Top 5 Historical Destinations You’ve Got To Check Out in Southeast Asia
Everything we all love about Southeast Asia is a direct culmination of its rich history and heritage: the ancient temples, the warm cultures, the multi-national religions, the colorfully vivid traditions and the magnificent architecture that leaves us gaping! Southeast Asia, of all the lands on earth, is endowed with a beautiful heritage left behind by masters of architecture and masonry.
According to UNESCO, “Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritages are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.”
In all my travels, I’ve never come across any place that has as rich a heritage as Southeast Asia seems to have!
Here are a few of my favorite historical attractions in Southeast Asia that you’ve simply got to check out for yourself.
The Angkor Archaeological Park, home to Angkor Wat, is Southeast Asia’s biggest historical attraction, and is also one of the most important archaeological sites in the world today! This ancient city was a myth mentioned in tales of yore, until the reality was re-discovered in the late 19th century.
Home to magnificent structures such as the Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, the Angkor Archaeological Park stretches over 400 kilometers and is the only representative of the largest pre-industrial city from the era of Khmer Empire. Read more about Angkor at Angkor Archaeological Park – a World Heritage Site.
Since there is no real accommodation in Angkor, tourists stay at Siem Reap which is a 6 kilometer distance from the park. Some great accommodation spots in Siem Reap are: Borei Angkor Resort and Spa, Prince D’Angkor Hotel and Spa, Sokha Angkor Resort and Moon Boutique Hotel!
Sukhothai, also known as the “Dawn of Happiness”, is a key heritage destination in Southeast Asia, based in the heart of Thailand. In its heyday in the 13th century, Sukhothai was a Tai Kingdom that ruled the land for two centuries, and formed what was to become the ancient capital of Thailand. If you’re on the search for the Holy Grail of history and culture in Southeast Asia, Sukhothai with its ancient ruins of majestic temples and a royal palace is where you need to head next!
The best way to explore the ruins of Sukhothai within the Sukhothai Historical Park and the Si Satchanalai-Chaliang Historical Park is via a bicycle tour, so gear up and get ready to go! Here are some places you might want to stay at: Sukhothai Heritage Resort, Sila Resort Sukhothai, Pailyn Hotel and Le Charme Sukhothai Hotel! Also, if you’re heading to Sukhothai, don’t forget to check out the Chinnarat Buddha at the Wat Phra Si Ratana. You’ll need to drive there, but it’s definitely worth it!
The Plain of Jars, Xieng Khouang, Laos
One of the biggest enigmas in the academic circles of historians is the existence of The Plain of Jars on the Xieng Khouang Plateau, Laos! Imagine a field filled with enormous urns made of stone, forming a huge megalithic archaeological landscape that has historians scratching their heads in puzzlement and archaeological students salivating at the thought of digging them up and finally discovering what lies within!
Popularly believed to be a burial site, the Plain of Jars is the biggest of over 90 sites, each of which is home to hundreds of massive stone urns measuring one to three metres in height! Impressive? Check it out by visiting Xieng Khouang yourself! Some places to rest your head in Xieng Khouang are: Xieng Khouang Hotel, Chittavanh Hotel and Maly Hotel.
Check out more on Laos by paying a visit to Laos: Southeast Asia’s Forgotten Little Pearl!
Luang Prabang, Laos
Given the important title of ‘Best-Preserved Village in Southeast Asia’, Luang Prabang is a UNESCO world heritage site that had the honor of being the royal capital of Laos in the 14th century. Luang Prabang with its colonial buildings, Pak Ou Caves containing thousands of ancient Buddha statues and saffron-robed monks collecting alms in the morning as is tradition for thousands of years is a real historical marvel!
A visit to Luang Prabang is incomplete without checking out the Wat Xieng Thong, which is a temple built in 1560, and one of the most-preserved architectural pieces in Asia today. Other historic temples with ancient statues of the Budha are Wat That Luang, Wat Sene and Wat Mai. Some accommodation arrangements in Luang Prabang are: Xiengthong Palace, Hotel de la Paix, Villa Suan Maak and Lotus Villa Hotel.
Read more on Luang Prabang here!
Hoi An, Vietnam
One of the most important historical regions in Southeast Asia is the town of Hoi An in Vietnam. A key port for trade in the fifteenth century up until the nineteenth century, Hoi An is a delight for historians and architects alike! With its quaintly picturesque streets, historical street plan, ancient temples and old marketplaces, you’ll feel like you’ve taken a thousand steps back in time. One of Southeast Asia’s historical destinations for tourists, Hoi An has a lot to offer, even today!
Start off with a short walk through the winding streets as you appreciate the beautiful buildings that showcase the different styles of local and foreign architects from times gone by. Walk by the Chua cau bridge built in the sixteenth century and marvel over the Buddhist pagoda at the end. Get the tantalizing scent of spices as you imagine the hustle and bustle of the spice trade that made Hoi An one of the most famous cities of its time! While in Hoi An, visit Cua Dai Beach, Tra Que Vegetable Village, Cham Museum, The Waterways and more!