Top 5 Understated yet Incredibly Scenic Places to Visit in South East Asia
Traveling to South East Asia usually renders up images of Singapore’s Merlion, Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers, Bangkok’s dizzying cityscapes or popular beach destinations such as Langkawi or Phuket. While these destinations in Asia have got more than their usual share of attention from globetrotters, it has labeled them as being overhyped travel destinations in Asia. It has also made these destinations very crowded thus reducing the kind of leisure experience a holiday traveler would like to experience. While there is no doubt that these popular Asia destinations will never run out of its popularity, the world needs to shift its focus on some of the most beautiful South East Asian destinations that to date remains underappreciated even though some are well known Asian tourist destinations. However, on the plus side, this has managed to keep them budget-friendly and free from overcrowding. Scroll down to discover more about South East Asia’s understated yet most beautiful tropical destinations.
Scenic Places to Visit in South East Asia
Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Planning a Malaysian holiday? Take a chance and skip the usual cities and head to Perhentian Islands – you will not be disappointed with this travel decision. Once a halting point for ancient sea traders between Bangkok and Malaysia, Perhentian islands located in Terengganu, Malaysia, is now a popular tourist spot for families, couples, and backpackers. Among the islands, only two islands – Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil are inhabited. The island’s tranquil ambiance, soft white sandy beaches fringed with palm trees edging into the turquoise sea water are the prime reasons that allure tourists into this beautiful destination. The shallow waters with clear visibility and rich marine life make it a prime spot for adventure enthusiasts to gear up for scuba diving and snorkeling sessions. Teeming with colorful coral reefs, vivid varieties of fishes and sea creatures, you can have a great time spotting sea turtles, blue-spotted rays, clownfishes and much more. On the land, the hues of blue, white and lush green accentuate the landscape making it a fascinating place to enjoy tropical leisure.
Tips for Travelers
- You can visit the Perhentian Islands with a Malaysia visa. Make sure you have your passport with a valid visa wherever you are traveling in Malaysia.
- If you are living and working in a foreign country, you can apply for your visa to Malaysia from your resident country or city. For instance, if you are an expat in Dubai, you can apply for a Malaysia visa from Dubai easily. This applies to other countries as well. In short, you do not have to visit your home country just to get a visa for Malaysia.
- You would not find an ATM machine at the Perhentian Islands, hence it would be best to carry cash while visiting the place.
- Take care of your valuables like money, phone, laptop, etc. while on these islands.
- Tap water is not safe in the Perhentian Islands. Opt for bottled water, which can be refilled from restaurants or cafes.
Palawan Islands, Philippines
There are quite a few islands in the world that are compared to being paradisiac and Palawan Islands are inarguably one of them. In fact, it is also boasted as the world’s best island by many travel experts. Set far away from other islands of the Philippines, its unspoiled off-white beaches disappearing into the clear azure waters accentuated by towering limestone karsts, jutting out of the sea makes the island a visual splendor for its visitors. Moreover, it is a stunning place for adventure seekers looking for an underground river expedition and scuba diving experiences in its clear turquoise waters, brimming with rich colorful marine life. Its breathtaking scenic vistas of the limestone cliffs, canyons and the vast stretch of the blue-green sea along with a serene setting take you into a faraway paradise. Nature lovers and bird watchers would love this place for its abundance of lush natural wilderness which is home to over 600 species of birds and rare species of wildlife. If ever you chose to be in the Philippines, Palawan Island is one experience you should not miss at any cost.
Tips for Travelers
- Although there is an international airport on Palawan Islands, flights are not regular from around the world. Hence, it would be best to take a domestic flight from one of the main airports to the island.
- Ensure that you have a valid Philippines visa before you travel to Palawan Islands.
- Two things that you must not forget to pack are sunscreen and insect repellent cream.
- It would be better to carry cash as it is difficult to find an ATM on the Palawan Islands.
