Bangkok • Chiang Mai • Beyond
Major cities for Southeast Asia Travel consist of
- Burma (Myanmar)
- Singapore City
- Kuala Lumpur
If you want to make a trip to all the major Southeast Asia Travel cities, it might take you anywhere from one month to three months. However, you do not need to do all of that at once. It might drain your energy and your money out, particularly if you do not have a good plan.
In this article, we talk about the major tourist cities mentioned above, summarize their highlights and estimate the visiting time for each city. Therefore, travelers can pick the city of their choice, suiting their time and interest.
So let's get started!
I recommend that you allocate a minimum of three days for Bangkok. There is much to be seen in the city, including the Royal temples and the famous Grand Palace. You could utilize one of the days visiting Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi, both of which offer great sightseeing attractions. Although these places are located outside of Bangkok, they are not too far away from the Thai capital.
Click here for more programs and activities Bangkok has to offer.
Chiang Mai and Phuket are the other famous cities of Thailand. Each city might take three to four days, depending on what you want to do during your visit. Click here for more details.
Hanoi is a famous city in the north of Vietnam. It is an important city, where you see the nave side and the developing part together.
Here is a two-day program we suggest for your visit to Hanoi:
Southeast Asia Travel : Hanoi Day 1
Enjoy a half-day tour of the city starting from the Ho Chi Minh Complex containing the mausoleum of the nation's founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts. The complex also comprises the One Pillar Pagoda, whose history dates back to the foundation of Hanoi. Take a trip to the Temple of Literature - well known as Vietnam's first university - and the History Museum, displaying an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the Vietnamese history. Visit the peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem and the busling Don Xuan Market before departing for Halong Bay, truly one of Vietnam's most impressive scenic sites.
Overnight in Halong
Southeast Asia Travel : Hanoi Day 2
Embark on a boat journey for an exploration of the legendary Halong Bay. This exciting five hour cruise will provide a fantastic view of the picturesque scenery blending with the sky and some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karts formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. After a seafood lunch on board, return to Hanoi, stopping en route at Dong Trieu Pottery Village. Arrive in Hanoi in time to see an evening performance of Hanoi's famous water puppets.
If you are in Hanoi, you can catch an early morning, flight to Da Nang in order to visit the rich culture cities in Central Vietnam, Hoi An and Hue.
It should take 2-4 days for sightseeing. Here are my suggestions:
Southeast Asia Travel : Hoi An, Hue : Day 1 Hoi An
The sightseeing tour of Central Vietnam begins with Hoi An, a town which was originally a Cham seaport but has been influenced over the centuries by a myriad of traders from various cultures. The tranquility and charm of the town with its low tiled houses and assembly halls scattered along the small streets make it one of the most delightful places to visit in Vietnam. After checking into the hotel, we will have time to stroll around the town to explore the lively central market and visit the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, the Pottery Museum, the many temples and pagodas of Chinese appearance.
Overnight in Hoi An
Southeast Asia Travel : Hoi An, Hue : Day 2 Hoi An - Hue
The journey continues to Hue, Vietnam's imperial capital between 1802 and 1945. Along the way, we make a stopover at the sensational Marble Mountains before arriving in Danang City for a visit to the Cham Museum, home to Vietnam's largest collection of Cham treasures. We then follow the road hugging the central coast before crossing over the scenic Hai Van Pass and dropping down to the fishing villages of Lang Co. On arrival in Hue, we enjoy a cruise on the Perfume River, stopping at the bustling Dong Ba Market and the beautiful Thien Mu Pagoda; then we visit the Imperial City and the Forbidden Purple City. This royal residence was all but destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
The sightseeing tour of Hue concludes after a visit to the elaborate tomb of Emperor Tu Duc.
This fast growing city in Southern Vietnam has interesting sights to offer, mostly related to the Vietnam War, natural sites and cultural heritage.
Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by many locals, is crowded with bikes and motorbikes, excited by numerous shopping area and sidewalk cafs. An afternoon city tour takes us in the Reunification Palace, which was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until the end of April 1975. Close to the palace are some beautiful French colonial structures, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Sai Gon Post Office. Visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the War Remnant before we continue to the bustling Ben Thanh Market where anything and everything is for sale.
Southeast Asia Travel : Ho Chi Minh City : Mekong Delta (Day Tour)
Heading out of the town, travel by roads to the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's largest rice bowl. On arrival in My Tho, embark on a boat journey, navigating around the intricate small canals in the delta region, which is a great way to observe the local lifestyle up close and catch a view dotted by many islands. The exciting excursion will pass the lush green vegetation before arriving at the famous Unicorn Island. Here take opportunities to stroll around an orchard, taste many seasonal fruits and enjoy wonderful traditional music. The next stop of our trip is Ben Tre Province to visit some fascinating local industries. After feasting on a huge lunch, we return to Ho Chi Minh, stopping off along the way to see the beautiful Ving Trang Pagoda and the Cho Lon, Saigon's Chinatown, which is crammed with sacred temples and mysterious, narrow lanes.
On the next day, take some time to relax or explore Ho Chi Minh further. Visit the Ku Chi Tunnel, which during the Vietnam War was used by the communists to fight against and hide from American troops.
Luang Prabang Luang Prabang is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in Southeast Asia. The tranquility and charm of this town with its splendid natural scenery and cultural sites make it one of the most delightful places to visit in Laos.
Here is our recommended itinerary for your holiday while in Luang Prabang:
Southeast Asia Travel : Luang Prabang Day 1
We start by visiting the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrine of Wat Aham, Wat Mai; we then climb up to the top of Phousi Mount for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a beautiful sunset view of the city and the Mekong River. From there, we explore Street Night Market, where you can find a lovely collection of handmade textiles by local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang.
Southeast Asia Travel : Luang Prabang Day 2
Pak Ou cave Take a short sightseeing tour to the city's oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represent the classical architecture of Luang Prabang temple. Then, board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a beautiful view of the tranquil countryside as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes. Along the way, stop by the village of Ban Xanghai, where rice wine is produced. On the way back, drive to Ban Phanom, well known for its hand woven silk.
Southeast Asia Travel : Luang Prabang Day 3
Visit the National Museum at the former Royal Palace, which displays a lovely collection of artifacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign; and the Central Market too is not to be missed. After this, use your free time to explore the town yourself and stroll around the shopping area.
Many tourists know this town by the name of Angkor Wat rather than Siem Reap. This is where the Agnkor Wat and many ancient ruins are located. For those who love history and want to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World, this place is not to be missed.
Here is a 4-day program that we would recommend:
Southeast Asia Travel : Siem Reap Day 1
The tranquil Siem Reap Town is our base for visiting the world famous temples of the ancient city Angkor, which was the capital of the powerful Khmer Empire from 802 AD to 1350 AD. Leave for Siem Reap Town to the archeological area and visit the most striking structures. They are the South Gate of Angkor Thom which is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone, the impressive Bayon Temple, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the architectural masterpiece of Angkor Wat. Stroll around this massive monument, exploring the many galleries with columns, libraries, pavilions, courtyards and ponds full of water reflecting the towering temple.
