8 Best places to visit in South-East Asia

Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos are just some of the countries you will find in South-East Asia. It's one of the world’s top adventure destin... Read more
8 Best places to visit in South-East Asia

Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos are just some of the countries you will find in South-East Asia. It's one of the world’s top adventure destinations, boasting everything from untapped jungle to cathedral-like caverns. It has a bellyful of thundering motorbikes, fiery volcanic peaks, seething jungle temples and fragrant markets.

We also love it for its squeaky-clean sands, gorgeously remote islands and colourful pagodas overlooking lily-topped lotus ponds. From temples to tropical rainforests, check out our 8 best places to visit in South-East Asia, and which KE trips will take you there.



Where mustard coloured shopfronts meet unique historical architecture

Hoi An, is best-known for its well-preserved ancient town packed full of hundreds of historical buildings, including the UNESCO listed Hue Imperial citadel, My Son Ruin Temples, and Phong Nha Cave. It's an interesting town surrounded by glorious countryside laden with rice paddies, and boasts incredible white beaches perfect for relaxation and swimming.  

Hoi An feels like a world apart. Unlike Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, which have obsessions with the motorbike, Hoi An is an historical old trading town with plenty of tea warehouses and traditional tailors. The Old Town is smothered in mustard-yellow shopfronts and cars and motorbikes are banned from the town centre, so it’s a cycling haven.

You have a free day to explore Hoi An and enjoy its lantern-lit bridges on our Vietnam North to South active adventure, which starts at Halong Bay and explores the eastern coastline to the Mekong Delta. You can also visit the 200 year old house of Tan Ky, the Tran family home and chapel, the Japanese Bridge and Fu Kien Temple in Hoi An, on our family adventure holiday, which is a complete Vietnam experience for all the family.  

If you fancy exploring this ancient trading town on two wheels, then our Saigon to Hanoi and Hoi An to Angkor Wat cycling holidays, both stay for two nights in Hoi An as part of the holiday itinerary. 




Where temples meets temples

Siem Reap, the once-sleepy town and gateway to Angkor Wat, is colourful, chaotic and a teeming place to be. Even in a city associated with the glorious temples of Angkor Wat, it’s impossible to leave without snapshots of its street life imprinted in your memory. The majestic temples of Angkor are among the most iconic monuments in the world, and is understandably high on the bucket-list for many travellers. 

The temple is the heart and soul of Cambodia and a source of national pride. Unlike the other Angkor monuments, it was never abandoned to the elements and has been in virtually continuous use since it was built by Suryavarman II (r 1112–52).

Join our Hoi An to Angkor Wat cycling holiday, and cycle to the entrance of the UNESCO-listed temple complex at the end of your great adventure. Explore by bike, the temples of Tah Prom, Angkor Thom, the temple of Bayon, and the majestic Angkor Wat.  Or start your holiday with a visit to these outstanding temples on our leisurely Backroads of Cambodia bike tour. 

You can even choose to relax on an 8 day cruise on the Mekong River, which takes you through Vietnam and Cambodia, before arriving at Siem Reap, where you can watch sunrise over Angkor Wat and visit Ta Prom, well known for featuring in the original 'Tomb Raider' film.  




In a world of its own

Located 700 km (435 miles) north of Bangkok in a verdant valley on the banks of the Ping River, Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 as the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. Today it is a place where the past and the present merge, with modern buildings standing side by side with venerable temples.

Chiang Mai is a world of its own in tropical Thailand, with it's lush rice terraces and forest, and cultural Buddha marvels covered in gold wherever you go. It's a land of misty mountains and colourful hill tribes, and a playground for adventurer travellers.

On a trip to Chiang Mai, you may find yourself enjoying a Thai massage and enrolling in one of the many delicious and authentic cooking courses on offer. Others will be bowled over by the variety of handicrafts and antiques. Despite its relatively small size, Chiang Mai truly has it all.

It's a unique location for a family holiday and our Family Thailand Adventure, starts with a Thai cooking session, laying a foundation to the delicious foods of Thailand. You'll visit the Kanta elephant sanctuary and go on a 3 day easy trek through remote villages, where you will meet and stay with the Karen hilltribe people. Plus, there is some time to enjoy some important rest and relaxation at the end of your trip on the tropical island of Koh Samet.




Home to hill-tribes and blessed with outstanding beauty 

Sapa is about 350km northwest of Hanoi in Vietnam, and is a small, mountain town in Lao Cai Province. It's here that you will find the Hoang Lien Son range of mountains, which includes Fan Si Pan - the country's highest peak. This quiet town is home to many different ethnic tribal groups but the main five include, the Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho. The whole area of Sapa is blessed with outstanding natural beauty, including terraced rice paddies and forest treks. 

