Filled to the brim with exquisite mountain views, bustling urban centers, and fascinating history, Southeast Asia offers more than you can possibly cram into a two-week vacation. Unfortunately, it’s simply impossible to see it all in one go. Prioritizing and compromising the sights at the top of your list is essential to plan the perfect journey.
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Whether you’re interested in purusing Bangkok’s floating markets, exploring the ruins of an ancient capital city or hiking through Cambodia’s Bokor mountains, there is definitely a Southeast Asia adventure for you. Here are three trips we suggest to see the best attractions without breaking the bank.
Of course you’re more than free to combine these trips or add your own routes to plan the optimal trip for you.
Southeast Asia City-Break
Explore the metropolitan side of Southeast Asian life from the royal palace of Bangkok to the sleek modern skyscrapers in Ho Chi Minh city to the smaller city of Siem Reap for some more traditional flare.
Also commonly referred to by its pre-revolutionary name, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s most populous urban area. From French colonial buildings to the Suối Tiên Amusement and Culture Park and various beach resorts, Ho Chi Minh attracts millions of visitors every year.
On the other side of the border, Cambodia’s capital and largest city, Phnom Penh, offers boundless opportunities for shopping and offers plenty of modern restaurants, hotels and bars along its popular Sisowath Quay.
For more of a small city feel, however, the resort city of Siem Reap exhudes local Cambodian charm. Home to the world-renowned Angkor Temple, Siem Reap’s cityscape mixes French colonial architecture with a Chinese twist, and makes an ideal stop between Phnom Penh and Bangkok.
Thailand’s capital city mixes traditional Thai architecture with European influences and modern skyscrapers. Bangkok is world renowned for its thriving nightlife, and outranks London in terms of yearly overnight visitors. Popular sights include the Grand Palace, the Bangkok National Museum, the Jim Thompson House and the Taling Chan Floating Market.
Southeast Asia Temple Tour
Southeast Asia is home to many rich and ancient cultures, leaving the remnants of great cities and sacred shines as a reminder of all the history in the region.
Built during the Khmer Empire, the Preah Vihear Temple is one of Cambodia’s most spectacular Hindu temples. In fact, the temple was actually the subject of a dispute between Cambodia and Thailand due to its proximity to the border of the two nations, and the Hague eventually declared Cambodia its rightful home. The temple was initially built to honor the Hindu diety, Shiva, but was later converted by Buddhists.
Perhaps Cambodia’s most famous ruins, Angkor was once the capital of the Khmer Empire and its ruins are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stone statues and towering pyramids greet visitors as they stroll through Angkor’s ancient streets.
Cambodia’s capital city also holds many ancient treasures, including the Silver Pagoda on the south side of the royal palace. Buddha statues made of gold and jewels adorn the palace’s interior, showcasing the splendor and wealth of its royal inhabitants.
The Grand Palace of Bangkok is one of the region’s most spectacular architectural marvels. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha sits in one of the palace’s outer courts and is considered one of Thailand’s most important temples. As the name implies, the temple’s focal point is a Buddha statue carved entirely from a single block of jade.
Near the northern city of Chiang Mai, Wiang Kum Kam marks the remnants of a great city that was ravaged by floods nearly 700 years ago. The city of Chiang Mai was built as a replacement, but locals and tourists alike can still stroll along the old foundations of the city, the remains of old temples and the impressive Wat Chedi Liam, which still stands tall.
Southeast Asia Outdoor Wanderlust
Looking to take advantage of Southeast Asia’s warm climate? The region boasts some of the most unique and beautiful natural landscapes in the world from thriving jungles to towering mountains and cascading falls, there’s an abundance of nature to explore.
Located around the Mekong River in Laos, the 4000 Islands archipelago features waterfalls, beaches and even an open air cinema. Take a boat tour down the river for a chance to see one of the region’s elusive Irrawaddy dolphins and relax in one of the many charming guesthouses and hotels along the shore.
Aside from a unique city life and ancient ruins, Siem Reap also has plenty to offer nature lovers with the nearby Phnom Kulen National Park and the Tonlé Sap, a combined lake and river system that’s vital to the country and runs past many local attractions, such as the floating villages.
Near the southern city of Kampot, the Bokor National Park is a great place for hiking and scenic views. Some of the mountain region’s best sites include the Popokvil waterfall, the historic Le Bokor Hotel, the Lok Yeay Mao Monument and the 500 Rice Fields Meditation Center.
Famed for its sunny resorts and warm beaches, Sihanoukville is an extremely popular stop for tourists and for good reason. The city is surrounded by islands, rivers and coastline, which allows for a surplus of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.
Trat’s beaches are some of Thailand’s most famous, with a quality that is unique from the rest of the country, being on the eastern border with Cambodia. Lined with palm trees and cabanas, the area is a sun bather’s paradise and is the perfect place to enjoy the rest of your vacation.