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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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