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Southeast Asia is a fascinating destination, where lush rainforests and coastal regions dotted with idyllic islands serve as a tropical paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, while rich history, extraordinary cuisine, and authentic culture appeal to all types of travelers.

From street food in Singapore and beach-hopping in Thailand to historical attractions throughout Vietnam, Southeast Asia boasts a treasure trove of travel delights. Here are some of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia.

Uluwatu Temple, Bali, Indonesia

Cliffside view of Uluwatu Temple in Bali, Indonesia

Uluwatu Temple in Bali, Indonesia

Uluwatu Temple is one of the most iconic images of Bali; an intricate Hindu temple perched on the very edge of plunging cliffs, the sea foaming around the rocks below. It’s located at the southwestern tip of the island, where there has been a temple since the 11th century.

The best time to visit is just before sunset, when a Kecak dance display takes place, simply adding to the color and mysticism of the temple.

Inside, look out for carvings of mythological creatures and statues of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god. Stay for sunset if time permits; this close to the equator, the skies are spectacularly fiery.

Macaques in Bali, Indonesia

Macaques in Bali, Indonesia

When you visit the temple, keep an eye out for the macaques that live here. While they may be amusing to look at, these monkeys are devious and are not averse to stealing hats, sunglasses, and other belongings from unsuspecting visitors.

Read: Best Things to Do in Bali

Senggigi Beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Scenic landscape of Senggigi Beach in Lombok, Indonesia

Senggigi Beach in Lombok, Indonesia

Senggigi Beach is one of the best-established and most famous shorelines of Lombok, a long sweep of golden sand fringed by coconut palms and a backdrop of forested mountains.

While the beach itself is unspoiled, there are plenty of bars and cafés along the sand. You’ll also find watersports concessions and a local craft market.

There’s good snorkeling along the beach; you may spot sea turtles cruising slowly over the reefs here. You could also try surfing if conditions are right; there are a couple of surf schools here.

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand, one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

The Phi Phi islands in Thailand—Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don—boast some of the most spectacular scenery in the Andaman Sea. Silky white beaches, crystal clear azure sea, and teeming coral reefs are backed by jagged limestone cliffs draped in dense rainforest and riddled with caves.

Simply enjoying the beaches and discovering the rainbow-colored marine life flitting around the coral reefs is a great joy. There are plenty of restaurants serving authentic Thai food lining the beaches, where you can enjoy a cool beer and a spicy green curry with pad Thai noodles.

If you want to work off some energy, hike the steep trail that heads uphill beyond Ton Sai Village. You’ll need water for the climb, but the views from the top across the islands and the curve of the beach are worth it.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

George Town in Penang, Malaysia, one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

George Town in Penang, Malaysia

George Town is the capital city of Penang, a colorful, vibrant melée of mosques, Chinese shophouses, and colonial buildings reflecting the time of the British here. Wander the narrow, winding alleys and you’ll find a photo opportunity at every turn: a brilliantly colored shopfront, a carved wooden door, a vendor selling sizzling street food.

The 19th-century Blue Mansion, now an antique-filled boutique hotel, is one of the most dazzling buildings, its exterior a deep shade of indigo. The mansion was once the property of Cheong Fatt Tze, a wealthy trader. You’ll find more exquisite treasures in the intricately carved Pinang Peranakan Mansion, legacy of another wealthy merchant.

Plate of char kuey teow

Char kuey teow

George Town also dubs itself the food capital of Malaysia, so taking a foodie tour here is a great way to discover why. The local cuisine, Nyonya, blends influences from Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, and Thai food, and most find it delicious.

Try char kuey teow, flat rice noodles stir fried with anything from shrimp and cockles to sausage, duck eggs, and bean sprouts. Chee cheong fun is rice batter served with shrimp and a sweet soy sauce, while Assam laksa is a spicy soup containing mackerel, tamarind, and pineapple.

Read: The Ultimate Penang Food Guide

Langkawi Sky Bridge, Malaysia

Langkawi Sky Bridge, Malaysia, one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

Langkawi Sky Bridge, Malaysia

You’ll need a head for heights to appreciate this engineering marvel, billed as the longest curved suspension bridge in the world, but it’s worth it.

Ride the cable car, the longest in Malaysia, up the 2,890-foot Mount Machinchang, Langkawi’s second-highest peak. Then walk along the SkyBridge, suspended from a single pylon some 300 feet over the bottle-green forest canopy.

