Southeast Asia in detail

Southeast Asia is known for

Beautiful Beaches

Phu Quoc Island (Vietnam) Vietnam's poster island, ringed by picture-perfect white crescents and sandy bays sheltered by rocky headlands.

Railay (Thailand) Rock-climbers gravitate to the karst cliffs, but the sands between the outcrops are snippets of paradise.

Bohol (Philippines) Natural and cultural wonders onshore, and a haven for sand and scuba addicts.

Pulau Tioman (Malaysia) Hollywood's stand-in for Bali Ha'i is castaway perfection, with added dive appeal.

Ko Pha-Ngan (Thailand) This backpacker legend rages during Full Moon parties, but its sun-kissed coves doze in between.

Lombok (Indonesia) The other Kuta, with a string of perfect sands, and the iconic Gili Islands just offshore.

Koh Rong (Cambodia) Good times rule at Cambodia’s new favourite party islands, but you'll still find serene stretches of sand.

Mui Ne (Vietnam) Squeaky sands, towering dunes and kitesurfing galore.

Diving & Snorkelling

Pulau Sipadan (Malaysia) Turtles, sharks and swirling barracuda flock to the only oceanic island in Malaysia.

Richelieu Rock (Thailand) All creatures great and small gather at this isolated pinnacle, from whale sharks and mantas to tiny harlequin shrimp.

Malapascua Island (Philippines) Graceful thresher sharks cruise the depths off this sunken island, one of the world's top shark dives.

Similan Islands Marine National Park (Thailand) The pearl of the Andaman Sea: a fantasy landscape of reefs and submerged boulders.

Raja Ampat Islands (Indonesia) The highest marine diversity on earth, in a West Papuan paradise.

Coron (Philippines) The remains of a Japanese fleet on the seabed in one of the world's top wreck-diving playgrounds.

Derawan Islands (Indonesia) Stingless jellyfish swarm spectacularly off these dots in a sea of blue.

Pulau Perhentian (Malaysia) Before you hit Asia's top dive spots, get your dive certification here for bargain rates in idyllic surrounds.

Fabulous Food

Bangkok (Thailand) Food, glorious food! Anytime is dinner time in this non-stop grazing city.

Hanoi (Vietnam) Be an urban forager among Hanoi’s street-food stalls.

Luang Prabang (Laos) Cafes and bakeries with a French flair preserve a delicious colonial connection.

Chiang Mai (Thailand) Don't just feast, learn to cook every delicious mouthful in Thailand's northern capital.

Singapore Five-star feasting at one end of the spectrum; bargain, Michelin-starred hawker food at the other.

Penang (Malaysia) This magical Malay melting pot offers an edible journey through India, China and the Malay Straits.

Phnom Penh (Cambodia) Marketplace feasts and a string of training restaurants where eating fab food helps Cambodia's most disadvantaged.

Bali (Indonesia) Enjoy some of Asia's most affordable and inventive cuisine at Kerobokan or Seminyak, or out on the Jimbaran sands.

Spectacular Treks

Gunung Bromo (Indonesia) A night-time start is essential to reach this volcanic moonscape summit in time for sunrise views.

Mt Kinabalu (Malaysia) Borneo’s highest mountain is conquered via a two-day march into the sky.

Sapa (Vietnam) Dirt paths wind through verdant rice terraces tended by ethnic minorities in this toothy mountainous region.

Batad (Philippines) Ancient hand-hewn rice terraces are carved into jagged mountains.

Khao Yai National Park (Thailand) Close to Bangkok but still jungle wild; home to elephants, monkeys and myriad bird species.

Kalaw (Myanmar) Off-beat treks through forested hills and minority villages fringing lovely Inle Lake.

Nam Ha NPA (Laos) Eco-oriented treks through an old-growth forest and high-altitude hill-tribe villages.

Mondulkiri (Cambodia) Experience ‘walking with the herd’ at the Elephant Valley Project in Cambodia's wild east.

Temples, Tombs & Towers

Temples of Angkor (Cambodia) The temple complex by which all others are judged, built by the Khmer god-kings in an incredible array of styles.

Bagan (Myanmar) The warrior hordes of Kublai Khan hardly made a dent in the architectural heritage of this stupa-studded plain.

Borobudur (Indonesia) A stunning Buddhist vision of heaven, ringed by mist and mountains.

