to stay for digital nomads or those looking for an extended stay. If you stay for a couple of days here, make sure you will try the famous ex-prison Thai massage in Chiang Mai.
I strongly suggest you include this city in your Thailand itinerary.
If you enjoy an active holiday, this area is perfect for hiking during single or multi-day trips. There are also opportunities in the area to interact with the local elephant population.
4Gili Islands, Indonesia
Located off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia, these three islands offer something for everyone regardless of their taste and budget.
Backpackers flock to Gili Trawangan, which is known for its parties and diving. All three islands are great for travelers who are looking to escape the crowds in other areas in the region.
Cars aren’t allowed on the island, so enjoy exploring by bike or foot. If you are looking for one of the best places in Southeast Asia to complete your PADI Open Water Certification, this is a great choice.
The other best option for divers in the region is Koh Tao, located in Thailand.
3Luang Prabang, Laos
Another beautiful place to visit in Southeast Asia is Luang Prabang, which became part of UNESCO World Heritage in 1995. It offers the perfect mix of architecture, with nods to the French colonial heritage.
It was one of the most beautiful places I visited in Laos and is home to many temples. My favorite to visit was the Wat Chom Si shrine, which overlooks the town at the top of Mount Phou Si.
It’s not unusual for the whole town to be filled with monks early each morning as part of their ceremonies. I love an active vacation, so if you are like me, head to the Pak Ou Caves which I visited as part of a hiking trip.
Luang Prabang was certainly an unexpected favorite for me, making it one of the best cities to visit in Southeast Asia.
It’s often on lists as one of the world’s top islands, and when you see the turquoise seas here you’ll know why!
It’s relatively undeveloped with fewer large resorts than you may expect from such a beautiful destination. The mountains and jungles here are incredible to see, with their luscious greenery and wildlife.
I loved snorkeling and kayaking in the waters, and I took a great day trip hopping around Palawan’s top tourist spots. For anyone who loves to dive, there are shipwrecks in the waters surrounding Palawan, so this makes for a unique adventure.
They were sunk during World War II, and divers can explore these sites while surrounded by tropical fish and turtles. The Philippines is still a great value destination to visit, and you’ll be so spoilt by the scenery here every day.
For beach lovers, Palawan is one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia.
If you come to visit the Philippines you should also Explore Negros Island, the 4th Largest Island in the Philippines
A list of the best places to go in Southeast Asia wouldn’t be complete without what is most likely your starting point for your trip.
Bangkok is an international flight hub for many visitors and is where I usually start any adventure in this region.
With cheap backpacker accommodation available on Khao San Road, it’s the perfect place to recover and acclimatize following a long journey.
Enjoy a night out with your friends and have a taste of the famous Bangkok nightlife.
I love sampling the amazing street food and partying throughout the city each night.
Don’t miss The Grand Palace and Wat Arun, which is located riverside.
However, my favorite excursion to take here is to the floating markets and night markets. They are such a unique experience and are a great way to get some souvenirs for your friends and family back home.
If you are looking for a slice of normal life during your trip, the malls, food courts, and cinemas throughout the city allow for some rest and relaxation.
Don’t book a flight before checking when to visit Bangkok.
So there you have the best Southeast Asia landmarks to visit on your next vacation. It’s such a vast region that it’s truly impossible to fit everything into your first few visits here.
But that’s what I love about it! There’s always somewhere new to visit, regardless of how many times I’ve been. With each country offering multiple must-see cities or islands, my list of places to visit just keeps getting longer.
See also: Southeast Asia 2 Weeks Travel Itinerary
If this list is not enough, you can check a different perspective of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia by watching the video below.
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