Long a popular vacation destination for Europeans, Southeast Asia has gained favor with American tourists in recent years. Offering exposure to ancient cultures, pristine white sand beaches and exotic opulence reminiscent of the era of kings, Southeast Asia’s resort areas provide vacation experiences unique to this geographical area of the world.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
A moated city, Chiang Mai, sits along the Ping River in northern Thailand near the Golden Triangle. Head out after dark to the Night Bazaar, where local merchants sit roadside under lantern-lit tent canopies selling their wares.
Many hill tribes reside near Chiang Mai, including the Padaung, or long-neck, people. Their women are instantly recognizable by the elongating brass rings worn around their necks.
As an established tourist destination, accommodation options are many in Chiang Mai. Search TrulyAsia to find information on luxury resorts and spas, boutique hotels, and bed and breakfasts ‘” there’s even a Holiday Inn in Chiang Mai for those who prefer to stay at familiar brands.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An, located along the Thu Bon River near the South China Sea, was once a major Vietnamese trading center. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, much of the area’s ancient architecture remains, and local residents still weave bamboo basket boats on the nearby beaches.
The Victoria Beach Resort and Spa provides superior accommodations and is easily accessible from Danang Airport and the beaches. Designed to replicate the traditional fishing village of old Hoi An, the resort offers 109 rooms featuring classical French, Japanese, and traditional Vietnamese designs.
For a traditional Vietnamese dining experience, head just outside of the old town to the White Sail Cafe. While specialties include steamed local seafood and grilled meats, the owner/chef will be happy to accommodate vegetarian diets as well.
Blending a variety of cultural influences, Singapore is a truly cosmopolitan city with diverse activities. For a one-of-a-kind hotel experience, book a stay at the Marina Bay Sands. In addition to housing a world-class casino, the hotel boasts a Sky Park and a 150 meter long infinity pool that overlooks the city’s business district.
Consult YourSingapore before any visit for the most current information on entertainment and events, as well as accommodation and dining options. Occasionally, the site offers discounts and contests for travelers.
Luang Praban, Laos
Situated on a peninsula between the Mekong and Khan Rivers, Luang Praban is the former capital of Laos.
Find wonderful accommodations at the Mekong Riverview Hotel. As its name implies, each room boasts a patio or balcony view of the Mekong River. Built in 2007 by the Swedish owner, the hotel affords guests the luxury of modern amenities (like flat screen cable televisions and remote-controlled beds) in a town rich in cultural history.
A trip to Laos, known as the Land of a Million Elephants, would not be complete without a visit to the Elephant Village Sanctuary and Resort. Choose from a day visit or stay in the tented camp along the banks of the Nam Khan River.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap provides the closest accommodations for visitors to Angkor Wat, an area which encompasses the remains of more than 100 stone temples and presents some of Cambodia’s best preserved examples of Khmer architecture. Orange-robed Buddhist monks still roam the city streets collecting alms.
While Siem Reap offers luxury resorts and spas, the Jasmine Lodge provides budget accommodations with unique experiences. Operated by a local family, guests can learn to cook traditional Cambodian dishes in the restaurant. Should you have specific foods in mind, the owner’s wife will even accompany you to a local market to hand select ingredients for your cooking lesson. The extremely reasonable room rates include the use of bicycles to traverse the city streets and wireless internet capabilities.
Before any visit to Southeast Asia, tourists should consult Travel Alerts issued by the U.S. Department of State.
Source: The author wishes to express her gratitude to Terry Clapp, an American who has lived in Thailand on and off for the past 50 years and has traveled extensively throughout the Southeast Asian region. His intimate knowledge of the area was invaluable in compiling this list.