Wat Phra Kaew (Thailand) Bangkok's dazzling royal temple is a mosaic-covered marvel, home to the revered Emerald Buddha.

Shwedagon Paya (Myanmar) A constant tide of humanity floats around this hilltop stupa that rises like a golden torch above Yangon.

Wat Xieng Thong (Laos) The jewel in the crown of temple-studded Luang Prabang, with its eaves sweeping majestically to the ground.

Hue (Vietnam) Emperors left their imperial mark here, from palaces and pagodas to the grand tombs of Tu Duc and Minh Mang.

George Town (Malaysia) The old streets of colonial George Town are studded with jewel-box Taoist temples and Hokkien clanhouses.


Bangkok (Thailand) Bangkok after hours is fast-paced, frenetic and almost out of control; you'll need stamina to make it through until morning!

Phnom Penh (Cambodia) Crawl the buzzing bar strips, then take your pick from party clubs or the genteel Foreign Correspondents' Club.

Ko Pha-Ngan (Thailand) Home of the very first Full Moon parties in Southeast Asia and the ultimate beach-bum island.

Nha Trang (Vietnam) Ever since the GI days, Nha Trang has been top spot on the map for beachside R&R.

Boracay (Philippines) The party spills onto the sand in this pocket-sized island paradise.

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Drink beneath the bright lights of towering skyscrapers, or up on the rooftop for giddying views over downtown.

Bali (Indonesia) Quaff a sundowner on the sand from Kuta north to Canggu, then head out to heaving all-night clubs.

Singapore Sky-high drinks served at sky-high prices, but oh, what views.

Markets & Shopping

Bangkok (Thailand) From the 8000 stalls at Chatuchak Weekend Market to streets that are more market than pavement.

Singapore Shopping is a national pastime, with everything from gleaming modern tech malls to pungent wet and dry markets.

Chiang Mai (Thailand) Weekend ‘Walking Streets’ transform Thailand's northern capital into an open-air food and crafts extravaganza.

Bogyoke Aung San Market (Myanmar) Yangon's British-era covered market sells everything from gilded marionettes to Burmese sapphires and rubies.

Can Tho (Vietnam) Get up early and experience the Mekong Delta’s famous floating markets.

Jonker Walk Night Market (Malaysia) Melaka’s weekly night market attracts legions of trinket sellers, food hawkers and fortune tellers.

Russian Market (Cambodia) This energetic market is Phnom Penh's top shopping spot: if it’s available in Cambodia, it will be somewhere here.

Cultural Encounters

Ubud (Indonesia) Ubud is the spiritual home of Balinese dance, one of Asia's most vivid and colourful dance forms.

George Town (Malaysia) Young artists are upgrading the blank canvas of the old town with bright and brilliant street art.

Maubisse (Timor-Leste) Expect many surprises on a visit to an uma lulik (traditional sacred house) in the highlands around Maubisse.

Luang Prabang (Laos) Visit the Living Land farm to learn how to plant and grow sticky rice, the ubiquitous national dish.

Singapore Southeast Asia's most modern metropolis displays the best of modern Southeast Asian art at the celebrated National Gallery Singapore.

Chiang Mai (Thailand) Join a meditation retreat or 'monk chat' at a temple, or learn moo·ay tai (Thai boxing) from a local master.

Siem Reap (Cambodia) Roll up, roll up – catch a performance of Phare the Cambodia Circus, to see Asia's take on big-top showmanship.

Sulawesi (Indonesia) In Tana Toraja the dead live as house guests in one of Asia's most extraordinary funeral ceremonies.

Colonial-era Architecture

Hanoi (Vietnam) The grand old dame of French Indochina is blessed with imposing civic buildings and leafy garden villas.

Yangon (Myanmar) Washed by centuries of monsoon rains, the former Rangoon has endless streets of British-era shophouses and civic buildings.

Luang Prabang (Laos) It may have been a mere Mekong outpost, but the French loved this town, leaving landmark buildings as their legacy.

George Town (Malaysia) This ethnic entrepôt has experienced a renaissance, with dilapidated mansions reborn as cafes, hotels and galleries.

Hoi An (Vietnam) The Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and French all imprinted their own design sensibilities in this stunning old port town.

Vigan (Philippines) A perfectly preserved Spanish colonial jewel under the shadow of a towering volcano.

Battambang (Cambodia) Ghosts of Indochine swirl through the sleepy streets lining the banks of the Sangker River.