7 Wonders of Southeast Asia
A land so beautiful, a land so vivid, a land so enchanting, that mere words cannot do it justice: this is the glory of Southeast Asia. There are many places in the world I’ve been to, and many things I’ve seen, and I can justifiably say that the countries within Southeast Asia take the cake. Exotic culture, mouthwatering cuisine, friendly folks, panoramic views, ancient civilizations and imposing architecture: they’ve all got that extra bit of flavor that makes you want to go on and take a bigger bite!
Southeast Asia is made up of an amalgam of different countries that lie beyond the south of China and eastwards of India. These countries encompass Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, East Timor, Singapore, Cambodia and Brunei. Whilst each country has its own marvels, there are few that unequivocally deserve to be on the list for Wonders of Southeast Asia. In fact, when it comes to creating a list of the wonders of Southeast Asia, I’m really at a loss: what to pick, and what to leave out!
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay, one of the most beautiful sights in the world, is nestled on the Gulf of Tonkin. White sandy beaches, clear blue skies and over three thousand limestone peaks peeking demurely from aquamarine waters: this is what makes Halong Bay in Vietnam a World Heritage site and one of the truly exquisite natural wonders of Southeast Asia. If you’re on a mission to check out the wonders of Southeast Asia, this one is a must! Sail the bay on a Huang Hai junk, explore the mythic limestone caves and forget not to keep an eye out for the ‘tarasque’, which, according to local myth, is Vietnam’s Loch Ness monster!
Read our in-depth review of Halong Bay!
Also declared as a World Heritage site, the Sukhothai region definitely makes it to the list for Wonders of Southeast Asia. Known to be the cradle of Thai culture, Sukhothai is famous for its ancient temples, archeological marvels and royal palaces. Step back into time at the Si Satchanalai-Chaliang Historical Park and the Sukhothai Historical Park. A boon to visiting Sukhothai is the Chinnarat Buddha bronze, which is housed at the Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat temple. If you’re anything like me, a history buff, you’re bound to appreciate the intrinsic charm of Sukhothai!
Krabi Province, Thailand
If you’ve a longing for hot waterfalls, steamy warm ponds where one can frolic in the midst of the forest, rugged scenery and emerald waters, then Krabi Province is the place to be. For adventure lovers, Krabi province provides opportunities such as rock climbing, cave exploring and the like. Krabi Province is on my list of Wonders of Southeast Asia for its three key features.
One of these is the astounding Hot Waterfall in Klong Thom district where hot water flows into a stream causing deep pools of water. And then there’s the Emerald Pool, where the water is always warm, and can be clear as crystal at times and a deep emerald at others. Last but not least is the Tiger Cave Temple high up in the hills. A steep climb of 1250 steps affords you a majestic panoramic view of Krabi Province that will have you grabbing for your camera!
Read our in-depth overview of other great places to visit in Thailand!
Chocolate Hills, Philippines
Nestled on the island of Bohol in Philippines, the ‘Chocolate Hills’ are small, perfectly rounded, cone-shaped hills that are known to be the natural Hershey’s kisses of Southeast Asia! If you take a look from up above, you’ll definitely feel you’re in chocolate heaven; after all, there’s Hershey’s kisses everywhere you look! Covering a 50 square kilometer area, the Chocolate Hills are a geographical formation so unusual; it’s definitely one of the wonders of Southeast Asia. So what’s the story behind the chocolate color? Simple: it’s merely the grass going brown in the dry seasons. So if you’d like to take some amazing pictures of the Chocolate Hills, summer’s the time to head out there!
Mount Bromo, Java, Indonesia
Considering that Indonesia’s basic foundation is volcanoes, it can be no secret that the most amazing of Indonesia’s glory is in its volcanic beauty. Mount Bromo, one of Indonesia’s key volcanic peaks, comes into the limelight as one of the natural wonders of Southeast Asia. If you’re a nature lover, you’re definitely in the right place! The kaleidoscopic hues of the sunrise over Mount Bromo, the moon-like surrealism of the Bromo landscape and the majestic views of the Indonesian wilderness: this is where it’s at!
While the Philippines are known for their glorious beaches and beautiful seaside scenery, Palawan Island takes the cake! One of my favorites of the Wonders of Southeast Asia, the island of Palawan is home to a multitude of white sandy beaches, emerald waters, golden sun rays and a treasure trove of underwater caves for the diving enthusiasts!
For history buffs, archaeological students and everyone who appreciates subtlety in art, the Angkor Archaeological Park is truly a delight for all the senses. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor is one of the biggest and most important archaeological sites in the entire world, which definitely puts it on the list of wonders of Southeast Asia. This site is a record of the Khmer Empire, with edifices from the era between the ninth century to the fifteenth. You might not want to visit Angkor if you’ve left your camera elsewhere!
Check out our article about Angkor Wat here: Angkor Archaeological Park – a World Heritage Site
Important spots within the park are Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. However, you must also take in the grace of the Apsaras and the Banteay Srei, which is known as the “Citadel of Women”. The Banteay Srei is famous for its age (it was built in the tenth century) and for its restoration by the French. All in all, a beautiful find that cannot miss a place on the Wonders of Southeast Asia list!
These are but a few of the wonders of Southeast Asia’s travel destinations: the ones that touched me the most. What I love about Southeast Asia is that every place has its own unique flavour, and every spot is a wonder on its own. So if you’re like me, an avid traveller, you’ll definitely want to pick your own list of what you think are the true wonders of Southeast Asia! Best of luck!