Top 10 Travel Destinations in Southeast Asia You NEED To Visit
Over the past four years, I have traveled predominately in Southeast Asia. I actually lived and went to school in Bangkok and currently have a place in Bali, so with my wealth of experience, I have put together my top 10 travel destinations in Southeast Asia, starting with number 10.
10. Koh Mak & Koh Kham
If your goal is to experience a quiet, yet beautiful destination with incredible beaches, then Koh Mak is for you. A tiny island you likely haven't heard of and hopefully, it stays that way. Koh Mak is the best getaway island in all of Thailand that suits all budgets.
When you’re here, make sure you take a day trip to Koh Kham, an even smaller island, just a 10 minute boat ride away from Koh Mak. This pristine private island is a must-visit. Crystal clear blue water as far as the eye can see and the finest white sands, definitely worth the visit.
No crowds, blue water, unbelievable sunsets, and good hotels and amenities; Koh Mak is a must if you want to explore one of Thailand's hidden gems!
9. Badian Canyon & Kawasan Falls
Easily one of the most fun day trips you will ever experience, Badian Cayon in the Philippines is an adrenaline-filled adventure. You’ll cliff jump into beautiful blue water and slip down naturally made waterfalls. You’ll end the trip through Badian Canyon at one of the most stunning places I have ever seen, Kawasan Falls. This place feels like a dream! I would advise people to travel all the way to the Philippines just to go on this day trip, it’s that great! Nevertheless, the Philippines has countless numbers of beautiful islands to visit and activities around; so if you want to find out more about this country, check out my travel guide to the Philippines: Philippines travel guide.
Here at Lost LeBlanc, I believe in value, so number 8 is split into three equally amazing destinations. To be honest, I couldn’t get this down to a top 10 but I wanted a clean title!
8.1. Old Bagan
One of my first ever destinations, Old Bagan in Myanmar; and one of the most adventurous experiences I have ever had! You must have seen photos on Instagram of hot air balloons rising above the temples as the sunrises - that's Old Bagan. Of the 4,446 Buddhist temples and pagodas built between 1000-1300 AD, 2,217 remain spread across the incredible landscape and are open for exploring. Definitely worth the long and difficult travel days to get here!
8.2. Tonle Sap
8.2. goes to Tonle Sap, the incredible floating village in Cambodia. Some of my favourite ever drone shots were filmed here. For a very affordable price, I rented a private boat and learned about how some of Cambodia's poorest people lived their lives. What makes this trip even more memorable, the majority of your admission fee is an investment back into the community, so every penny helps.
8.3. Hoi An
I don’t normally describe places as cute, but the best way to describe Hoi An is exactly that. Hoi An, a city in Vietnam known as ‘Ancient Town’, filled with canals and narrow streets and a great backpacking culture. Not only this, but there are tailors literally everywhere! So, if you’re looking to get custom made shoes and suits before going back home to work, you can pick up one here for a very reasonable price. I had three suits made for about 120 USD each!
Tip: take a day trip to marble mountain, a very cool nearby attraction.
7. Nusa Penida
One of the most beautiful islands in all of Southeast Asia is Nusa Penida, so close to Bali, yet a lot of people still haven’t visited here! However, make sure you get here sooner rather than later because word is starting to spread and Penida will soon be a top mainstream destination. Kelingking point alone should make you want to visit, a viewpoint that basically looks like a dinosaur head. If you’re brave enough for the sweaty hike down the mountain, you can often have Kelingking beach to yourself, apart from the many manta rays that will swim by almost every day. There are many other amazing spots along the way: Angels Billabong, Broken Beach and Crystal Bay to name a few. Asides from the major lookout points where most people flock, because of its size, you’ll feel like you have Nusa Penida to yourself.
Tip: stay the night and get to the viewpoints early. Lots of people only come for the day, so being up early means you’ll miss the crowds.
If you are looking to party and you want to see the more mainstream, busy side to Indonesia, you’re actually really close to the Gili Islands. I haven’t included them in this top 10 but they are definitely worth the mention if you’re looking to hang out and meet some other backpackers.
