51 Places To Visit In South East Asia [+Best Activities!]

Looking for all the best places to visit in South East Asia?

Ger and I have travelled all over the world, but South East Asia is definitely the place we enjoy travelling around the most.

South East Asia has so much to offer from incredible cities and towns to volcanoes, jungles, and remote islands. It has everything you need for the adventure of a lifetime!

AND ITS BUDGET FRIENDLY! Your money goes far, which means you can travel longer!

places to visit in South East Asia

I might be biased because I’m half Malaysian but if you continue reading you’ll see why so many other travellers are drawn to this part of the world 🙂

Here’s a list of 51 places to visit in South East Asia, we’ve visited most ourselves, so speak from personal experience !

Places To Visit In South East Asia – Thailand

1. Bangkok

Bangkok is often the first stop for many Westerners on their backpacking journey as there are many flights here and lots to see and do!

One of our favorite things to do in Bangkok is try out the street food at the night markets around the city.

Khaosan Road is a famous party street but also has some nice food stalls.

Chinatown has some incredible food to choose from too.

Some famous sites include The Grand Palace, The Reclining Buddha, and Wat Arun!

places to visit in South East Asia

2. Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is in Northern Thailand and has many activities to choose from. 

We went to an elephant sanctuary when we were in Chiang Mai, it was one of the highlights of Thailand for us!

places to visit in South East Asia

The food in Chiang Mai is amazing too, we tried the famous local dish called Khao Soi while staying there.

Chiang Mai also has a cool night market with lots of food, art, souvenirs, clothes, and much more!

places to visit in South East Asia

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

3. Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is most well known for the famous white temple called Wat Rong Khun.

You can also visit the Blue Temple and the Golden Triangle while in Chiang Rai.

places to visit in South East Asia

4. Pai

Pai is one of our favorite places in all of South East Asia. The people, the landscape, the atmosphere, it’s just different in Pai.

It’s an incredible place to chill out and drive around the outskirts of the town to viewpoints such as Pai Canyon.

A famous thing to do in Pai is Tipsy Tubing, everyone gets their drinks ready, hops on a tube, and floats down the river. 

This is very popular with young backpackers.

places to visit in South East Asia

5. Khao Sok National Park

We were blown away when we got to the lakes and mountains of Khao Sok National Park!

We visited as part of a group tour and stayed in a floating bungalow on the lake.

We also walked (and swam a little bit) through a cave in the park. It was such a unique experience we will never forget it!

6. Phuket

Phuket has some incredible beaches like Freedom Beach and some amazing viewpoints you can check out too.

There are plenty of amazing bars and restaurants to choose from and you can also visit the Old Town of Phuket.

places to visit in South East Asia

7. Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi is one of the most stunning islands in Thailand. Although it’s small, there is so much to see.

The highlight of our time in Phi Phi was a boat tour that took us around to smaller islands and tourist attractions like Monkey Beach and Maya Bay!

places to visit in South East Asia

8. Krabi 

Krabi is a great place to chill out for a few days on the beach. Ao Nang beach is nice but you can also get a long tail boat to Railay Beach which is almost like a secluded town of its own.

We loved the Ao Nang night market in Krabi and went there for dinner most nights.

places to visit in South East Asia

9. Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is most famous for its Full Moon Parties

This is exactly as the name suggests, every full moon the whole island becomes a huge party with people flocking from all over the world to join in the madness.

The island also has some beautiful beaches.

places to visit in South East Asia

10. Koh Tao

Koh Tao is our favorite Thai Island for many different reasons.

The town has so many restaurants and bars to choose from and everything is within walking distance in that area.

Koh Tao is a hugely popular diving location with countless diving courses available here.

Although we didn’t go diving in Koh Tao, we did go snorkeling in Tanote Bay on the other side of the island.

This was the best place we have snorkeled in all of South East Asia. I can only imagine how amazing the diving would be!

places to visit in South East Asia

11. Koh Samui 

There are lots of things to see and do in Koh Samui. You can check out some waterfalls, hike to different viewpoints, and relax at the beach.

Our favorite activity was a day trip to Pig Island!

places to visit in South East Asia

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

Places To Visit In South East Asia – Laos

12. Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is one of the most picturesque places in South East Asia. It has rich cultural traditions and very well-preserved architecture.