Pointed peaks rise up all around you, the Andaman Sea sparkling in the distance. On a clear day, you can see as far as Thailand.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Lush landscape of Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Gardens by the Bay is an iconic natural haven in the midst of the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Singapore. Stretch your legs on the promenade skirting the bay’s shore, then learn about the history of the city through a creative display of flora, fauna, and fruits in the Heritage Gardens.

View from Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Stroll through the largest glass greenhouse in the world at the Flower Dome, one of the Gardens by the Bay’s star attractions. Marvel at the rich contents of the conservatories, which boast an incredible collection of exotic flowers, olive groves, succulents, and baobab trees.

The Cloud Forest, Supertree Grove, and Floral Fantasy will lure you with their colorful kaleidoscopes of flora. Wander in awe at this city-in-a-garden concept brought to life at one of the top places to visit in Southeast Asia.

Read: Three Days in Singapore

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Thailand

Small boats in Bangkok known as floating market

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok, Thailand

Travel about an hour outside the buzzing city of Bangkok to discover one of the top traditional market experiences in Thailand. Located on the longest canal in the country, a trip to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a feast for the senses as well as a photographer’s delight.

Here, you’ll find vendors selling a wide spectrum of local goods, from authentic crafts to exotic foods, as they float along the canal.

Purchase and taste some of the colorful fruits and vegetables sold from the wooden boats in the floating market. Interact with locals and take in the atmosphere of this common shopping tradition. Choose from vibrant Thailand souvenirs to bring home as a memento from your time in the country.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Bangkok’s Markets

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Uncover a natural wonder in northern Vietnam at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Located under three hours from the city of Hanoi, this is one of the most popular places to visit in Southeast Asia. Marvel at the stunning limestone rock and island formations as you float through the scenic bay.

Channel your inner explorer with a visit to one of the many caves hidden within Halong Bay. The most popular cave is Sung Sot (Surprise Cave), where you can walk amongst stalactites and stalagmites within two large chambers. Or, uncover the mythical Thien Cung Cave that was thought to be an imaginary destination until it was rediscovered in the 1990s.

If you’re looking to get out on the water, you can kayak through the emerald lagoons as the island formations tower over you. Lounge on the Vietnamese beach to the sound of monkeys on Cat Dua (Monkey Island), and peer at the underwater world on a snorkeling adventure.

Read: Inspiring Things to Do in Vietnam

Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Vietnam

Charming street in Old Quarter

Old Quarter in Hanoi, Vietnam

Uncover Hanoi’s old-world charm within the city’s Old Quarter in northern Vietnam. This section of the city offers amazing opportunities to shop, where you’ll find authentic goods for sale. Browse souvenirs like handbags, hand-woven baskets, and tailor-made clothing and shoes.

All that shopping works up an appetite, and luckily, you’ll have delicious Vietnamese cuisine at your fingertips in the Old Quarter. One of the best things to do in Hanoi at night is to enjoy the atmosphere and array of local goods to choose from at the night market stalls, like crab spring rolls, bún thang (rice vermicelli with chicken or pork), and Bánh Cuốn (rolled cakes). You’ll get a true taste of Vietnamese culture with a visit to Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Read: Best Vietnamese Souvenirs to Bring Back Home

Angthong National Marine Park, Thailand

Angthong National Marine Park, one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

Angthong National Marine Park in Koh Samui, Thailand

Enjoy a tropical paradise in the Gulf of Thailand, just off the island of Koh Samui. The Angthong National Marine Park is an idyllic collection of islands perfect for seaside relaxation, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking.

The marine park spans most of this protected island area, making for exciting wildlife encounters both on land and in the sea. You might see curious monkeys, otters, iguanas, sea turtles, and schools of colorful fish.

Marvel at the dramatic scenery dotted with limestone cliffs, white sand, clear azure water, and lush forest. Sea kayak through lagoons and mazes of soaring rock cliffs, and uncover hidden caves like Bua Bok Cave.

Hike to a breathtaking vista up to the Wua Talap overlook, where the challenging trek will reward you with a panorama over the marine park and islands. As a bonus, explore a saltwater lake on the Mother Island, Ko Mae Ko.

