Americans are increasingly interested in exploring Asia, according to the travel advisors at Travel Leaders Network. The region has become a magnet for travelers with a desire for adventure, for those who want a trip rich in experiences that combine history, culture and cuisine.
Here are some suggestions for what to see and where to go in three popular Southeast Asian destinations.
Indonesia. Most people associate Indonesia with luxurious Bali, or the capital city of Jakarta, and they offer lots of opportunities for exploration. But with 17,000 islands, there’s much more to see on a trip to the world’s fourth-largest country. The island of Sumatra is known for the beautiful Danau Toba, a large natural lake, as well as Mount Kerinci, Indonesia’s highest volcano. The island of Java, between Sumatra and Bali, is home to Jakarta as well as historic cities like Yogyakarta, where you can get a taste of Indonesian culture at ancient temples and palaces, and sample traditional food. East Indonesia is a paradise for nature lovers. Rugged Komodo Island, a land of red volcanic hills and forests, is where you’ll find the Komodo dragon, a species of lizard.
Thailand offers travelers everything from peaceful temples to gorgeous beaches to mountains made for hiking. Thai culture places great emphasis on politeness, and English is spoken widely, making the country a popular destination for Americans, especially honeymooners. At resort areas like Phuket and Koh Samui, you’ll find pristine beaches and blue water similar to the Caribbean. Koh Lanta is a less touristy destination with a number of upscale properties that cater to families. The city of Chiang Mai, in the northern part of the country, is a center of Thai culture, as well as a starting point for elephant treks. At the city’s night market you can rub elbows with the locals while shopping for handicrafts and sampling delicious Thai food.
No trip to Thailand would be complete without a stay in Bangkok. Check out one of the capital’s floating markets or a traditional Thai show with dinner. The city also has a fascinating museum that chronicles the history of World War II. Click here to learn more about Thailand.
Singapore. Interest in visiting Singapore has soared since the bestselling novel and movie “Crazy Rich Asians.” Visit the food stalls at Singapore’s hawker centers, the heart of the island’s culinary scene. They’re a great way to enjoy a variety of tasty and inexpensive local specialties. Singapore’s top attractions include the Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown, said to contain one of the Buddha’s teeth, the colorful Sri Mariamman Temple and the Lion City Gardens by the Bay, with trees that light up at night. Singapore is also a family-friendly destination. Children will enjoy the S.E.A. Aquarium and the Adventure Waterpark, which features the first hydro-magnetic coaster in Asia.
A cruise is another way to see the region. Some cruises will include Singapore as part of a Southeast Asian voyage, with additional stops in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
For help planning a trip to Southeast Asia, contact an Asian travel specialist here.