List of the Most Popular Emerging Travel Destinations in Southeast Asia

Famous for its opulent temples, pristine beaches and rich cultures, Southeast Asia has long been one of the most popular travel destinations for the adventurous backpacker. From the bustling modern cities of Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to the sleepy oceanside villages of Ko Tao and northern Bali, Southeast Asia’s immense diversity has the power to lure and impress even the most experienced traveler.

Well-trodden paths ply between the most prominent cities and cultural sites of Southeast Asia’s big tourism hitters of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. But venture just beyond the headliners and you will encounter a Southeast Asia that is in many ways still waiting to be discovered. Emerging destinations in the more popular countries along with the less traversed Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar offer travelers a fascinating glimpse of the region with the added bonus of much smaller crowds. With less Western visitors in these areas travelers will encounter a Southeast Asia that is worlds away from Khao San Road; an experience within which you can more easily connect to the endearing and friendly locals who make any journey to Southeast Asia so unforgettable.

5 Emerging Destinations in Southeast Asia

Without further ado here is a list of five of the most popular emerging destinations in Southeast Asia in no particular order. These places are by no means completely off-the-beaten path or off-the-radar but rather are becoming increasingly admired among the backpacker and independent travel crowd. Naturally, this does not claim to be an exhaustive list. Southeast Asia as a tourism destination is continually evolving and with more investment into tourist infrastructure pouring in this list could conceivably be re-titled five years from now minus the word “emerging”. Before making the decision to travel to any of these destinations, however, it is prudent to seek out up-to-date travel advice including required vaccinations, visa requirements and travel advisories.

Bagan, Myanmar

The temples of Siem Reap in Cambodia may have prestige and grandeur but perhaps no destination in Southeast Asia can compete with the sheer volume of spiritual dwellings in Bagan, Myanmar. With over 2,000 remaining temples gracing the area, Bagan continues to be one of the least known yet unmissable destinations in the region. Hidden southwest of the more recognizable Mandalay and considering the long journey from the former capital and largest city, Yangon, Bagan sees significantly fewer visitors than other temple complexes in Thailand or Cambodia, giving travelers an opportunity to revel in its beauty with relative calm. For one of the truly great experiences in Southeast Asia, perch yourself atop one of the ubiquitous empty temple-top terraces just before dusk to gaze upon the sunset reflecting brilliantly off of the temples’ golden spires.

Traveling to Bagan (and Myanmar), however, is definitely not for the faint-hearted or time-pressed traveler, which may explain why it has not yet caught up with its potential. To enter the country visas are required for and must usually be applied for in advance. Distances between cities are also quite large with road conditions that often leave something to be desired. Traveling to/from Bagan is no exception with daily long-distance buses plying the roads to/from Mandalay (8 hours) and Yangon (14-15 hours) while trains trudge the same routes albeit significantly slower. Air travel is an option but keep in mind that safety standards in Myanmar may not be as robust as in Western countries.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Between the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers lies the crown jewel of Laos, the majestic town of Luang Prabang. Few cities are as timeless as the UNESCO World Heritage site Luang Prabang with its reminiscent French colonial architecture, grandiose Buddhist temples and traditional Laotian wooden houses jammed neatly into its endearing old quarter. In the shadow of Phu Si and its hillside temples, buzzing markets, ornate spiritual sites and restaurants serving up local and international specials capture the attention of all those passing through. Possessing an elusive charm, Luang Prabang has quickly become a favorite destination for independent travelers on the Southeast Asia circuit and continues to move up the travel ranks as it lures back old friends and deftly seduces new ones.

Road improvements have made bus travel in Laos significantly more comfortable and getting to Luang Prabang considerably easier. Buses to/from the capital Vientiane (9 to 11 hours) and adrenaline-fueled Vang Vieng (7 hours) leave regularly while boats can be chartered for the amazing trip to Nong Khiaw (7 hours) along the Nam Ou.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Home to a burgeoning backpacker culture of sorts, Yogyakarta, Java’s geographic and cultural center, is rapidly evolving into one of the most popular travel destinations in Indonesia. Strategically located on the main line between Jakarta and Bali, Jogja, its moniker to locals and admiring travelers alike, has become an almost mandatory stopover for those trekking across Java. And with good reason. Jogja itself has a wealth of attractions including art galleries and museums showcasing Javanese culture and the famous kraton, a grandiloquent walled palace at the heart of the city, once home to the sultans. The traveler’s enclave centered around Jalan Sosrowijayan is a surprisingly lively introduction to Indonesian, particularly Javanese, culture and hospitality, where it is not unusual to see hip, friendly locals mingling seamlessly with tourists in the area’s streets, bars and restaurants.

