Southeast Travel Guide

Traveling  is  an essential part  of  life  that  should  be  explored  to  the  fullest. Through  traveling, you  can  make  new  friends, discover  new  inventions, experience  ancient civilizations, meet  business  partners  and  most  importantly  allow  your  hair  to  blow   in the  direction  of  the  wind-completely  at  peace  with  nature  itself.

One  of  the best  parts  of  the  world  to  take  a tour  is  Southeast  Asia. You have heard of the Asian Tigers namely Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. These  are  the  countries that leveraged  on emerging technologies  and  open  markets  to  create a  global  economic showdown. It  is  now  time for  you  learn  about how  you  can  unwind in  countries  that  made  up  Southeast Asia. Incidentally, an Asian Tiger, Singapore is one of them.

The rest are Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia, The Philipines, East Timor and Brunei.

The  languages spoken  in the region  is  as  vast as  the  number  of  various  ethnic groups. The Dravidian languages is a family of languages that are  spoken  in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore  and Philippines. Some of the languages in this family  include Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. Burmese  is the  official language  of  Myanmar. Tagalog  is  spoken widely  in Philippines while Thai is native  to Thailand. Bahasa Melayu  is  spoken   in several countries  such as  Malaysia, Singapore  and  Myanmar. Khmer is  spoken in Cambodia  and Laotian is the common language   in Laos.

Whatever  the  country  you  are planning  to  visit  in Southeast Asia, it is  very  important  that  you  understand   words  you need  to express  yourself  in day-to-day  activities like asking  for  prices of  goods, hitching  a  ride, where  to  find  a  market  etc. A notebook might  come  in handy here  to  record  common words  in the locality you visit. One  sure thing  you  will soon discover  is  that Asians become  more  connected  to  you  when  you show  deep  interest in understanding  their  language and  culture.

Asians  are  very  religious  people .Their  religious  codes  have  strong  influence   on the  way  of life  of the  people. Religion and culture are interwoven with inseparable ancient threads   that  are  passed  from generations  to  generations. Coming  from Europe or America, you  might  have a  culture shock with  the  religious  beliefs  in Southeast Asia, but learn  to  respect  the  belief systems  of  your host communities.

Religions  practiced  in the  region include  Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism,  Islam  and  Christianity.Buddhism  is  the main religion  in  Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos,  and  Myanmar. Roman Catholicism  the  main religion in East Timor  while  Islam  is  the major  religion in Indonesia.

Southeast Asians  are highly  respectful  and  easy  going. They  are  conservative  and  may  not  approve public  display  of  affection. They  also  hold  their temples  in great esteem ,therefore, you  should  consult  your  tour  guide  on acceptable  behavior  when  you  are visiting  a religious  site.

BEST FOR LESS: Southeast Asia is the  place  to enjoy your vacation  to the fullest while  operating on a lean  budget. Accommodation is cheap and food is  very  affordable. With an  average  spending   within the range  of  $30  and$40 ,you  will live like a royalty  as  you travel across  the  region.

TIMING YOUR VISIT: You can visit the region all year round  but  considering activities  and  weather, some  time ranges  may be ideal than others. For example, January  and February are great times  to visit Myanmar because of the Pagoda festivals. Festival of light  also  holds in October. May to October  may  not be the best time  to  visit Myanmar  as  there  are heavy rains  at those  times. The climate in the  country  is  great  from November  to February. November to  April  is  a  cool period  to visit Thailand.Vietnam ‘s climate  is  ideal  for visitors between  February   and  April. You  may also consider  visiting  between august and  October. October  to April is the rainy season in Indonesia. Unless you  enjoy getting soaked  in your  vacation gears, you  might  consider travelling  to  Indonesia between  May  to September.

GETTING VISAS: A  lot  of  tourists  have  had bitter experience of  being denied entry  at  a foreign airport due  to  visa issues. It is  very  important that you  have  clear understanding of  the visa  requirements of  each  country  that  you are going  to  visit. Thailand  gives  you  a   free 30   day  visa  stamp  on  your arrival .Philippines gives  you a 21  days  free visa   on arrival while  Malaysia gives  you  a 90 day free  visa on arrival. Western  countries  get  a  free  30 to 90 days visa  on arrival. Vietnam requires you  to  obtain your  visa before arriving at the  country. So, check  in with  your passport at the nearest  Thai embassy  to  get it processed. If you are from  Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, USA ,Norway  or any EU country, then you  are in luck. Brunei will give you visa-free entry for up to 90 days. In Cambodia, you can get tourist visa for 30days.The visa costs $30.
SAMPLE THE LOCAL FOODS: Sampling  local  foods is  an experience  you  don’t want  to miss.Primarily  because they will  save you  a  lot of  money compared to eating   western  foods  and  secondarily because your  visit  will  not be  complete  without  those pictures  showing you devouring  those local  delicacies. Yes, the initial trepidation  you will have  about  how  your stomach will react  to  the  food  is  part  of the  delightful experience  you must  have  on your  visits.

