Last Updated on February 9, 2022 by Cody Livingston
Southeast Asia has it all – be it the most gorgeous beaches, mountains or man-made marvels. They are fascinating, surreal & rich in satisfying your desire for an unforgettable holiday. And the best part is that most of these cities can easily be discovered in just a week. Here’s a list of 10 best places in Southeast Asia for your next trip. Take your pick, pack your bags and don’t forget to take your camera. You certainly wouldn’t want to miss taking amazing pictures.
A well developed, technically prosperous city, Singapore is ranked as #1 when it comes to best places to visit in Southeast Asia. Be it a family holiday or a romantic escape with your better half, the city is much more than the total number of its attractions. Exploring Singapore can be a matter of just a few hours. Thanks to its extensive network of transport. Whether you wish to eat in Little India and head towards the temples in Chinatown or shop at Orchard Road, you’ll be there in no time using the speedy MRT system. Adding to the city’s beauty, there are stylish art galleries, lively markets, plenty of restaurants & cafes, wildlife sanctuaries and world-class attractions.
Best time to visit: February to May is considered as the perfect time to tour the city and enjoy the climate.
Top things to do: Visit the Gardens by the Bay, take a tour of Bintan Island, explore Sentosa, shop at Bugis Street and explore the Casino in Marina Bay Sands.
2. Bali – Indonesia
Bali is one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia. Home to cities like Kuta and Ubud, Bali has always been an attractive destination to visit in Southeast Asia. Regardless of what time of the year it is, this place outshines most of the tropical destinations, offering the ultimate luxury and comfort to its visitors. Experience surfing, yoga, meditation, trekking, delicious food or the amazing nightlife. Certain spots in Bali have been influenced by scores of cafes, hip bars and restaurants. At the same time, there are also a few remote places that have maintained Balinese beauty and charm. So, if you ever plan on having a blissful beach holiday, Bali is on the list of must-visit places in Southeast Asia.
Best time to visit: From April to October, Bali is at its best. It’s less crowded and sightseeing can be done at one’s own pace.
Top things to do: Visit the famous Tanah Lot, surfing, diving & other water sports, explore Bali Safari and Marine Park and shop at Bali’s famous markets.
3. Hanoi – Vietnam
The capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi, is one of the beautiful places to visit in Southeast Asia. It offers a good feel and understanding of Vietnamese culture, people and food. With influences of the Southeast Asian, Chinese and French, you’ll experience mixed culture and attractions. The city is huge and most of the tourist activities and interesting places are located in the Old Quarter. The city has many cafes, restaurants, markets, beautiful temples and other attractions that make it one of the unique places to visit in Southeast Asia. Do not forget to relish the street food while on your trip here. To enjoy nature at its best, you can explore Halong Bay, which is roughly 99 miles from Hanoi. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for countless limestone islands. All you need is a seaplane to reach here and admire close-up views.
Best time to visit: September to November and March to April are considered as the best times to tour Hanoi. The atmosphere is clean and pure right after the rains and prices are quite cheap.
Top things to do: Visit the century-old temples, spend time at the Hoan Kiem Lake, head to the Temple of the Jade Mountain, explore Weekend Night Market, enjoy dining at Tay Ho, witness Water Puppet Show and see the Snake Village.
4. Manila – Philippines
Amongst all the top tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, Manila is one of the most popular places in the Philippines. It’s called the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ for all the right reasons – huge malls, UNESCO Heritage Sites, scenic spots like Corregidor Island, Batangas and Laguna and trendy places such as Casa Manila and Fort Santiago. Wander around the Spanish ruins at Intramuros, dine on fresh seafood and visit one of the many markets. Wiley’s Rock is another amazing place that is set to give you a lifetime experience and a holiday you may not have imagined.
Best time to visit: From November to May, Manila experiences an enjoyable climate along with a scanty crowd and relaxed island tours.
Top things to do: Visit the Wiley’s Rock and Manila Zoo, explore Manila Ocean Park, walk into the Makati shopping district, witness the beautiful sunset at Yapak, collect white shells on Boracay beaches.
5. Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is a multicultural mix of huge skyscrapers, the gleaming lights of the Petronas and streets dedicated to food and culture. The Malaysian capital city is one of the top tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. Famed for incredible culinary scene and shopping, you could spend an entire day browsing malls such as KLCC, Pavilion KL and Mid Valley Megamall. Adventure lovers can trek to the famous Batu Caves or visit KL Bird Park. The city is best explored on foot. You’ll discover the laid-back ambience and pieces of Kampung Village that the city once was. There are sufficient day trips for couples in Kuala Lumpur for a peaceful retreat.
Best time to visit: You can either visit Kuala Lumpur between May to July or from December to February. The rains are finally over and the weather is crispy enough for sightseeing.