Yogyakarta’s biggest tourist drawcard, however, is the iconic Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, situated just 42km away. Constructed somewhere around 800 AD, the temples intricate panels and stupas are best seen under the gentle radiance of a sunrise when large tour groups have yet to arrive.

Transport to/from Jogja is fairly simple since the city is well connected to the rest of Java by buses, minibuses and trains. The journey to/from Jakarta is most comfortable and shortest by train (8 hours) while the long-haul to Denpasar in Bali (15 to 16 hours) via Mt. Bromo (9 to 10 hours) is most directly accomplished by bus/minibus.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Possessing a distinctive character that is all its own, the charming riverside town of Hoi An captivates visitors with its enticing blend of graceful architecture and a bucolic pace. At the heart of Hoi An sits the enduring Old Town, a veritable open-museum distinguished enough to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Partially because of this status, Hoi An is remarkably well-preserved and in walking the narrow alleyways it is not difficult to see why so many travelers are becoming increasingly enchanted by the town and its entrancing atmosphere.

Located on the main coastal highway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, although quite far from each, Hoi An has reliable bus connections to many cities in Vietnam. Buses to/from Hue (4 to 5 hours), Danang (about 1 hour) and Nha Trang (9 to 10 hours) are available. If you are short on time but still want to visit Hoi An, flying to/from Danang to HCMC or Hanoi is a possible option.

Pai, Thailand

Throw the spirit of Haight-Ashbury circa 1967 into a misty valley in the foothills of northern Thailand and something resembling Pai may just materialize. An increasingly popular backpacker hotspot, laid-back and uber-cool Pai is one of Thailand’s fastest growing tourist destinations. Unlike the other places on this list, Pai has seemingly little in the way of sights; but what Pai lacks in landmarks it more than makes up for in atmosphere and location. Once a mere stopover for those heading north of Chiang Mai, travelers now venture to Pai for its fantastic trekking, rafting, elephant riding and spa relaxation options.

Located in northern Thailand, Pai is accessible by bus from Chiang Mai (4 hours), the second most popular international gateway to the country, and Mae Hong Son (4 hours), a major hill-tribe trekking center.

Other Emerging Destinations

With so much to discover in Southeast Asia, choosing only five emerging destinations can hardly do justice to such a diverse and exceedingly engrossing region. Here are some other destinations to keep on radar that deserve an honorable mention:

  • Kalaw (Myanmar)
  • Palawan (Philippines)
  • Kinabalu National Park (Malaysia)
  • Ko Tao (Thailand)
  • Battambang (Cambodia)

Choosing Travelling Bags

Suitcases and Travelling Bags

The first thing you need to consider when you plan to travel is to how to pack and get ready for the trip. When buying suitcases and travel bags, we have to take into considerations such as how long will you be travelling and to ensure all our necessary stuff is all packed up neat and nice.

Most of us will just go to the nearest mall and look for the best bargain without even considering other important stuff such as the weight of the suitcases, trolleys and the mobility of the wheels. It also depends on the mode of travelling whether you will be flying from one destination to the other, driving from one place to the other, or will there be a lot of walking and hiking around.

The weight of the suitcases and travel bags really matters especially when airlines have tight baggage rules. Not all airlines have the same policies and they might change the policies anytime without notice. Normally, airlines allow from 50 to 70 pounds but airlines have increased restrictions and decreased travel bags allowance a lot and incur higher charges if you exceed the allowable weight.

