The tourists who travel to south-east Asia usually only visit the most famous and known to all places. However, there are many other magnificent destinations that sometimes would not immediately spring to mind. Here are ten of the most underrated places to visit in this region.
The Kingdom of Cambodia is in the southern Indochina peninsula, sharing borders with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Since 1993, this once war-torn country has enjoyed monarchical and political stability. There are some ‘must see’ places, such as the temple at Angkor Wat, which is supposed to be the largest religious building in the world. In addition, Phnom Penh is a vibrant capital city, while the south coast overlooks tropical islands with the Cardomom Mountains further inland.
The Republic of the Philippines is in the western Pacific Ocean and consists of 7,000 islands. Most of the islands have a coastline made up of white sand and clear blue sea, while jungles and mountains can be found inland. The capital city of Manila, comprising lots of smaller towns, is well worth a visit, as is south-east Luzon, home to the Mount Mayon volcano and the whale sharks of Donsol.
There are 11 states and 2 territories in Peninsular Malaysia, which is separated by the South China Sea from Eastern Malaysia, which consists of 2 states and 1 territory. Kuala Lumpur is a modern, multicultural capital city that is worth visiting, as are the country’s main coastal destinations of Langkawi and Penang, where there are long sandy beaches and everything you would expect from a tourist destination.
As part of a trip to Malaysia you should include a visit to Borneo and within it the small kingdom of Brunei. In Borneo you can observe the famous orang-utans at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre and visit the Kinabalu National Park, as well as the states of Sarawak and Sabah. When you visit the Kingdom of Brunei, do not miss the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan or the amazing rainforest.
Situated between Laos and Bangladesh, this is not a country in which to spend your entire holiday, but it is worth a visit if you are in this part of the world. In recent times the country has been subject to a tourism boycott due to the political unrest, but this has now been lifted. If you do choose to visit, try the city of Mandalay, the amazing sight of Inle Lake or trekking in Kalaw.
Singapore is a city state at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula. The city contains some fabulous restaurants, shopping and hotels, such as the world-famous Raffles. In addition, Singapore Zoo and Botanical Gardens are worth a visit.
Vietnam is at the eastern side of the Indochina Peninsula and is one of the most popular places to visit in this region. The country is full of history, which can be evidenced in the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, but it also has some amazing landscapes made up of mountains and coastline such as Cao Bang and the Con Dao Islands.
Indonesia comprises many islands, with the capital Jakarta being the most populated place in the region. The city is huge and well worth a visit; however, venture out of the city and you will discover amazing landscapes and scenery. There are volcanoes at Kelimutu, stunning beaches in Bali and lots of opportunities for trekking and water sports.
Laos is a landlocked country that shares borders with Thailand, Burma, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. It is very underdeveloped and even the capital city of Vientiane belongs to another era. This country’s spectacular landscape is now lending itself to activities such as trekking, kayaking and rock climbing.
East Timor comprises several islands where tourism is not very developed. It is worth visiting the capital Dili, where you can participate in diving close to the city, as well as Atauro Island if you want to do snorkelling and visit beaches that are untouched by tourism. The town of Baucau is also worth a look if you want a feel for the history of the Portuguese era of this country.
There are many places in South East Asia that are off the beaten track and would be ideal for group trips. It would provide an unforgettable adventure prior to a big event such as a wedding and Eclipse Leisure organise stag weekends abroad which would take away some of the organisational stress.
This region is ideal for the bold and adventurous. You could build your own trip with a combination of some of the places mentioned above.
AUTHOR BIO: Donna Baxter writes regularly about a wide range of travel concepts for travel websites and blogs, including organised group trips abroad. Eclipse Leisure organise stag weekends abroad and Donna specialises in this kind of trip.
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