Southeast Asia Highlights: My 11 Favourite Experiences

boat on the mekong delta

I fell in love with this small collection of amazing countries during my 3-month visit a couple years back and it’s inspired me to think back at my Southeast Asia highlights! From temples to waterfalls Southeast Asia never stopped amazing me and I bet it will do the same for you! Check out my personal Southeast Asia highlights and start planning to cross them off your bucket list!

My Top 11 Southeast Asia Highlights

Southeast Asia is one of the most popular destinations for both backpackers and tourists alike. The region is filled with rich culture, interesting history, and some of the most amazing natural and manmade attractions in the world! For these reasons, Southeast Asia is a “must visit” for anyone who loves adventure, food, nature, and culture!

1. Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Starting off this list is one of the most amazing experiences on the planet! The sunrise at Angkor Wat is truly spectacular and something every visitor to the region should witness.

Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument. Originally built for the Hindu god Vishnu, this place is truly a work of art and the best time to gaze upon the main complex is with a hot chocolate at sunrise!

angkor wat is one of my southeast asia highlights

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2. Scuba Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand

As I have traveled more around the world I have realized that so many people with scuba dive licenses share something special in common, they all completed their dive qualifications in Koh Toh. This amazing Island off the coast of mainland Thailand is a divers heaven. The area is surrounded by over 30 official dive sites that cater to all experience levels.

scuba diving in koh tao

For most, this is the place they learn to scuba dive and with some of the most competitive prices in the world, it’s not hard to see why. The ocean life and amazing corals made it one the best places I have dived and an experience I will never forget.

learning to scuba dive in thailand

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3. The Gibbon Experience, Laos

The Gibbon Experience is truly the most unique experience on my top Southeast Asia highlights list.

Imagine ziplining over 100m above the forest floor in Northern Laos on zip lines over 1km long! The Gibbon Experience was made for anyone who loves adventure.

The two or three-day tours have you camping out in the highest tree houses in the world and offer the chance to see one of the most endangered monkeys in the world, the Gibbon. During my visit, I did the two-day tour and completed over 30 massive zip lines. Although I didn’t actually see a Gibbon, I had such an amazing time that I want to go back.

best southeast asia highlights

4. The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), Thailand

Located in Northern Thailand, the White temple is one of the most beautiful and complex temples in the region. The main attraction is the front temple that is so complex it can take some time trying to view every flawless engraving.

the white temple entrance way
The entrance to the White Temple

This temple will truly wow any visitor and is perfect for getting some amazing shots. Located in the Chiang Rai province this spectacular site is not to be missed!

the white temple

5. Hiking in Sapa, Vietnam

As far as cultural experiences in Southeast Asia go, few tops a visit to a family home on the outskirts of Sapa. The overnight hikes from Sapa take you to small villages that still to this day operate true to tradition.

From exploring the rice fields to watching the woman sew beautiful blankets by hand, this is truly a special experience I would recommend to everyone.

the view from hiking in sapa

6. Hai Van Pass, Vietnam

The Hai Van Pass is well and truly embedded in the Vietnam backpacker trail. This stunning section of road between Hoi An and Hue takes you high through the mountains of central Vietnam and rewards your efforts with spectacular views.

This windy road is not overly used by day to day traffic since the construction of the tunnel below. This makes it the perfect place to rent a scooter, get a crew of friends, and have an amazing time without the normal worries of hectic traffic!

riding the hai van pass

For a complete list of everything you need to prepare before a trip to Vietnam, click here!

7. Kuang Si Waterfall, Laos

During the few years Bailey and I  have been traveling we have both seen some pretty amazing waterfalls. However, none compare to the Kuang Si waterfall in Lao. These breathtaking falls shine turquoise and the lush green jungle makes for the perfect backdrop.

kuang si waterfall in laos southeast asia

The falls consist of many different pools and are an amazing place to spend the day. The Kuang Si Waterfall is only a short tuk-tuk journey from the tourist town of Luang Prabang!

Remembering back to this day makes me want to return!

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8. The Cute Town of Pai, Thailand

Pai is located in northern Thailand and is my favorite place in the country. This relaxed town is the perfect place to escape Thailand’s crazy cities and go country! With nearby waterfalls, amazing cafes, huge markets and outdoor activities, Pai really has something for everyone! Pai’s cute charm and a huge amount of amazing activities make it one of my Southeast Asia highlights!

the pai canyon
The Pai Canyon

9. The Chu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam

The Chu Chi Tunnels are old underground tunnels built during the Vietnam War. Local Vietnamese soldiers used these tunnels to fight the United States and its allies. During the war, the US had many difficulties fighting the Vietnamese because of this intricate tunnel system that at points went up to 30 feet deep!

the chu chi tunnels
Inside one of the tunnels

The tunnels are just big enough to crawl through and on a visit to the area you have the option to climb through one tunnel. This activity is not for the faint-hearted but it’s totally worth it!

 

10. Phong Nha National Park, Vietnam

The Phong Nha National Park in central Vietnam is home to the largest cave in the world Hang Son Doong Cave. Visiting this cave involves a three-year wait; however, the many other caves in the area are really amazing to check out too and don’t involve waiting at all. The caves that you can easily explore include Phong Nha Cave, Paradise Cave, and Dark Cave! Acess to the caves is by tour only and some can only be visited by a short boat ride!

My favorite cave would be Dark Cave as it involved swimming through mud and ziplining into the nearby river to wash off afterward. Such a fun thing to do!

caves in vietnam

11. The Mekong Delta, Vietnam

The Mekong Delta is one of the most famous rivers in the world and is a lifeline to Southeast Asia. The river passes through China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.

Tours of the Mekong Delta region can be done from any Southeast Asian country. During my stay, I went on an official tour from Saigon (Ho Chi Min City). It was great to see how people live and depend on the Mekong Delta and well worth checking out!

boat on the mekong delta

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If I were to sum up why I loved Southeast Asia so much the above activities would be a great start. From beginning to end I was amazed at how amazing this part of the world is. The culture, religions, food, people, and sights to see had been stunned at every turn and want to one day return!

Have you been to Southeast Asia? What were your Southeast Asia highlights?

-Daniel

3 Replies to “Southeast Asia Highlights: My 11 Favourite Experiences”

  • You got to travel all over southeast Asia and see many of the best things it has to offer. I really want to visit the Mekong Delta. I have been to Vietnam several times but not made it there yet.

    • Hi Jeff,
      Yes, the Mekong is great! We got to see lots but still feel like we could’ve spent more time there and did more! We really want to go to Myanmar next. Have you ever been?

      • I’ve been to Myanmar twice, but mostly to Yangon and the south. I’ve not been up north. I’d highly recommend Hpa An. There are very few tourists in the region and there are some really incredible sites there.

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