Southeast Asia Travel : Siem Reap Day 2
Take a journey to the jungle covered temple of Ta Prohm, which is an incredible sight. There are enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers which embrace themselves in the stone foundations of this structure giving the impression of man's creation being reclaimed by the powerful forces of nature. Explore the well known Ta Prohm and some nearby temples, including Banteay Kdei, Sra Srong, Ta Keo, Thommanon and Chau Say Tevado. They almost belong to the small circuit according to the archaeologists' division. Then, visit various famous temples of the grand circuit such as Preah Khan, Kravan, Neak Pean, Krol Ko, Ta Som, East Mebon and Pre Rup. End the day's tour by walking up to Phnom Bakheng Hill to admire the spectacular sunset over these sandstone monuments
Day 3 Southeast Asia Travel : Siem Reap : Siem Reap - Angkor Temples - Banteay Srei
Drive to visit the site beyond the Angkor Complex through the Preah Dark village to the intricately carved and well preserved Banteay Srei Temple. We stroll around this beautiful landmark, which was designed to leave no space undecorated. The roads begin to deteriorate but it is still fascinating to drive past the rolling mountain scenery towards Kbal Spean. This interesting site, locally named the river of 1000 Lingars, has been largely reclaimed by the jungle; however it involves a walk to catch a view over its riverbed carvings. The next stop is Banteay Samre, which is adorned with striking relief depicting the scenes of Vishnu and Krishna legends. Also on this day, we have a chance to explore the ancient Khmer civilization site of Hariharalaya, which flourished in the late 9th and early 10th centuries. These are the earliest temples in the Angkor area and are referred to the Rolous group.
Yangon stands beside one of its many mouths. North of the delta lies the Irrawaddy basin. The latest former capital city of Myanmar is still known in some circles by the British name of Rangoon. Yangon is located in the southern part of the country, in the Irrawaddy delta.
King Alaungpaya, or Alompra, founder of the last dynasty of Burmese kings, chose the site as the administrative capital of Lower Burma in the mid-1750s, and named it Yangon - the end of strife. Yangon was captured by the British in 1824, but they relinquished control two years later. It again come under British rule at the end of the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852, and was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II. When Burma gained independence in 1948, Rangoon became its capital.
Below is our recommended 4-day package for your holiday in Yangon:
Southeast Asia Travel Yangon : Day 1
Upon arrival, make an excursion to Myanmar's holiest monument, the Shwedagon Pagoda, with its golden stupa covered with 60 tons of pure gold leaves.
Southeast Asia Travel Yangon : Day 2
A full day tour to discover the colorful capital of Myanmar with a closer look at the local life of this historical city. By car and partly on foot, this tour takes you to the National Museum, the Sule Pagoda in the middle of the city; walk around to see the Mahabandoola Park, the colonial courthouse and the city hall. From there, a rickshaw tour around the colonial area with the historical buildings will start, breaking at a local teashop to enjoy Burmese tea and the typical atmosphere. Continue by rickshaw along the famous Strand Road and visit the bustling Yangon harbor. In the afternoon, continue to Yanogn's oldest Chinese temple, Kheng Hock Keong, in China town. Visit the colorful local Theingyi Market, where fish, fruit and vegetables are sold, and continue to Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly Scott's market) for shopping and free time.
Southeast Asia Travel : Day 3 Yangon - Twante - Yangon
Travel to take the ferry across the Yangon River. It is an interesting journey to Twante, offering a glimpse of life in the countryside passing rice fields, small villages of bamboo huts and banana plantations. After 45 minutes, stop to visit a market. Continue by horse and carriage to visit a ceramics making area, where more than twenty family workshops produce ceramic pots using century-old methods. Also visit the pottery market from where the pots are shipped to Yangon. After walking around in the village, transfer to the ferry terminal by horse and carriage for a two-hour ferry ride back to Yangon. While on board, enjoy the scenery along the river where you will see boats being loaded with local goods, women washing clothes and children playing by the riverside.
Southeast Asia Travel : Day 4 Yangon - Bago - Yangon
After breakfast at the hotel, leave Yangon and enjoy a scenic journey by road to Bago. Bago,80km to the north west of Yangon, is an ancient capital of a former Mon kingdom dating back to the 6th century. Sightseeing in Bago includes the beautiful 55 meter long reclining Buddha, Shwethalyaung, and the Mon style Shwemawdaw Pagoda, one of the most venerated in Myanmar. Its spire stands 114m high and is taller even than the Shwedagon Pagoda. Also visit the well-restored former palace Kamboza Thadi. End the tour of Bago with a walk around the colourful Bago Market. On the way back to Yangon, visit the Allied War Cemetery near Htaukkyan, the final resting place for over 27,000 allied soldiers, and also visit a local woven bamboo factory. Finally, transfer to the airport for your flight to the next destination.
