Imagine jumping into a waterfall, scuba diving in pristine waters, admiring ancient temples and biting into mouthwatering street food. Then consider this; you can do all of these things in just two weeks in Southeast Asia. If you don’t mind not spending too much time in any one spot, you can visit 15 truly diverse destinations and get a real taste of the region. Here’s how.
Bangkok and Ayutthaya
Start your fortnight off in Bangkok, booking your flight to land as early in the morning as possible. Drop your bags at your accommodation and head straight out to the see Thailand’s capital city, beginning with a visit to the country’s most sacred landmark, the Grand Palace. From there, head to the street food market at Tha Chang Pier for brunch before taking a Khlong riverboat tour to take in the city from the water. Then, depending on how much energy you have left, check out Wat Arun (also known as The Temple of Dawn) or Chinatown. A sunset cocktail at a rooftop bar before dinner is the perfect way to round off your first day, and if you’re up for a late one, don’t forget Bangkok has some of the best nightlife on the continent.
Phuket and the Similan Islands
After an intense couple of days in Bangkok, opt for some beachside R&R in the form of two nights in Phuket. The island in the Andaman Sea is home to dreamy beaches, markets galore and of course a buzzing party scene for those who want to let loose. Spend your first day here lounging on the sand with a cocktail in hand and make sure to visit a night market in the evening once the temperature has cooled. Have dinner on the beach and make your way to a club for drinks and some dancing – but don’t stay up too late, as you have a big day coming your way.
That said, the next morning, you’ll be sailing to the Similan Islands, so you can always get a cat nap in during the 70-minute journey. A National Park, the 11 islands are the ideal spot to snorkel and dive, so enjoy the water, swim up to the shore when you want to and enjoy your boat day.
Krabi and Ko Phi Phi
Next up on your whirlwind tour is Krabi, to which you can arrive either by bus, taxi, ferry or speed boat. If you want a more traditional Thai experience, opt for the bus. If views are more your priority, make the journey by sea.
Spend your first day eating fresh seafood, visiting the Krabi Hot Springs and taking a dip in the Emerald Pool, a stunning warm lagoon complete with a waterfall. On day two, you’ll be on a boat again, this time headed to Ko Phi Phi, where more diving and island hopping awaits. With your time in Thailand coming to an end after just five nights, you’ll have already seen six different places.
Siem Reap and Angkor Wat
From Krabi, you’ll take a four-hour, two-flight journey to Siem Reap. Spend your first day exploring the city itself, especially the Old French Quarter and the Old Market, and take some time to relax by the pool at your hotel. After a delicious dinner, call it a night, as you have a big day of exploring tomorrow.
Spend your second day in Cambodia at the largest religious monument in the world, the famous Angkor Wat temple complex. Constructed in the 12th century, it first served as a Hindu temple, but
became a Buddhist place of worship soon after. A true bucket list destination, it’s considered one of the most intricate examples of Khmer architecture and is the national symbol of Cambodia.
Hanoi and Halong Bay
It’s time to pack your bags again, this time for a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. Use day one to walk around the Vietnamese capital, especially the old quarter with its many tiny temples and incredible street food.
The next day, you’ll be off to the majestic Halong Bay, where limestone karsts jut out from the emerald green water. Take a traditional junk boat ride to explore the area, or a kayaking tour if you’re feeling up for water sports. To get the most out of the experience, or if you have a keen sense of adventure, check out the endless rock climbing and hiking opportunities that offer an alternative way of discovering the bay.
For the fourth country of the trip, you’ll be jetting off to Laos, specifically to see the city of Luang Prabang. The flight from Hanoi is just over an hour, so jump on the earliest plane you can to maximise your time there. Luang Prabang is actually made up of 58 adjoining villages, 33 of which form the an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site. From natural wonders like caves and waterfalls to beautiful temples and monasteries, this city has it all. Don’t miss the night market for great bargain shopping and truly authentic local delicacies.
For the final two-day stint of your trip, you’ll be chilling on the beaches of Palawan in the Philippines. You’ll need to fly to Manila first, which takes just over three hours, and from there it takes around an hour to reach the island paradise. Whether you want to scuba dive, zip line or just lie on the sand, you’ll love the relaxed vibe of this idyllic and affordable tropical spot.
You’ve now come to your last stop, and where better to say goodbye to your holiday than Singapore?Although the two flights to get there will drag on for just over seven hours in total, expect your flight home from this city to involve little, if any, stopovers. Take full advantage of being in the cosmopolitan city by checking out the iconic Marina Bay and Clarke Quay, and don’t miss afternoon tea or a drink at the luxurious and historic Raffles Hotel.
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