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It’s said to be a tapestry of cultures and a complexity of colours and histories. South East Asia is home to some of the world’s most incredible destinations, comprising of enticing cities, dense rainforests, beautiful rivers, impressive mountain-scapes and beautiful beaches.
South East Asia holidays offer travellers a unique chance to let their wild side loose, embark on an adventure-filled journey and take in some of the world’s most wondrous surroundings and backdrops. Get outside and explore this magnificent region, try mountain climbing, cycling, trekking or even fishing. Self-drive holidays are ideal for those looking for more freedom and independence while on a holiday in South East Asia.
A favourite for Australian travellers, Indonesian holidays are a great choice for travel makers. From the blissful surrounds of Sumatra and Lombok to the ever-popular tourist destinations including Bali's popular beaches, Indonesian holidays continue to be a top choice for local travellers.
Jakarta is, like the country it sits as the capital of, huge and sprawling. Home to 10 million Indonesians, Jakarta is a cultural hub and melting pot, taking influences from all over Asia to create a city that is at once unique and very familiar. Its charms outweigh the often gritty appearance, and the smog that plagues the city. Kota is one such charm that’s extremely popular with explorers of the city. An “old town”, the area gives visitors a glimpse into the colonial history of the nation.
Put the National Monument on your list of sights to see. Lit up in the evenings, the tower symbolises the independence of all of Indonesia. To learn more about the country’s history, visitors can make a special trip to the National Museum of Indonesia, which houses historical items and art from the country through the years.
For food lovers, Jakarta is an absolute paradise. Be sure to sample the local favourites like gado gado (a salad with a spicy peanut sauce) and perkedel jagung, a crispy corn fritter.
Holidays in Cambodia are renowned for whisking travellers away to amazing temples and ancient cities. In Siem Reap, visitors can explore the ancient city of Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat or the Ta Prohm temple, where giant tree roots grow, as if by magic, out of the ruins. For a glorious sight, watch the beautiful sunset from the top of the Phnom Bakheng temple, which rests at the peak of a steep hill.
Further north, the French colonial town of Battambang rests with its surrounding countryside, offering glimpses of towns and villages that showcase the reality of remarkable, Cambodian culture and life. For a unique experience, take a ride on the bamboo train or norry, which must be booked in advance. It’s a wonderful way to discover some hidden sights of Battambang – and meet the locals.
Don't forget to explore the local Cambodian markets, a treasure trove of delightful dishes and great shopping! Cambodian cuisine has long been overshadowed by foods from neighbouring
Asian nations – yet if you have ever been on a holiday to Cambodia, you
know that once you try the food, there’s no going back!
If you’re keen on holidays in Thailand, no doubt Bangkok is calling to you. From the Temple of Dawn to Wat Pho Temple, the Khao San Road and the wonders of the Old City, Bangkok is an eclectic melting pot of historical sights, endless shopping and amazing food. For an authentic Bangkok experience, tourists should eat at the floating markets, take a cruise down the Chao Phraya River and indulge in fine dining at the Red Sky restaurant, 55 floors above ground.
A city brimming with culture and colour, Bangkok is famous for having some of world’s most magnificent temples and markets. In every district, there is at least one temple that hosts the spirituality of the Buddhist Gods; but none can compare to that of Wat Raimit – the Golden Buddha. The Golden Buddha is a 3m-tall 5.5-tonne solid statue which was discovered when it fell from a crane. The temple itself is an impressive four-storey complex, boasting golden roofs where it houses thousands of prayers daily.
A full day at the Chatuchak Weekend Markets will leave every visitor wanting to return again. The markets come alive with locals and tourists alike uniting in all things buyable, whether it’s looking for antiques and souvenirs or even a taste of local Bangkok street food. Try Foon Talop, the most popular Isan restaurant, or even have a go at mastering the Thai language when purchasing life-like plastic Thai fruit and vegetables.
Holidays in Thailand, though, should always be adorned with a trip to the stunningly tropical beaches in Thailand and islands in the south. Visitors can choose from well-known beauties like Koh Samui, Koh Samet and Phuket, or head for more remote escapes like Phang-Nga, Koh Chang or Koh Tao.