One of the best ways to explore this area is by bike, and after the overnight sleeper train journey on our Hanoi to Laos Mountain biking trip, you will spend 2 nights in Sapa and the days exploring the local villages by bike. One of the highlights of this tour is cycling the Sapa village loop which is predominantly on jeeps tracks, to Ma Tra village, home to the Black Hmong and to Ta Van village, which is home to the Red Dzao people. Here, you can rest your bike and go for a stroll around the village, have lunch and learn about the unique tribal culture. 



Cu Chi Tunnels, vietnam

A step back in history to the days of the Vietnam War

In order to combat the American and South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War, Communist guerrilla troops known as Viet Cong (VC), dug tens of thousands of miles of tunnels, including an extensive network ranging to almost 250km, underneath the Cu Chi district, northwest of Saigon. These were used as underground routes to transport food, communications and supplies, and mount surprise attacks by the Viet Cong, after which they could disappear underground to safety.

These tunnels have now become a tourist attraction, and when visiting Vietnam, travellers can crawl through some of the safer areas of the tunnels, view command centres and booby traps, fire an AK-47 rifle on a firing range, and even eat a meal featuring typical foods that soldiers living in the tunnels would have eaten.

When travelling on our Vietnam North to South active holiday, you can visit these tunnels after your cruise on the Mekong Delta, or you can go at the beginning of your cruise on our Mekong Riverboat Adventure. You can also cycle there on our Saigon to Hanoi adventure cycling holiday, or even take the kids and watch them wiggle into the tiny hatches on our Jungles and Junks family adventure




Where sleek skyscrapers meet ornate pagodas

Today, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), is the business and financial hub of Vietnam. It's a bustling, exciting and colourful city due to its fascinating culture, classic French architecture and sleek skyscrapers, ornate temples and pagodas. The Notre Dame Cathedral and Saigon Central Post Office are prime examples of French colonial architecture, and there are Buddhist temples and traditional markets that have been operating for hundreds of years. The city is filled with rooftop bars that overlook Saigon and beyond, while fantastic restaurants offer a combination of French, Chinese, and, of course, local Vietnamese cuisine.

It's from here that most people will visit the Cu Chi tunnels, head off for a cruise on the Mekong Delta, or base themselves for an architectural infusion of fascinating temples and pagodas. 

When you cycle on KE's Saigon to Hanoi holiday, you'll spend your first few days in Saigon where you will take an excursion out to the Cu Chi tunnels, but also have time to visit the macabre museum of war crimes, dine at the famous temple restaurant, and have an evening to explore this exciting and vibrant city. 




A natural wonder and extraordinary area

Halong Bay is a beautiful, natural wonder in northern Vietnam, and became a world heritage site in 1994. It's scatter of islands with towering limestone pillars, rise steeply from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Its karst outcrops continue north all the way up the coast to Bai Tu Long Bay and south-east to Lan Ha Bay, which is only a short distance from Cat Ba Island. Halong Bay offers spectacular, almost surreal scenery, like something out of a movie. 

The perfect way to experience the stunning Halong Bay is by setting sail on a traditional junk boat, where you'll be free to relax and take time to enjoy the magnificent scenery. You can check in to your comfortable cabin on a two-day junk cruise on our Vietnam North to South adventure, or enjoy a trip out to overnight on Cat Ba Island on our Secret Trails of the Tribal Heartland holiday

You'll get to explore the fantastic scenery of the bay and some of its 3000 islands, of which many contain caves and grottos and beautiful beaches. It's a really special experience.



MEKONG DELTA, vietnam and cambodia

The 'rice bowl' of Vietnam

The mighty Mekong River tumbles down through China’s Yunnan province, squeezes between Thailand and Laos, then slides through Cambodia before reaching Vietnam. It's a vast maze of rivers, swamps and islands, Khmer pagodas and villages surrounded by rice paddies. Often referred to as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam, the Mekong River is famous for it's floating markets, including the famous Cai Bae.

Here you'll see hundreds of boats packed with varieties of fruits, and local people selling and trading their produce. There are few places in the world that really offer an eye-opening experience as to how people live in their local area, and this is definitely one of them.

Float down the river on our relaxing 8 day Mekong River Cruise, and enjoy the experience of the local culture. Stop and explore local sites including the Kien An Cung Pagoda in Sa Dec and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Gaze out over rice paddies and relax in hammocks. Cross the border into Cambodia and see the sunset from Sam Mountain and spend a day visiting the Tuol Sleng Museum, and Killing Fields in Phnom Penh.

Alternatively, you can enjoy a sunset river cruise on the Mekong on our Backroads of Cambodia bike Tour after having visited Angkor Wat, cycled through the Kirirom National Park and explored the Cardamom Mountains.

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