Inle Lake, Myanmar
Dominated by a 13.5 mile long tranquil lake flanked by rolling misty hills, the Inle Lake region in Myanmar is one amongst some of the most serene spaces to witness during your South East Asia travel. Tiny villages along the shorelines as well as stilted houses, unique gardens and farms that float on the surface of the lake are few of the extraordinary glimpses of village life you will experience only at Inle Lake. Assuredly, one of the most exotic places to visit in South East Asia, Inle Lake lets you explore a world that is least influenced by the modern rush. The village life looks quite slow-paced but every moment of it is filled with intriguing excitement and pleasant experiences. A cruise down the river during dawn or dusk is the best way to enjoy the scenic sights of floating gardens and fishermen at work. Opt for a cycling tour to explore the Burmese countryside and rejoice your sublime escape from rushes of daily life. Another way to get a bird’s eye view of this lakeshore hamlet is by trekking all the way to the Red Mountain Estate winery where you can witness a sweeping panorama of the Inle Lake region.
Tips for Travelers
- You need a Myanmar visa to visit Inle Lake, and you can opt either for an evisa or directly from the embassy. The evisa is a bit expensive than the latter but it is more convenient.
- The best time to visit Inle Lake is during the dry season, i.e. between November and February when the climate is pleasant.
- The closest airport is Heho Airport, from where you would have to take a cab to reach Inle Lake. You can share a cab with other visitors to save some money.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
In the northeast province of Quang Ninh in Vietnam, a fantasy scene unravels itself in front of your eyes as a series of forest sheathed limestone karsts soar majestically, breaking the surface of calm jade waters. Known as the ‘Bay of the Descending Dragons’, Ha Long Bay’s dramatic landscape and refreshing palette of colors have been bedazzling wanderers for decades. Ha, Long Bay is home to an outstanding assortment of over 2000 islets filled with rugged cliffs, grottos, and caves. You can either take a cruise along with these nature’s wonders or spend a couple of days here exploring the rocks and trying out adventure activities such as rock climbing and canoeing. Within the region, Bai Tu Long Bay and Ba Be National Park are some of the highlights that aren’t overwhelmed by tourists giving you the advantage of enjoying a tranquil experience amid some of the most spectacular natural sceneries in the world.
Tips for Travelers
- As you would be cruising for a few days, it would be best to take a small backpack with the most essential things.
- Do make sure to carry your passport that has the valid Vietnam visa stamped on it.
- Cotton clothes, including shorts and t-shirts, are the best while visiting Ha Long Bay. Do not forget to pack your swimsuit.
- Research well and pick a cruise that is not too cheap or too expensive.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Nestled in a misty valley where River Mekong and River Nam Khan of Laos merge, Luang Prabang is a destination that will sweep you off your feet with its stunning beauty. Consisting of over 30 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Luang Prabang had managed to dodge the fascination of modernism and remains so far, a slow-paced yet charming countryside of Laos. Packed with gorgeous verdant forests, spectacular waterfalls, and caves, Luang Prabang is one of the best places to visit in South East Asia for a nature escape. The region is also rich in historical sites as it was influenced by many wars and political regressions. Nevertheless, these past incidents have added a unique flair to the destination, and you will discover an eclectic blend of French and Indo Chinese elements when you explore the region. This is one of the southeast Asian tours where you get to witness remnants of French architecture and magnificent Buddhist Temples enhancing the city’s splendor. Also, do remember to check out the French food scene and bite into some delicious croissants on your Laos trip.
Tips for Travelers
- The best time to visit Luang Prabang is between November and March when the rain is minimal and climate pleasant. However, if you want to avoid crowds and do not mind a bit of humidity, April to August would also be a great time to visit.
- It is important to know whether you require a Laos visa before you travel to Luang Prabang. While some countries need to apply for a visa beforehand, citizens of some countries are eligible for a visa on arrival.
- If you want to shop from the local markets of Luang Prabang, it would be best to carry cash with you. If you fall short of cash, you will find ATMs in some areas, especially in the old town.
So next time you have plans to travel to Asia, open your mind to new adventures and look beyond the usual destinations in Asia for enriching travel experiences. Delve a little deeper and you will find yourself looking at different versions of nature’s beauty and historical heritages that you might never experience in conventional southeast Asian tours.