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The 15 Best Natural Wonders in Southeast Asia

As my time in Southeast Asia draws to a close, I’m starting to think about all of the awesome places I’ve been. I love cities, history and architecture, but the most memorable aspects of the region for me are the unique and varied natural wonders. I hope you enjoy my list of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia, but bear in mind that these are only places that I’ve been to, so I might have missed some popular ones!

15: The scenery around Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng used to be a party town, but lately it has cleaned up its act and now it’s the scenery that draws people in. It’s one of the most picturesque towns in Southeast Asia, and the country side around it is worth at least a week of exploring. Read a full post on Vang Vieng here.

Vang Vieng, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

14: Inle Lake, Myanmar

If you’re travelling in Myanmar make sure you check out Inle Lake. It might be touristy, but the scenery is amazing and you can visit whole communities who live on stilted villages on the lake. Read a full post on Inle Lake here.

Inle Lake, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

13: Long Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia

I’m voting this the best beach in Southeast Asia – and the best part is that it’s barely developed. That’ll change, but if you’re travelling in Southeast Asia and you love beaches, head to Koh Rong. Read a full post on Koh Rong here.

Koh Rong, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

12: Niah Caves, Malaysia

Once I got over my fear of bats I started to really enjoy visiting caves. I went to a few in Laos, but the best ones I’ve seen so far are found on the island of Borneo, close to Miri. The caves are huge and take a few hours to explore, and you’ll have them pretty much all to yourself. Read a full post on Niah caves here.

Niah Caves, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

11: The Underground River, Palawan, the Philippines

The Underground River was recently named one of the new wonders of the world, and it definitely deserves it. It’s the longest navigatable underground river in the world, but unfortunately you’ll only get to see a couple of kilometres of it during the tour. It’s a pretty convenient stop between Puerto Princesa (where your plane will probably arrive) and El Nido, the main tourist town on Palawan.

The underground river in Palawan, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

10: Si Phan Don (4000 Islands), Laos

I was surprised to find out that landlocked Laos has islands, 4000 of them apparently! One of my most memorable experiences in Southeast Asia was staying on Don Det for a week. I had a great view of the Mekong River from my $3 riverside bungalow and was treated to some of the best sunsets in the region. Read a full post on Don Det here.

4000 Islands, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

9: Mt Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

What is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia? If you answered Mt Kinabalu, you’d be wrong. I found out the hard way during a pub quiz that it’s actually a mountain in Myanmar. Still though, Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia that you’re likely to see, and it’s worth the trip even if you aren’t climbing it. My girlfriend, Gia, also went to Mt Kinabalu and actually climbed it. Read her post here.

Mt Kinabalu, Malaysia, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

8: Mt Bromo, Java, Indonesia

There’s nothing quite like getting up in the middle of the night to see a volcano at sunrise, and Mt Bromo is  one of the best I’ve seen. Java is a great place to travel, read a full post on how to spend a week on Indonesia’s most populated island here.

Mt Bromo, Indonesia, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

7: Chocolate Hills, Bohol, the Philippines

While they didn’t exactly look like chocolate when I visited, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol still blew me away. When the rain disappears the hills turn brown, giving them their name, so try and get there at the end of dry season to see the full effect.

Chocolate Hills, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

6: Bacuit Archipelago, Palawan, the Philippines

The Philippines is home to some great beaches and coastal scenery, and one of the best places to experience the country’s natural beauty is the Bacuit Archipelago. Read a full post about my island hopping experience here.

Bacuit Archipelago, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

5: Mt Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia

I was thinking of what I love about travel the other day and one word stuck in my mind: colour. The world back home often seems dull in comparison to the explosion of colours you see in Southeast Asia, and when I heard about the colourful lakes of Kelimutu, I knew I had to see them for myself. Read a full post on Kelimutu here.

Kelimutu, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

4: Ha long Bay, Vietnam

Who doesn’t love karst mountain scenery? I’m a pretty big fan, so I obviously had a great time on my Ha Long Bay boat trip. The scenery really is as good as it looks in all of the photos you’ll see, so if you’re in Vietnam make sure you get there. Read a full post on Ha Long Bay here.

Ha Long Bay, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

3: Komodo National Park, Indonesia

The famous man-eating Komodo dragons are the main draw here, but the national park is also home to a pink beach, amazing underwater life and some dramatic scenery. It was recently named one of the new natural wonders of the world, and I’d highly recommend a boat trip to explore the area if you’re anywhere near Flores (You can get to Flores from Bali/Lombok pretty easily, but not many people seem to do it). Read a full post on Komodo National Park here.

Komodo National Park, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

2: Kuang Si Falls, Laos

Kuang Si Falls are a must see if you’re visiting Luang Prabang, one of main tourist towns in Laos. You’ll be in awe of the colour of the water, an electric blue that you usually only see on tropical beaches. It’s an easy day trip from town and is probably the coolest waterfall I’ve seen in Southeast Asia. Read a full post on Kuang Si Falls here.

Kuang Si Falls, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

1: Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia

Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world, the explosion that made it nearly wiped out the fledgling human race, causing (according to the TV show The Cosmos) the biggest population bottleneck in human history. These days it’s a calm spot to relax for a week or 2 (I just returned here for a break before I head to Europe/the Middle East). The views from pretty much anywhere are amazing, and the Christian locals are some of the friendliest in Southeast Asia. Read a full post about Lake Toba here.

