- Southeast Asia offers diverse and beautiful tourist destinations, providing visitors with an experience of nature, spirituality, and adventure.
- There are both accessible and remote destinations in Southeast Asia, making it ideal for travelers on extended sabbaticals and those looking for quick getaways.
- The recommended destinations in Southeast Asia include the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand, Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, Siargao Island in the Philippines, and more, each offering unique experiences and attractions.
Southeast Asia is an excellent destination that caters to various types of travelers. The tourist destinations in Southeast Asia are diverse in beauty and offerings. However, each destination showcases the region’s beauty and provides visitors with a fantastic experience of nature, spirituality, and an epic adventure. Thrill-seekers on vacation have plenty to explore. These include ancient forests, idyllic beaches with rainbow lakes, ancient temples, and breathtaking scenic views.
Certain areas of Southeast Asia are not easily accessible, which allows tourists to explore both the popular and remote destinations of Southeast Asia. These places in Southeast Asia are perfect for travelers on a sabbatical looking for months of adventure and cultural experiences. They can take their time to identify the best sights to visit and make the most of their stay in the region.
There are also beginner-friendly places worth checking out, as well as some of the top destinations in the region for those looking for a quick but thrilling getaway.
UPDATE: 2023/09/11 06:38 EST BY MARIAM ADAMA
18 Best Places To Visit In Southeast Asia
For travelers wondering where to go for a vacation in Asia, there are several recommended destinations in Southeast Asia worth considering. The following updated list includes even more interesting and beautiful places that frequent travelers may want to explore. These locations offer a variety of experiences, from visiting temples and wildlife to exploring islands and remote towns and hiking through lush forests in Southeast Asia.
Note: The hotels featured in this list have been carefully selected through extensive research. With impressive ratings of, these hotels have garnered exceptional reviews from previous guests, attesting to their top-notch quality and services. However, before deciding to book a hotel room, it is advisable to reach out first to verify the details.
Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Maya Bay, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand, Southeast Asia
The Phi Phi Islands in Thailand are undeniably one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia for those who enjoy beach vacations or want to lose themselves in the beauty of nature. Brimming with crystalline turquoise waters, imposing limestone cliffs, and diverse marine life, these Thai islands offer a beach retreat like no other. From Maya Bay to Long Beach, every destination on these islands is picture-perfect and offers multiple opportunities to unwind or indulge in a variety of adrenaline-pumping activities, including snorkeling, diving, and island hopping. The islands are also renowned for their exciting nightlife, fire shows, luxurious resorts, and culinary scene that can satisfy even the most discerning foodie. The Phi Phi Islands remain one of Thailand’s most popular destinations packed with thrilling adventures and worth experiencing.
The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Lush panorama of the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia, Southeast Asia
Travelers who visit The Cameron Highlands will see why it is one of the most popular destinations in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. For those looking for a break from the beaches, the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia offer a nature retreat complete with lush green scenery, rolling hills, and tea plantations. This picturesque region in the Titiwangsa Mountains is a great escape from the tropical heat of the summer because of its cool and refreshing climate. From exploring stunning tea estates to hiking through lush forests, spotting diverse flora and fauna, and witnessing panoramic vistas from vantage points, this region offers a variety of thrilling experiences for a memorable trip. Also, visitors will find a wide range of accommodations, from the most luxurious to the most affordable, ensuring a relaxing and comfortable vacation.
Siargao Island, The Philippines
View of Siargao Island in the Philippines
A tear-shaped island in the Philippine Sea, Siargao is located 196 kilometers southeast of Tacloban and is widely regarded as the country’s surfing epicenter. Jacking Horse and Daku are stunning locations popular with surfers due to their large waves. There are many other different activities for individuals who aren’t particularly surfing-savvy. Travelers can relax at the many resorts on the island, cool down in the pools of Magpupungko, or head to Tayangban Cave Pool, a half-submerged grotto surrounded by mangroves, to swim, climb, and cliff jump.
Koh Yao Yai, Thailand
Koh Yao Yai Pier At Night Is A Stunning Place For A Romantic Stroll
Tucked away between the tourist havens of Phuket and Krabi lies Ko Yao Yai Island, a tiny, undiscovered sanctuary that exemplifies the pristine natural beauty for which the Thai islands are known. Ko Yao Yai has sandy beaches, beautiful resorts and spas, mangroves, rubber plantations, and fishing settlements. Dive destinations, such as the King Cruiser Wreck near Anemone Reef and the pinnacles of Shark Point, dot the coral-rich seas nearby. The island’s native Muslim population has built booming industries by growing rubber trees and fishing.
Skyline of Bagan, Myanmar
Bagan was officially inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO On 6 July 2019. It served as the capital of Myanmar’s first monarchy. Over ten thousand Buddhist pagodas and temples were constructed here between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The Bagan Archaeological Zone, covering an area of 41 km2, is home to nearly 3,500 surviving monuments. The Dhammayangyi Temple, Bagan’s largest and most well-known temple, is notable for its enigmatic bricked-up interior and can be seen anywhere in the city. The white Shwesandaw Paya pagoda offers stunning views of the city’s hills and temples, and it also serves as the ideal vantage point for watching the sun go down.
