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Sunset on Koh Jum, Thailand | © Madeleine Deaton/Flickr
Sunset on Koh Jum, Thailand | © Madeleine Deaton/Flickr
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21 Incredible Places in Southeast Asia You Never Knew Existed

Picture of Iona Proebst
Updated: 31 January 2018
Live out your wanderlust and explore some of Southeast Asia‘s hidden gems. We’ve listed 21 unique places to add to your travel bucket list.

Siquijor, Philippines

Siquijor is home to the elusive firefly, and every night it showcases its dazzling glow and gives the island its nickname ‘Isla del Fuego’ or ‘Island of Fire’. The island also has many other worthwhile attractions, such as white sandy beaches, hidden caves and dramatic waterfalls.

A magical Siquijor sunset
A magical Siquijor sunset | © adam nicholson/Flickr

East Timor (Timer-Leste)

Southeast Asia’s newest country and also its least visited, East Timor is home to some of the best scuba diving in the world.

Rai Leh, Thailand

Rai Leh is a premier rock-climbing destination that offers hundreds of climbing options up majestic limestone faces and combines an adrenaline-filled experience with breathtaking views.

Sibolangit Waterfall North Sumatra, Indonesia

Hidden within the Sibolangit forest, this two-coloured waterfall is a true beauty of nature.

Mui Ne Sand Dunes, Vietnam

The Sahara Desert of Asia! Mui Ne is famous for its mix of red and white sand dunes and its original village charm.

Rainbow Eucalyptus – Mindanao, Philippines

A living rainbow! The Mindanao rainbow eucalyptus is a spectacular tree that annually sheds different parts of its bark, exposing a bright green inner bark. The bark then matures and darkens in a variety of colours from orange to maroon and even purple and blue!

Koh Rong, Cambodia

The perfect place to escape city life, Koh Rong offers untouched beaches and a relaxed way of life. If you’re yearning for white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, you’ve come to the right place.

Heaven on earth!
Heaven on earth! | unkle_sam/Flickr

Prambanan, Indonesia

Prambanan is a Hindu temple complex in Central Java. It was built in the mid-9th century and is one of the largest Hindu temple sites in Indonesia and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia.

Bolaven Plateau, Laos

Bolaven Plateau sits in the crater of an ancient volcano and offers a tropical jungle, cascading waterfalls, and hidden hill tribes, as well as some of the world’s best coffee.

Local hill tribe kids
Local hill tribe kids | © Kyle Taylor/Flickr

Hinatuan River (Enchanted River) – Surigao del Sur, Philippines

The Hinatuan River, also known as the Enchanted River, entices people to explore its underground caves and looks so magical it has people questioning if it is even real!

Pulau Ubin Island, Singapore

Pulau Ubin, located off the northeast coast of Singapore, is home to a unique collection of marine wildlife, bird species and beautiful coral reefs.

Stunning Palau Ubin
Stunning Palau Ubin | © Anthony Muñoz/Flickr

Plain of Jars, Laos

Located in Phosavan, in Central Laos, the Plain of Jars consists of more than 90 sites littered with thousands of huge stone jars. Some are over 2,000 years old and are believed to have been used to cremate bodies. To this day these jars still exude a sense of mystery as their true origins may never be known.

Taal Volcano, Philippines

An active volcano that has already erupted 33 times! It’s actually an island within a lake within an island within a lake. Can’t imagine it? Well, you’ll just have to check it out!

The magical volcano
The magical volcano | © Ray in Manila/Flickr

Sa Pa, Vietnam

Sa Pa is a hidden gem in northern Vietnam offering spectacular views, beautiful mountains and rolling rice terraces, along with welcoming locals.

4000 Islands (Si Phan Don), Laos

The 4000 Islands are a group of islands in the southern tip of Laos and are known as the most relaxed places on earth! ‘Si Phan Don’ literally means 4000 Islands in the Laotian language. The islands were created by the mighty Mekong River, as it flowed and formed multiple passageways.

Sunset over the 4000 Islands
Sunset over the 4000 Islands | © ruben i/Flickr

Vigan, Philippines

Vigan is a World Heritage Site and is known as the best-preserved colonial town in Asia. The town showcases an impressive mixture of Spanish, Chinese and local architecture.

Win Sein Reclining Buddha, Myanmar

The entrance to the Reclining Buddha is a sight in itself, as you follow a path lined with over 100 monk statues giving alms. Then, you can’t miss the Reclining Buddha, at 180 metres long and 30 metres high, it is the largest reclining Buddha in the world. You can explore inside the Buddha, which houses a shrine and hundreds of rooms presenting the teachings of Buddha.

One giant Buddha!
One giant Buddha! | © Alex Schwab/Flickr

Koh Jum, Thailand

Koh Jum is one of the last untouched islands in Thailand and is said to be one of the most amazing islands in the world! It’s a great place to experience authentic local Thai culture.

Chocolate Hills, Philippines

A natural wonder in Central Bohol, the Chocolate Hills are spread across an area of 50 kilometres and consist of 1268 to 1776 dome-shaped hills. The hills are covered in grass and earned their name from when the grass turned a chocolate brown colour in the dry season.

The Chocolate Hills
The Chocolate Hills | © shankar s./Flickr

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

Son Doong Cave is the world’s biggest cave and remained undiscovered until 1991! This huge cave could easily fit a 40-storey building within it and even includes a forest and its own beach inside.

Mount Kelimutu, Indonesia

Mount Kelimutu is a volcano on the island of Flores that houses a rare gem. It is home to three lakes that are side by side, however, they are all coloured differently. The unique difference between Kelimutu and other coloured lakes is that the colour variations are unpredictable and are said to change depending on the mood of the local spirits.