However, the ones least affected are those travelling on business, executive, first class airfares and top frequent flyer programs who have opportunity to enjoy more flexibility with luggage allowances. Generally the rule for domestic flights are you can check 3 bags and carry none, or check one bag and carry-on two or check 2 bags and carry-on one. Take note that checked bags cannot exceed 50 or 70 pounds depending on the airlines and the dimensions must not exceed 45″x 55″x 62″ for the largest bag while the second largest travel bag cannot have a dimension exceeds 55″ and the third must not exceed 45″. The carry on suitcases and travel bags must fit in an overhead compartment or fit under the seat and total weight of all carry-on bags cannot exceed 40 pounds on some airlines. A suitcase is considered one carry-one bag but a typical sized woman’s purse is not considered.

Choosing Suitcases and Travel Bags

  • You have to find out the climate of the destination and also weather forecast for the period you will be staying. That will help you to decide what kind of clothing should mainly be in your travel bags.
  • There are models designed come with trolleys, holder and wheels. Choose one that is made out of a resistant material and has an adjustable holder. The best is with various pockets on the sideways and comes with a label for the owner’s name.
  • Consider the size and the weight of the suitcase that has wheels which support the weight and work well, otherwise you will be trudging all the weight along if easily broken. Same goes for the handles, something durable and easy to grab and pull along.
  • Ask for warranty period from the salesperson. Some suitcases and travel bags come with a lifetime warranty which make things much easier. The travel bags condition can be easily replaced if faced with broken handle, ripped zip or wheels.
  • It is always better to be safe than sorry so always look for suitcases and travel bags that have safe locking mechanism. Valuables can be stolen at the airport, at lockers or even when you are busy enjoying yourself during the holiday.
  • Choose suitcase that reflects your personality as it will last over a much longer period than your ordinary handbags. Make sure it provides the right value for money and a brand that gives you the quality, style and prestige value associated with the brand name such as Samsonite, Briggs and Riley.

Business Class Air Travel

“Business Class” is the term used by many airlines to describe a premium class of airfare. Business class is often a step below first class, but in many cases has replaced first class altogether, particularly on long-haul, international flights.

Business class amenities differ from airline to airline, but typically include enhanced food and beverage service, streamlined check-in procedures and wider seats with additional leg room and seat pitch. While the extra cost associated with executive class tickets might seem like an unnecessary luxury for some, for the frequent business traveler who spend long hours on airplanes, often arriving at international destinations only minutes before meetings, the workspace, meals and extra room to relax, rest and stay fresh is well worth the extra cost of a ticket.

Additional amenities may include use of a private lounge at airport terminals, complimentary alcoholic beverages, a herringbone seating arrangement which gives each passenger access to an aisle and private television monitors

Many airlines have customized their business class service by applying a unique brand to it. A few examples include Air Canada, “Executive First (International),” Air New Zealand, “Business Premier, ” Air Pacific, “Tabua Class, ” Alitalia, “Classe Magnifica,” Korean Air, “Prestige Class,” and Thai Airways, “Royal Silk.”

Because international flights can often be 10 hours or more in duration, one of the most important business class features is the ability to recline the seat into a flat or nearly flat position to facilitate sleep. A few airlines, which offer both first and business class airfare, reserve seats which lie fully flat for first class, to distinguish between the two classes. However, many international carriers offer only business class seating having eliminated first class altogether.

Many travelers may question why, with so little distinction between first class and business class, are there two separate premium classes? It seems to be a question of marketing and one of perception. On short hop domestic flights, it sometimes makes sense to offer only one class: economy or coach. But along other, longer routes such as transcontinental routes in the United States, it is more profitable to offer several tiers of service with business class sandwiched between first class and economy. These flights often attract a greater diversity of travelers including wealthy travelers, business travelers, and tourists. The different levels of service attempt to maximize ticket prices for each type of traveler.

Routes which must accommodate large numbers of business travelers tend to have eliminated first class. This may be due to a perception that first class travel is an unnecessary luxury, while bus. class is an expensive necessity. While corporation might find it difficult to justify first class travel to their shareholders, business class sounds more palatable.

Furthermore, in a competitive international business climate, where multimillion dollar contracts are at stake, it’s hard to overestimate the value of having business executives and salesmen arrive at their destinations feeling well rested and sharp with additional time to prepare for presentations and meetings en route. As businesses and countries merge into an increasingly interconnected world marketplace, business travel will become more and more important for the business traveler, and more profitable for airlines.