Penang Island, Malaysia
Chinese General Monkey Mural at China House On Penang Island
Just off the Malay Peninsula in the Strait of Malacca sits the Malaysian island of Penang. Guests to Penang will find a surprising juxtaposition in the city’s mingling of many Asian cultures. George Town, the state capital of Penang, features several buildings with distinct foreign styles, including the British Fort Cornwallis, the Chinese clan temple Khoo Kongsi, and the Indian-style Kapitan Keling Mosque. The Goddess of Mercy Temple in China, the Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple, and the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple are also important places of worship.
Travelers Will Fall In Love With Wandering Hanoi While Finding Surprises Around Every Corner
Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, started welcoming tourists in the 1990s and is now one of the best spots to visit for those who want a deep understanding of Vietnamese culture. Guests can find many hotels, shops, eateries, and bikes in the historic district. It’s no secret that the Temple of Literature is also among the city’s most stunning structures. It was initially constructed as a university in the 11th century and is now a Confucian temple. Ho Chi Minh’s tomb is also in Hanoi. With all its offerings from temples to landmarks topped with the most scenic mountains in Vietnam, it is no wonder, Paris of the East, Hanoi, is one of Vietnam’s most-visited cities.
Bolaven Plateau, Laos
Getting Lost In Laos Is Always A Good Idea
The Bolaven Plateau (in Lao, Phu Phieng Bolaven) is a lush region that spans sections of all four southern provinces and is well-known for its mild climate, stunning waterfalls, and excellent coffee. The historic village mansions and the coffee plantations are must-sees, but the region’s spectacular waterfalls are the icing on the cake. Reserve a room in a luxurious resort on the Mekong River’s scenic banks and enjoy a motorcycle ride over the 500-kilometer fresh, wild road the nation offers, starting from Paske.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The stunning Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Take a trip to Cambodia and spend some time in Siem Reap, a resort town in the country’s northwest and the entry point to the Angkor temple complex, which served as the capital of the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th centuries. Among the many historical sites in Southeast Asia, Angkor is among the most significant. Covering an area of over 400 km2, much of it forested, Angkor Archaeological Park is home to the impressive ruins of several ancient Khmer capital cities. Another highlight is the Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom, with its myriad sculptural decorations.
Nusa Islands, Indonesia
Nusa Penida Is The Perfect Escape From Busy Bali
Nusa Islands are a famous group of three islands located off Bali’s southern coast in Indonesia. The three islands, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan, are all great places to go on an exciting trip. The Nusa Islands have recently become increasingly popular among tourists. Still, some parts feature tranquil white sand beaches bordered by turquoise waters, while others feature dramatic cliff faces and surf breaks, naturally formed infinity pools, and enchanting hidden lagoons. Guests on the islands can swim, snorkel, or scuba dive with the gentle giants of the sea, the manta rays, that call this part of Indonesia home.
Aerial view of Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Singapore is unlike any other Southeast Asian country. This city-state on an island is cutting edge and global in outlook, with high-rise hotels and malls coexisting with breathtakingly beautiful natural landmarks. For instance, Sentosa Island is home to various attractions, including a two-kilometer beach, a renovated coastal fort, Southeast Asia’s first 4D theater, a butterfly park, an insect kingdom, and even a Universal Studios Singapore theme park. The world’s largest indoor waterfall is in Singapore’s airport, which also features a five-story indoor garden, a mirror and haze maze, and a huge butterfly garden with over a thousand species flying freely among tropical vegetation.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Bali, Indonesia
Tegalalang Rice Terraces in Bali
Located about 20 minutes north of Ubud, the Tegalalang Rice Terrace is one of Bali’s most picturesque and famous spots. The rice paddies at the UNESCO World Heritage Site are expansive and undulating because of a complex irrigation system and the dedication of farmers who have been tending the terraces for centuries, if not millennia. Here, visitors can spend hours strolling the decks for the gift of a few cents, taking in the panoramic views of verdant fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. People who get there early in the morning will have the place to themselves, enjoying the gentle swishing of the rice fields in the breeze.
Orchid Island, Taiwan
Taiwan, Taitung, orchid island
Orchid Island, or Lanyu, off the coast of Eastern Taiwan, is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia. Home of the Yami people, who have populated the island for over 1,000 years, this volcanic island is a technicolor kaleidoscope of blues and greens that is well worth the (occasionally rough) ferry trip to get there. Visitors should rent a scooter to experience every inch of this unique wonderland and make their way through craggy rock formations where the local goat population loves to catch a snooze. Scuba diving off the coast with the Blue Ocean Dive Center is an awesome activity where visitors can enjoy the epic coral reefs surrounding the island. After a day of exploring travelers must sample some flying fish, a local delicacy at the center of many Yami rituals.
Travelers to Orchid Island must be respectful of the Yami culture and not take photos of locals without permission. It is considered to be extremely rude.
