What first come to your mind when speaking Southeast Asia? I bet most of you will mention Singapore, Bali, or Thailand. But if you want to publish different posts for your Instagram feed, or tell a unique story for your blog, you definitely need something new! The world is a big place full of wonderful possibilities. Without any doubt, you don’t have to go somewhere everybody else goes. Try visiting some new and exciting places to really get a feeling of what it’s like to live your life to the fullest.
Have you ever heard of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar? Are you aware that traveling to those 3 countries are pretty safe, cheap, and full of exciting experiences?
Read the following short guide to know about my top 3 recommendations for your amazing travel destinations in 2018. Take your friends or your girlfriend to have more fun with a company, or let yourself explore your path on your own.
This pearl-shaped country is located just next to Thailand! When I went to Cambodia in 2015, I took a local Thai train to Aranyaprathet — a small town bordering Thailand and Cambodia. The train was goddamn cheap, it costs only 48 THB or less than 2 USD for the 6 hours journey. Once we got to Aranyaprathet, we took a tuk-tuk (80 THB) to the border before we grabbed a “taxi” (15 USD / person, it was actually a residential car) to Siem Reap, an interesting destination in Cambodia. But in case you want a more comfortable way to get to Cambodia from Bangkok, you can simply book a cross-country bus. Online reservations are available, but the cost is more expensive than taking a local train like I did.
What’s in Cambodia? The most popular destinations in Cambodia are Phnom Penh — the capital — and Siem Reap. In Phnom Penh, you may visit the Cambodian Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, the scary yet interesting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and the Independence Monument. Complete your trip in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, by hanging out at Sisowath Quay (a street next to the Mekong River lined with cafes and bars) and browsing some souvenirs at Central Market.
Once you reach Phnom Penh, you may think that it looks like a quieter version of Bangkok, its palace and wats have similar architecture style with those in Thailand. But Siem Reap offers something really interesting! Siem Reap is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Archeological Park. Angkor Wat, the main temple complex, is undoubtedly an epic and stunning place to learn about history and to be published on your Instagram feed — especially on sunrise.
Southeast Asia is a hot spot for travelers in 2018, and Vietnam is new to tourism. Like Cambodia, it has been developed into a tourist destination these recent years. This S-shaped country stretches from north to south for more than 2000 km. You can travel from Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi (or vice versa) by train, bus, or plane. If time is not your problem, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the charming old town of Hoi An and Hue, Da Nang, the mountainous city of Dalat, and the beach town of Nha Trang or Mui Ne. They are located in central Vietnam between Hanoi and HCMC. Hoi An is a small city of historical heritage that has no traffic jams and no tall buildings. Visiting this town is like traveling a couple centuries back in time.
Currently there is no city in Vietnam with rapid transit systems. A metro line is being built in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. But don’t worry, you can simply hop on a local bus, take a GrabCar, or rent a scooter / motorcycle. In Vietnam, you can keep a girl interested in you just by driving her around on your scooter. Both girls and boys in Vietnam are very friendly and polite. They might don’t speak English well, but they will surely help you when you need them. Interested in Vietnam? You can take a bus from Cambodia or book an airplane from many Asian major cities.
Some people call this country as “Burma”, but “Myanmar” is now its official name. Yangon was its capital city until 2006, but it remains as the busiest and largest city in the country — your gate to this Land of Gold! Some interesting places to visit in Yangon is the iconic Sule Pagoda, the great Shwedagon Pagoda, Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda, Kandawgyi Lake / Park, and Inla Lake (don’t be confused with Inle Lake). It is home to numerous British old buildings such as Yangon Railway Station, Yangon City Hall, Yangon High Court Building, and Bogyoke Market. Don’t forget to take a ride of Yangon Circular Train and you’ll see a charming side of Yangon local life.
If you love exploring historical sites, then I highly suggest you to visit Mandalay and Bagan. You’ll be impressed by their gorgeous temples, monasteries, and palaces. You want to take an air balloon like we usually see in Cappadocia, Turkey? You can have it in Bagan, flying over historical temples and ancient town. Beside its historical buildings and culture, Burmese people indeed are interesting. Don’t be surprised if you see people wearing longyi and thannaka (a facial traditional make up) everywhere. Daily expenses in Myanmar are so inexpensive and the food are very tasty!
Well, now you know my top 3 recommendations for your 2018 trip in Southeast Asia. Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar have a lot to offer for those who have a taste for traveling — history, culture, architecture, social, and nature attractions. Don’t miss your chance to visit these great countries full of hospitable people. Remember that traveling gets cheaper and cheaper each day, so now is the time to use this advantage for your own benefit.