It’s a great place to explore if you’re into architecture and history. You can also visit sites such as the Buddhist temple, Wat Hosian Voravihane.

places to visit in South East Asia

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

13. Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is most known for its mountainous landscape with impressive caves and lagoons.

You can visit Nam Xay Viewpoint and Tham Phu Kham Cave and Blue Lagoon.

places to visit in South East Asia

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

14. Kuang Si

Kuang Si Falls is often visited as a day trip from Luang Prabang but it deserves its own spot on this list!

The Kuang Si Waterfalls have multiple tiers from shallow rock pools to a 60 metre waterfall at its highest!

places to visit in South East Asia

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

15. Vientiane

Vientiane is the capital of Laos. The city has an interesting mix of cultures as it has Buddhist temples and influences along with French-colonial architecture.

Pha That Luang and Wat Si Muang are popular tourist attractions in Vientiane.

places to visit in South East Asia

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

16. Nong Khiaw

Nong Khiaw is most known for its cycling routes, kayaking, and mountain climbing opportunities.

The natural beauty of this area is breathtaking and this makes it a popular tourist destination.

Places To Visit In South East Asia – Vietnam

17. Hanoi

Hanoi was our first stop in Vietnam and it did not disappoint!

The crazy drivers and hustle and bustle of the city are intense but in a charming kind of way.

places to visit in South East Asia

The food in Hanoi is amazing, we went to the same restaurant multiple times while we were there. It’s called Banh Mi 25.

The highlights of Hanoi for us were the food and simply wandering around the streets.

18. Ha Giang

The Ha Giang Loop, if you know what this is, you know this is one of the most incredible things to do in South East Asia!

If you don’t know, then you’re in for a treat! The Ha Giang Loop Tour is a motorbike tour around Ha Giang, a province in Northern Vietnam.

You can drive the route yourself if you want but most people do it as part of a group tour with Easy Riders.

An Easy Rider is your personal motorbike driver for three to four days. They do all the hard work while you sit on the back of the bike and enjoy the scenery.

19. Sapa

Sapa is known for its stunning scenery with rice fields and Fansipan Mountain.

The town itself is at the base of Fansipan and really gives off ski resort vibes.

If you go on a trekking tour you can visit the rural villages around Sapa which maintain their traditions and customs.

20. Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is a small town with incredible landscapes. You can go on a bout tour around the lakes and through the mountain!

You can also hike to the viewpoint at Hang Mua which offers amazing views across the rice fields with huge rock formations jutting out of the land.

You can also get a local beer for €0.24, just another reason to visit!

21. Phong Nha

Phong Nha is a lesser frequented little town in Vietnam but it also has stunning scenery. The highlight in Phong Nha is definitely Paradise Cave.

We also visited a cute little tourist attraction called the Duck Stop. Here you get to watch the trainer lead his ducks around and do tricks then you get to feed the ducks and take pictures with them.

22. Hue

Hue is most popular as the start or finish point of the Hai Van Pass drive, depending if you’re heading north to south or vice versa.

You can also visit an abandoned water park in Hue.

We went from Hue to Hoi An by scooter and got to see some incredible sites such as the City of Ghosts, the Hai Van Pass, and some cool waterfalls.

23. Hoi An

Hoi An is usually what people think of when they hear Vietnam. The boats and lanterns on the river as just as common as you’d expect.

The town itself is also beautiful with nice restaurants, bars, and fun activities.

We did a lantern-making class with The Lantern Lady, it was so much fun.

24. Da Lat

Da Lat has some cool street markets and interesting tourist attractions.

We visited the Crazy House and went on the Alpine Coaster.

25. Mui Ne

In Mui Ne, you can do a sunrise tour of the Red Sand Dunes and White Sand Dunes.

The tour starts with pick up from your accommodation around 4:30 am and you get to watch the sunrise from the top of the red dunes!

26. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh is a great city to visit if you’re into history. The city has so many amazing museums such as the War Remnants Museum.

Places To Visit In South East Asia – Cambodia

27. Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh has some great night markets and restaurants, our favorite was David’s Noodles!

The main attractions in Phnom Penh are the S21 Prison Museum and the Killing Fields. These places tell the story of the Cambodian Communist Party who imprisoned, tortured, and murdered over a million people during the 1970s.

The museums don’t hold back the details and may be too distressing for some visitors.

