7 Places to Visit in Southeast Asia


Popular Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has an abundance of diverse countries for all types of travelers. You may think only backpackers visit Southeast Asia, but that’s just not the case. You can make a trip to this region on a budget or easily spend $50 per night on a fancy hotel.

Bukit Peninsula – Bali

The Bukit Peninsula in Bali will always hold a special place in my heart. With turquoise water, gorgeous beaches, world class waves and inexpensive food options how can you really go wrong?

We stayed in one of the more expensive lodging options near Padang Padang beach. Our luxurious hotel room set us back $50 per night, but the $10 to $20 per night options are endless in this area.

For more information about this area, see our post on travel and surf in Bali.

Surfer Bukit Peninsula Bali Indonesia

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne is another destination where we splurged on a hotel room. After spending $5 per night in other Southeast Asian countries, we decided to live like kings at the Tien Dat Resort for $40 per night which included a breakfast buffet where we could gorge ourselves every morning right before we planted ourselves by the pool with a view of the ocean.

When you visit this area, you must take a tour to the sand dunes and if you are feeling adventurous, rent a sand board from one of the local kids for the memory of a lifetime. You will definitely get sand in places you didn’t even know existed.

Click here to learn more about Mui Ne, Vietnam and our adventures in this unique Vietnamese town.

Sunset Mui Ne Sand Dunes Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

We fell in love with Hoi An from the moment we arrived. Hoi An has unlimited options in the way of lodging and shopping with photo opportunities around every corner. The architecture of this ancient town dates back to the 15th century and the food is to die for.

You can treat yourself to a lavish hotel room with a pool for under $20 per night. Just be careful, Hoi An has a way of seducing travelers with it’s comfort and food. You may never want to leave.

Click here to learn about our favorite restaurant and more things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Luang Prabang, Laos

I’ve heard some travelers say they expected more from Luang Prabang, but our experience was quite the opposite. We didn’t expect much and ended up pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed our time here.

After “roughing it” in other parts of Laos, we were more than ready for tidy restaurants/bars with free wi-fi. Luang Prabang has a mix of Lao and French Colonial architecture that you could spend hours photographing.

A trip to Luang Prabang is not complete without a day trip to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. This was definitely another highlight of our stay here. Our only regret during our stay in Luang Prabang is that we didn’t wake up early to witness the daily ritual of the locals giving alms to the monks.

Luang Prabang Waterfalls Laos Southeast Asia

Koh Phangan, Thailand

What comes to mind when you think of Koh Phangan? Drunken full moon parties? That’s all Scott and I thought this island had to offer, but fortunately we were proven wrong and this place has since become our favorite spot in Southeast Asia. I kid you not.

If you are looking for swimming beaches, you can try the southern beaches near Haad Rin or the north east beaches. There is also a legendary waterfall on the sunrise side of the island (north east side).

Kata Beach, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand is known for partying and tourist hotels. We usually shy away from places with too many people, especially loud, drunk people. (I’m not judging. I was once a partier myself.) We just prefer the quieter things in life these days.

Kata Beach is slightly calmer than its neighbor, Patong Beach. We came to Kata on a recommendation from a friend and because it’s one of the only places you can surf in Thailand. The accommodation was more expensive than other parts of Thailand, but it’s still not outrageous. We paid $30 US per night for a beautiful air-conditioned room with a sliding glass door that opened to a welcoming pool.

We were less than 5 minutes walking distance from Kata Beach where we enjoyed 3 blissful days of surfing in turquoise and deliciously warm, salty water.

Kata Beach Phuket Thailand Southeast Asia

Boracay, Philippines

The infamous White Beach on Boracay island remains one of the top beaches in the world and is great for partying. Those who like peace and quiet can head to Puka Beach, the second-longest beach in Boracay.

Whether it be water sports, laying on the beach, indulging at the many spas or getting your drink on, this tropical paradise has something for everyone.

Christy Woodrow is a travel photographer and professional blogger based in San Diego. She has been traveling around the world with her partner in crime, Scott, since 2006. Join them in their quest to find off-the-beaten-path destinations by signing up for weekly emails and following her on .

    • http://www.allornothingtraveler.com/ Jared Loftus

      All of them sound amazing! Southeast Asia is definitely high on my list! I’ve heard a lot of mixed thoughts on Vietnam though. Most people seem to have less than stellar experiences. Glad to see that there’s some fun to be had there as well!

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        We heard mixed feelings about Vietnam as well. Luckily, we didn’t listen to the negative ones. :)

        • http://www.allornothingtraveler.com/ Jared Loftus

          Well I’m glad to hear it. I’ll have to add it back onto the list. I think it’s probably best to form our own opinions about places. After all, isn’t that a big reason why we travel? We can read about other people’s experiences forever, but that can’t compare to, much less substitute for, discovering a place for ourselves.

          • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

            I couldn’t agree more. We find that we like different places than a majority of travelers anyway.

    • http://camelsandchocolate.com/ CamelsAndChocolate

      I want to be on that beach in the top picture, like, five minutes ago.

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        Me too! 

    • Sherry

      Would you believe that even though I grew up in a place surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches, that I don’t really like going to beaches when I travel? Its harder in SE Asia since they have some of the better ones in the world. I’d love to go to your Bali and Laos suggestions. I’ll keep them in mind when I reach Asia in a few months. 

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        What? You don’t like to go to beaches when you travel?? I live by the beach and I still have a hard time NOT going to a beach when we travel. haha

        • Trang Nguyen

          you don’t really like to go viet nam???mui ne is beautiful too?? :(

    • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

      And I’ve been to…. none of these!  In my defense, we have made it to Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, just not the cities/islands you mention here.  Clearly we need to head back.  ;)

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        Well, you did find some pretty amazing islands in Thailand! 

    • Changes in Longitude

      Love your description of Hoi An. Did you get any clothing made in four hours while you were there?

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        Haha. No. We don’t really like shopping and needed to keep our packs as light as possible. It’s pretty cool they can make it so fast though.

    • http://www.lisaoverman.com/ Lisa

      The waterfall in Laos looks beautiful. Bali is a long time favorite of mine, it is affordable, beautiful and relaxing.

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

         It is definitely affordable once you get there, but the flight from the States is usually a killer!

    • Will – Gap Daemon

      Mui Ne! Good shout! Having lived in Vietnam (Saigon) for some time I used to try and go here as often as I could. Very underrated destination in my eyes – if a little busy with Russians!

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        Russians, huh? I didn’t notice that. Although, we kept to ourselves most of the time we were in Mui Ne. We needed some down time. :)

    • http://travelsofadam.com Adam

      Great round-up! Mui Ne, Luang Prabang and Hoi An were some of my absolute favorites as well!

      Sad that Cambodia didn’t make your list, though.

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        We almost added Cambodia, but I didn’t want too many places that we have never actually visited. I added the Philippines because we are planning to visit there soon. :)

        • http://travelsofadam.com Adam

           Oh you should try and visit Cambodia! I’d add Kampot to your list :)

        • http://www.mynomadichabits.com/ Gino | My Nomadic Habits

          you wont regret of visiting my country Philippines which is home of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Aside from Boracay i suggest try Sagada and Camiguin. Cheers

    • http://www.dtravelsround.com dtravelsround

      Love this! Can’t wait to go explore SE Asia!!

    • http://www.theroadtoanywhere.com Dean Wickham

      Great list. Out of these I’ve only been to Luang Prabang and Koh Phangan, but sounds like I had very similar experiences to you. Both are two of my favourites.

    • zoya

      Thanks for the post its being an awesome places to visit.

    • http://www.findingtheuniverse.com Laurence

      Great summary. SE Asia is somewhere I’m yet to visit, looking forward to it one day though :)

    • http://aliadventures.com/ Ali

      Great round up of amazing looking places! Your photos are gorgeous! 

    • Bouncymctigger

      Thank you for sharing. Your pictures sure capture the beauty of South Asia. What I’ve heard about the hotel prices sure matches your experience. I can’t wait to go site seing and try out the amazing food they are known for.

    • http://www.abcchildrensdentistry.com/ PediatricDentist

      I love Southeast Asia. This places are popular with many beautiful scenery and perfect place for vacation, am I right? I wish I can travel one of this places.

    • http://GreenGlobalTravel.com/ Green Global Travel

       Ooh, so many great destinations. I can’t decide if sand boarding or playing in the waterfall would be more fun. I guess I’ll just have to put it all on my bucket list! -Mary @ Green Global Travel

    • Boston Hotel Special Offers

      South Asia is fabulous. Most of the Islands and sea areas makes the trip more joyful. I must mention about Srilanka also. Sr Lanka is also one of the beautiful place of South Asia, people of South Asia are really very sweet.

      • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com/ Ordinary Traveler

        I would love to visit Sri Lanka! It’s on our list! :)

        • Boston Hotel Special Offers


      • http://www.mynomadichabits.com/ Gino | My Nomadic Habits

        I could not agree more with you saying that Asians are really sweet. The only barrier is the communication..

    • http://www.mynomadichabits.com/ Gino | My Nomadic Habits

      I am glad that you include the beautiful Boracay in the list of must-visit destination in Southeast Asia. I’ve been to Mui Ne i love the laid back atmosphere and this is a good spot for water adventure! The White Desert looks gorgeous too.

    • http://www.hotelurbano.com.br/ Luizze Oliveira

      I have visited whole Asia before 3 years and that was very nice experience for me. As per mentioned in above article Bali in Indonesia is very beautiful place in South Asia. Then Vietnam, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Boat Quay in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are also best places to visit in Southern Asia.