A breakaway from your typical island adventure, your blue waters, heading to the developed city of the future - Singapore. If you’re a city lover, this is one you don't want to miss out on. Singapore is unbelievable! It’s one of the cleanest cities in the entire world. I’ve never seen such a developed city with so little traffic. This destination is also perfect for foodies due to the thriving cultures! Whether you want a steak, curry or a selfie coffee, it has everything you’re looking for! And lastly, a favorite for a digital nomad like myself… the wifi is lightning fast!
Check out my Singapore Travel Guide here: City of the Future
5. Koh Tao
Heading back to Thailand, Koh Tao is a backpacker's paradise! This is one of the best places in the world to get your dive license. With extremely affordable rates, as cheap as 350 USD for your entire paddy, you’re getting great value for money here! Not only this, but nightlife is great. With a crazy pub crawl running four nights a week, you’re pretty much always going to have a good night on Koh Tao. With tuns of backpackers, fun island hopping tours, and quieter places away from the main strip if that’s what you are after, Koh Tao can suit everyone.
I covered Koh Tao and its neighboring sister islands in-depth in my Thailand video guide: Thailand travel guide.
4. Kuang Si Falls
Kuang Si Falls is a place that can only be described as magical. In the heart of Laos (Luang Prabang) is a breathtaking tiered waterfall, unlike any you have seen before. With multiple access points, you start with shallow waterfalls with slow-moving water, perfect for swimming, leading up to the drastic 50-meter drop off the main waterfall. Most people take the sight in then turn back, but here at Lost LeBlanc, I am all about providing that extra insight. As you’re looking at the main waterfall, head right off the path and climb on top of the main waterfall (unless its all closed off now). You’ll find another, equally beautiful waterfall, with an incredible viewpoint and what made it even better, when I was there last, I had it all to myself.
Laos for me is definitely one of the most underrated locations in Southeast Asia, undoubtedly worth checking out!
Coron, a place that I have been to twice, and I’ll almost definitely visit again. It has to be one of the most beautiful places, if not the most beautiful place in the entire world. The best way to describe Coron is through videos and photography because I am out of words to describe this place. It’s an avatar world, where limestone mountains surround these beautiful emerald blue waters. Only two of the eleven lakes are accessible, the other nine are actually sacred where even the locals aren’t allowed to swim. Legend has it, Coron is inhabited by a giant octopus, so don’t get too comfortable…. But, don’t be put off, it’s a must-visit!
2. Khao Sok National Park
Back to Thailand again for one of my favourite destinations of all time: Khao Sok National Park. This was one of the coolest days of my entire life. I didn’t expect to visit a place like Khao Sok, it blew my mind what I was seeing! Covered by the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, filled with limestone mountains, similar to Coron, and the stunning Cheow Larn Lake, this is definitely a hidden gem. Within the lake, you can explore caves, stop off for a swim and an incredible lunch and even stay overnight in a floating bungalow. What made this experience so special, I probably passed no more than 30 people; with our own private boat, it felt like we had the entire lake to ourselves, it’s that big. I felt like Indiana Jones finding the lost Ark. Khao Sok is another beautiful place Thailand has to offer.
The number one destination in all of Southeast Asia, based on my four years of travel across the continent is Siargao in the Philippines. I have visited the Philippines many times and Siargao met and surpassed all my expectations. This is absolutely amazing island. It reminds me of Canggu in Bali before Canggu got popular and I believe it will soon become the top tourist hotspot in Southeast Asia. Siargao has an incredible surf culture, and really great restaurants and accommodations that are being built up. So whether you’re looking for a budget hostel (affiliate link) or you’re a luxury traveler wanting to stay somewhere amazing like Nay Palad Hideaway (affiliate link), Siargao has something for everyone.
One of the amazing things about Siargao is it not only has amazing sights on the island, such as Magpupungko Rock Pools and Sugba Lagoon, there’s also so much to see just off the coast, simply by hopping on a day trip. I had an incredible time visiting Guyam Island, Naked Island and a couple of other spots, experiencing some of the most beautiful water I have ever seen.
Pretty much like all the places in my top 10, this is definitely a place that will only get busier, so make sure to get there as soon as possible.
Check out the Top 10 of Southeast Asia video here showing you just how incredible the places really are!
And guys, let's get lost again in the next one!