The Best Things to See in SE Asia

By combining data from The Seven Wonders of the World lists, Unesco World Heritage Sites, and 1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die, the following is a list of all the best things to see in each country I plan on visiting this winter. There is a stress on natural wonders. Some places appear on all three lists.

BHUTAN
Unesco: none
Natural:
1. Black Mountains
2. Phobjikha Valley and black-necked cranes
3. Mount Jhomalhari

MYANMAR
Unesco: none
Natural:
1. Inle Lake (shallow, unique fishing, floating garden farming)
2. Golden Rock (Mon State, 5 hour, 4000’ elevation gain hike, gilded balancing rock)

THAILAND
Unesco:
1. Ban Chiang Archaeological Site (5th century BC-3rd century BC)
2. Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (800 animals, birds, reptiles)
3. Historic City of Ayutthaya (1350-1765, art)
4. Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns (first capital, monuments, stupas, tower)
5. Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries (near Myanmar border, forest, elephants)
Natural:
1. Mae Surin Waterfalls (Mae Hong Son, NW near Myanmar, 262’, mountains)
2. Ob Luang Gorge (Chang Mai, narrow, deep gorge, rock formations, waterfall)
3. Doi Inthanon Mountain (Chang Mai, highest mountain in Thailand, mist, waterfalls, cave)
4. Khlong Lan Waterfall and Mountain (N Thailand, waterfalls, rivers)
5. Mae Ping Gorge (Chang Mai, cliffs, caves, karst, forest)
6. Ang Thong Archipelago (craggy limestone islands, hiking)
7. Phu Kradung Mountain (NE, arduous 5 hour hike)
8. Naga Fireballs (full moon in November, tennis ball sized lights float off Mekong River)
9. Kaeng Sopha Waterfall (3 steps)
10. Phu Rua Rock Formations (Loei, flat topped mountain with eroded pillars, cliffs, Buddha statue)
11. Khao Yai Forests and Waterfalls (124 km NE Bangkok, animals)
12. Phu Hin Rong Kla Mountain (Loei, broken rock field, unusual rock formations)
13. Pha Taem Cliff (Ubon Ratchathani, eroded sandstone, waterfall, paintings)
14. Mukdahan Rock Rormations ( Mukdanhan, rock formatins, hoodoos)
15. Kaeng Tana Rapids
16. Thi Lo Su Waterfalls (Tak, remote north, spectacular)
17. Samui Island Rocks (Surat Thani, tropical island, granite promontories, beaches, rocks)
18. Samui Island Waterfalls (beautiful)
19. Thung Yai Naresuan and Huay Kha Kaeng Forests (superb forests, wildlife)
20. Khao Chong Pran Bat Cave (Ratchaburi, 2-3 million bats leave cave in evening, guano)
21. Thale Sap Lakes (Songkhla, 4 interconnected lakes, fishing)
22. Khao Khitchakut Mountain (Chanthaburi, waterfalls, pilgrimage)
23. Similan Islands (Phang-nga, granite, forest, monkeys, rock formations, coral, diving)
24. Khao Phanom Bencha Mountain (Tiger Cave Temple, rainforest, pools, beaches, waterfalls)
25. Khao Sam Roi Yot Mountain (conical peaks, beaches)
26. Phra nang Peninsula (Krabi, beautiful beaches, 820’ cliffs)
27. Sri Phang-Nga Waterfalls
28. Khao Luang Mountain (3 day hike)
29. Phang-Nga Bay (limestone islands, high cliffs, hollow interiors, caves)
30. Khao Lampi Waterfalls (Phang-Nga, remote falls, flowers)
31. Thai Muang Beach (Phang-Nga, S of Phuket, turtles)
32. Khao Lak-Lam Ru NP (Phang-Nga, islands, forested valleys)
33. Erawan Waterfalls (Kanchanaburi, 500’, giant ironwood, pools)

LAOS
Unesco:
1. Town of Luang Prabang (traditional Lao and colonial architecture, monasteries)
2. Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements withn the Champasok Cultural Landscape (10th-14th century Khmer)
Natural:
1. Puh Hin Bun Mountain (Borikhamsay, forests, karst, caves, river through mountain)
2. Pak Ou Caves (Luang Prabang, 4,000 Buddha statues)
3. Nam Khan River (Luang Prabang, monastery, mountains, hills, rafting)
4. Luang Prabang Waterfalls (French colonial city, tomb of Henri Mouhot)
5. Champsak Waterfalls (highest waterfall in Laos, 400’)
6. The Mekong Waterdrop and Si Phan Don Delta (33’ drop, fishing, dolphins, 4,000 islands, channels, rapids)

