Seven Hidden Gems in Southeast Asia

Seven Hidden Gems in Southeast Asia
Komodo National Park © Unsplash

The world is loaded with picturesque landmarks that are both natural and artificial. These wonders represent culture and chronicle that lost in time. The list of Seven Wonders of the World is constantly changing from time to time. Apart from global wonders, there are also marvellous landmarks near us. Purely based on personal taste, below is the list of seven hidden gems in Southeast Asia. Source : World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia


  1. Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay

Limestone karst isn’t a rare occurrence on earth but the outstanding scale of the limestone karst pillars of Ha Long Bay are second to none. Along the Gulf of Tonkin, these stones are sprouting more and less 1600 earth spikes from the waters. The stones create skyscraper of islands and islets beyond the boundary of living things except for the native seabirds that make them home. UNESCO marked the entire site of Ha Long Bay in 1994. Years later, the place doesn’t undergo significant changes but the slow erosion that notched camouflaged caves phenomenal arches into the stones. Lying on an old boat, gazing upon the magnificent stalactites and stalagmites, and kayaking past the floating villages and oysters farms are considered the best ways to experience Ha Long Bay.


2. Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang

Enshrouded by lush mountains, the city of Luang Prabang is settled in a valley at the convergence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. Luang Prabang once was the capital city of Laos before the late 19th century when the monarchy was outdated and forced to receive patronage from France. The pact left crumbling colonial architectures among the gold-and-red-roofed temples. These ruins deliver fin-de-siècle vibes.

The merger of cultures is spotted all over the place, from the blend of fresh coffee and scent of frangipani in the morning air to the appearance of monks in saffron-coloured robes wandering across faded European-style facades. This historical place offers various interesting activity such as going to the enthusiastic morning market, riding to the Tad Se to look at its cascades and pool, floating along the river to Pak Ou Buddha Caves, and gazing at the sunset upon the golden stupa of the Sacred Hill of Phou Si.


3. Gunung Mulu National Park, Borneo, Malaysia

Gunung Mulu National Park

Gunung Mulu is a highly heterogeneous national park in South-East Asia with the old-growth rainforest, deep caverns, and high-pitched karst. UNESCO listed the park in 2000 underlining its remarkable landscape and wildlife scatter from Mount Mulu (2,376m) to Mount Api (1,170m). It requires about three to trek these two mountains that rise high from the ground.


4. Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns, Thailand

Sukhothai Historical Town

Sukhothai was the capital of the original Kingdom of Siam. It was about 750 years ago when Siam embarked Thailand’s Golden Age as Theravada Buddhism reached the land. The kingdom withstood only for a few centuries before it was defeated by the Kingdom of Ayutthaya and claimed by the jungle.

Nowadays, the attractions come from Sukhothai Historical Park, Wat Mahathat—Sukhothai’s largest surviving temple, and the temple of Wat Sra Si which is dwelled by monks to this day. Outside the walled city, there are also Kamphaeng Phet—a former military outpost and Si Satchanalai—the centre of the ancient kingdom’s ceramics manufacturing.


5. Pyu Ancient Cities, Myanmar

Pyu Ancient Cities

Back in 1996, Myanmar enrolled eight sites for the inscription of UNESCO which then struck out for about two decades. Pros and cons haunted the reputation of these places. Nowadays, the different societal condition has changed the face of Myanmar. UNESCO is working on preserving historical sites in the country.

The cities of Ancient Pyu are among the first parts of Myanmar that achieved World Heritage title. Halin, Beikthano, and Sri Ksetra are three walled cities as the holdover of Pyu Ancient Kingdom that triumphed for over a thousand years between 200 BC and 900 AD. Tracing back to 2 BC, Pyu Ancient Kingdom entwined a relation with (Hindi) which later embarked the spread of Buddhism in the region. The ruins of the ancient cities provide the earliest surviving artefacts of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. Thus, the religious landmark is continuously visited by Buddhist pilgrims.


6. Temple of Preah Vihear, Cambodia

Temple of Preah Vihear

Temple of Preah Vihear is an ancient temple located on a cliff-edge high up in the Dangrek Mountains. It was established around the 11th century to praise Shiva. It was built to mark the victory of Khmer over the invasion of Chams. From the beginning, the temple has conflict in its bone. It becomes the centre of a fierce land row between Cambodia and Thailand erupted conflict in 2008 when UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage site. The tension was getting high around 2011 that the locals spatter gunfire. The tension has died down that UK’s Foreign Office lifted its travel ban on 2018.


7. Komodo National Park, Indonesia

Varanus komodoensis

Who doesn’t know about Komodo dragon? The world’s largest living lizard with its low haunches, scaly skins, and venomous saliva is fierce enough to scare us. Komodo dragon is a creature whose reputation has reached everyone’s ears in the world. Of all places in the whole world, the creature only inhabits Indonesia, precisely five islands in Nusa Tenggara Archipelago in which two of them—Komodo Island and Rinca Island—are listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage.

The main attraction of Komodo National Park is (of course) Komodo spread across the whole island. Starting from Komodo Island’s port, Long Liah to Poreng Valley, the visitors may spot komodo here and there along the five and a half kilometre hike trek. Besides, the National Park provides choice to stay overnight spending time to take a hike up to Mount Ara with cockatoos and megapodes strutting along the way.


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