Usually called Pagan by the locals, this deserted city had thousands of temples scattered around the area, before Kublai Khan rode through in 1287. Most of the important sites have been restored and reconstructed. Bagan, which is renowned as the city of four million pagodas, is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia.
Southeast Asia Travel : Day 1 Bagan
Proceed for sightseeing starting with the busy local market and continuing with visits to a diverse selection of the most important pagodas and temples, such as Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century, Ku Byauk Gyi, a temple with exquisite murals of Jataka scenes, Khay Min Ga Temple, noted for its spectacular panoramic view of the area's many monuments and Ananda Temple with four huge standing Buddha images and numerous seated figures in niches around the galleried interior. In the afternoon, visit a lacquer craftsmen's workshop in nearby Myinkaba village and enjoy sightseeing to Manuha Temple, built in Mon style in 1059, Nanbaya Temple, a unique sandstone monument, said to have been the palace of King Manuha, and Myingaba Gu Byaukgyi Temple, noted for its ancient mural paintings under the protection of UNESCO. Observe sunset in the vicinity of Bagan's ancient monuments.
Southeast Asia Travel : Day 2 Bagan - Mount Popa - Bagan
Proceed on a scenic overland journey to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano with its shrine dedicated to animist spirits, known as "Nats". For the energetic, there is time to climb the 777 steps to the shrine at the top of the volcanic plug. Return to Bagan.
Mandalay is Myanmar's second important city. Many monasteries and pagodas are inviting almost everybody up the Irrawaddy from Yangon. Mandalay was the last capital of the independent Kingdom of Burma, until it was captured by the British in 1885.
Southeast Asia Travel : Day 1 Mandalay & Amarapura
Upon arrival at the new Mandalay Airport, proceed directly to Amarapura. Visit Mahagandayon, a famous Buddhist monastery, where more than a thousand monks live and study; continue to the 200-year-old U Bein teak bridge, built in 1782 at the time when Amarapura was the royal capital. Visit the Bagaya Monastery, with a superb collection of Buddha statues. En route, stop at a traditional hand-weaving silk workshop. In the afternoon, take a sightseeing tour including Mahamuni Pagoda with its spectacular Buddha image covered with thick layers of gold leaves, Shwe Inbin, one of the most outstanding monasteries in the country, Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung or Golden Palace Monastery, a superb example of a traditional wooden building and Kuthodaw Pagoda, known as the world's largest book, consisting of 729 marble slabs engraved with Buddhist scriptures. A visit is also made to a craftsmen's workshop to see Kalaga tapestries being created.
Inle Lake is one of the few areas in the Shan states that foreigners are allowed to visit. The area is one of the nicest areas to stay a while longer when you are traveling through Myanmar.
Southeast Asia Travel : Day 1 Yangon - Heho - Pindaya
Travel to Inle Lake through Heho. Upon arrival in Heho, drive to Pindaya (60 km - 1 hours). Visit the unique Pindaya Caves with thousands of Buddha images placed there by pilgrims over many centuries.
Overnight in Pindaya.
Southeast Asia Travel : Day 2 Pindaya - Inle Lake
Proceed by road to Inle Lake (90 km - 2 hours) and by boat to the hotel on the lake. During the excursion by boat on the picturesque Inle Lake, view the famous leg rowers, the typical floating gardens and local methods of fishing and village life. In the afternoon, further visits are made to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the weaving village of Inpawkhon and other interesting sites. The beauty of sunset over the Inle Lake enchants all visitors.
Overnight in Inle Lake
Southeast Asia Travel : Day 3 Inle Lake - Heho - Yangon
Visit a colorful local market in the Inle Lake region; then proceed to Heho Airport (25 km - 1 hour). Take a domestic flight to Yangon.