Forget USS, Chiang Mai, Bali or any of that downright boring, uninspiring and mainstream schnitzels! Besides you usual foreign cities, white sandy beaches or side walk greens, here’s 8 unique holidays in SEA that you’ve definitely have to see!
1. Balloons Over Bagan (Myanmar)
Looks majestic as fish doesn’t it? This balloon ride starts at an ungodly 4am but as a quick check on TripAdvisor shows, it’s well-loved by many! You’ll be able to watch the sun rise over the horizon, bathing the ancient temples to watch these balloons charmingly float towards the sky or enjoy a 360′ view atop the hot air balloon itself! Hurry though as apparently the temples will be closed to tourists soon due to structure destruction from having too many people.
2. Mount Bromo (East Java, Indonesia)
Well, it’s no surprise that Indonesia is a volcanic hotspot (pun intended), this jaw-dropper from the Tengger massif certainly embodies the phrase ‘desolate beauty’, now if you were wondering which one is Bromo, it is not the tallest one; it is the one in the bottom left of the picture, just due north from the dwarfed Poten Hindu temple seen the picture. The Tenggerese people who inhabit the land are one of the last Hindu communities left in Java and are known to be rather pleasant to travellers. However, do pack winter gear as the temperatures are frigid at night, 5°C in the wet season and a big fat 0°C when its dry. Also, the journey there is a spectacle as you’ll cross over the much anticipated Bromo’s Whispering Sands and Savannah Valley.
3. Mount Ijen (East Java, Indonesia)
While you’re at Bromo, another thing you may want to do is to visit Mount Ijen. It’s a little bit out of the way and the hike is said to be a little bit more susah than Broga Hill but would you just look at those blue flames…. If it was not on your bucket list then, it certainly will be now! You’ll have to don gas masks like a Special Ops. soldier in the field and abide by your climb leader. Occasionally you’ll have to get as low as possible when the wind shifts and blows sulphuric gas in your direction (if you took chemistry in high school, you’ll know exactly how putrid it smells like)! Don’t worry though as it will pass and it should not be overtly harmful to you. If you choose to go in the morning, you’ll be able to see its beautiful crater and surrounding but night time is the more popular choice as you’ll able to watch the stunning electric blue flames that sprout from the craters.
4. Red & White Sand Dunes (Mui Ne, Vietnam)
Now I don’t know how many of you guys knew this, but I for one was rather surprised to find out Vietnam was home to a desert! And not just an arid one, it’s teeming with life and even has its own beach! There are two dunes to visit; personally I’d recommend visiting the white dunes to watch the sunrise and the red dunes when the sun sets. There are quad-bikes available for rent however they are at tourist rates, if you can handle it, head into town and rent a cheap dirt bike and some proper biking gear as well! (Don’t squid out aite?).
5. Kawasan Falls (Cebu, Philippines)
With waters more blue that some web videos I frequent, this is a must-see for all Malaysians! I know we’ve all been to some ulu punya waterfall in some hidden village accessible only by 4x4s but shush, y’all ain’t got nothing on this beaut! Do go early and aim for business days as it is known to get crowded. Also, the locals are notorious for conning naive tourists, keep your wits about you and stay safe!
6. Puerto Princesa (Palawan, Phillippines)
Equally Philippino with waters equally blue, so whats the difference? Am I just running out of ideas and has begun the long standing Malaysian tradition of tokok tambah? Well no, there actually is something of note here, according to some online travel blogs, there lies a certain underground river which opens up to a secret lagoon/beach thing that is simply spectacular!
7. Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)
By name alone I’m already humming along to RHCP (props if you know which song I’m talking about!), this maybe one of the more iconic images when it comes to Vietnam (especially when the boats have their iconic sails up). One thing you absolutely MUST do while in Ha Long is to rent out a kayak or canoe, its RM200+/- but worth every cent! Also do pay a visit to Sung Sot and Dau Go caves, they’re fantastic for pictures on a postcard (or Snapchat if you prefer).
8. Pulau Sipadan (Malaysia)
Y’all didn’t think I’d leave us out right? Malaysia is host to one of the most beautiful diving spots in the world! Now Sipadan is one of the best kept gems as you can’t actually stay on the island because of their preservation efforts. However, that’s the beauty of it as you scuba dive with the swirling tornado-like formation of Barracudas, the big-eye trevallies, the thousands silver jack fishes, the giant size parrot fishes, turtles, mantas, scalloped hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and 3000 more species of fish! This is something not to be missed, and it currently tops my bucket list!
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