PLAN YOUR BUDGET: there are two things you  need to critically plan for-time  and  money. You don’t  want to  be stranded  in a  foreign  country  with no  one  to call for  help. Project management rules encourage addition of contingency costs  to  your estimates. Plan for unforeseen expenses.Indulge yourself  but be careful  of overspending in order to avoid  situation that can sour  your vacation. Also, plan your time  per country and  per  location. When developing your schedule, also make allowance for contingency days  as  you might  stay longer  at  some  sites than you earlier  plan for.

We  have compiled  a snapshot  of  places  you  can visit  while  in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam is one of the most historical countries in the world. It  has  the ninth highest population in Asia .The  country  has  had  its  fair  share  of  struggles  with foreign invaders. Northern Vietnam was colonized by China for over a thousand years. The Japanese took over the country in the 40s.the French then took the mantle from Japanese. Under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam fought off the French. The  country  was  highly  affected  by the  cold  war  between USA and  the Soviet Union in the  50s.This led  to  a civil war  between the north and  the south with a decisive northern victory. The country  then became  communist   but  is  currently  moving  more  towards  open market  economics.

Visiting Vietnam is  a  great opportunity  to learn history  spanning  thousands  of years of  country  that  stood  up  to  stronger  forces. You can visit Ho Chi Minh museum and mausoleum at Hanoi, War Remnants Museum at Ho Chi Minh City for more education. Visiting the remnants of The Hanoi Hilton prison where the popular American senator John McCain was held can also give you a didactic experience.

Formerly  known as  Saigon ,the  city  was  named  after Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader  of  the northern forces  after the war. The  city  is  the  ideological  centre  of the  country, an icon of  a people’s resilience  against a  world power.

The highlights of the south Vietnam where famous with rivers, floating markets and Small canals. Mekong delta is the rice basket of Vietnam and people here are open-hearted, friendly. Boating, Cycling, River Cruise or Homestay are some of the recommended activities when visiting Mekong delta.

The top destination of Vietnam and the world, Hoi An ancient town is lovely, charming and colourful. Hoi An is a little Vietnam, having many cultural and historical sites, great food, picturesque countryside, rivers and sandy beaches. Hoi An is also a paradise for shopping fans.

The capital of Vietnam is a 1000 year old city, named as the city of peace and there are so much to see such as the old quater of Hanoi, Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pogoda, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, etc. Hanoi is voted as the top destination of the world. Come to Vietnam, visit Hanoi!

Ha Long Bay has  been designated  as a UNESCO heritage site. It  is  a  tourist paradise consisting of  myriads  of isles, big caves, beaches and floating fishing villages.

The north of Vietnam is the most beautiful part of the country, blessed with amazing Ban Gioc waterfall in Cao Bang, Rock Plateu in Ha Giang, breathtaking rice terraces in Hoang Su Phi, Mu Cang Chai and Sapa.

Sapa is called the queen of mountains and if you plan a trip to the north, Sapa should be top-listed. The best time to see the rice terraces in Sapa and the north is from June to Early Octorber.

In an Indochina tour package, tourists spend most of the time in Vietnam because of beautiful nature, great food and beaches. Beaches in Vietnam are white sandy and some listed as the most beautiful beaches in Asia and the world like My Khe beach in Danang, Lang Co beach in Hue, An Bang beach in Hoi An, Doc Let beach in Nha Trang, Mui Ne beach in Phan Thiet, Sao beach in Phu Quoc, etc.

Vietnam's beauty is diverse and after having explored Vietnam enough, it is time at the beach to relax before flying home. Beach resorts in Vietnam are many and world-class, great for honeymooners, couples and families.

Called themself as the kingdon of wonder, Cambodia steps out from a bloody khmer rouge regime and now is one of the hot destination for international tourists. Cambodia is a beautiful country, blessed with pristine beaches, national parks, usual foods, rich culture, friendly people, but most famous is Angkor temples - the world's largest religious complex.

The symbol of Cambodia located in Siem Reap, once forgotten in jungles for some centuries. Angkor is majestic, imposing, magical and mysterious. Words are not enough to describe the beauty of this temple and it is said that the temple was built by the hand of gods. Believe or not, just come and see it with your own eyes once in your lifetime.

Not far from Angkor Wat, Angkor thom was the last capital of the Khmer Empire, including some beautiful designed temples such as Bayon temple (Buddha faces), Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Banteay Srei, etc. Angkor thom is where tourists got impressed with giant trees growing on the ruins of temples. Time has done its great job, but could not take away the belief in gods of Cambodia people.

Any tour in Cambodia will not be complete without a visit to Angkor, and it must be on top of one's bucket list.

The today's capital of Cambodia has witnessed the pains of Cambodian during the khmer rouge regime. On your trip to this capital city, remember to visit the Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to understand more about this bitter page of Cambodian history. If you have more time, royal palace is a must-see place.

Known as a land locked and multi - ethnic country, Laos still a destination to discover in Southeast Asia where the life has not been changed much and people are happy in their own way.

Laos is a mountainous country with green mountains, wonderful waterfalls, ethnic villages, elephant villages, etc. A visit to Laos is a step back in time.

