Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

From geeky sites to breathtaking mountain views to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, here are my top 10 picks of places to visit in Southeast Asia.

Top 10: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

True to their tourism slogan: “Truly Asia,” the capital of Malaysia has a vibrant culture that has a strong Asian feel to it. From colonial train stations to its huge mosques, Kuala Lumpur can be explored by walking or taking the city’s somehow efficient transport system. Putra Jaya might be the country’s future capital but this city has a cool history, culture, and tradition to it that is a mark of what Malaysia can give to tourists. Try to visit the city’s famous night market and eat some of the most authentic Malaysian dishes, with the cheapest prices among the other Asian cities.

Top 9: Sagada, Philippines

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

A grueling 12-hour bus ride from the capital Manila will reward you with amazing sceneries that will leave you in awe. Situated at the top of Cordillera mountain in the northern Philippines, Sagada boasts some of the most breathtaking sunrise and sunset that you will ever witness in your entire life. Climb at Mt. Kiltipan with their sea of clouds and drink their famous brewed coffee to ward off the cold while waiting for the sun to appear in the sky. The place also has a rich culture and traditions like weaving, its famous hanging coffins at the side of the mountains, as well as, some of the country’s most visited rice terraces and waterfalls. To cap it off, they have some awesome restaurants offering some of the most delicious local cuisines. (Geek tip: Visit the place during the lemon picking season and try the connecting cave experience instead of the usual cave tour to check out the burial sites of the indigenous people in the area).

Top 8: Saigon, Vietnam

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

The former capital of South Vietnam offers some historic sites for geeks from its museums to its famous Cu Chi Tunnels. The city is also dotted with statues of Vietnamese heroes, including that of the communist Hồ Chí Minh. The capital is also the perfect place to try some of those popular Vietnamese cuisines. Try shopping around its many large open public markets for things ranging from souvenirs to its world-renowned coffee. (Geek tip: Saigon is one of the cheapest cities to visit in Asia, buy your groceries there and try some of their instant noddles and cookies).

Top 7: Ayutthaya, Thailand

Geek Rate: Sun god Worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

A fun (and a bit annoying) way to visit Thailand’s ancient capital is taking their old train system with the locals. Ayutthaya, revived by the government as a modern city, boasts some remnants of the old Thai kingdom before it was defeated by the Burmese Army in 1767. The ruins composed of restored Buddhist temples and giant Buddhas dotting all over the city. The walls and pathways all around the ruins speak of its history and the excellence of Thai art. This place is really a heaven for history geeks.

Top 6: Coron, Philippines

Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

A place that is growing in popularity among backpackers around the world. And with a reason. I got the chance to visit Coron, Palawan before it got all touristy, way before the destructive typhoon Haiyan. In my opinion, Coron has the clearest waters in the entire world. If I could see another which could match its beauty, I will be surprisingly shocked (in a good way). The underwater scene is so easy to check out even for tourists who don’t know how to scuba dive. The scene underneath its waters is so out of this world that when I left, my standard for an island beauty has been raised to a level that I believe could never be matched by any place in the world.

Top 5: Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

The touchdown city for tourists visiting the famous Buddhist temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, Jogjakarta is known as the batik capital of the world, famous for its traditionally woven Javanese cloth. As a place where tourists normally checks in when they visit Borobudur, this city in Java boasts of some of the best hotels in Indonesia and a vibrant urban life: from awesome restaurants offering the finest Indonesian dishes, some ancient palaces to visit, lively night parks, and one of the largest night markets in Asia, offering some of Indonesia’s products from chocolates, to the Luwak coffee (one of the most expensive in the world), to the world-famous batik, as well as, other awesome souvenirs that you can take home, including a huge Garuda mask. The market in Jogjakarta covers a huge part of the city center that you will get tired of walking from end to end, but you will enjoy the experience nonetheless. (Geek tip: Visit Borobudur in the morning and witness the most awesome sunrise surrounded by the ancient stupas).

Top 4: Singapore City, Singapore

Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

One of the most modern cities in Asia, both backpackers and bourgeois travelers love Singapore. From its world-class hotels to a melting pot of cuisines all over the world, you really can never be bored in this city. Boasting the most efficient transport system I have ever tried, the city’s trains will take you to every tourist spot in the city in just a few minutes. If you love shopping, Singapore is heaven for you.

Top 3: Bali, Indonesia

Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

Bali is one of the most famous places in Asia especially for western foreigners and for a reason. Its famous beaches are made interesting by its lively restaurants, shops, large malls, and amusement parks. Bali feels like you’re still in the city but with a relaxing ambiance of the sea, walking along its shores dotted with “canang sari” as people surf near the pristine waters. The place is best at night when its bars come alive, and its many shops make for an interesting walk along the streets. To cap it all up are Bali’s Instagram-famous temples up north, as well as, some decent rice terraces.

Top 2: Boracay, Philippines

Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

I’m sure you’ve heard of this place and been dreaming of visiting it if you haven’t yet. Please do. The most beautiful island in the world is a tourist’s heaven for its white beaches and awesome nightlife with dusk ’til dawn parties. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a sunset as beautiful as that in Boracay, nor as white as its sands. The bars lining the beach path throw legendary parties and restaurants from the bourgeois to the affordable level offer amazing dishes. You can walk the whole 4 km stretch of the White Beach from Station 1 to Station 3, stopping by one of the bars to have some drink outside while lying on the sand with a book. Instead of watching the sunrise at the White Beach with throngs of tourists, head to Spider Cave, seat in one of their cool tables with the view of the ocean, dive for a bit then watch the sunrise peacefully, ideally sipping a tea or whatever drinks you like. At night, visit D’ Mall Palengke, one of the wet markets in Boracay to pick some fresh seafood and have it cooked for your dinner. (Geek tip: Try the best four cheese pizza in this side of the world at BarLO Resto Lounge located in Station 1.)

Top 1: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

My top spot in Southeast Asia is a place where the famous Angkor Wat temple complex is located. Rich in history and culture with an unblemished Asian vibe, Siem Reap is definitely a heaven for geeks. The complex of Angkor Wat is located away from the bustling city dotted with hotels, restaurants, and shops but not as far as to be inconvenient for tourists. Ride the traditional tuk-tuk towards the complex. Upon arriving at the entrance, you will be transported back in time, and I assure you that you will remember the feeling you will have upon first seeing the famous temple. I will never forget that experience. The complex is vast and one day is not enough to learn and immerse yourself with the brilliance of the Khmer architecture which reflects its history. From sunrise to sunset, you will have an unforgettable experience on this place.

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