28. Battambang

In Battambang, you can hire a tuk-tuk driver to take you around to the main tourist attractions. These include the bamboo train, Killing Cave, and Bat Cave.

places to visit in South East Asia

29. Siem Reap

Without a doubt, the highlight of Siem Reap is Angkor Wat. This is an immense ancient temple that you can visit for sunrise and explore all around the area for the day.

Another really interesting thing to do on Siem Reap is visiting the Hero Rats in the APOPO Centre!

These rats are trained to detect explosives and have been used to clear mines all over the world.

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

30. Koh Rong

Koh Rong is an Island known for its sandy beaches and coral reefs.

It is the perfect place to chill on the beach, go for a swim, or have drinks at a party hostel!

Long Beach is the most popular one on the island and it stretches for over 7km!

Places To Visit In South East Asia – Malaysia

31. Georgetown

Georgetown is a beautiful, diverse city in Malaysia. It is probably most well known for the street art dotted all around the city.

Georgetown has some beautiful architecture and cute little streets, it’s the perfect place to stroll around and enjoy the scenery.

32. Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands is a stunning, mountainous area in Malaysia. The landscape is covered in greenery, mostly made up of huge tea plantations.

You can get a tour of the area along with a guided tour of the tea plantation where you can try out different variations of tea.

The tour we did also included a visit to a strawberry farm and a butterfly sanctuary. 

Side note: there is a really popular Indian restaurant in the town called Highland Spice.

33. Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is an incredible city with huge skyscrapers and endless shopping centers but just a 20-minute drive from the city center you can visit the incredible Batu Caves.

34. Borneo

If you’ve ever wanted to experience the wilderness of a rainforest, the lowland rainforest of Borneo is one of the best places you could visit.

You can do jungle treks, night walks, and river cruises to see wild animals.

Also, in Borneo, you can check out rehabilitation centers and sanctuaries for animals such as Orangutans and sun bears.

Places To Visit In South East Asia – Singapore

35. Singapore

When in Singapore you need to check out the Gardens By The Bay.

There’s even a free light show here every evening!

Places To Visit In South East Asia – Philippines 

36. Boracay

Boracay has stunning white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from too but it can be a bit more expensive than other parts of South East Asia.

The bakeries here are super cheap so if you want to save on breakfast pick up some pastries!

37. Bohol

Bohol is most famous for the Chocolate Hills, you can pay for a tour or taxi to get there but the best way is to rent a scooter and drive there yourself.

You can also check out the Tarsier Sanctuaries in Bohol.

38. Siquijor

Siquijor is a great place to hop on a scooter and check out different viewpoints, beaches, and waterfalls.

We enjoyed Cambugahay Falls which has different pools to swim in and rope swings to jump in!

The sunset at Pitigo Cliff was amazing as well!

39. Moalboal

Moalboal is a small town but has two unmissable activities. The first is the sardine run, you can rent snorkels at the beach and just swim out about 20-30 meters and see the sardine run.

You’re also very likely to see some turtles in this area too.

The second activity is canyoneering. You will be picked up and brought to the canyons where you will hike, swim, and jump from cliffs into the water to make your way through!

This was one of our highlights of the Philippines.

40. El Nido

El Nido is a town with lots of bars, restaurants, and resorts. The beaches and surrounding landscape are stunning and offer some incredible spots to watch the sunset.

You can also do a zip line and a canopy walk while in El Nido, both of these activities will offer even more incredible views of the area.

41. Coron

Coron doesn’t have too much to offer in the town other than the Mount Tapyas Viewdeck but you can do some incredible boat tours of the surrounding area.

The most incredible experience for us in the Philippines was the boat tour we did from El Nido to Coron!

It was a two-night, three-day boat tour where we stopped off at different snorkeling areas, beaches, viewpoints, and different islands to stay on each night.

This is without doubt one of the best experiences in all of South East Asia.

places to visit in South East Asia

Places To Visit In South East Asia – Indonesia

42. Uluwatu

Uluwuatu has some beautiful viewpoints like Karang Boma Cliff overlooking the sea. The beaches are nice and the waves are good for surfing.

43. Ubud

Ubud was our favorite part of Bali for a few reasons. The architecture is stunning, and there’s greenery everywhere.

The local restaurants, known as Warungs, serve delicious food such as Chicken Satay and Nasi Goreng.

