Packed with ancient wonder and natural beauty, Southeast Asia is the ultimate destination for an adventurous traveler. There is so much to see and do that it is impossible to fit everything into your itinerary. If you want to experience the very best of Southeast Asia’s natural and man-made magnificence, the UNESCO World Heritage list is a good place to start.
The UNESCO World Heritage list brings together the world’s most incredible sites and there is a range of reasons why something might earn itself a place of honor on the list. It could be that the site has an outstanding range of biodiversity or it is of great historical significance. Whatever it is, you can be sure that it will be worth your time to visit.
Angkor Wat is the most famous temple complex in Asia and possibly the world. Dating back to the 12th century, the complex comprises dozens of palaces, temples, and monuments. You can easily spend two or three days walking or cycling around the site, exploring the nooks and crannies of the various structures, and snapping sensational shots. Just make sure you take plenty of water and sunscreen because it can get seriously hot here.
Luang Prabang is one of Laos’ most prominent cities and is known for its huge collection of Buddhist temples and monasteries. Each building has its own distinct character and exhibits a range of different cultural influences. Each morning, the Buddhist monks make their rounds through the town collecting alms from the people who live there. It is a fascinating insight into this ancient way of life, something not to miss when in Laos.
Ayutthaya is an interesting place for several reasons. Firstly, it boasts a unique blend of modernity and antiquity thanks to the crumbling ruins that sit side by side the restaurants and shops of what is now a bustling city. Secondly, it is brimming with history and culture and is one of the best places in Thailand to learn about the country’s past. If you want a traditional Thai experience, this is one of the best places to find it.
Hoi An is Vietnam’s beauty queen – not to be missed on your travels through Vietnam. In the evening the streets come alive as people eat and drink al fresco along the river. The Japanese bridge, which is beautiful by day, becomes even more dazzling by night and the water beneath it glimmers as the light bounces off its surface. This is where you come to unwind and enjoy the stunning scenery of endless rice paddies under blue skies. You can also treat yourself to a tailored suit while you’re here if it takes your fancy as you can get custom-made clothes at a cut price.
Along with Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, Ban Chiang is one of three historically significant archaeological sites. Despite being filled with incredible prehistoric pottery and architecture, it is the least known of the three sites and therefore the least crowded. You can check out the artifacts in the Ban Chiang Archaeological Museum.
If you love natural beauty and want to witness something truly unique, get yourself on a boat and take a tour around the peculiar islands that pepper Ha Long Bay. From the turquoise water emerge dozens of pinnacles, with jagged sides and covered in vegetation. Most people opt to spend three days on a boat, navigating between the rocky islands, taking in this unusual natural feature.
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