Lake toba, one of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia

Have you been to any of the best natural wonders in Southeast Asia? Do you agree with my list? Which ones would you most like to visit? Let me know!

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Jon Algie

Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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22 Comments

  1. August 23, 2014 at 5:01 pm — Reply

    Great article, this has really helped me. I am leaving Thailand next week and still have not decided where in SE Asia to head next! I’ve also been to the chocolate hills in Bohol, loved it there!

    – Keyta
    http://www.TheWayfarer.co

    • Jon Algie
      August 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm — Reply

      Cheers, I’d say head to Laos if you’re looking for somewhere to go from Thailand, everywhere in the region is worth a visit though.

  2. August 23, 2014 at 6:19 pm — Reply

    ‘The world back home often seems dull in comparison to the explosion of colours you see in Southeast Asia.’ I could not agree more.
    Halong Bay blew my mind even on a somewhat foggy day.
    I’d love to see Mt. Kelimutu, that photo looks like a painting!

    • Jon Algie
      August 24, 2014 at 2:51 pm — Reply

      Cheers Natasha. Ha Long Bay was awesome and pretty cheap too, it was definitely my favourite part of Vietnam.

  3. August 26, 2014 at 7:40 am — Reply

    Okay, now I am going to have to go check some of these out. We are roaming around the area for a year. Thanks

    • Jon Algie
      August 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm — Reply

      Nice, such a great place to travel, I’m going to miss it.

  4. August 27, 2014 at 7:05 am — Reply

    Great collection you got there! Especially happy about your tips in Philippines and Indonesia as I didn’t get to explore much of these countries yet. However, my favorite place in Vietnam is missing: Tam Coc >> The Halong Bay of the mainland.

    It’s beyond beautiful:

    http://jeff-schneider.com/2014/05/22/tam-coc-vietnam-most-spectacular-nature/

    • Jon Algie
      August 28, 2014 at 3:03 pm — Reply

      I’ll have to go there next time! Looks a lot like Vang Vieng and Yanghsuo.

  5. September 5, 2014 at 4:13 am — Reply

    LOVED this post! Will definitely be using it to help me plan my time in seasia 🙂

    • Jon Algie
      September 9, 2014 at 10:28 pm — Reply

      Thanks Emily, enjoy your trip!

  6. November 1, 2014 at 6:09 pm — Reply

    All of the spots look so lovely. Since I’ve only been to two (one in Vietnam and one in Laos), it’s clear that I need to get my butt back to Southeast Asia.

  7. November 14, 2014 at 1:11 am — Reply

    I loved mount bromo. Couldn’t see kelumutu since I thought one volcano a trip was more than enough.:) would love to go to philipness except for I hear it’s not safe for solo women.

    • Jon Algie
      November 16, 2014 at 3:54 am — Reply

      Kelimutu is pretty different though! I haven’t really heard that about the Philippines, I don’t think it’s any worse than the other countries in Southeast Asia, which are all pretty safe in relation to the rest of the world.

  8. November 17, 2014 at 8:42 am — Reply

    Wow, I’m not doing very well on this list at all. There’s still time I guess. Kelimutu looks so surreal!

  9. November 27, 2014 at 11:19 am — Reply

    Great post. I went to Lake Toba about 10 years ago now and it is gorgeous, cheap, with few tourists. Partly due to getting there; ugg, the Medan to Parapat route has to be one of the most dangerous stretch of highways I’ve ever been on. Horrible. But once you get to Lake Toba you don’t want to leave…have to go back.

    For consideration: Further down in Sumatra, Lake Maninjau is also gorgeous: http://bbqboy.net/beautiful-lake-maninjau-west-sumatra-and-going-rambo-on-the-locals/

    Palawan a place I’ve wanted to get to for a long time.

    Beautiful post.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Jon Algie
      November 27, 2014 at 8:44 pm — Reply

      Nothing has changed with Lake Toba, it’s one of the cheapest places I’ve been in Southeast Asia and it’s really quiet! I had planned to go to Maninjau but my flight was cancelled, I’ll get there one day!

  10. January 14, 2015 at 10:34 pm — Reply

    Totally agree with voting Long Beach the BEST beach in South East Asia! What a beauty! We trekked trough the mountain and stayed on a bungalow on Sok San Village for a few days. Loved the experience!
    Inle Lake was stunning too. Around it you can find sugar cane factories too. Good to see how they produce it.

  11. Tien Do
    September 14, 2015 at 10:40 pm — Reply

    Ha Long is pretty place but I have to say Con Dao island has the most beautiful, peaceful and calm, beach i have ever seen.

  12. Doug
    October 20, 2015 at 4:37 pm — Reply

    Do you know of some good places in SE Asia where I can stay in a jungle bungalow or anywhere with lots of wildlife around? I like to go out on walks at night with a camera and some headlights and just look for snakes and animals.

    • Jon Algie
      October 22, 2015 at 8:32 am — Reply

      Hey Doug, Bako National Park near Kuching, Malaysia (Sarawak) is a great place to do that!

  13. rio
    January 13, 2017 at 12:49 am — Reply

    i wonder how can person from new Zealand can say this “The world back home often seems dull in comparison”.
    new Zealand is gorgeous country

    never thought about lake toba on first spot tho

    • Jon Algie
      January 13, 2017 at 3:39 am — Reply

      Hey Rio, my attitude has changed a bit now! I was guilty of not really exploring and appreciating my own country — I’m making up for lost time now though.

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