31 Best Things To Do In Southeast Asia

The Southeast Asia Bucket List Challenge

se asia bucket list challenge

31 Best Things To Do In Southeast Asia 

{The Southeast Asia Bucket List Challenge}

Southeast Asia is debatably the most Instagrammable region in the world.

Home to an embarrassment of riches, it is filled to the brim with extraordinary destinations that are difficult to imagine actually exist.

Comprised of countries like Thailand, Indonesia, The Philippines, and so many others, you will never run out of exotic destinations in Southeast Asia to explore.

However, with so many iconic attractions and even more hidden gems, it’s quite easy to get lost in the madness of it all and accidentally leave some places off your bucket list.

Therefore, after spending several months exploring this region, I have crafted the Ultimate Southeast Asia Bucket List Challenge in order to help prevent this from happening.

From towering skyscrapers, to mystifying waterfalls, to the most tropical of beaches, these are the 31 Best Places To Visit In Southeast Asia.

Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida

If you want to start your adventures in Asia with a bang, then you better get yourself one of the many breathtaking beaches.

Kelingking Beach is first up on your Southeast Asia bucket list.

Imagine nothing but turquoise blue waters, silky white sand beaches and the most dramatic of sea cliffs and you still won’t be able to visualize the beauty of Kelingking Beach.

Located on the island of Nusa Penida, this iconic Bali Instagram spot has exploded in recent years through social media into what is now one of the most popular exotic places to visit in Asia. 

Also known as T-Rex beach, the peculiar outline of its peninsula and its uncanny resemblance to the very dinosaur is something every Bali backpacker must witness with their own two eyes.

Simply put, Kelingking Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia, so be sure not to miss it.

Must Read | Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida {The Complete Guide}

se asia bucket list challenge | kelingking beach

best things to do in southeast asia _ kelingking beach

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

In a few words, Angkor Wat is an absolute must-see sight of Southeast Asia.

Located in the heart of Cambodia, Angkor Wat is in fact the largest religious monument in the world.

Despite its undeniable religious significance, Angkor Wat is one of the most beautiful places in Cambodia that never fails to impress.

Just wait until you witness the Angkor Wat sunrise which is guaranteed to leave you speechless.

Southeast asia backpacking route | Siem Reap Cambodia

Tukad Cepung, Ubud

As one of the least commercialized attractions in Bali, Tukad Cepung is ironically one of the most unique places to visit in Southeast Asia.

Depending on what time you arrive, the passing sun overhead puts on a dazzling sun ray spectacle within the Tukad Cepung Cave that is hard to describe as anything but flawless.

As one of the best things to do in Southeast Asia, this Bali waterfall is one of the most stunning waterfalls you will come across during your adventures in Asia.

Must Read | Tukad Cepung Waterfall Bali {The Unforgettable Ubud Secret Gem}

best things to do in southeast asia _ tukad cepung waterfall ubud

Southeast asia backpacking route | Tukad Cepung Bali

Maya Bay, Krabi

Touted as one of the most popular destinations to visit in Thailand, there is no doubt any beach lover will have Maya Bay at the top of their Southeast Asia bucket list.

Easily considered one of the best Instagram spots in Southeast Asia, this spectacular beach is an absolute must for travelers.

Located on the island of Phi Phi Leh, Maya Bay became an instant star after being featured in the backpacker cult classic “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Since this movie premiere, Maya Bay has remained one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia, and is an established rite of passage for any backpacker visiting Thailand.

However, in 2018, Maya Bay was temporarily closed off to the public as part of a 4-month rejuvenation project from the harming effects of over tourism.

As far as I am aware, it still remains closed today so be sure to be sure to check and make sure it has reopened before visiting.

Must Read | Maya Bay Phi Phi Island Tour {Full Guide On How To Get To Maya Bay Thailand}

most beatutiful places in southeast asia _ maya bay krabi

Sapa, Vietnam 

As one of the most unique places to visit in Southeast Asia, Sapa Vietnam is a destination that can only be described as mystifyingly breathtaking.

Home to what I believe are the most beautiful rice terraces in Asia, Sapa’s valleys of rice fields are an image that has been permanently imprinted on my mind. 

Though Sapa’s rice terraces don’t nearly get the recognition they deserve, consider this to be one of the best hidden gems in Southeast Asia.

I recommend a visit here sooner rather than later, because simply put, hidden gems that are this beautiful don’t stay secret for long.

se asia bucket list | sapa vietnam

southeast asia bucket list | sapa vietnam

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

As one of the most iconic hotels in all of Asia, Marina Bay Sands was practically a shoe in to make this list of the most Instagrammable places in Asia.

Take your pick amongst a vast number of reasons to visit this world-famous hotel.

