Southeast Asia has long been a favourite tourist destination. Especially in the last three decades. Thailand and Malaysia were the first to become mainstream. Today all the other countries in the region have made advancements in setting up infrastructure for tourism. However, unless you have a lot of time and a large budget, it won’t be easy to see everything. These specific locations will bring you the most value for your tourist dollar. And they will bring you a good representation of the larger area and culture. This list includes only five destinations, so some areas are completely missed. But these are only the most representative locations.
- Ho Chi Minh City: In Vietnam, there are many places to go, and Hanoi is lovely and just as enjoyable as Ho Chi Minh, but if you can only go to one place, Ho Chi Minh is a beautiful place to experience Vietnamese culture, markets, and it is close to several historically significant venues. Ho Chi Minh has a vibrant city centre, with great food, and there are some excellent 5-star hotels in Ho Chi Minh. And the airport there takes the most international flights.
- Penang: Malaysia has a lot to see, and if you want to see it all, you will have to spend a lot of time. Fortunately, many of the best elements of Malaysia can be found on this lovely island. So, you can get a good taste of what the rest is like. You will also be getting many other good tastes as the food in Penang is possibly the best in the whole region. In addition, Penang is an excellent place for ocean views, great cafes, and enjoying historical treasures and street art.
- Chiang Mai: Thailand has two places on this list, while other countries have none. The reason for that is, Thailand has both mountainous tribal regions and five-star beach resorts, which are the main attractions for the whole region. In Chiang Mai, you have access to many destinations in the lush mountains where life is more straightforward and a great place to relax and enjoy handicrafts and local treats.
- Phuket: Phuket and the surrounding Thai islands are famous because of the many beaches, and postcard views from places such as Koh Pi Pi. It is a place for all ages and a popular destination for gap year travellers, as well as being popular with the elite. Many celebrities are spotted enjoying the Thai holiday experience.
- Bali: Bali is in Indonesia, and it is quite a distance from the population centres, and quite different from much of Indo culture. An authentic experience of Indonesia would include a tour of the islands of Sumatra and Java. But Bali is a true tourist destination, and if you can only pick one place to go in Indonesia, many would pick Bali, as it is known for its beaches and its lovely weather and accommodations.
If you could only go to five places, these are the five to see in the area. However, every country in the region has beautiful places to visit. Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia are also excellent destinations, and the Philippines has enough great locations to create a whole new list.