The 30 Most Beautiful Places in Southeast Asia: Don't Miss These!

The 30 Most Beautiful Places in Southeast Asia: Don't Miss These!

By CindyUpdated Sep. 8, 2021

Comprising 11 countries of impressive diversity in culture and history, Southeast Asia has something for every traveler. Picking the region’s most beautiful places is no mean feat!

Southeast Asia’s vast territory endows the region with some of the most beautiful natural scenic wonders on earth. Towering mountains, glistening beaches, enchanting lakes, and virgin rainforest parks make up some of the most awe-inspiring natural attractions in Southeast Asia.

Here is our pick of the 30 most breathtaking places across Southeast Asia, including popular tourist hotspots and hidden gems.

The 30 Most Beautiful Places in Southeast Asia

1. Ko Lanta, Thailand — A Pristine and Beautiful Beach

If you’re tired of the crowds and bustle of Krabi and Phuket, take the ferry to Ko Lanta, a large and largely untouched island with endless views.

Rent a motorbike to explore this pristine island, take a leisurely walk on Long Beach, spend an afternoon snorkeling in the water, or hike inland through dense jungles and visit some beautiful waterfalls.

Whether you’re traveling alone, on your honeymoon, or with the family, there’s something for every traveler on this gorgeous island.

Koh Chang,Thailand

2. Halong Bay, Vietnam — The World’s Most Beautiful Karst Landscapes

Halong Bay is a natural wonder renowned for its towering limestone karsts and tiny islets. It was listed among the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011. If you are looking for a place to immerse yourself in nature, don’t miss Halong Bay.

The best way to explore the bay is by boat. Take a cruise and spend a few days relaxing on the beautiful beach, exploring caves on the islets, visiting floating villages, or having a go at kayaking.

The 30 Most Beautiful Places in Southeast Asia

3. Luang Prabang, Laos — A Blend of Historical Heritage and Gorgeous Landscapes

Luang Prabang is a delicate and quaint ancient town situated in a valley along the Mekong River. It is the oldest surviving town in Laos, with a history of more than 1,000 years.

This town represents Laos’s historical heritage, but is also a window onto the enchanting world of the country’s Buddhist population in modern times. Monks proceed through the streets lined with golden-roofed temples and magnificent colonial and Lao architecture, collecting alms (offerings)from devout Buddhists.

Head out of town to admire gorgeous waterfalls, go trekking or mountain-biking in green mountains, take a kayaking trip, or watch the sunrise or set over the Mekong River.

Luang Prabang

4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia — an Ancient Temple City

Angkor Wat is an ancient city in Cambodia, and it is home to the world’s largest religious monument with hundreds of ancient temples and religious structures.

A visit to the site is a fascinating journey into Cambodia’s intriguing past. Don’t miss a chance to see the sunrise or set at Angkor Wat, jump on a bicycle to explore some of the less-visited temples, or take a helicopter or hot air balloon trip for a birds’ eye view of the archaeological park.

Angkor Wat

5. Bali, Indonesia — Island of the Gods

Bali, known as the “Island of the Gods,” is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Blessed with azure seas, golden beaches, diverse water sports, and rich culture, Bali is the most popular island holiday destination in Indonesia, and it isn’t hard to see why.

Whatever you want to do, you will probably find an opportunity to do it in Bali, from surfing and diving to wildlife spotting. Take a month off to explore the ‘Island of the Gods.’

Bali

6. Hoi An, Vietnam — A Relaxing and Peaceful Town

If you are looking for a relaxing vacation in Vietnam, look no further than Hoi An. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a quiet, peaceful setting.

The narrow streets of the charming old town are easily navigated on foot, or you can spend time by the river and visit beautiful temples and picturesque French colonial homes.

Hoi An

7. Inle Lake, Myanmar — A Tranquil Water World

Inle Lake is Myanmar’s water world, which is unique for its floating gardens, stilt villages, and Buddhist monasteries that tower above the water, and the Intha fisherman rowing their boats with one leg while using both hands to fish.

The best way to explore the vast and tranquil lake is by a boat. It is a special experience to stay in one of over-the-water hotels.

Inle Lake

8. Mount Rinjani, Indonesia—An Astonishing Volcano

If you love trekking, consider a visit to Mount Rinjani in Indonesia, which is considered one of the best treks in Southeast Asia.