  • Whether you do it for the clout as you are pampered in luxury from the moment you arrive.
  • Whether you do it to gracefully lounge by the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool.
  • Or maybe it’s so you can experience the phenomenal 101-hectare nature park known as Gardens by the Bay.

Either way, no matter the reason, Marina Bay Sands is guaranteed to blow your mind and light up your Insta feed as you explore one of the most iconic sights of Asia. 

Check prices for Marina Bay Sands Here With Agoda.com

best things to do in southeast asia | marina bay sands singapore

Tiu Kelep Waterfall, Lombok

If chasing waterfalls is your thing, consider Tiu Kelep an absolute necessity for your Southeast Asia bucket list.

Though it is a bit of a journey from Bali, located on the neighboring island of Lombok, Tiu Kelep is worth every moment spent.

Effortlessly one of the most amazing waterfalls in Asia, and debatably the world, Tiu Kelep is a sight you would be absolutely foolish to miss out on.

Just one glance at the Lombok waterfall and you’ll instantly understand why it is one of the best things to do in Southeast Asia.

Must Read | Tiu Kelep Waterfall [ The Lombok Waterfall You Absolutely Can’t Miss ]

best things to do in southest asia | tiu kelep waterfall

se asian bucket list | tiu kelep waterfall tall

El Nido, Palawan 

Despite its lack of many modern conveniences such as consistent electricity and reliable WiFi, El Nido remains one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia.

Spoilt for choice with more picturesque islands and lagoons than you will ever be able to visit, El Nido will provide you with a continuous stream of Instagrammable moments.

This SE Asian bucket list prize destination is jam-packed with heavy hitters such as Big Lagoon, Snake Island, and Nacpan Beach, amongst an almost endless list of others.

Flaunted as The Philippines most beautiful destination, even a short trip to El Nido will leave you utterly amazed.

Must Read | Best Things To Do In El Nido Palawan {The Ultimate Travel Guide}

best things to do in southeast asia | el nido the philippines

Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan

The reigning and uncontested champ for the wildest party in Southeast Asia is and will always be The Full Moon Party of Koh Phangan.

Many have tried to duplicate it, but none have even slightly come close to the level of energy and hopelessly hedonistic atmosphere of that only the Original Full Moon Party can provide.

Love it or hate it, Thailand’s Full Moon Party will always be one of the best things to do in Southeast Asia.

Must Read | Thailand Full Moon Party Dates 2019/2020 {Everything You Need To Know!}

thailand full moon party dates

thailand full moon party koh phangan

Ubud Rice Fields

As one of the most popular things to see in Bali, the rice terraces had better be somewhere on your SE Asia bucket list.

With exquisite rice fields that stretch for miles, there isn’t much that compares to the beauty of the Ubud rice terraces.

There’s just something truly enchanting about watching the sun beaming perfectly through the trees dancing along the endless horizon of distant rice fields.

Along with so many hidden goodies scattered along the trails, you never know what photogenic gems you may come across along the way.

best things to do in southeast asia | bali rice fields

best things to do in southeast asia | bali rice fields-2

Cat Ba Island, Halong Bay

If Halong Bay isn’t somewhere near the top of your SE Asia bucket list, then you might want to consider letting someone else plan your itinerary.

Located in Northeast Vietnam, Halong Bay is famous for its labyrinth of limestone cliffs and secret emerald tinted lagoons.

Cat Ba Island is the largest island in Halong Bay and is the most popular place to visit in the region.

Ripe with adventures around every corner, it’s no wonder why Cat Ba Island is considered one of the best things to do in Southeast Asia.

most beautiful places in southeast asia | halong bay sunset

Dragon Crest Mountain, Krabi

Resembling a scene straight out of Black Panther, Dragon Crest Mountain is the next hidden gem on our SE Asian bucket list.

While it always seems to amaze me that places as beautiful as this still manage to fly under the radar on everyone’s best places to travel in Asia bucket list, it never manages to upset me.

And as far as hidden gems go, Dragon Crest Mountain is one of my absolute favorites.

As one of the best adventures in Asia, the exhilarating adrenaline rush of Dragon Crest is the most epic viewpoint in Thailand.

Must Read | Dragon Crest Mountain Krabi {How To Find This Amazing Krabi Viewpoint}

most instagrammable places in thailand

Tumpak Sewu, East Java

As the most beautiful waterfall in Southeast Asia, it’s impossible not to be left speechless at this distinctive natural masterpiece.

Located in East Java, this Indonesian hidden gem is so extraordinary it’s hard to put in to words.

In fact, it almost seems strange to call a place so distinctly beautiful, a hidden gem.  However, not many people are able to visit Tumpak Sewu because of its rather remote location in Indonesia.

Nonetheless, if you are up to the challenge then by all means go and cross this waterfall off your Southeast Asia bucket list.

