At WildChina, we’re not afraid to strike out in the direction of new and exotic frontiers which has led us to develop a collection of journeys that go beyond the walls of the Middle Kingdom. With our signature hallmark of authentic luxury travel, we’ve painstakingly crafted our Beyond China collection. Ancient history, white sand beaches, delicious food and spiritual discovery: Southeast Asia has it all! Learn why these places are our pick for the five best Southeast Asia destinations.
As your plane winds its way towards one of the major Southeast Asian airports – perhaps Bangkok or Phnom Penh – and the towering skyscrapers of these modern capitals come into view, spare a moment to think about the ancient empires which these cities sprung up to replace. In these cities, traditional beliefs and heritage mingle among the neon street signs and vertiginous apartment blocks, making a fascinating starting point for your journey. But the most fascinating destinations often lie outside of the major cities.
Southeast Asia has wilderness and metropolis, history and hedonism, colonial heritage and traditional cuisine. Here are a few of the best Southeast Asian destinations beyond the major capitals:
- Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Source: David Sim
Discover the largest religious structure in the world hidden in the jungles of Cambodia. The 400 square kilometre ‘Angkor Archeological Park’ is home not only to the famous Angkor Wat, the colossal temple that was the seat of power of the Khmer Empire, but also to romantic lakes full of slumbering water buffalo, ancient stone snakes carved into the side of bridges, and enough mystery for its own Indiana Jones movie.
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
There’s no better way to see the wild forests and flowing rivers of Thailand than from the back of an elephant. As awareness of the impact of tourism on Thailand’s elephant population increases, compassionate elephant farms are emerging around Chiang Mai which teach you to care for your pachyderm as you accompany each other on a beautiful stroll through the Thai jungle.
- Luang Prabang, Laos
The historic capital of Laos still lives up to its tagline as ‘The Refuge of Lovers and Dreamers.’ Wander the night market in search of traditional handcrafts, soothe your spirit at the ancient temples, and then settle down for some of the best food Southeast Asia has to offer. Laotian cuisine combines Asian spice with French subtlety for a meal that will have you closing your eyes in stunned delight. Then open them again, and watch the Mekong river lazily flowing by. We’ve also found the best restaurants in Luang Prabang so you don’t have to.
- Bagan, Myanmar
Travelers once called Bagan ‘Angkor Wat without the tourists,’ but hurry because this may not be true for long. As Myanmar opens itself up to the world, more and more visitors are discovering the wonders of Bagan. Scramble over the 2000 pagodas, some dating as far back as the 9th century, some immaculately restored, others reclaimed by weeds, and enjoy the humble hospitality of a country still getting accustomed to its status as a tourist magnet.
- Ngapali Beach, Myanmar
After sweating your way up hills and around pagodas, you’ve earned a relaxing few days by the beach. They say Ngapali Beach was named by an intrepid Italian who was reminded of his home, Napoli. Relaxing by the pristine waters and sipping on a cocktail as you gaze out into the Bay of Bengal is the perfect way to wrap up your dream Southeast Asian adventure.
If you’re ready to visit Southeast Asia, we have a number of tours to the area: Angkor Wat: City of Temples, Chiang Mai: Roaming with Elephants, Myanmar: Into the Golden Lands, and Laos: Land of a Million Elephants. Follow the link to get started on your Southeast Asian getaway.