Somehow, the emerald green of Southeast Asia’s rice paddies is different from any other. The cultural heritage scattered across this region retains its soulful essence and architectural authenticity despite the centuries they’ve endured. Villages still preserve the traditions and customs once widespread across entire countries. Meanwhile, beaches and inland natural wonders of Southeast Asia are among the most visited for many adventure travelers.
Soon enough, you’ll add some if not all of these countries to your own bucket list. Vietnam’s awe-inspiring caves and coastal ridges, Cambodia’s renowned mountain ranges, and Indonesia’s unparalleled volcano hikes will inspire your wanderlust and have you booking your next flight to this breathtaking region.
Most famous for the island of Bali, this country is actually an expansive part of Southeast Asia. It deserves an entire list of destinations for an avid globetrotter. You can start in East Java, where you’ll find the postcard-worthy active volcano, Mount Bromo, named by the Hindu creator god Brahma. It’s located in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, which is also a worthy destination on its own. A hike to Mount Bromo is for the bravest of heart!
For those who don’t mind sticking to a single region, East Java hides the Coban Sewu Waterfall which translates to “a thousand waterfalls” – a mind-boggling natural gem where you can bathe in the fresh water just underneath the falls. If you’re a lover of local wildlife, you’ll be mesmerized by Komodo Island, home to the ancient Komodo dragons, but also home to lush forests, a dazzling pink beach, and translucent azure waters.
A country growing in popularity for its picturesque rice fields, preserved cultural heritage, and palate-teasing street-food tours, Vietnam is also a dream-come-true destination for adventure travelers! Many cool tours in Vietnam will take you to some of the most well-known areas of the country. Look for the ones that emphasize thrills and reveal some of locally beloved spots. To start with, you need to get a glimpse of Dalat, the city of eternal spring, surrounded by lakes, waterfalls, and pine forests. Hikes in this area are indeed life-altering experiences!
In addition to the floating markets, the Mekong Delta is also an enchanting treasure trove of natural beauty. Its An Binh Island and the Cần Giờ Biosphere Reserve should both be stops on your itinerary. The former is brimming with unique flora and fauna undisturbed by human presence; meanwhile the latter is a UNESCO-protected mangrove forest and a wildlife sanctuary. Finally, no trip to Vietnam should go without a stop at Halong Bay, the northern jewel of the country, famous for its dramatic limestone formations capped with emerald greenery. Here you get to explore hidden caves, islands, and islets scattered off the coast.
This renowned urban hub will rarely cross a nature enthusiast’s mind. However, this city-state boasts not only spectacular architectural ingenuity, but also some of the natural wonders of Southeast Asia. In fact, you can mix the best of both worlds. Check out hotel offers in Singapore so you can stay in a sublime room while you prepare to explore what Mother Nature has hidden in the embrace of this region. For starters, don’t miss out on the kayaking experience offered in MacRitchie Reservoir, as well as the famous TreeTop Walk.
Bird enthusiasts should book a trip to Coney Island (yes, Singaporeans have one, too) where you can enjoy the song of over 80 bird species. Next, add Mount Faber Park to your must-see list; it also has a heavenly trail to take you over the historical area known as The Southern Ridges. You’ll be able to combine a comfortable trail trek with the most immersive jungle experience, exceptionally well-preserved and delightfully close to the city itself. If you have the time, add the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve to your list as well; this 87-hectare well of versatility will give you a true escape into the untamed depths of Singapore.
The entire country of Cambodia is one unforgettable sight for sore eyes. Its untamed rivers, mountain ranges and pristine beaches are more than enough to keep you occupied for days, if not months, on end. Riddled with hiking treks and trails, the Kep National Park should certainly be on your must-see list. This is the place where “welcome to the jungle” gets an entirely new level of meaning. You’ll encounter hundreds of butterflies, giant centipedes, monkeys, lizards and squirrels, among many other species present.
The province of Mondulkiri is known for the elephant sanctuary, where you can bask in the sight of these gentle giants, free from their previous lives in the elephant tourism industry. Mostly found in Kampong Speu Province, another protected oasis known as Kirirom National Park is worth mentioning. You can escape the tropical heat and meditate in the soothing pine forests, with a view of the famous Cardamom Mountains, cascading falls and soaring cliffsides.
This particular country in Southeast Asia has yet to earn the popularity typically reserved for neighboring Thailand and Vietnam. However, due to its overwhelming natural beauty, Laos is slowly garnering more tourists every year. Take, for example, the journey into the 7-kilometer-long Kong Lor Cave, with stalactites and stalagmites as well as hidden valleys one would think only dreams were made of. It’s one of the main reasons avid explorers hurry to visit Laos.
Your next stop in the south, the Si Phan Don archipelago, is where you’ll meet the elusive Irrawaddy dolphins. You’ll also be able to see the the largest waterfalls in all of Southeast Asia, Khon Phapheng Falls. Try to time your trip during the dry season, when you can see the most of its cascading levels rush through the Mekong River.
Although some classic destinations such as Thailand will always be in the center of travel attention, certain natural wonders of Southeast Asia deserve to be added to your bucket list, as well. Make sure you head to these natural hideouts and experience the world from an entirely new perspective!