10 Hidden Natural Gems Of Southeast Asia
Location: Southeast Asia
Asia: The places you will see here are a perfect answer for those seeking moments of relaxation and freedom out of the hustle and bustle of cities. Anyway it’s not easy to make a list of 10 hidden gems in Southeast Asia. There are so many beautiful places there, all of them to enjoy. This list comes out after my big trip to Southeast Asia for 110 days.
Sure, Southeast Asia is a tested traveller’s area with thousands of tourists. Anyway there is so much more than bars, massage and/or “massage” and night clubs and if you really want, you can discover some amazing and even untouched paradise.
I personally made, and of course, visited this top 10 destinations. I’m going to let you know my secrets destinations, places that hardly any people know about and names that you won’t hear around the hostel dinner table…
I want to start from the “last” position of this TOP 10, enjoy…
10. PULAU WEH, INDONESIA
A tiny tropical rock off the tip of Sumatra, Pulau Weh is a small slice of peaceful living that rewards travellers who’ve journeyed up through the turbulent greater mainland below.
I came here because is considered some of the best snorkeling/diving sites in the Indian Ocean, someone said in whole Asia. Unfortunately, at the time of my visit I didn’t get the PADI Open Water Diving. Anyway I did a great snorkelling around the island.
I stayed for 5 days in Iboih that follows a rocky headland with a string of simple bungalows along a woodsy footpath. It was a nice destination to start exploring surround. Just opposite Iboih there is Pulau Rubiah and this is one the most beautiful underwater spot I’ve ever seen in my life. The Sea Garden is a spectacular coral reef that surround this densely forested island. It’s absolutely easy to get there. Rent a kayak or even if you are a strong swimmer it’s possible to make your own way there, but beware of strong currents.
Would you like to take a look to my Photo Gallery of Indonesia? Click here
9. KUANG SI FALLS, LAOS
Legend claims a wise old man beckoned the Nam Si river by digging deep into the earth. After the water arrived, a golden deer made its home under a protruding rock. The sound of the water falling on this bolder created an enchanting echo that drew people from as far away as China to this site. ‘Kuang’ means deer and ‘Si’ means dig.
The falls themselves are pretty spectacular, amazing Asia destination for everyone with incredible blue water, everything surrounded by jungle. At the very bottom of the falls there are several pools of water and small cascades. Kuang Si Falls, the turquoise blue water in the lush jungle.
8. CHOCOLATE HILLS, PHILIPPINES
One of Bohol’s premier tourist attractions are the iconic Chocolate Hills, a series of majestic green grass hillocks that turns brown, like chocolate. They are span far into the horizon.
They have been declared the country’s third National Geological Monument and proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Let’s talk about their origin.
The Chocolate Hills are conical karst hills consist of Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene, thin to medium bedded, sandy to rubbly marine limestone. These limestone contain the abundant fossils of shallow marine foraminifera, coral, mollusks, and algae. These conical hills are geomorphological features called cockpit karst, which were created by a combination of the dissolution of limestone by rainfall, surface water, and groundwater, and their sub-aerial erosion by rivers and streams after they had been uplifted above sea level and fractured by tectonic processes.
It is a very magnificent wonder of Asia and even of the modern world. It is best to take a photo in the afternoon or early morning. It’s an easy access by scooter from Loboc, with a good road and stopovers on the way.
Would you like to take a look to my Photo Gallery of Philippines? Click here.
7. KAYANGAN LAKE, PHILIPPINES
The freshwater lake and the landscape was definitely breathtaking. According to its people this lake is supposed to be among the cleanest ones in Asia, made of 70% fresh water and 30% salt water. The scenery is surrounded by rocky mountains covered by green trees and plants. If you’re expecting paradise, then you will not be disappointed, this is a paradise on whole Asia.
I really can say that this destination got my vote like one of the best I’ve ever seen, it’s a creation of unique environment.
