South East Asia offers wonderfully diverse cultures. The origins are mainly Indian and Chinese with Arab, Portuguese, Spanish and Malay influences depending on where you go. One great way to absorb local culture is through talking with people or experiencing local storytelling. The Barong dance in Bali is an easily accessible example.
|Barong dance, Bali, Indonesia|
With a large proportion of people in South East Asia practicing Buddhism, the area is dotted with beautiful temples. These range from enormous and historic Angkor Wat in Cambodia to the immense golden Buddha at Wat Pho in Thailand and everything inbetween.
|Temple of the White Buddha, Bangkok, Thailand|
South East Asia is home to some of the dreamiest beach scenes in the world. Boasting several island nations including Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore, there is no shortage of spectacular beaches. Thailand has fantastic beaches to lounge on and Halong Bay in Vietnam offers incredible scenery.
|Halong Bay, Vietnam|
Learn to scuba dive
With some of the most remote and unspoilt dive destinations in the world South East Asia’s reefs are thriving and cannot fail to impress. It is also one of the least expensive places to learn to dive.
WildlifeSouth East Asia is the tropical home of an array of unique wildlife. Head to Borneo or Sumatra to meet orangutans and Malaysia or Thailand for tigers. Other interesting locals include Asian Elephants and Komodo Dragons. In the seas off the Philippines and Thailand Whale Sharks can be seen too.
Experience some of the worlds most vibrant and exciting market scenes such as the floating markets at Damnoen Saduak in Thailand. Cruise along waterways lined with narrow boats laden with everything from exotic fruit and souvenirs to designer label knock-offs. Or get your retail fix at the river markets on Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
|Damnoen Saduak floating market, Thailand|
Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are just two of the fascinating cities in the South East Asia region where you can shop all day and party all night. Enjoy a little bit of luxury in one of the old hotels or watch the sun sink over the city with a delicious cocktail.
Some of the most incredible (or should that be inedible?) culinary experiences originate in South East Asia. Each country has specialties and within those countries the regions often have different takes on key dishes. Of course, various unusual things make it onto the menu too. Fried cockroach anyone?
|Fried insects, Thailand|
Learn a cuisine
Thai, Balinese and Malaysian cooking classes, amongst others, have increased in popularity recently and it is relatively easy to find lessons in perfecting the local cuisine around South East Asia.
|Mie Goreng, Bali, Indonesia|
Shop ‘til you drop
With prices being so much lower in South East Asia it is a fantastic shopping destination, whether you are looking for a bespoke suit or the perfect carved Buddha, you are bound to be spoilt for choice.
|Market trader, Indonesia|
Have you been to South East Asia? What were your highlights?