5 South-east Asian alternatives to Thailand

10 July 2018

Thailand is well known for its unique experiences, superb city lifestyle and turquoise green waters, but there is much more to South East Asia for you to discover. We’ve rounded up our favourite destinations for those looking for a South-east Asian adventure. Whether you seek a beach holiday or cultural enlightenment, a once-in-a-lifetime family trip or a couple’s break, there’s something here for all ages and tastes.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Malaysian capital is perfect for foodies. A reflection of its diverse population, the city’s street food mixes Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine. Don’t miss the shopping and entertainment district of Bukit Bintang to try oyster omelettes and banana-leaf curries.

And although it’s known for man-made landmarks such as the soaring Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur also boasts natural attractions such as the Batu Caves. Over 400 million years old, this labyrinth of limestone caverns features temples and Hindu shrines, attracting thousands of worshippers during the annual Hindu festival of Thaipusam.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

This small island in the Gulf of Thailand less than 13km from the mainland of Cambodia is known for its coastal beauty and beach resorts, most of which can be found along its palm-fringed south-west coast. But while Sao Beach and Khem Beach are two of Phu Quoc’s most popular spots, there are plenty of other things to add to the itinerary.

Head to Phu Quoc Prison and museum to see where Northern Vietnamese soldiers were imprisoned during the Vietnam War, explore the island by motorbike without having to contend with heavy traffic, and savour incredible street eats and unearth unique souvenirs at the Dinh Cau night market.

Mandalay, Myanmar

The country’s former capital retains some of the crown jewels from its regal past. Visit the Royal Palace, which the Burmese royal family called home over a century ago, explore the 19th-century teak-wood Shwenandaw Monastery and gaze at the amazing gold-and-white Maha Myat pagoda. Then have the quintessential Burmese experience by taking a hot-air balloon ride to catch the sunrise or sunset over the gorgeous Myanmar countryside.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

The gateway to the Angkor region is best known for its jaw-dropping temples. Angkor Wat is the undisputed headline act – a UNESCO World Heritage temple complex including Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat temple and Ta Prohm, which was used as a filming location for Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider.

Away from the magnificent ruins, there’s plenty going on, including local food tours offering the chance to sample delicacies such as deep-fried tarantula, the War Museum with its unique collection of landmines and tanks from the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese occupation in the 1970s, and traditional aspara dance shows, which use Khmer dance to convey their story.

Cebu, Philippines

If you’re looking for that picture-perfect paradise, look no further than the island province of Cebu in the Philippines. For its best white-sand beaches, take a day trip from the main island to nearby Malapascua and Bantayan, both of which are also great for diving and water-based activities such as cliff-jumping and cave-swimming.

If you want a bit more action, head to the Philippines’ second biggest city, Cebu City. Its sights include Magellan’s Cross, a religious relic brought by Spanish explorers in 1521, marking the start of Christianity in the Philippines, and Sky Experience Adventure, a rooftop theme park with a rollercoaster, zip-line and restaurant with stunning views.

To find out more or book your Southeast Asia holiday, contact your Travel Counsellor today.

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