6. RED SAND DUNES, VIETNAM
Mui Ne is famous for its enormous and gorgeous red and white sand dunes, but as this is Vietnam and not deepest Mali, I could not experience them in the silence of the desert. This destination is made by dunes that are up to 10 meters high, and you can have lots of fun exploring them and even more fun doing some sandboarding, a sport that local children will be happy to teach you for a small fee. The view from the top of the sand dunes is stunning, I was able to see the ocean that surround many Asia islands, anyway sunset is the perfect time to go there.
5. KOH RONG SAMLOEM, CAMBODIA
Well, Koh Rong Samloen wasn’t on my itinerary and I have chosen this island after a long comparison with its neighbouring island: Koh Rong. I read a lot about those tiny islands and after few days spent in this area I can say that they are rapidly emerging as pearls of the south coast. The island has not much to offer in terms of activities.
In those days I felt absorbed in a natural landscape with no wifi, no tv and no newspaper to know what was going on in the outside world. Electricity on the island runs by solar panels and generators, only operates a few hours a day and there is barely any phone signal. I suppose this is how the beaches of Thailand looked like 20 years ago: utterly serene and beautiful. Calm, clear water laps lazily idyllic white sand beaches, and there’s not much to do but lay back and enjoy the sun, sand and waves. Word will get out, it always does. My special tip about this amazing island? Go there, you will not be a part of Cambodia, or Asia or even the world when you will float on the crystal clear water, read a book, open your mind and have different feeling when the freedom will surround you.
4. KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK, THAILAND
Khao Sok National Park is covered by the oldest evergreen rain-forest in the world, huge limestone mountains shooting straight up in the air, deep valleys, breathtaking lakes, exciting caves, wild animals and much more. This place is a great destination to visit in Asia. The Sok river is a perfect place for a relaxing canoe ride down the slowly moving stream. Besides the animals (birds and if you are lucky wild monkey) , you can see stunning limestone cliffs covered with dense jungle and some rural life along the river as locals fish, wash laundry and take their daily household water from the river.
Would you like to take a look to my Photo Gallery of Thailand? Click here
3. PHONG NHA NATIONAL PARK, VIETNAM
The first thing to know about Phong Nha National Park is that its collection of stunning caves, towering stalagmites and amazing karst mountains represent one the most beautiful landscape in Vietnam and in whole Asia. This is my opinion after having been there a couple of days.There are many caves in this area, one of those is Hang Soon Cave, the world’s largest cave discovered in 2009. The only way to visit it is by a 7-days exploration at the price of 3000 $US. Go to Paradise Cave, you will enjoy. The park is the centre of the last big tropical fortest in Vietnam, it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site.
2. BIG LAGOON, PHILIPPINES
I would like to say: Deep In The Real Pearl Of El Nido. I had never thought the world could have been that beautiful and you find this place in Southeast Asia. Big Lagoon was seriously breathtaking. It can only be accessed by boat at high tide as it can get very shallow at the entrance, for this reason the crew of our boat had to get off and push the boat at some point. Quiet, wonderful and peaceful. I felt like being on a dream when I looked around at the scenic limestone surrounding the lagoon and the different shades of water colours, things you think you can only see in a movie. Small and huge cliffs, coral reef and crystal clear water.
1. KADIDIRI ISLAND, INDONESIA
Located at the top of the Gulf of Tomini in Central Sulawesi, Kadidiri is one of the islands in the Togean National Park that preserves the wealth of the Coral Triangle. This is the land of Bajau People, still dive for “trepang”, pearls and other commercial marine productions, as they have done for hundreds of years. The Bajau are hunter-gatherers who spend much of their lives on boats, travelling with their family wherever they go. After having been in this place we must confirm that each day something was on offer: activities like going fishing for dinner, snorkelling trip on the nearby reef, island hopping, dolphin watching. This place had a unique wonderful snorkeling spot I’ve ever seen in my life. Kadidiri Island deserves the first position on my trip to Southeast Asia.
Author of this post: Davide
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