South East Asia
Nestled gracefully in the heart of south-east Asia, Cambodia is a myriad of architectural wonders and beautiful scenes of nature; and it is these scenes which offer us a deep dive into its fascinating history. Invest in the history and legend of the iconic Angkor Wat, a UNESCO gem and testament to the country’s previous regal sentiments. In the vibrant capital, Phnom Penh, an evocative blend of French colonial charm and market rhythms meet the solemnity of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, reminding all that with beauty often comes tragedy. North of the city, the serene expanse of Tonle Sap Lake moves one to consider the country’s national natural wonders; from the vast landscapes of Ratanakiri Province to the tranquil beaches at Sihanoukville on the south coast. Last but not least, with culinary adventures abound, street food like amok and Khmer noodles will delight any who try them; one would be hard-pressed to not feel in awe of the flavourful identity this nation has created for itself.
Embark on a journey of the undiscovered in Laos, a country pillowed in lush landscapes and cultural magnetism which rivals that of its neighbours Cambodia and Vietnam. In the UNESCO celebrated enclave of Luang Prabang, saffron-robed monks grace the riverbanks and ancient temples tell the historic tales of centuries passed amongst the jungle fauna. From here, venture into Vientiane, the capital city, which seamlessly blends colonial opulence with Laotian simplicity, perhaps epitomised by the grandeur of the Patuxai Victory Monument and the importance of the religious That Dam Stupa. Even as a landlocked country, the verdant and timeless elegance of the Kuang Si Falls and the Plain of Jars stands shoulder to shoulder with that of its coastal neighbours. With the development of the high-speed rail, reaching the chic retreat of the southern elevated region of Bolaven Plateau is smoother than ever, and you’ll find yourself at home amongst the coffee plantations and slower pace of rural life, allowing for a panoramic exploration of the country’s multifaceted nature.
Home to around 120 active volcanoes and defined by the title of the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is a destination ripe for world-class diving due to its ‘Coral Triangle’ locality, but it also presents its strengths in sightseeing and cultural immersion alongside its biodiversity. From Bali, known as the ‘Island of the Gods’ to Komodo, which is notably famous for its eponymous prehistoric Komodo dragons, this collection of islands is home to some of the most sought-after vacations in the world. With renowned beauty spread far and wide from the volcanic landscapes of Java to the lush jungles of Sumatra, and 6 defined religions, allowing for an extensive cultural immersion; not to mention the UNESCO-listed Borobudur and Prambanan temples in Jakarta, you will feel as though you have been transported to another time and place. And while sarongs, grilling skills, power naps and Indomie noodles are unifying themes across the archipelago, it is the cultural diversity which sets this constellation of islands apart.
Malaysia is a country whose rich cultural backstory, beautiful historical landmarks, mesmerising cuisine and local lifestyle attract so many visitors from a variety of destinations. Explore the history of the Malay civilisation and the native Malay people, their position as a global hub on the silk and spice route, the unconstrained beauty of the land, and the prior ruling regents - perhaps as a starting point. In Kuala Lumpur, the cosmopolitan capital city, the iconic Petronas Towers and heaving street markets symbolise the nation's progressive spirit, differentiating itself from the UNESCO-listed city of Penang, which sits on the west coast. Here, the busy streets of George Town amaze with their culinary delights; roti canai, nasi lemak, and laksa in particular, showcasing the country’s favouring of Indian, Chinese and Malay fusion style cooking. Perhaps afterwards, travel to the lush jungles of Malaysian Borneo and discover the enchanting biodiversity of Kinabalu Park, or retreat into nature at the pristine beaches of Langkawi and the tranquil tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands.
Yet another south-east Asian country identified by its archipelago of 7,641 islands, the Philippines beckons travellers to visit with its unparalleled beauty and warm hospitality, known locally for its spirit as ‘kapwa’. Otherwise, the pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant coral reefs which line many of the islands create the tropical paradise that the nation is recognised by. Palawan, consistently ranked as one of the world's best islands, boasts the enchanting landscapes of El Nido and the mesmerising Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Manila, the capital city, immerse yourself in the rich history of the Intramuros district where Spanish colonial style lives on in the cobblestone streets and historic structures like Fort Santiago. It is here you will also delight in the local delicacies like adobo and halo-halo, which perfectly balance the elements of tamis (sweet), asim (sour) and alat (salty) in their take on a unique fusion of influences. Moving southwards, the Chocolate Hills of central island, Bohol, and the Banaue Rice Terraces carved into the mountains in Ifugao present natural wonders that have entertained both scientists and geographers for decades, and aesthetically stand out due to their visual singularity.
Known internationally as the ‘Lion City’, Singapore stands out not only for its modernity in this otherwise tranquil and tropical region of the world but also for its undeniably skilled architecture which moulds its impressive skyline. In the creative design of iconic structures like the Marina Bay Sands and the Garden of the Bay, there is much to be admired. Further inland, the neighbourhoods of Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam offer a taste of Singapore’s vibrant multi-culturalism that will become apparent through the delicious street food; from char kway teow to Hainanese chicken rice and laksa. For a glimpse into Singapore's green side, escape to the lush oasis of the Singapore Botanic Gardens or the futuristic Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay. Discover the city's unique blend of nature and urbanity at the Southern Ridges, a network of walking trails that offers panoramic views of the skyline. A visit to the cultural sights and significant temples of note must not be missed, with spiritual buildings such as the Al-Abrar Mosque and Chinese Methodist Church standing head to head in an emblematic sign of the country’s progressive and accepting nature.
Thailand, with its capital city of Bangkok; a metropolis teeming with energy that simultaneously holds the ancient temples of Wat Arun and the Grand Palace next to buzzing street markets and futuristic malls, is a truly captivating destination. From pad Thai to mango sticky rice, the cuisine here speaks for itself and its people. In the north sits the city of Chiang Mai, with its immaculate 14th-century Buddhist temples and nearby royal residences of the Phu Ping Palace. Here, the traditional dance performances and native wood & lacquer craftsmanship find the spotlight in the local night bazaar. A testament to Thailand’s rich cultural heritage, this is located near to the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’; a region full of lush landscapes which joins with Laos and Myanmar to allow exploration of the diversity of the population and environment. Nearby on the southeastern coast, the idyllic islands of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, and Krabi unveil sandy beaches and turquoise waters that feel untouched amongst national parks and Buddhist statues. Meanwhile, a quick stop to the ancient city of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will put the country’s historical grandeur into perspective and will provide a fix for any history enthusiasts.
From the reminiscent wartime identity seen in the Cu Chi Tunnels of Ho Chi Minh in the south to the atmospheric capital of Hanoi, Vietnam is a destination full of vitality and convivial spirit just waiting to be explored. A diverse landscape unveils itself here from terraced rice fields in Sapa to the pristine coastal strips of Nha Trang and doesn’t stop there; perhaps a quick traverse down the Mekong Delta is needed for the adventurous visitor. Sitting in harmony in Hanoi, the centuries-old temples of the Tran Quoc Pagoda and the French colonial aesthetic coexist in a fusion of modernity and antiquity; a few districts down, the Old Quarter offers an enchanting maze of markets, street vendors and hidden gems for the undeniable food critic. Venture to the equally culturally rich city of Hoi An, where lantern-lit streets, ancient architecture, and the picturesque Thu Bon river create an atmospheric setting. Of course, no trip is complete without perusing the natural wonders of Ha Long Bay, with its emerald waters and towering limestone karsts, inviting you to cruise through this UNESCO World Heritage Site in a leisurely fashion.
Steeped in History, Vibrant Food Scenes, Busting Cities