Towering above the northern half of Lombok, Mount Rinjani (3,726m) is Indonesia’s second-tallest volcano. A climb to the top will reward you with a breathtaking view of the crescent shaped lake below, which is one of the best views in the country.

9. Phang Nga Bay, Thailand— A Scenic Marine National Park

Phang Nga Bay is famous for its distinct limestone formations rising out of emerald-green water. It is a huge marine national park, consisting of 42 islands and islets. It became famous following the 1974 James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun.”

If you are staying in Krabi, Phi Phi, or Phuket, it’s worth taking a day trip to the bay. You can take a boat trip to enjoy the spectacular scenery, explore intriguing caves and lagoons, relax on tiny secluded beaches, and ride canoes paddled by locals.

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10. Khao Sok National Park, Thailand— Where Nature Meets Adventure

Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand is an amazing place that will appeal to nature lovers and thrill seekers alike. Natural wonders abound, including the world’s oldest evergreen rainforest, huge limestone mountains, hidden waterfalls, and caves.

You can explore the national park by bike, trek through the jungle, or go kayaking and tubing on the river. Organized elephant encounters are another highlight of the park.

Khao Sok National Park

11. Phi Phi Islands, Thailand — Thailand’s Most Famous Island Paradise

If you are traveling in southern Thailand, don't miss the Phi Phi Islands, just a 45-minute speedboat trip or a 90-minute ferry ride from either Phuket or Krabi.

It is a small piece of paradise surrounded by vivid turquoise waters and fringed with tropical beaches and stunning rock formations. Whether you are looking for some leisure time at the beach, or seeking adventure, these picture-postcard islands will not disappoint you.

Phi Phi Islands

12. Mekong Delta, Vietnam — A World Afloat

A trip to southern Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Mekong Delta, a stunning maze of rivers, islets, and small villages with rice paddies and fruit plantations.

It is a great place to experience local life. You can take a sampan ride through natural tunnels to visit on-the-water villages with stilt houses, see floating markets and ancient houses, and go bird watching.

Mekong Delta

13. Sapa, Vietnam — Home to One of the World’s Most Beautiful Rice Terraces

For those who want to indulge in idyllic natural beauty, trek through rice paddies, and learn about the unique culture of ethnic minorities in Vietnam, Sapa is a must-see.

The highlight of this area is the awe-inspiring terraced rice fields, which are renowned among the most beautiful rice terraces in the world. Spend several days taking in the rugged scenery and fresh mountain air to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Sapa, rice terrace, vietnam

14. Bagan, Myanmar— The City of Temple

Bagan is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. It is home to over 3,500 ancient Buddhist pagodas, temples, and other religious structures.

Make your trip to Bagan even more memorable by adding a hot-air balloon ride over temples, a trip to watching the sunset over the Irrawaddy River, or a bike ride to visit the lesser-known temples.

Bagan

15. Komodo National Park, Indonesia— Among Seven Wonders of Nature

Komodo National Park was selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. It was recently named among the World’s Top 10Destinations by National Geographic.

For nature lovers, Komodo National Park is nothing short of paradise with so much diversity in one site. An walk in the park brings you face to face with some of the most beautiful birds, deer roaming near the beach, and the famous Komodo Dragons.

It is a unique experience, perfect for nature lovers.

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16. El Nido, Philippines — A Gateway to the Sublime

El Nido in Palawan is one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia at large. You can spend 3 to 5 days soaking up its beauty: turquoise waters, hidden lagoons, limestone formations, picture-perfect islands, and amazing wildlife. Enrich your experience with some extra activities, such as kayaking, zip lining, and hiking.

17. Langkawi, Malaysia— Malaysia’s Coastal Gem

Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands located off the coast of Penang in Malaysia. It is famous for its natural peace and beauty, and laid back atmosphere. There you will find beautiful beaches, picturesque paddy fields, and lush tropical rainforests.

Explore the interior of the main island by cable car and walk along the sky bridge to enjoy sweeping vistas of the island.

Langkawi

18. Sand Dunes of Mui Ne, Vietnam— A Taste of the Desert

The seaside town of Mui Ne in Vietnam offers visitors a real treat – a desert with a Sahara-like feel.

Some of the dunes are so high, you can hop on a quad bike or a dune buggy and ride your way around the slopes.