An ancient town, a UNESCO site, Luang Prabang is charming, pretty and peaceful. If you come to Luang Prabang, do not forget to join the Alms Giving Ceremony in early morning, climb to Mount Phousi, visit Wat Xieng Thong, swim at Kuang Si falls or ride elphants.

An ideal destination for Rafting & Tubing, or hiking to ethnic villages. Vang Vieng is like a mountain retreat during your adventure in Laos.

Note: Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are known as Indochina or Indochinese countries where local culture got influenced by Indian and Chinese culture. If you have time, let's go on an Indochina tour (three countries, one destination), 3 week holiday will be enough to see the highlights of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Vivutravel will help.

Thailand  is  a must-visit  in the  region. Known a s the land of  smiles ,you  don’t  want  to miss  exciting  sites in the  country.

The National Museum is located  in Bangkok. It was established in  the 19th  century  by  King  Rama V. The  museum  is rich  in Thai culture and history  that  date back  to  thousands  of years.

Pai is  a small town  of   a few  thousand people. It is a tourism centre in   Thailand   with its affordable guest  houses, restaurants, souvenir outlets, waterfalls and hot springs. Another main attraction the  town  has is  its Wednesday  markets   that are patronized   by  several ethnic groups across  its environs. The  town has been opened  up by the  government  with daily flights now a  regular.

If  you enjoy  biking  and hiking, this is  the place to be. With a geographical  spread of 2,000 square kilometers of forest and grassland in Nayok District of Thailand, the  park  has  more than enough space to indulge  you. The  park  is also  a resort to  wildlife such as  elephants and bears.

Railay beach  is the  site  for  the adventurer. Accessible  only  by  boat  as  it  is  cut  off  from  road  links  by carbonate  cliffs. The beach is divided into two parts-the  east and  the  west. In order  to  get  maximum experience, plan to  stay  a  day  or  two  at  each. East Railay   is more  affordable  than West Railay.

As  a  member  of the Asian tigers, Singapore  is  a  country  for the affluent. So, vacating in Singapore will expectedly hit  your  pockets  relatively  hard. Having said that, it  is  an experience  worth having.

The  zoo  receives  a turnover  of  almost  two  million  visitors  every  year.  Several scenes in the Bollywood film Krrish were shot at the zoo. The  zoo  simulates  wild  life  experience  for  the animals  with minimum use of  cages. An adult   and  children tickets  cost  $20  and  $3  respectively.

The  park  boasts  of a  myriad  of  bird  species  and  has  the world’s  tallest  artificial waterfall(over  98  feet).tickets  for  adults  and  children   cost  $18 and $12  respectively. you  can  contact  them for  more  information   through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and +65 62693411.

If  you  want  to literally  experience Las Vegas  in Southeast Asia, Marina Bay Sands  is  the  place. This  is a complex  resort  built  to  give  a “ whao”  experience  to the  tourist. it  has  the  world’s longest  elevated  swimming  pool  termed  infinity pool. it  boasts  of  shops, casinos, a  hotel with thousands  of  rooms ,restaurants, theatres  and floating Crystal Pavilions .

At  374  feet, is  the  tallest  pagoda  in Myanmar. That makes it a tourist attraction. It  was  build  about  the  10th century  and  has  survived  several   destructions  by earthquakes.

This  is the  most sacred pagoda  in the  country  as  it  contains  relics  of  past  Buddhas. The relics  include  a  staff, strands of  hair, water filter  and piece  of robe. The Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is held at  the twelfth  month  of  the traditional Burmese  calendar.

Your visit  to Myanmar  cannot  be  complete  without  a visit  to  the Golden Rock. Known  by the locals  as Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, it  is  an amazing  sight that seems  to  suggest   that  the law  of  gravity  has  exceptions .the pagoda  was  built  on   a  rock  delicately tilting in such a  way  that  one  would  think  it  would  roll off anytime. Locals  believed  that  the  rock  was  held  in place  by  a strand  of  Buddha’s  hair.

Puerto Galera means Port of the Galleons. It is the perfect place to unwind  after  a  hectic  session. Founded  over  four  hundred  years  ago, with numerous coves, beaches, hotels  and  a  natural harbor, it  is  regarded as one  of the  most beautiful  bays  in the world. It  has  a 9-hole golf course  and  a bubbling nightlife .

this  park  is  one  of  the  areas  protected in the  country  for  biodiversity preservation. It  is  home  to  the  intriguing Puerto Princesa Underground River. In 1999, it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site .the  underground river has  been confirmed  to  have  two  floors  with  small  waterfalls, a   980 feet cave  dome and  diverse  marine creatures.  On January 28, 2012,the  underground  river  was  categorized  as  one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Donsol  in the  Bicol region  of  Philippines. The  municipality  has  a  great  population of whale  sharks  and  locals  can  often  be  seen  swimming  with  the  sharks. This  practice  is called  butanding. The locals  used to  be afraid  of the whale  sharks until in 1997  when  a  scuba  diver  named  Romir Aglugub was  able  to  demonstrate how  friendly  they are. Donsol is now regarded as the  “Whale Shark Capital of the World”.