Just don’t forget to pat yourself on the back a couple times once you finally do.

se asia bucket list _ Tumpak Sewu East Java

Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Next up on our list of the best things to do in Southeast Asia are the Petronas Twin Towers of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Once the tallest buildings in the world, the 88 storey Petronas Twin Towers are the most iconic sight in Kuala Lumpur.

Absolutely dominating the Kuala Lumpur skyline, the Petronas Twin Towers remain one of the top man-made structures to visit in Southeast Asia.

best things to do in southeast asia _ petronas twin towers kuala lumpur

Gili Trawangan (Gili Islands)

The Gili Islands are an absolute sanctuary for those who love tropical escapes. So… basically all of us.

Visions of powdery white sand, cerulean blue translucent waters and towering palm trees, the Gili Islands offer the textbook definition of a tropical island holiday.

While Gili Trawangan in particular is infamous for its wild parties, Gili Air and Gili Meno embrace a much more chilled out and relaxed atmosphere.

Located a short boat ride away from each other, no matter which island you decide to visit, it will be an absolute pleasure.

However, fair warning – If you stay on Gili Trawangan, be prepared to party like never before!

Gili Islands Content Guide

The Ultimate Gili Trawangan Party Guide To Bali’s Most Sinful Island

How To Get From Bali To Gili Islands {Literally Everything You Need To Know!}

The Certified Gili Trawangan Hostel Guide

gili trawangan party

gili trawangan party guide _ gili trawangan nightlife


Phi Phi Viewpoint, Krabi

Any avid traveler would’ve predicted Phi Phi Viewpoint to be on our list of the best things to do in Southeast Asia.

As one of the most memorable lookouts in Thailand, Phi Phi Viewpoint showcases the iconic “2 bays view” of Phi Phi Don.

While this top Thailand Instagram spot is impressive during any time of the day, visit during sunset for a truly spectacular moment.

Pro Tip

Located just a boat ride away from the famous Maya Bay, kill two birds with one stone by visiting both of these famous SE Asian bucket list items in the same day.

Must Read | Phi Phi Viewpoint {A Top Guide To Thailands Most Iconic Instagram Spot}

se asian bucket list | phi phi island

Rumah Pohon Treehouse, Nusa Penida

I’d imagine it’s quite difficult to have a travel Instagram account and not come across an image of the Rumah Pohon Treehouse at some point along your scrolling.

An obvious contender as one of the best Instagram spots in Asia, Rumah Pohon Treehouse is a guaranteed way to bring an instant spark to any social feed.

Known as one of the most beautiful things to see in Southeast Asia, the captivating vista from the Rumah Pohon Treehouse is the stuff of fairytales.

Must Read | How To Find The Rumah Pohon Treehouse And Thousand Islands Viewpoint

most beautiful places in southeast asia | rumah pohon treehouse bali

thousand island viewpoint nusa penida

Boracay Island, Philippines

Seductive, striking and dangerously entertaining, Boracay Island is everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure in The Philippines.

Aside from its jaw dropping beauty there is an undeniable charm about this island that continuously lures backpackers in for much longer than they had initially planned for.

It’s no wonder why Boracay is considered by so many to be one of the best places to travel in Asia.

se asian bucket list challenge | boracay island

Mua Caves, Ninh Binh

The Mua Caves are perhaps one of my favorite destinations in all of Vietnam, and one of the best things to do in Southeast Asia.

In just 500 steps to the peak, you can easily reach one of the most remarkable viewpoints in Vietnam.

Though I wouldn’t exactly classify this place as a Southeast Asia hidden gem, it is one of the less touristic adventures in Asia.

southeast asia bucket list challenge | mua caves vietnam

Suwehan Beach, Nusa Penida

If you’ve ever dreamt of being on a deserted beach where you’re surrounded by nothing but sand, ocean, and the undisturbed sounds of nature, then I have some good news – you can stop dreaming about it and visit Suwehan Beach.

As one of the least advertised attractions on our list of 9 Can’t Miss Things To Do In Nusa Penida, Suwehan Beach is another contender for best Southeast Asia hidden gems.

Must Read | Suwehan Beach {The Most Underrated Beach on Nusa Penida Island}


southeast asian bucket list | suwehan beach nusa penida

Pileh Lagoon, Phi Phi Leh

Situated just around the corner from its big brother Maya Bay, Pileh Lagoon is every ounce as stunning, except with only a fraction of the tourists.  Well at least normally that is.

Since Maya Bay closed down in 2018, Pileh Lagoon has increased in popularity and rightfully earned a top spot on everyone’s list of best things to do in Southeast Asia.

However, don’t worry because even with the temporary closing of Maya Bay, Pileh Lagoon doesn’t get nearly as crowded.

Either way, with its turquoise colored translucent waters perfect for snorkeling and towering limestone cliffs, Pileh Lagoon is still considered one of the most beautiful places to visit in Southeast Asia. 