Merlion, Singapore

Beautiful waterfront of Merlion with view of skyline

Merlion, Singapore

Stretching almost 30 feet tall, this half-lion, half-fish statue located at Merlion Park is a mythical symbol said to be the mascot of Singapore. Originally positioned by the mouth of the Singapore River, the statue was originally meant to welcome visitors to the city. Today, it’s one of the most popular landmarks in Singapore.

Get your photo taken next to the water-spouting creature with a fish body and lion’s head. The monument represents the city’s origins as a fishing village, as well as Singapore’s first name, Singapura, meaning “lion city” in the native language. For a different perspective of this popular place, visit at night and admire the unique light display that decorates the creature.

Read: Best Things to Do in Singapore With Kids

Wat Arun, Thailand

View of Wat Arun from the water

Wat Arun in Bangkok, Thailand

Also known as the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is one of the most beautiful temples that Thailand is known for. Perched on the edge of the Chao Phraya River, this picturesque landmark is a popular destination for visitors to Bangkok. Appreciate the beautiful architecture and fine attention to detail within the temple complex as you tour the grounds.

One of the most iconic pieces is the impressively large spire, which soars over 220 feet into the air. Admire the Chinese porcelain, vibrant glass pieces, and seashells that have been crafted into gorgeous patterned decor adorning the exterior. Climb to the top for sprawling views of the river, neighboring temple, Wat Pho, and the Grand Palace.

Ba Ho Waterfall, Vietnam

Lush landscape of Ba Ho Waterfall

Ba Ho Waterfall in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Located approximately 40 minutes north of the coastal city of Nha Trang in Vietnam, visiting the Ba Ho Waterfalls is an adventure that shouldn’t be missed. Meaning “three pools,” Ba Ho has a total of three watering holes to discover, where you can take a refreshing dip to cool off from the heat.

Explore one of the most beautiful places to visit in Vietnam as you hike into the rainforest along a challenging trek across the river rocks. Your efforts will lead you to an idyllic pool of water and a waterfall. The first tier of falls is the most popular and picturesque, as well as the most accessible. Swim in the cool river to the sound of the waterfalls, and enjoy a picnic in the natural setting.

Reunification Palace, Vietnam

Beautiful Reunification Palace with fountain in front

Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Located in Ho Chi Minh City’s center, the Reunification Palace is a lesson in history and a very popular architectural landmark. Constructed in 1962, the former Norodom Palace existed on the same site before protestors succeeded in demolishing the structure in the 1950s.

Also known as Independence Palace, you’ll explore a site that housed the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and saw major changes within Vietnam’s largest city. View abundant historical artifacts, including paintings and photographs, as you learn about the historical significance of this landmark building within the palace’s evolution exhibit.

Tour the palace basement, where you’ll be intrigued by the myriad of tunnels and the telecommunications center with old radio transmitters and other interesting items from this tumultuous period of time. Head outside and stroll the expansive manicured grounds, complete with ponds and gardens.

Wat Phra Yai, Thailand

Massive golden Buddha in Wat Phra Yai

Wat Phra Yai in Koh Samui, Thailand

Admire one of Thailand’s most well-known temples while visiting the beautiful island of Koh Samui. Be dazzled by the abundant hues of gold and intricate designs throughout the complex.

The star attraction is Wat Phra Yai’s Big Buddha, which stands almost 40 feet tall. Walk the steps between large green dragons on either side to absorb the gorgeous views of the island and sea landscapes.

Don’t forget to ring the resident temple bells for good luck to bring this tranquil experience full circle.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia

Hoi An, Vietnam

The city of Hoi An, near Da Nang, offers charm, culture, and cuisine with its picturesque streets and canals providing an alluring backdrop. Head straight to the Old Town and walk the enchanting streets. Admire the heritage architecture accented by the vibrant lanterns known to decorate the city throughout the ancient section.

This historic trading port has long been a destination with incredible shopping and access to traditional goods. Browse the shophouses, enjoy a tasty Vietnamese coffee on a cafe patio, float in a riverboat for a different perspective, and make sure to take a photo of the iconic 18th-century Japanese bridge.

Read: Best Food in Vietnam

Cooking class in Hoi An

Hoi An, Vietnam

Ready for an exciting adventure in this culturally rich region of the world? Experience some of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia on a cruise. Discover the fascinating destinations you’ll visit on a cruise to Southeast Asia on our website.

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