Top things to do: Visit Petronas Twin Towers, explore Batu Caves and shop at Bukit Bintang
6. Kota Kinabalu – Malaysia
Located near Borneo, Kota Kinabalu is a divine exotic spot that has the power to captivate anyone with its beauty and it’s easy to see why. Lively markets, modern boardwalks, music and art galleries and mosques are some of the top attractions that would make you fall in love with this Southeast Asian beauty. Most visitors from around the world use Kota Kinabalu, also known as KK, as the jump-off point for nearby attractions, islands and national parks. While the city centre offers a lot to its visitors, the city also boasts breathtaking sunsets, historical sights, the famous Mt. Kinabalu, beautiful beaches, rain forests and thriving markets and cafes.
Best time to visit: January to March is the ideal to time to visit Kota Kinabalu as the crowd is less and the climate is enjoyable in this period.
Top things to do: Conquer Mt. Kinabalu, explore the beaches, enjoy island hopping, stay in a luxury resort, visit the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park and indulge in fresh seafood.
7. Phuket – Thailand
Nicknamed as the ‘Pearl of the Andaman’, Phuket is Thailand’s largest and world’s finest destination. It has something for every taste and budget. It sits idyllically with a short distance from Ko Phi-Phi’s dive sites, popular national-parks and the beautiful Similan Islands. If you begin exploring from the Old Town, you’ll learn about the history of tin mining. Presently, blessed with white sands, lush palm trees, lively towns and plenty of beach activities, food and adventure, it reveals more than what the eye sees. It is so diverse that you might forget to leave. So, if you’re looking for a sultry place that tick all the boxes – family-friendly resorts, peaceful hideaways, cocktail clubs and food at its best, you couldn’t be at a better place than Phuket.
Best time to visit: Phuket is best explored from December to March. The beaches are calm and cool and island tours are quite affordable.
Top things to do: Beach hopping, indulge in diving, enjoy water sports and relish local food.
8. Phi Phi Islands – Thailand
Located in the Andaman Sea, Phi Phi Island is 30 miles southeast of Phuket in Krabi. This is one of the most beautiful Southeast Asian destinations that should be a must-visit be on your list. It rose to fame after the Leonardo Di Caprio starred The Beach was filmed here with the backdrop of limestone karsts. But there’s a lot to what you’ve seen in the pictures. Head here on your next holiday to spend time among lush green environs, explore scenic bays and be a part of the incredible parties held on the beaches. If serenity is all you’re looking for, relax at Ao Lo Moo Dee or Ao Toh Ko sandy beaches and soak up the sunrise and sunset. If you are an adventure seeker, you can also enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving here.
Best time to visit: November to April is the perfect time to enjoy the beaches and go on a city tour.
Top things to do: Snorkel in the warm waters, go beach hopping, relax at the beach and enjoy plenty of water activities.
9. Chiang Mai – Thailand
Situated at the base of the north Thailand mountainous range, Chiang Mai is notable as the best place to visit in Southeast Asia. It draws both adventure lovers and shopaholics. Right from a refreshing Thai massage to discovering its numerous attractions, there’s a lot to do at one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia. Drive down straight in any direction, you’ll soon pass the lush green countryside, villages and rainforests with peaceful waterfalls. Whether you’re planning a honeymoon or a family excursion, you’d surely have the time of your life. Considering the kind of visitors Thailand attracts, you’ll have a limitless nightlife, shopping and adventure options.
Best time to visit: December to May is when you can find less crowd on the beaches along with low flight and hotel prices.
Top things to do: Go snorkelling, scuba diving & kayaking, witness the Namuang Waterfall, enjoy Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan and cherish a spa treatment.
10. Siem Reap – Cambodia
Siem Reap – a jewel of Southeast Asia, a cheerful city and an entrance into the Angkor Wat region has been enticing travellers to explore its treasures for many years. It offers the best of both worlds – an interesting past and a bright present. Gradually, this place became a popular tourist spot due to its trendiest hotels, wining and dining, spas and more. But there’s more to this place when it comes to offering memorable experiences. You can explore temples from the time of the Khmer Empire, tiny monasteries in the Little Circuit area, ruins of Banteay Srei and the lively Pub Street. So, head out and uncover this unique Southeast Asian gem.
Best time to visit: Siem Reap can be best explored from November to February.
Top things to do: Temple hopping, visit Siem Reap’s floating villages and Tonle Sap freshwater lake, party on Pub Street, quad-biking, shop at Angkor Night Market and visit the Angkor Archaeological Park and the National Museum.
Southeast Asia has got it all – be it the most stunning beaches, gorgeous cities, the most mysterious hills or natural & man-made wonders. They are beautiful and mesmerising when it comes to satisfying your desire for a memorable holiday. The best part is, most of these places can be explored easily in just a week. So, if you’re craving for an adventurous 2022, take your pick and make sure you cover one or two destinations this year.