Ninh Bình, Vietnam
A Boat Tour Through Tràng An Near Ninh Bình
Ninh Bình is considered to be the Ha Long Bay of the land, and it’s one of the best-kept secrets in Southeast Asia for those who long for unrivaled nature and off-the-charts hospitality. A visit to the nearby World Heritage-listed Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex. This spectacular landscape includes a once-in-a-lifetime boat ride/cave tour where travelers will experience Vietnam’s ancient capital city of Hoa Lu. A row through the 100-meter-long Hang Bong or Shadow Cave is another thrilling aspect of the 2-3 hour tour on a bamboo rowboat. Travelers will lie on their backs as they glide through the epic cave into the turquoise lagoon. Visitors must rent a scooter to explore the rest of Ninh Bình and dart through verdant rice paddies that surround the glorious karsts in the area.
Siquijor Island, Philippines
Siquijor Is A Still Pristine Island In The Philippines
Siquijor Island has a magical past, and it is certain to enchant every traveler with its untouched jungle that echoes with the soothing sounds of cascading waterfalls. Siquijor is close to bustling Cebu, but it feels worlds away. Tranquil crystal waters gently roll onto white sand beaches making for a relaxing and rejuvenating respite during a Philippines adventure. Cambugahay Falls is a super popular tourist destination on the island, and its three-tiered waterfall and swimming area are perfect for those who want to see and be seen. For those who want to live like the locals, a five-minute jungle hike leads to the peaceful Lugnason Falls, where one can float on its sky-blue waters below the falls and truly feel like they’re having an otherworldly experience.
Ko Lipe, Thailand
Brown boat near rocks viewing sea in Koh Lipe, Thailand
This southern Thai island near Malaysia is a tropical paradise full of natural wonders that make it a must on any list of top Southeast Asia destinations. Snorkeling, kayaking, voracious reading on white sand beaches, there is something for everyone on Ko Lipe. Travelers can head to Walking Street in the evening after sunset on Pattaya Beach for outstanding local delicacies, live music, and amazing bars. The reefs here are much healthier than those on other Thai islands, and 25% of the world’s tropical fish species can be found around Ko Lipe. Travelers can book a variety of underwater excursions with Lipe Dive Station.
- Where to stay: Akira Lipe Resort
- Address: 370 Moo 7, Koh Sarai Sub-district, Muang, Satun, 91000 Ko Lipe, Thailand
- Amenities: Swimming Pool, Beachfront, Free WiFi, Airport Shuttle, Fitness Center, Bar
Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia
Busra Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia
Mondulkiri Province is truly a remarkable destination in Southeast Asia. Despite its vast land area, it is not densely populated like other provinces in Cambodia. The province is blessed with lush forests, forested hills, and breathtaking waterfalls that will leave any adventurer awestruck. The waterfalls in Mondulkiri Province are some of the most remarkable in Southeast Asia, including Romnea Waterfall (Sen Monorom), Pu Long Waterfall, Bou Sra Waterfall (Busra), and Dakdam Waterfall. The Bou Sra Waterfall, also known as Busra, is the largest waterfall in the province and a sight to behold.
What’s more, the province has several sanctuaries and projects, like the Elephant Valley Project, that are dedicated to the protection and rescue of elephants. Mondulkiri is known for its population of elephants, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts.
Lastly, the province’s iconic forest, Tree Ocean (Samuth Chher), or “ocean of trees,” is a sight to behold. The forest is so named because it resembles ocean waves when viewed from the top of the hill. Mondulkiri Province is truly a gem in Southeast Asia that deserves to be explored and appreciated by all.
- Where to stay: Manel Guesthouse and Restaurant
- Address: Chamkae village, Spean Mean Chey commune, Senmonorom town, Mondulkiri province, Cambodia
- Amenities: Restaurant, Free Wi-Fi, Valet parking, Free parking, Internet, Laundry facilities, Express check-out, 24hr front desk, Car rental, Currency exchange on-site
Taman Negara Rainforest, Malaysia
Canopy walk in Taman Negara, Malaysia
The Taman Negara Rainforest is a true wonder, with a fascinating history that dates back over 130 million years. Some even speculate that this park might have once been home to majestic dinosaurs! For nature enthusiasts and adventure-seekers alike, the Taman Negara National Park is a definite must-see destination in Southeast Asia.
So much excitement awaits travelers at the Taman Negara National Park, from caving and fishing to camping and wildlife observation. All caped with the opportunity to explore Malaysia’s tropical rainforest.
During their stay, visitors can delight in the world’s longest canopy walkway, explore the Aborigine village, and hike amidst the verdant rainforest canopy. Thrill seekers can even climb the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia, Mount Tahan!
- Where to stay: Jerantut Hill Resort
- Address: Lot 1284, Jalan Benta, Jerantut 27000, Pahangm Malaysia
- Amenities: Room service, Free Wi-Fi, Cable or satellite TV, Meeting/Banquet facilities, Spa, Laundry service, Laundry facilities, Hairdryer, 24hr front desk, Currency exchange on-site