Are you wanderlusting for a trip to Southeast Asia? Want to know the top sites to hit up on your maiden voyage? As these places have been on my bucket list for quite some time, I've reached out to my peer travel writer, Gerry Molson, who is based in Asia, to share his top cities in Southeast Asia.
Take it away Gerry with 6 of the Best Cities to Explore in Southeast Asia!
If you are looking for some amazing cities to visit, then you don’t need to look much further than Southeast Asia. There are so many contrasting places, that are yet so vibrant, bustling, and colorful, that they are just waiting to be explored. But where to start on a trip over there? What is going to make one destination more interesting than the next? So here is a roundup guide for some of the best southeast Asian cities to visit, plus all that there is to see and do so that you can choose the place (or places) that are going to be right for you and your travels.
One of the first places that will naturally spring to mind when you think of a city in southeast Asia, is Bangkok in Thailand. It is almost the poster child for the Southeast Asia experience, getting you ready for all that is on offer. So that does make it one of the places that will be the busiest. However, it does still have everything that you would want in a city for your trip. There are so many things to see and places to visit. Some of the top picks in Bangkok are The Royal Palace, the stunning temples, tasty and varied street food, and the classic nightlife (we’ve all heard of the full moon party, right)? So it can give you a real mix of things to experience. And with shopping, rive markets, and day trips to visit different ruins, you can experience history and culture all in one.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Laos is often described as one of Asia’s most laid-back countries. And if you know anyone that has ever been, they are likely to agree; it seems to cast a spell on all of its visitors making them fall in love with it! It has never been truer than when it comes to Luang Prabang. It is a place like no other, as you may witness the sight of monks collecting their morning alms, which puts you instantly at peace. That being said, peace and natural beauty of the place are some of the main attractions. The surrounding area has some pretty enchanting places to visit like the Pak Ou Caves, and the Kuang Si Falls. Low prices in the city, a chilled atmosphere, and a striking culture make Luang Prabang a popular choice.
When you think of Indonesia, often it is a place like Bali that will come to mind, with beautiful beaches and a place to relax; a metropolitan city with sprawling skyscrapers and busy streets isn’t always what comes to mind when you think of Indonesia. Which is why Jakarta can be a refreshing change from a lot of cities in southeast Asia, as well as from the islands of Indonesia. It is a diverse place, especially when you compare it to Bali. Jakarta’s diversity creates a unique dynamic, so it means that there is plenty of different things to do and see, from people, food, customs, even various different cultural houses of worship to visit.
The accommodation can be really varied too, with most people opting for a holiday home to rent, rather than a traditional hotel, much like these examples here: https://www.rumah.com/rumah-dijual/di-area-jakarta-timur-idjk04/dibawah-200juta-rupiah. There is history to enjoy, a pretty good shopping scene, and plenty of art and culture too. So it does stand out as quite different from a lot of the other cities on the list.
Singapore is quite a unique place to visit too, as for starters, it is an independent city-state. It isn’t like a traditional city either, as it is a place with plenty of greenery and gardens, but still has some classic skyscrapers and more neighborhoods than a traditional city has. It is a place for a real Asian fusion too, as it takes influence from Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian cultures. The restaurants are top notch, and it is a super efficient city with some of the best public transport in the world. Plus, there are places to hike, believe it or not, and things like the Singapore Zoo. Some of the trails and locations can be found here: http://thesmartlocal.com/read/hiking-trails. So there are things for all kinds of people and all kinds of trips.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phnom Penh can seem like it is a place that is a little intimidating at first. The town generally has a pretty rough reputation, and several of the places biggest pulls are unlikely to seem like obvious tourist attractions. Still, one can’t begin to understand the town or the country of Cambodia without understanding the years of the Khmer Rouge. With that in mind, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh can be worth a visit, as well as the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. When you visit the two places, it can help you to understand the history and culture of the place better and gives you some perspective. Phnom Penh is also one of not very many places in southeast Asia (and Asia generally), where you can still enter an active king’s residence, the Royal Palace. There are several other museums too, as well as great food and places to eat, and some pretty good nightlife too.
Hoi An, Vietnam
If you are looking for typical Asian looking picture perfect place, then Hoi An is going to tick the boxes for all of your Instagram photos. It is a pretty small city but is listed as a World Heritage Ancient Town, meaning that it is like stepping back in time, as it can’t be modernized like a lot of the rest of Vietnam. Cute colorful buildings, ancient temples, quiet streets, and peaceful waterways, walking through the city of Hoi An can feel like you’ve stepped into one of the paintings. It can be petty cheap, but the prices do hike up in the tourist parts like the Ancient Town.
** Post contributed by Gerry Molson, a travel writer from the U.K. with a passion for Southeast Asia. **