Unexplored Asia: We discovered some of Southeast Asia’s hidden gems

Posted on 05/11/2018 by Yann Gouriou

From Vietnam’s rugged north to tourist-free Thailand islands, we revealed some of the region’s best kept secrets.

Koh Rong, Cambodia

This island paradise off the coast of Sihanoukville was once only accessible by long-tail boat but travellers that made the journey were treated to unending stretches of powder white sand and alluring turquoise waters, making it one of the best islands to discover in Cambodia.

The island has increasingly become known as a party island but there are huge swathes of the island where you will not see another soul. Add a stunning jungle backdrop, vibrant coral reefs and crystal clear waters and you’ve got all the ingredients for a perfect beach getaway.

Kapas Island, Malaysia

This island paradise is located a few kilometers off the west coast of the Malaysian peninsula but if you’re looking for a luxury resort, you’re looking in the wrong place. With patchy internet, no ATMs on the island and intermittent electricity, it’s basic, but the ideal environment to unplug and check out for a few days (or weeks!) from a digital world. There are no cars, no bikes or even any streets, but the snorkelling and diving is out of this world whilst intrepid travellers can explore the verdant jungle across the island. 

Ha Giang, Vietnam

Whilst many travellers visiting northern Vietnam head straight to Sapa, 200 km to the east lies some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. If you can imagine combining the landscapes from Avatar with Lord of The Rings, you may start to have some idea of what Ha Giang looks like. The final frontier before crossing into China, this spectacular region sports enormous limestone karst, green valleys, tiered rice paddies and local hill tribes whose way of life has remained unchanged for generations. Rent a driver or take a two wheels to tackle the famed Hai Van pass, marvelling at how each corner is more awe-inspiring than the last. 

Koh Kood, Thailand

Rampant development across the islands of Thailand has turned many previously unspoilt locations into an unending procession of sun-kissed tourists, with once traditional ways of life being lost as businesses adapt to suit visitors needs. Koh Kood, despite being one of the largest islands in Thailand only has had a road through the island for the past few years. The charming fishing island has an array of accommodation options and a relaxed vibe and energy that is sure to recharge your batteries. 

Southern Inle Lake, Myanmar

Whilst Inle Lake itself is definitely on the tourist radar, many people simply take one of the organised boat tours that putter around the northern reaches of the lake. For a more authentic experience, find a boatman who is willing to take you as far south as you can go, the closer you get to the Permit Zone the fewer travellers you will see. With untouched villages, beautiful monasteries and fishing villages, it’s a more authentic side of the lake that many travellers will never see. 

Malapascua, Philippines

Navigating the labyrinthine streets of Manila is can be a rewarding experience for urban adventurers but for maximum relaxation consider the island of Malapascua as your next destination. This tiny, sun-kissed island has a Mediterranean vibe and a charming small-town feel. When you’re done taking in the jaw-dropping beauty of the beaches, explore the town’s smattering of casual bars and local eateries or take advantage of the excellent diving opportunities under the azure waters. 

North Maluku, Indonesia

In an archipelago packed with adventure, North Maluku stands out. A dazzling mosaic of natural beauty, there is no shortage of amazing outdoor diversions. Snorkel with walking sharks one day and head into the jungle to meet hunter-gathering nomads on the next, or dive an underwater volcano then visit a sultan’s palace. 


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