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Southeast Asia is full of countries each with its own vibrant culture and natural wonders to explore. Each country offers a wildly different experience to enjoy, so it can be hard to decide if you are thinking of the area for your next trip. Never fear, because we have laid out what the best experiences are available in Southeast Asia, and from that you can take your pick and create some memories you’ll never forget.
Malaysia is perfect for anyone looking for a slower pace of life. It seems like Asia’s answer to Hawaii with its peaceful sandy beaches and long drives through rolling hills. You can find a good book and stay forever on the white sand, or snorkel around the coral reef through gemstone clear waters, or even take a boat out to go island hopping.
However, look closer and you will see Asian heritage and culture around every corner. Visit Malacca for a colorful and vibrant state full of museums, galleries, and places of historic interest to soak up as much history as possible.
And then there are attractions that offer a great mix of manmade and natural wonders, like the Batu Caves. This limestone structure sits atop a long set of stairs with a 100m tall golden statue of Lord Murugan and houses a range of wildlife including wild monkeys and bats. Or you can visit Gurney Drive, which is a coastal street offering beautiful city skyline views and coastal sea views, as well as a range of high-end shops, restaurants and outlets.
Singapore is a tale of two worlds. There is the city life, where the hustle and bustle attract businessmen and partygoers and then there is the surrounding nature. But the brilliance of Singapore is its small size. You can spend all day exploring the natural wonders around it, then board one of Singapore’s famously well-kept train systems back to one of the oasis terraces in the city and enjoy the nightlife.
The country is especially attractive to expats who come for the thriving business and finance sectors but stay to hike through the tropical environment with all the flora and fauna that comes with that. For example, no trip to Singapore would be complete without a visit to the Gardens by the Bay which features beautiful manmade structures overseeing a nature reserve full of colorful flowers. You can walk across the garden and admire everything from a new view.
Visitors to Thailand can find something new in every corner. History and heritage are everywhere in the north where you’ll find temples and places of historical relevance, where in the south you will find beach life and a thriving party scene.
And in the middle of it all is the country’s jewel: the capital city of Bangkok. There is the thriving nightlife to take advantage of, as well as the city’s many stylish hotels featuring things like skyline infinity pools, but there are also cultural attractions like the Wat Phra Chetuphon with its vast gold structures of Buddha and the Wat Arun Temple of Dawn which is a colorful place of worship. Visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market for unique buys and mouthwatering street food.
Getting out of Bangkok, you can head to one of the many nature reserves across the country. Visit the elephant rescue park or monkey hill to get a close encounter with the wildlife, or explore the many beautiful beaches, like the PhraNang Cave Beach, which has everything a beach visit could want; white sand, turquoise waters, and mysterious caves to explore.
This little cluster of islands is home to some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Visit Borocay for its starkly white fine sand beaches, with clear waters that will give you views of the coral reef if you go far enough.
Or enjoy the beauty of the Banaue rice terraces which are said to be the eighth wonder of the world. The 2,000-year-old terraces were carved into the mountain of Lfugao and are still used by the locals to grow and harvest rice.
Or witness the chocolate hills of Bohol Province and see if you can spot Willy Wonka amongst the 1,260 hills covered in green grass that turns chocolate brown in the dry season.
For more cultural experiences, head to The Cebu Taoist Temple, with its ornate dragon statues and gargoyles decorating the historic and beautiful temple. The temple’s 81 steps leading up to it represents the 81 chapters of Taoism scripture and inside you can enjoy an exquisite view of Cebu.
There is also the Fort Santiago in Manila, which was a defense fortress built by the Spanish and comes with a fascinating story. Explore the fort and look out for the bronze footprints acting as the Fort’s own Green Mile.