From marvelling at temples dotting the city of Bagan, Myanmar to slurping noodles in Ipoh, Malaysia, these cities beautifully capture Southeast Asia’s rich history.
Visitors love the sun-drenched city of Sihanoukville for the beautiful beaches, but the city’s richly-preserved local culture is by no means robbed by the tourist traffic. Take in the thousands of years of culture – from the food to the temples – and come the weekend, bask in the company of local families at the beaches or waterfalls.
NEXT: Ipoh, Malaysia →
Savour the city on a heritage walk around the Old Town, where interesting sites like the Town Hall sit. The hidden alleys are great for getting lost in – in a good way, of course. Hungry? Tuck into delicacies that Ipoh calls its own, like the Ipoh Hor Fun (Chinese wide noodles in a wet gravy).
NEXT: Palembang, Indonesia →
Take life a little slower in this secret gem on Sumatra Island, one of the oldest cities in Southeast Asia. But undisturbed doesn’t mean backward – this city’s rich heritage is made up of Malay, Javanese, Indian, Chinese, Arab influences and more, and its cosmopolitan DNA means the people there are extremely friendly and eager to share their culture with curious visitors.
NEXT: Hoi An, Vietnam →
The appeal of this atmospheric town lies in how everyday life and heritage melds perfectly with tourist-friendly life. Sure, the old town is popular with tourists, with souvenir and traditional handicraft shops, museums, and bars with English menus. But it’s also where the locals hang out, and being a tourist here means taking in a charm of the city as the locals do.
NEXT: Chiang Mai, Thailand →
Well-known for its culture and charm, festivals like Songkran and religious art and hilltribe traditions keep pace with the modern era. To add to your travel checklist: Visit the many wats (Buddhist temples), shop artisan boutiques for handicrafts that pay homage to skills handed down through generations, and tuck into street food to get a taste of really authentic Thai cuisine.
NEXT: Bagan, Myanmar →
At sunrise, hot air balloons float across the thousands of temples in Bagan – and catching sight of it from a vantage point is as stunning as riding in one yourself. Fact: Tourism to Bagan wasn’t possible until only recently, after a long travel boycott was finally lifted – which means there’s tons of well-preserved heritage eagerly waiting to be discovered!
NEXT: Jakarta, Indonesia →
Jakarta might be a modern city – think glitzy malls and restaurants serving just about every cuisine – but it certainly hasn’t forgotten its centuries-old roots. Culture vultures will love the Old Town, where interesting museums brimming with history and fine art sit; then, take a walk down Jalan Surabaya, lined with antique shops.
NEXT: Luzon, Philippines →
The Ifugao mountain people in Luzon, Philippines celebrate abundance and good harvest every April during the Imbayah Festival, which begins with a ritual opening and street parade and is packed with cultural activities and traditional games like tug-of-war and wooden scooter races. Tourists are welcome, and it’s quite a sight to behold!
NEXT: Sihanoukville, Cambodia →
By Pinky Chng, June 2017
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