Looking to satisfy your wanderlust? The natural wonders of Southeast Asia abound.
If you’ve got itchy feet, you’re in luck – travel to Asia is booming this season. For those who crave nature, there are incredible new hotels to stay in. But if you’re looking for something closer to earth, Southeast Asia offers year-round temperate climates and awe-inspiring natural wonders. The experiences the region has to offer are endless. Here are some of the best natural attractions in SEA that you can’t miss!
Beautiful Natural Wonders of Southeast Asia
1. Chocolate Hills, Philippines
If you’re looking for something new to see, look no further. Legend has it that this landmark of more than 1,000 symmetrical hills was formed from the tears of a heartbroken giant. It marks the earth as far as the eye can see, and you really do get a sense of its magical charms. It’s one of the best things you can do in Bohol!
The surrounding area is one of the most ecologically and culturally rich in the Philippines. You can visit places like the Bilar Man-Made Forest, Hinagdanan Cave and the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary. Bohol is also home to remarkable heritage sites such as Baclayon Church – the oldest church in Asia. There’s also the Blood Compact Shrine, which represents a pivotal time in the country’s history. But if you just want to kick back and relax, don’t miss the chance to float down the river to live music and local cuisine at the Loboc River Floating Restaurant.
2. Inle Lake, Myanmar
Lush and pristine, Inle Lake in western Myanmar’s Shan State sits 800 metres above sea level. It boasts a diverse and complex ecosystem. Nestled in the heart of soothing blue mountains, this natural wonder offers a cool respite from the temperate heat of Southeast Asia.
Inle Lake is home to the Intha people, whose customs and practices have evolved in harmony with the natural world around them. They’ve mastered ecologically sustainable farming and fishing methods, as well as handicrafts such as silk weaving and silversmithing. Visiting this place gives you the unique experience of seeing floating gardens, floating markets and houses on stilts.
3. Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia
Accessible from both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s wild and mysterious Cardamom Mountains will appeal to the adventurous. Largely untouched by human development, the area offers a breathtaking insight into how wild and powerful nature can be.
The sprawling 4.5 million hectare mountain range is one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots. It’s home to almost all of Cambodia’s known animal species – as well as some of the most endangered animals already extinct in other parts of the world. It’s largely underexplored and under-researched, but there are thought to be thousands of undocumented species.
4. Mekong River, Laos
The Mekong is an important natural resource and the most important river in Southeast Asia. It’s played a role in the rise and fall of empires throughout history. From the Tibetan plateau to the South China Sea, the Mekong flows through Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Known as the ‘Mother of Waters’, the river is almost 5,000 kilometres long and supports the livelihoods of tens of millions of people. It’s the world’s largest inland fishery, responsible for 25% of the world’s freshwater catch.
5. Phong Nha-Ke Bang, Vietnam
Dubbed the ‘Kingdom of Caves’, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam is home to over 350 caves – including the world’s third largest cave, Hang En. It’s located in the Annamite mountain range in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province and protects 104 kilometres of ancient caves and underground rivers.
The area is also historically significant, having sheltered the Vietnamese resistance against French colonialists in the late 19th century after King Ham Nghi established a base there. During the Vietnam War, it remained an impregnable base for the North Vietnamese army. With its magnificent formations and protective history, this sprawling geological wonder is an awe-inspiring sight.
Fancy a little adventure? As well as ecological tours such as the Botanical Garden, Phong Nha Cave and Dark Cave, you can also enjoy unique experiences such as camping underground at Hang En or relaxing by the river on the Nuoc Mooc Eco Trail. Tip: When you get hungry, fill up in Son Trach town at places like Bamboo Cafe and Nguyen Shack Art Cafe & Restaurant.
Southeast Asia has an abundance of natural wonders, perfect for anyone looking to experience the best the world has to offer. With endless opportunities for adventure, all you have to do is take the first step!