The Holy Water Temple is a cool experience. You can hire a guide that will explain the rituals with the holy water and guide you through it.

44. Canggu

Canggu is the typical part of Bali for influencers and digital nomads to base themselves. You will see laptops and headphones out in every cafe in this town.

Despite the influx of influencers, the town has nice bars, restaurants, and beaches to choose from.

45. Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Lembongan is a small island with some cool places to visit.

You can check out Dream Beach, Devils Tear’s, and even kayak through a mangrove forest.

46. Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is another island close to Lembongan but it’s much bigger! We stayed on the west side of the island and drove a scooter to some viewpoints about 50 minutes away!

We only stayed one night so didn’t get to see all of the island but we did get to see an incredible viewpoint called Manta Point.

Manta Point offers spectacular views of Manta Bay and the huge cliffs around it. From Manta Point we could also see Manta Rays in the water far below.

47. Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan, often referred to as Gilli T, is known for its magic mushroom shakes but the main attraction for us was snorkeling with turtles by the beach!

We had seen turtles on different snorkeling tours around SE Asia but the shallow waters in Gili T were full of turtles!

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

48. Gili Meno

Gili Meno is smaller than Gili T and has lots of resorts. Many people stay here for special occasions such as honeymoons.

It’s a bit fancier than the other Gilis.

49. Gili Air

Gili Air is also smaller than Gili T and also less developed. There are a lot of local restaurants (known as warungs) and much less western bars and restaurants.

Gili Air is a great place to chill on the beach or go snorkeling.

50. Komodo

The best way to see Komodo Dragons is by going on the Komodo boat tour from Lombok to Labuan Bajo.

This is a three-night boat tour where you stop off at different islands, viewpoints, snorkeling spots, and most importantly Komodo Island!

51. Java

If you’re into hiking then I would highly recommend doing some hiking in Java.

We hiked both Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen while we were in Java.

You can organise your own trip around Java but we decided to go on a group tour to make it easier.

Our two-night, three-day tour included visiting Tumpak Sewu Waterfalls, climbing Mount Bromo, and climbing Mount Ijen then we were dropped back to Bali.

What Countries Are In South East Asia?

South East Asia is made up of 11 countries. They are Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Timor-Leste and Brunei.

Why Is South East Asia Popular With Tourists?

South East Asia is incredibly popular with tourists because it has so many different landscapes, climates, activities, and experiences to choose from.

Many people go on holiday to Thailand as it has many nice beaches, incredible food, and affordable accommodation.

Many backpackers travel to countries like Vietnam because it is incredibly cheap with amazing food and offers some incredible experiences.

FAQs On 51 Places To Visit In South East Asia

What Is The Best Country To Visit In South East Asia?

Indonesia is one of the best countries to visit in South East Asia. The country has so much to offer from great surfing beaches to volcanoes you can hike. Theres also incredible islands and huge cities you can visit too. Indonesia is very popular with backpackers, digital nomads, and holidaymakers.

What Is The Most Visited Place In South East Asia?

Malaysia is the most popular tourist destination in South East Asia. The country has a huge range of attractions for visitors to enjoy from beach towns and mountain regions to sprawling cities. The famous food capital, Penang, is very popular along with the incredible rainforests of Borneo. Malaysia has something for everyone.

What Are The 11 Countries In South East Asia?

The 11 countries in South East Asia are Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The cultures, traditions, and histories of these countries are so diverse it makes exploring South East Asia incredibly interesting. This diversity makes South East Asia very popular with tourists and backpackers.

What Is The Smallest Country In South East Asia?

Singapore (the Republic of Singapore) is an island and city-state and it is also the smallest country in South East Asia. Singapore has a population of just 5.5 million. Despite Singapore being the smallest country in South East Asia by surface area it is one of the wealthiest South East Asian countries. 

Now you can see why South East Asia is so popular with holidaymakers, expats, and backpackers.

It has so much to offer whether you want to drive around Vietnamese mountains on a motorbike, trek through the rainforest in Borneo, or lie on a beach with a cocktail in Thailand!

Ger and I have explored so much of the world but nothing compares to our adventures in South East Asia!

With this list of 51 places to visit in South Est Asia, you can definitely find some destinations to suit your interests.

If you want to find out more you can check out the articles below!

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