The cities of Southeast Asia are stepping into the future with one foot dragging in the past. While Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City are each their own version of bustling metropolis,old meets new in exploration of Phnom Penh, Hanoi's Old Quarter or downtown Yangon, one thing all theses cities have in common is an electric buzz of excitement for the future.
The majority of S.E Asia is still sitting at village pace which makes for endless travel options you could spend a life time falling in love with. A slow boats down the Mekong, motorbike adventures in the jungle or island-hopping Indonesia or the Philippines as people have been doing since ancestors of current day Australian Aboriginals migrated to Van Demons Land.
If you are looking to escape to a foreign, exotic and affordable land there is no greater place than Thailand. If the pristine tropical beaches and the relaxing atmosphere don’t win you over the food and people will. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places on earth, there are plenty of opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins, ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha, elephant sanctuaries and shopping a plenty.
From Chiang Rai, once a capital city in 1262 and Chiang Mai in the mountainous north to the Khao Yai National Park not far from Bangkok down the southern regions beaches and tropical islands, Thailand is centrally located in the region for easy adventures to other countries.
Many visitors find a vast number of places to visit that intrigue and excite them in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the other major centers; but despite the cities’ allure, it’s the country’s striking landscape that most impresses. Vietnam occupies a narrow strip of land that hugs the eastern borders of Cambodia and Laos, hemmed in by rugged mountains to the west, and by the South China Sea – or the East Sea, as the Vietnamese call it. To the north and south of its narrow waist, it fantails out into the splendid deltas of the Red River and the Mekong, and it’s in these regions that you’ll encounter the paddy fields, dragonflies, buffaloes and conical-hatted farmers that constitute the classic image of Vietnam.
In stark contrast to the pancake-flat rice land of the deltas, Ha Long Bay’s labyrinthine network of limestone outcrops loom dramatically out of the Gulf of Tonkin, a magical spectacle in the early morning mist. Any trip to the remote upland regions of central and northern Vietnam is likely to focus upon the ethnic minorities who reside there. Elaborate tribal costumes, age-old customs and communal longhouses await those visitors game enough to trek into the sticks
Often overlooked in favour of its better-known neighbours, landlocked Laos remains one of Southeast Asia’s most beguiling destinations. Long isolated from the rest of the world, the country retains a slow, rather old-fashioned charm, and its people are incredibly laid-back and friendly. Laos river systems are an amazing way to see the country and you can catch a long boat form the old French colonial capital Luang Prabang to the Thai Border traversing the incredible Mekong or head south from current capital Vientiane to the Mekong delta bordering Cambodia and Vietnam. The country also retains some of the French influence it absorbed during colonial days with the smell of freshly baked bread and coffee mingling with exotic local aromas in morning markets, and many of the old shop houses of its larger towns now house French restaurants.
Laos has many well kept secret but there is one that would surprise the world Connoisseurs' and that is their local brew Beer Lao. Its worth the journey
These days Cambodia is a modest player on the world stage, this was once the seat of one of Asia’s most magnificent early civilizations, the mighty Khmer empire of Angkor. Their legendary temples continue to provide a touchstone of national identity as well as attracting millions of visitors every year. Away from the temples, much of the country remains refreshingly untouched and, in many places, largely unexplored.
Cambodia’s sleepy towns and cities are a delight, with their faded colonial architecture and old-fashioned charm, while in the countryside a host of memorable landscapes await, from the mighty Mekong River and great Tonle Sap lake to the remote forested highlands of Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri and the Cardamom Mountains. Down south, in complete contrast, the coast serves up a beguiling cocktail of party-lifestyle hedonism, idyllic beaches and magical islands.
A beautiful and culturally rich country cursed for decades with a brutally oppressive regime, Myanmar (Burma) has in recent years been making headlines for its tentative steps towards democracy. Following the softening and then removal of a fifteen-year tourism boycott led by the National League for Democracy – Myanmar’s leading political opposition party – tourist numbers have swollen but the infrastructure has not yet grown to accommodate them all. Although this means that finding a cheap bed is harder than before, it does make this a fascinating time to discover Myanmar’s glittering golden stupas (a mound-like or hemispherical structure typically containing the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns), bountiful rice fields, enigmatic ruined temples and picturesque mountain paths. Most memorable of all, though, are the encounters with people eager to introduce foreigners to their country and their culture.
This is a journey for those seeking completely non-westernised cultures before they disappear.
Singapore is a thriving cosmopolitan city with a history deeply rooted in trade and commerce. Although a long favourite destination for the more affluent of travellers, the Lion City’s roar is beginning to be heard by the masses. An abundance of world-class, affordable attractions are springing up on a regular basis, whilst the vast variety of restaurants and nightlife options cater for everybody, from budget backpackers to high rolling billionaires!
This tiny island-state is also remarkably culturally diverse. Where else could you marvel at the charms of yesteryear in the historic Chinatown, then tuck into a delicious curry in Little India, before ending the night atop of the iconic Marina Bay Sands sipping a cocktail? From all the best hotels in Singapore at the most competitive prices, to the Top 10 places to eat, drink, see and shop.
Aside from Island on almost every Australians bucket list Bali, the Indonesian archipelago spreads over 5200km between the Asian mainland and Australia, all of it within the tropics, and comprises 17,000 islands. Its ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity is correspondingly great – more than 500 languages and dialects are spoken by its 246 million people, whose fascinating customs and lifestyles are a major attraction. The largely volcanic nature of the islands has created tall cloud-swept mountains swathed in the green of rice terraces or rain-forest, dropping to blindingly bright beaches and vivid blue seas, the backdrop for Southeast Asia’s biggest wilderness areas and wildlife sanctuaries. All of this provides an endless resource for adventurous trekking, surfing, scuba diving, or just lounging by a pool in a five-star resort.
Travel across the archipelago is pretty unforgettable, in tiny fragile planes, rusty ferries and careering buses but if you can handle that, you will simply be amazed.