One of the best things about living in Southeast Asia: Being just a short flight away to some of Nature’s most stunning masterpieces on the continent.
If you’d rather trade Phuket’s large resorts for a more authetic Thai beach getaway, drive an hour north to the sleepier Khao Lak, where secluded pristine white-sand beaches skirt foresty hills and trekking trails. Accommodation options comprise of mostly boutique hotels, while many of the restuarants are family-run but still tourist-friendly.
NEXT: Siquijor Island, Philippines →
Siquijor Island (pronounced si-ki-hor) is an other-worldly destination even to most Filipinos. Pick your poison – or potion – from wellness treatments using the island’s famous traditional ointments to sipping cocktails by the cool waters. Make your way to the Cambugahay Falls (pictured), an enchanting multi-tiered waterfall that’s also a popular swimming spot.
NEXT: Koh Lanta, Thailand →
Splendid stretches of beaches enbrace Koh Lanta’s inland mountains and natural wonders. The beaches along the Northern coast, in particular, have gently sloping sand and are thus popular with families. You’ll also want to get off your hammock to explore Koh Lanta National Park, spanning 152 square kilometers and 16 islands!
NEXT: Banaue, Philippines →
Fringed by dramatically chiselled rice terraces, this therapeutic oasis is sometimes termed the Eighth Wonder of the World. Walking up to the main view point takes about 2 hours – or longer, as you’ll be tempted to stop to enjoy the view – and the higher you go, the more beautiful the panorama! Want more? It’s easy to escape to even more remote villages, which have their own incredible natural wonders.
NEXT: Preah Vihear, Cambodia →
While Preah Vihear’s remoteness is part of its tranquility, this also makes it quite a journey to get to. But we’re not complaining – the journey there is a wonder in itself. And the Preah Vihear Temple alone warrants a visit to this rural spot – this centre of pilgrmage if perched on the edge of a 525-metre tall cliff, which looks out to abundant blankets of green. Fun fact: The temple is even said to predate Angkor Wat by 100 years!
NEXT: Koh Rong, Cambodia →
Not long ago, Koh Rong was an untouched archipelago all about simple Cambodian living, before the arrival of posh hotels made this natural beauty a must-visit. Now, it’s a good balance of both – you could just as easily live the local life as you could go all-out luxury. Oh, and the raved-about Full Moon Party happens every month!
NEXT: Koh Lipe, Thailand →
Thailand’s tourism may be booming, but Koh Lipe still likes to keep it raw and authentic. Here, locals treat you like friends in restaurants; Thais and tourists mingle on the unscathed beaches. Plus, they’re all about responsible tourism – leave the island more beautiful than when you arrived!
NEXT: Son Doong, Vietnam →
If this was what the cavemen knew as luxury living, then we’ve got it all wrong. The Son Doong Cave in Central Vietnam is the world’s biggest cave – it’s so huge, it even has its own localised weather system! Light reflects off the emerald waters in the cave, giving a sense of otherworldliness. Plus, getting there is an adventure in itself, involving mountain trekking, traversing river currents, abseiling and more.
NEXT: Khao Lak, Thailand →
By Pinky Chng, December 2017 / Updated by Melodi Ghui, July 2019
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