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Ask the Experts: What are the Unmissable Sights in Southeast Asia?

We have taken a question sent in by one of our STA Travel Blog readers and put it to our hard working Travel Experts to answer right here!

This week Sian from Bath has sent in a question related to her upcoming travels in Southeast Asia. What would you like to know Sian?

Hi, I’m going to Southeast Asia next month for 3 months (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia), what are your top 5 must do things/places to see while I’m there please? Sian, Bath

Oooooooh great question! Let’s see what advice our Travel Experts Amy and Claire have for you Sian…

Angkor Wat is one of the most spectacular sights in Southeast Asia and both our Experts agree it's not to be missed.

Claire Whittington from STA Travel Brighton says…

Hi Sian, great question! There’s so much to do in Southeast Asia it’s unreal, but my favourite five things are:

Angkor Temples, Cambodia – A lot of people only spend a day visiting the main temples such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm but I would recommend spending 2-3 days so you can see some of the quieter temples. Get an early morning tuk tuk to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat as it really is one of the highlights of Asia, but then ask your driver to take you further out the town to some of the smaller temples – chances are you will have them all to yourself.

Hoi An, Vietnam – One of my favourite towns along the coast of Vietnam, the old town is set on the river with ancients temples and a beach it has pretty much everything you would want. There is a huge market where you can have clothes made. The stall owner will give you a massive book of pictures of celebrities and then you choose an outfit you like and, like magic, 3-4 days later you dress/suit etc is ready. Whether it actually looks like what you ordered is a completely different question… The food market is also great and I would highly recommend doing a cookery course here as Hoi An has it’s own unique and delicious cuisine.

Langkawi, Malaysia – Yes it has beautiful beaches and great diving but Langkawi has loads of hidden treasures just waiting to be explored. Make sure you take a day trip around the mangroves to see a different side to this island. Relax as you float along the rivers as your guide explains just how important mangroves are to the environment and spots monkeys, snakes, dingos and eagles to keep you entertained along the way. I would also highly recommend taking a sunset boat cruise around the islands. The surrounding area is known as the “Halong Bay” of Malaysia and is truly spectacular. Whilst an amazing BBQ is cooked you can just sit back with a drink in hand admiring one of the most beautiful places in the world. Or jump in the sea and swim along side the boat if you are feeling a bit more energetic.

Don't miss out on a visit to the beautiful shores of Langkawi, Malaysia.

Ayutthaya, Thailand – The old Thai capital has some amazing temples and hardly any tourists (compared with Bangkok/Chiang Mai etc). Make sure you visit Wat Mahathat where a Buddha head is entwined into tree roots making for some unique photos. A boat trip along the river to see the colourful Buddhist temples is a great way to see more of this historic town.

Sen Monorom, Cambodia – It’s a long bus journey to Sen Monorom from Phnom Penh but well worth it as the elephant trekking here is fantastic. I spent 2 days trekking through the jungle on our beautiful elephant, splashing around in waterfalls and building fires to sit around in the evening sharing stories (and playing “Snap” with our Cambodian guides as this seems to be the only game which translates into any language!) before heading to bed in our hammocks!

Amy Pearson from STA Travel Leeds Vicar Lane says…

These are my absolute favourite countries in the whole world! I did this trip myself a couple of years ago. My first recommendation for you would be to take in the sights and smells of Bangkok. The city is an experience in itself, but definitely take some time out of to visit the Grand Palace, this opulent mirrored structure is magnificent. I also recommend trying as much local street food as possible especially in the markets.

Halong Bay, Vietnam is also a definite must. This trip departs from Hanoi and you can choose to spend as many nights as you like on board a junk boat that will take you on an excursion through the many thousand islands that protrude from the sea. You will have the opportunity to do some caving and kayak, its also an amazing experience getting to meet the locals, some of which have never actually set foot on solid land.

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia, is also a must, it is one the biggest and most impressive temples in the world. This massive building has a surrounding moat of more than 3 miles long. Spend a couple of days here exploring the surrounding jungle and climbing up the many statues.

Head to Hoi An, Vietnam for great shopping and food.

Luang Prabang in Laos, is also one of my favourite places to visit, this mountainous city also has some fabulous waterfalls, so make sure you pack your bikini. It is also home to a fantastic night market, some beautiful restaurants and an overall bohemian vibe. The young monks use this as a hub for all there training so there are lots of opportunities for visiting temples and doing voluntary work within the monasteries.

A full moon party in Koh Phangan, Thailand, is next on the list, party the night away on one of the biggest beach parties in the world, just make sure you allow yourself a peaceful next day as chances are you will be nursing a hangover.

My last recommendation for you is in Malaysia and it’s to climb Mount Kinabula, the Via Feratta route takes about 6 hours long and will reward you with some breathtaking views, the trek can sometimes be incredibly steep so will also fulfill the adrenaline junkie in you.

Phew! There you go Sian, 10 awesome suggestions for places to visit on your trip to southeast Asia. Excellent choices Amy and Claire! If you’d like to put your own question to one of our Experts then send us the details now, and our Experts will answer it right here on the blog.
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