3 week thailand itinerary koh phi phi

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

Aside from the Petronas Twin Towers, the Batu Caves are Kuala Lumpur’s other main attraction.

The 100-year old temple has become an iconic monument and one of the must see sights of Southeast Asia.

best things to do in se asia | batu caves kuala lumpur

Komodo Island, Indonesia 

An island full of Komodo Dragons – some of the most vicious predators in Indonesia.

That sure does sound like a must visit SE Asia destination to me.

Aside from that, the landscape of Komodo Island is truly spectacular making it one of the most unique places to visit in Southeast Asia.

Though it is quite the distance out of the way from Bali, in my opinion the extra effort goes a long way in order to cross this bad boy off your SE Asia bucket list.

best things to do in southeast asia | komodo isalnd indonesia-1

best things to do in southeast asia | komodo isalnd indonesia-2

Uluwatu Temple, Bali

Uluwatu is famous for its dramatic sea cliffs, and no other place showcases them better than the famous Uluwatu Temple.

Uluwatu Temple or Pura Luhur is one of six main spiritual pillars located around the island of Bali.

Perched atop the towering sea cliffs, Uluwatu Temple is something everyone should witness themselves.

Just don’t forget to pick your jaw up off the ground before you leave.

se asia bucket list | uluwatu temple bali

Monkey Forest, Ubud

I’d be quite shocked if Ubud’s Monkey Forest was not already on your Southeast Asia travel bucket list.

As far as touristy destinations are concerned, the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali is way up near the top of the list.

With cute little monkeys roaming free throughout the entire park, you literally will not be able to put the camera down.

Must Read | Ubud Monkey Forest Bali {The Complete Guide}

ubud monkey forest 2

Kayangan Lake, Coron

Commonly referred to as the “cleanest lake in Asia”, Kayangan Lake is one of the most iconic natural sights of The Philippines, drawing heavy crowds on the regular.

The place is literally so perfect, if I didn’t know any better I would swear is was manmade.

As a top contender for one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia, Kayangan Lake is a no brainer.

Must Read | Kayangan Lake Coron Palawan {The Ultimate Expert Guide}

Railay Beach, Krabi

Irresistibly iconic and undeniably beautiful, Railay Beach will absolutely blow your mind.

Widely considered to be the most beautiful beach in Asia, Railay is a true showstopper.

Interestingly enough, Railay Beach is actually a peninsula that is home to four different beaches. However, good luck choosing a favorite, because each one is more beautiful than the next. 

It doesn’t take much of an explanation as to why Railay Beach is one of the best things to do in Southeast Asia!

phra nang beach thailand

Golden Bridge

Instantly becoming one of the best Instagram spots in Southeast Asia from the moment it was built, Vietnam’s Golden Bridge is one of the newest additions to our SE Asian bucket list.

Located in the town of Da Nang, this 500-foot-long pedestrian bridge was an instant success in becoming one of the best things to do in Southeast Asia after spreading like wildfire across Instagram.

The peculiar support system of two giant stone hands that help to suspend the footbridge up nearly 3,200 feet above sea level, officially makes this one of the coolest bridges ever!

Consider this a must visit for any Southeast Asia backpackers planning to visit Vietnam.

best things to do in southeast asia | golden hands vietnam

Koh Nang Yuon, Koh Tao

Is this not the most perfect view you have ever seen?

The tropical paradise of Koh Nang Yuon is a place so beautiful it almost defies reality.

Located just off the coast from the popular and easily accessible island of Koh Tao, a short 5-minute boat ride will take you to one of the best Instagram spots in Southeast Asia.

Therefore, there is no excuse not to have this beauty on your SE Asia travel bucket list.

top places to visit in southeast asia | koh nang yuon thailand

Vang Vieng, Laos

Often referred to as a paradise for all forms of hedonism, Vang Vieng is more than just a party town.

Located along the Nam Song River in Laos, this is an area absolutely brimming with splendor.

Although it sometimes doesn’t get the recognition it deserves because of a long history of wild party antics among the backpacking community, Vang Vieng deserves to be known for more than just its nightlife.

In fact, a place with as much distinctive natural beauty as this should be mainly celebrated as one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia.

se asia bucket list challenge | vang vieng laos

Monkey Beach

It’s no surprise that a tropical beach completely overrun with cute little monkeys would become one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia.

What is surprising is how no one seems to mention how agitated and overly aggressive these same cute little monkeys can become at any given moment.

Thailand’s Monkey Beach is by far one of the most exotic destinations in Southeast Asia, however just be sure to proceed with caution when visiting this SE Asian bucket list beach, because one wrong move could mean an arm full of rabies vaccinations.  

Must Read | 50 Best Things To Do In Thailand {The Ultimate Thailand Bucket List}

monkey beach thailand

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