The Most Beautiful Places in Southeast Asia

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One of the highlights of spending extended time in Southeast Asia was that I got to see so much beauty, and so many different kinds of beauty.

Here are the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia:

Thailand’s Andaman Coast

Clear turquoise water, limestone cliffs, white sand, longtail boats — this is the Thailand of postcards, and that alone is the reason why you should visit.

And there are so many places.  Koh Phi Phi has its famous cliffs and beautiful views from the top of the island.  Koh Lanta is more rugged and less visited, with lots of hidden, deserted beaches.  But for the absolute perfect shots, go to Phranang Beach on Railay.

Laos’s Bolaven Plateau

There aren’t a lot of tourists on the Bolaven Plateau yet, and there are very few traversing the area on their own by motorbike (which I highly recommend).  You’ll reach a land of lush greenery, waterfalls, and homes on stilts (with large satellite dishes pointing out).

Don’t expect luxury accommodation on the Bolaven Plateau.  But you can get your very own bungalow in Tat Lo with a balcony overlooking the most stunning mirror-like lake for about $3.50 USD.

The Countryside Surrounding Pai, Thailand

When motorbiking through the mountains of Pai, I literally had to stop every five minutes just to get another picture.  The beauty of this place is almost otherworldly.

At times, it feels like you’re riding through a bright green jungle.  Then, low valleys like the one pictured above appear, giving way to bright blue mountains.  And that’s not all — there are hot springs, canyons, waterfalls, each more beautiful than the last!

Hoi An, Vietnam

Of all the small towns in Southeast Asia, I found Hoi An to be the most beautiful, especially in the evening, when the city lit up.  The red lanterns are set perfectly against the yellow buildings, and the river floats with paper lanterns each night.

We were in Hoi An for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, and the fireworks display blew us away — we couldn’t believe how good the 20-minute show was!

Inland Bali

While Bali is perhaps most famous for its beaches, I found the villages of inland Bali — specifically, Ubud and the surrounding area — to be the most beautiful places on the island.

It’s mostly the architecture here that will stay in your memory — the buildings, the carved wooden doors, the statues guarding each entrance, all while the jungle slowly grows around them.  And if you can get out to see the rice paddies, that’s even better.

The Road from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang

This is not an easy journey — six hours of jostling around on a minibus, veering close to the edge of the cliff far too many times, and most of the bathroom breaks are, well, off the aforementioned cliff.  I still can’t believe I did it twice.

But you get to do that while driving through some of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen.  For some people, that’s not worth it, but for me, it definitely was.The Most Beautiful Places in Southeast Asia | Adventurous Kate

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23 thoughts on “The Most Beautiful Places in Southeast Asia”

  1. Does that include the mountains of Scotland? Have you travel out West yet? Come see the Wasatch someday, Kate, and strap on a pair of powder boards and drop into twenty inches of fresh powder. You would earn you nick name for sure! Thanks for this post!

  2. I got so carsick on the bus ride to Luang Prabang. Also on the ride from LP to Phonsavan and then the ride from Phonsavan back to Vang Vieng. It IS gorgeous but I’d be pretty happy never to get on a bus in Laos again.

  3. You’ve captured some awesome places on film. I scanned through all your photos of the day on fb and was amazed at the places that I never though of as beautiful but that were just breathtaking.

  4. It’s so refreshing to read something actually positive about Bali!

    I feel like I’d read article after article bashing Bali for it’s trash-ridden beaches or the overfill of tourists.

    I’ll be leaving for Thailand next week (and ending in Bali mid-December) and I’m looking forward to checking out all the places you’ve written about over the past year!

  5. It all looks wonderful! The road from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang sounds like a time when it would be best to knock yourself out with sleeping pills and pass the time in blissful ignorance. I’m glad you enjoyed some great views though.

  6. I agree with Pai’s landscape and Inland Bali. If I may add, Myanmar’s Inle Lake, countryside of Shan State and Mandalay were real beautiful as well…

  7. can’t wait for my Laos & Bangkok trip next April!

    and yup, people should check out more of inland Bali, they have so many more things to offer than just the beaches (which are undoubtedly beautiful as well)

  8. You still miss the beaches here in South East Asia. The virgin and coasted highlands and rainy forest. Naturalism in this areas are prior because some of the countries here in SEA are located in tropical areas cause they have 2 seasons.

  9. Guys, You have missed many interesting places in Cambodia. One of the most beautiful beach in the world. The Old City of Angkor, place you must visit before you die. $5 Massage per hour that you will never forget. I am working in Cambodia and i’ve been to all country in south east Asia and i finally felt in love in Cambodia and decided to stop here.

  10. Hiya!
    Just read this blog article. Its got me so excited about going to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. Me and my boyfriend are going there in early December and we are planning on motorbiking from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. I have no biking experience so pretty scared right now! However, I keep seeing beautiful images like the ones on your site and it keeps me excited!
    Check out my blog:

  11. You may include Halong Bay on this list! It is awesome! You will be missing among thousand of limestone islands in the bay.

  12. The Halong Bay, Bagan, the Golden Triangle (northern Thailand-Myanmar-Laos)…
    Pai in Thailand is becoming increasingly popular due to travel bloggers promoting it (willingly or unwillingly). From an obscure village, it’s becoming a popular travel destination. But I guess it won’t be long before it too becomes crowded and less quiet – currently, exactly its quietness and remoteness is the magnet for visitors.

  13. Hi Kate,
    I love reading your blog and seeing your travel photos. I am currently living in Japan and my husband and I are coming up on our 10 year anniversary. We really want to go to Thailand and see all the islands you mentioned, but it will be low season since we are planning to go in july. We will have our 2 young children with us. I was just curious if you think it’s still worth going to Thailand (Phi Phi island, Koh Lanta the monsoon side) in early July? We are torn between Thailand and Bali. Thanks for any help.

    1. Bali will be in high season — much better weather. Thailand will have rain each day, but it won’t rain all day every day. It will be cloudy often and sunny sometimes. It’s up to you!

  14. I’m yet to visit the Bolaven Plateau, but I think now I will make a detour there next time I am in laos. Sounds like a great place to get some writing done!
    This is a great list, thank you.

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