When it comes to holidays in Vietnam, travellers should expect a myriad of sights and experiences, all of which will have you falling for this colourful country. Common activities in Vietnam include taking a boat ride through Ha Long Bay to discover the limestone cliffs and beautiful waters and visiting the fascinating Hanoi Museum which houses ancient artefacts dating back to the 7th century BC. Tourists can also take a dawn Tai Chi class or sip coffee or down a bowl of noodles at a café in the Old Quarter.
Ho Chi Minh City, still known to some by its former name of Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. A cultural and historical hub, there is plenty for visitors to see and do. Remembering the Vietnam War, there are locations like the Cu Chi Tunnels to explore – a vast series of tunnels used in wartime that have been opened to tourists. The War Remnants Museum houses a famous collection of military paraphernalia, artillery and vehicles.
Around the city is an incredible array of street food to choose from, and visitors can sample authentic Vietnamese cuisine, such as Phô, Banh Mi and the ever-essential Rice Paper Rolls. Architecture is another strong suit of the city, and buildings like Vinh Nghiem Pagoda and An Quang Pagoda are marvels to behold.
Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, is the gateway to Southeast Asia and boasts towering skyscrapers, lush greenery, sticky nights, shopping and delectable street food. The city is the melting pot of melting pots, and Malay, Chinese and Indians are the three main ethnic groups.
One of the best ways to do the city is eat your through its diverse food. Get used to eating outside, because that’s where the best grub is in Kuala Lumpur. Jalan Alor is a favourite strip of hawker food stalls, best visited in the evening when the atmosphere, hustle and bustle and flavours are palpable.
Need a break from eating? Catch the train to Batu Caves, a limestone hill dotted with caves, temples and shrines – just beware of the monkeys!
Away from the capital, travellers will love exploring George Town in Penang. The old part of the island is made up of different neighbourhoods all offering visitors a glimpse of different cultures and varied histories. Another place to add to the list is Malacca (or Melaka), another fascinating destination. Take a trishaw ride to all the sites including markets, antique shops, temples and mosques.
If you are looking to relax a little, ask your Travellers Choice agent about a beach-escape to Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu or the Perhentian Islands.
Singapore is one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world, and is also a country all its own. For travellers, it’s one of the richest destinations to explore in Asia.
The famous Marina Bay Sands is a sight to behold, with its famous design looking over the marina. Whether staying, or just visiting, it’s an unmissable part of the Singapore experience. The Gardens by the Bay make for an unforgettable sightseeing experience too. Within the gardens you’ll find Supertree Grove, an awe-inspiring set of ‘trees’ which are almost 50 metres tall and they light up in the evening. There’s also Cloud Forest, a lush tropical garden contained completely under a glass dome.
Foodies will adore the many hawker markets the city has to offer, serving everything from noodles to carrot cake. Remember to explore the different neighbourhoods of China Town, Little India and Clarke Quay. If you're looking for a family holiday packed with excitement, then the only place to stay is Sentosa Island. Here you'll find Universal Studios theme park, cable cars, water parks and much more!
The capital of the Philippines, Manila, is a bustling, populous city. Any traveller to the Philippines will probably pass through the city, and it is well worth taking some time to explore.
Malacañang Palace, a historical marvel, is open to visitors. Built by the Spanish around 150 years ago, the palace is in remarkable condition and provides a rare insight into historical architecture in the region. Be sure to book your tour in advance to skip queues.
Manila has a burgeoning art scene and some of the best work can be seen at Manila Contemporary, a gallery exhibition space that brings together local and international artists. For the more traditionally minded, there’s the National Museum of the Philippines to visit, which chronicles the history of the nation. It also includes a permanent display of shoes owned by legendary First Lady, Imelda Marcos. Also worth a visit, the Manila Cathedral is a site with a history that stretches back around 450 years! It’s been rebuilt several times, but the historical feel of the space has been preserved.
Fallen in love with the idea of South East Asia? Let Travellers Choice plan and book your itinerary – our agents will take you through the best spots, the hidden wonders and the finest hotels and resorts in your chosen country. Contact a travel agent today!