12 Unique Religions & Houses of Worship
Everything ranging from Balinese Hinduism to Vietnamese Caodaism, creates a world of wonder in the region of Southeast Asia. So many different forms of religion are practiced throughout the eleven countries, with Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity being the predominant three. Whatever the practice of religion in the area, there are absolutely beautiful houses of worship. Whether its elaborate Roman Catholic churches in The Philippines, fields of thousands of Buddhist temples in Myanmar, or picturesque mosques in Malaysia, there is always a beautiful house of worship to visit and explore. See the tiered Hindu temples overlooking the ocean in Bali, Indonesia, the exotic White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and the extremely unique Caodaism temples near Saigon, Vietnam, and it is impossible to not be impressed and amazed by the beauty and awe of the structures and traditions of these religions.
11 Exotic Animals
Real life dragons exist in Southeast Asia. Eagles that eat monkeys, tigers, orangutans, and elephants all live and breathe in this side of the world. Wander the forests of Borneo and Sumatra to catch a glimpse of orangutans in their natural environment. Visit the islands of Indonesia to see Komodo dragons in all of their glory. Explore the jungles of The Philippines to encounter a monkey-eating eagle. Be one of the lucky few to spot one of the endangered Asian tigers in Laos or Vietnam. Each country you visit in Southeast Asia has a countless number of exotic animals to frighten you, inspire awe in you, or make you jump for your camera. The animals alone are enough reason to visit this part of the globe to view these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats.
The birthplace of many different styles of massage and spa culture, with emphasis on pampering and relaxation, it is no wonder that the incredibly cheap, but wonderful, massages of Southeast Asia are a huge bonus to traveling in this region. From traditional Balinese massage to Chinese medicine-influenced acupressure foot massages to blind massage to traditional Thai massage, whatever style you prefer, Southeast Asia has it to offer. Massages can range in price from about $5 USD to extravagant prices, but even the cheapest massages in the most unassuming spas are amazing on this side of the globe.
9 Close Travel
Southeast Asia is so closely linked, that traveling from country to country is extremely cheap and extremely easy. The classic route through the Southeast Asian countries is so well traveled that it is almost too easy to get around. Hop on a bus, train, plane, or boat, and you’ll quickly find yourself in a totally different country with different food, a different language, and a completely different culture. For most passport holders, visas in the majority of Southeast Asian countries are quick and easy to obtain by simply paying at the border crossing. Easy and accessible routes with well-marked signs written in English help to make travel within the region wonderfully stress-free.
8 Delicious Cuisine
7 Extreme Adventures
Motorbiking down the coastline, surfing, elephant trekking in the jungle, whitewater rafting, whale watching, ziplining, jungle trekking, skydiving, bungee jumping, caving, canyoning, stand up paddle boarding, sand surfing, Full Moon Parties, rock climbing, cliff jumping, scuba diving, and windsurfing, Southeast Asia has it all. Whatever sort of extreme adventure you can imagine, you can absolutely find it in Southeast Asia. With so many diverse terrains and landscapes, you can play extreme sports, play roulette with your life, and explore adventures of so many different degrees across the region.
6 Friendly Cultures
Traveling to the Far East can be a bit of culture shock to someone who grew up in the West. Asia is exotic and very different from standard Western cultures. However, Southeast Asia is a sort of culture shock in a good way. The people in this side of the world are some of the friendliest and most welcoming in the world. Smiles greet you wherever you go, and friendly locals are always happy to offer helpful advice about the best places to visit or best spots to eat. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited back to the village of a newfound friend to introduce you to a massive family who all want the chance to hear your story, even if they can't understand the language you speak.
5 Rich History
A history of glorious empires, colonization, and heartbreaking wars and genocide, Southeast Asia has it all. From the immense Khmer Empire to the European colonial era to the Vietnam War, there is not a country to visit in Southeast Asia that doesn’t have an incredible story to tell. Museums, archaeological sites, and remnants from a time long ago, flood each country with a deep history. Tales of poverty, wealth, and everything in between fill the pages of each country’s book. There are countless minefields and hundreds of demilitarized zones in the region. Crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels of Vietnam and visit the Killing Fields in Cambodia to get a feel for the deep, and sometimes dark, history of this part of the world.
4 Pristine Beaches & Lush Jungle
Coastline. Coastline. Coastline. Southeast Asia stretches across eleven countries in which only one (Laos) does not have a coastline. Whether you’re looking for surf waves or peaceful crystal clear waters, Southeast Asia has the spot for you. Spanning across the India Ocean and the Pacific, Southeast Asia boasts the world’s largest archipelago and a wealth of spotless, untouched beaches, complete with aquamarine waters and palm tree covered, sandy beaches. But beaches aren’t the only beautiful natural wonder that Southeast Asia preserves, lush jungle canopies are another reason that tourists are flocking to this side of the globe. According to Blue Planet Biomes, the Southeast Asian rainforests are the oldest in the world, dating back 70 million years. Although these lush jungles are drastically diminishing fast, their beauty and mystique still draw thousands of travelers to this region every year.
3 World Wonders
Home to the Temples of Angkor, the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, and the natural world wonder of Halong Bay in Vietnam, Southeast Asia is a must-see region to explore both natural and man-made wonders of the world. According to Wikipedia, there are 37 World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia ranging from ancient ruins of temples to archaeological sites to natural world wonders and national parks. With beautiful cities, incredible ancient architecture, and environmental landscapes to take your breath away, it is no wonder(!) that Southeast Asia is trending so high as a vacation destination.
2 Tropical Weather
Although Southeast Asia is relatively compact, weather in the region can range drastically from place to place as you move through different ecosystems. There are mainly two seasons that exist in Southeast Asia: rainy season and dry season. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, as dry season tends to be significantly hotter, but with sunnier days, while rainy season obviously rains more, but also cools the air temperatures. Whatever time of year you may visit though, Southeast Asia will provide you with warm (perhaps hot) tropical, beautiful weather conditions. Unless you’re hiking to the top of a mountain, you won’t really need to worry about carrying a coat and, best of all, everyday is the perfect weather for flip-flops.
Southeast Asia is truly a backpacker’s paradise. Budget travel is abundant and everything from food to accommodation, even all the way down to beer, is incredibly affordable. Long-term traveling through the region is extremely accessible as there is no need for travelers to save up thousands of dollars before departing. The cheap travel from place to place in the region allows for travelers to see even more. And, the cost for normal everyday living expenses is significantly cheaper than most other regions in the world allowing for happy travelers of any budget to grow their passports thicker and their hearts fuller, without shedding their entire bank accounts.