Ancient temples and vibrant markets in Asia
From ancient ruins and verdant landscapes, Southeast Asia is a treasure trove of delights. From religion and spirituality to scenic beaches, lush rainforests, great diving opportunities and delicious cuisine to savor, you will be spoilt for choices on your Asia vacation.
The most popular destinations in the region include Thailand with its great beaches, Cambodia with its architectural marvels like Angkor Wat, Vietnam with its fragrant cuisine, Indonesia with its amazing diving sites, the cosmopolitan charm of Singapore, there’s so much to savor on a trip to Asia! Some of the great cities of the world, from Beijing to Bangkok, Hanoi to Mumbai all beckon with their thrilling charms.
If you are wondering how to plan your Asia vacation or when is the best time to visit its different regions, our destination experts are waiting to help! Here is a list of the top ten things to do in Southeast Asia curated by our Enchanting Travels specialists, which should definitely be part of your Asia travel guide!
1 Hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Built in 1692, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a landmark of Bhutan – the Land of the Thunder Dragon. It’s set at an altitude of about 3200 meters above sea level and only accessible on foot, which is a good thing because hiking is probably the best way to discover the breathtaking Himalayas!
The other popular attractions include the Memorial Chorten, the most famous stupa in Bhutan, the serene charm of its capital city Thimphu and, of course, flavorful Bhutanese cuisine!
2 Marvel at Borobudur Temple
It took thousands of artisans nearly 100 years to build the extraordinary Borobudur Temple. It’s no wonder then that this pyramid-shaped site on the island of Java in Indonesia is the largest Buddhist temple in the world! This 9th century Mahayana Buddhist temple is a must-see attraction in Indonesia with its platforms, relief panels and Buddha statues.
Other popular attractions in Indonesia include the tropical rainforest of Borneo with their precious orangutan population, the vibrant marine life around islands like Raja Ampat, as well as the tranquil resort life to be experienced in the Gili Islands.
3 Explore Angkor Wat
Think Cambodia, think Angkor Wat! Angkor Wat is probably the most spectacular temple complex in the Angkor region of Southeast Asia, as well as one of the largest in the world! Nestled deep in the heart of a jungle, the ruined city is considered a testament to the impressive Khmer civilization as well as a revered national symbol. This temple complex is arguably Cambodia’s most popular attraction and definitely one to cross off your bucket list.
Siem Reap, the gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex, is also popular for its exquisite rice fields, its French colonial charm, many restaurants as well as the nearby Tonle Sap Lake.
4 Experience alms giving in Luang Prabang
The daily tradition of giving alms to the Buddhist monks of Luang Prabang in Laos has featured in the list of UNESCO intangible cultural heritage since 1995.
Wake early in the morning to witness the streets of the old City fill with hundreds of saffron-clad monks – it’s an experience like no other!
5Explore the limestone caves of Gunung Mulu Park
The limestone cave system of Gunung Mulu National Park in Borneo, Malaysia, is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world! Over 40 million years old, it has featured in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites since 2000.
Malaysia has several other popular attractions that should feature in your itinerary. They include its cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur, the island charms of Langkawi as well as the Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation center in Kinabatangan. And when in Malaysia, you have to embark on a food tour to savor its rich, culinary delights!
6 Go for a balloon ride in Bagan
Sprawling over a vast area of 36 square kilometers, the erstwhile royal city of Bagan in Myanmar is home to thousands of pagodas, temples and ruins. On a balloon ride over the landscape, enjoy the breathtaking panorama of this incredible UNESCO World Heritage site in Southeast Asia.
7 Visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley is home to no less than seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, set within a radius of only 20 square kilometers!
Once upon a time, the historic imperial cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan were in stiff competition with one another – hence the many architectural wonders, each more stunning than the other!
8 Discover the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Built in the 5th century, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka is set atop a granite outcrop in the midst of a verdant forest.
Be welcomed into the fortress by the immortal cloud maidens and, once you reach the top, soak in the spectacular views of the surrounding rainforest.
9 Enjoy the floating market of Damnoen Saduak
Ever-popular with gourmands, indulge your taste buds at Damnoen Saduak in Thailand – one of the largest floating markets of Southeast Asia. Floating by on traditional bamboo boats, you will find not only fresh fruits and vegetables but also stalls offering delicious local fare!
Thailand is arguably one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia and it is hard not to see why! Thailand’s beaches in Krabi, Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi are renowned for their beauty, luxurious resorts and relaxing spa treatments. Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand beckons with its cultural appeal as does the food in Thailand – from street food in cities like Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, to globally renowned dishes like pad thai noodles and som tam, or the popular green papaya salad.
10 Unwind in Halong Bay
With more than 3000 limestone karsts towering majestically over the tranquil waters, Halong Bay in Vietnam is the jewel in the crown of Southeast Asia. Experience the beauty and charm of the bay aboard a traditional junk!
When in Vietnam, don’t forget to go on a food tour, on a vespa in bustling Hanoi! Popular dishes that you must have when in Vietnam include the ubiquitous pho, a soupy fragrant, flavorful noodle dish. There are several cultural delights to experience in Vietnam, which include a water puppet act in Thang Long theatre in Hanoi, as well as a cruise on the Mekong river, to get a glimpse into rural life in Vietnam.
Expert tip: While planning your trip to Southeast Asia, you could also include popular destinations like India and China! while India attracts with its rich cultural heritage, China is a big draw with its ancient history.
Discover all of these and much more on your private tour of Asia with us. With our extensive destination expertise, passion for travel, and desire to plan the perfect trip for you, our Travel Consultants are happy to help you bring your Asia travel dreams to life. Contact us today for your private, tailor-made and obligation-free itinerary