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19. Taman Negara Rainforest, Malaysia — Explore the Truly Tropical Life

Taman Negara Rainforest is one of the best destinations in Southeast Asia for those seeking to couple a rainforest adventure with some outdoor pursuits.

Known as one of the most fascinating rainforests on the planet, the 130-million-year-old virgin rainforest fully caters for active holidaymakers, including trekking, fishing, camping, and wildlife spotting. It also has the world’s longest canopy walkway.

20. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam— A Cave Explorer’s Paradise

Caving enthusiasts will do well to visit Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home to the world's largest cave system.

In this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can spend several days exploring Southeast Asia’s oldest karst mountains and epic caves with underground rivers and enchanting stone formations.

21. The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia— A Lush Green Heaven

For those who want to escape from the heat of Southeast Asia, the Cameron Highlands is a great option, and the most popular of the highland retreats in Malaysia.

There you can enjoy a cooler climate, stroll through tea plantations, hike through lush forests, and relax in a five-star resort.

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22. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Philippines — One of the World’s Best Dive Sites

Want to experience one of the most diverse and well-preserved coral reefs on the face of the planet? Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is the place to be!

It is a must-see for diving enthusiasts looking for amazing reef, big schools of jacks and other fish, and big marine life, like reef sharks, whale sharks, hammerheads, turtles, and mantas.

23. Mondulkiri, Cambodia—Elephant Sanctuary and Jungle Treks

Mondulkiri is an enchanting place where visitors can return to nature. Rolling grassy hills, pine-forested mountains, tranquil rivers, gushing waterfalls, and lush tropical forests abound.

Elephant trekking is a particular highlight, which offers you a chance to get up close to these magnificent mammals.

24. Batanes, Philippines — the Home of the Winds

Looking for a dreamy island getaway where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of city living? Batanes, located in the northern-most part of the Philippines, will not disappoint you.

Apart from the beaches, lagoons, and caves, Batanes’s biggest charm comes from the unspoiled beauty and the peaceful lifestyle of its people.

25. Koh Yao Yai, Thailand — the Last of Thailand’s Untouched Islands

Located 20 km from Phuket in the middle of the Andaman Sea lies Koh Yao Yai, a peaceful island so off the beaten track that it is largely overlooked by tourists who prefer the buzz of Thailand’s other islands.

There you can enjoy spectacular crowd-free beaches, rubber and coconut plantations, picturesque sunsets, and amazing sea life, as well as fitting in plenty outdoor pursuits, such as kayaking, scuba diving, and island hopping.

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26. The Red Lotus Sea, Thailand—Beautiful Red Horizon

If you are visiting Thailand in the period from November to February, you cannot miss the Red Lotus Sea , which is one of the loveliest seasonal attractions in Southeast Asia.

A carpet of full pink lotus blooms stretches far off into the distance. The best way to enjoy the fairytale-like visions is with a boat ride across the expansive lake. It is highly recommended to get there early for sunrise.

27. Champasak, Laos — An Amazing Land

Located along the Mekong River in the southwestern region of Laos, Champasak is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls, thick green jungles, French colonial ruins, and an ancient temple thought to be the blueprint for Angkor Wat.

From Champasak you can take a tour to visit the ruins of Wat Phou, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and also cruise along the Mekong.

28. Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia— Cambodia’s Most Beautiful Island

Cambodia’s hidden gem is Koh Rong Sanloem, an island still so underdeveloped that it has no roads – and no Wi-Fi.

Immerse yourself in its gorgeous beaches and crystal clear blue water. Jungle trekking, kayaking, diving, and snorkeling are also on offer on this island paradise.

29. Bai Xep, Vietnam — An Isolated Fishing Village

Bai Xep is a remote fishing village located in central Vietnam, about 10 km(6 mi) from Quy Nhon City. If you are looking for a true Vietnamese beach village experience you can’t beat Bai Xep!

It is a great place to relax on a pristine beach, enjoy plenty of fresh seafood, go hiking to contemplate the hidden waterfall, and learn the local fishing technique.

30. Atauro Island, East Timor — An Eco-Traveler's Paradise

East Timor’s Atauro Island is a largely undiscovered travel gem lying in the South Pacific. It appears to have the most biodiverse waters anywhere in the world. There are many diving sites around the island, which allow you to witness the underwater treasures firsthand.

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