CAMBODIA
Unesco:
1. Angkor
2. Temple of Preah Vihear (Hindu Shiva temple, masterpiece of Khmer architecture, carved stone ornamentation, and spectacular cliff top setting)
Natural:
1. Tonle Sap Lake (largest lake in SE Asia, fills by backflow up tributary of Mekong)
2. Cardamom and Elephant Mountains (SE Cambodia, high rainfall, intact lowland forest, large animals)
3. Ta Prohm Temple Trees (Siem Reap)

VIETNAM
Unesco:
1. Citadel of the Ho Dynasty (150 km west of Hanoi, built of green granite, built on feng shui principles)
2. Complex of Hue Monuments (capital 1802-1945, feudal planning)
3. Ha Long Bay (1,600 islands as limestone pillars, lakes and caves) On New 7 Natural Wonders of the World list.
4. Hoi An Ancient Town (15th century trading port, traditional architecture)
5. Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Hanoi (11th century, center political power for 13 centuries)
6. My Son Sanctuary (4th–13th Hindu town, tower temples)
7. Phong Nha-Ke Bang NP (karst, caves, underground rivers)
Natural:
1. Hai Van Pass (highest and longest pass in country, lagoon, cloudy and windy)
2. Son Tra Peninsula (forest, monkeys, beaches, corals, diving, near Da Nang)
3. Mekong Delta (9 channels, biodiverse, pollution)
4. Marble Mountains (Da Nang, limestone outcrops and towers, caves, human presence)

MALAYSIA
Unesco:
1. Gunung Mulu NP
2. Kinabalu Park
3. Melaka and George Town, Historic cities of the Straits of Malacca*
Natural:
1. Kampung Kuantan Fireflies
2. Taman Negara (central old rainforest rich biodiversity)
3. Batu Caves (Selangor, 8 miles from Kuala Lumpur)
4. Kanching Falls (Selangor, 1 hour from Kuala Lumpur)
5. Kinabalu (Sabah, highest mountain in SE Asia, 13,455’, flora and bird biodiversity)
6. Gua Gomantong (Sabah, 2 limestone cave complexes famous for swiftlets for birds nest soup)
7. Danum Valley (Sabah, pristine rainforest, wildlife, forest)
8. Kinabatangan River (Sabah, floodplain, 10 species of primate, 10’ rain/year, caves)
9. Niah Caves (Sarawak, enormous, human habitation for 40,000 years, access by river)
10. Clearwater Cave System (Sarawak, huge caves, palms)
11. Mount Gunung Api and Pinnacles (Sarawak, tall limestone needles, difficult 3 day trip)
12. Deer Cave/Mulu (Sarawak, huge cave, bats)
13. Sipadan Island (diving on oceanic volcano)

PHILIPPINES
Unesco:
1. Baroque churches of the Philipppines (4 churches in Manila, Santa Maria, Paoay, and Miag-ao)
2. Historic town of Vigan (planned Spanish colonial town with mixing of many cultures)
3. Puerto-Princess Subterranean River NP (Palawan, karst landscape with underground river that empties into sea) New 7 Wonders of the World.
4. Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras
5. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (2 coral atolls with birds and turtles)
Natural:
1. Pagasanjan Falls (Luzon, SE of Manila, 2 hr journey up river to falls)
2. Taal Lake and Volcanoe (Luzon, lake inside volcano, 34 eruptions since 1572, venomous sea snake and only salt water sardine in world)
3. Chocolate Hills (Bohol Island, low, grass covered hills on plateau)
4. Mount Kanlaon (Negros, tallest in Philippines, active, virgin forest, birds and reptiles)
5. Cagayan Valley Caves (Luzon, 75 documented cave systems)
6. Lake Lanao (Mindanao, ancient lakes with endemic fish)
7. Mount Apo (Mindanao, 9,690’, highest in country, sulphur deposits, hot spring waterfalls, diverse forest)

Buddha Postures
Calling for rain: Standing, arms pointed downwards
Calling on the earth to witness: Seated, left hand on lap, right hand extended down
Meditation: Seated, hands crossed in front on lap
Stop arguing: standing, palms extended outwards.

About admin

I would like to think of myself as a full time traveler. I have been retired since 2006 and in that time have traveled every winter for four to seven months. The months that I am “home”, are often also spent on the road, hiking or kayaking.
I hope to present a website that describes my travel along with my hiking and sea kayaking experiences.

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