Southeast Asia is one of the most diverse regions of the world. For many years most of the countries were unsafe to travel to, in, or sometimes even around. American military members were at one time restricted from bringing their families to Thailand or South Korea. Their assignments were considered remote, and generally only lasted 12-months in duration.
And who in their proper mind, especially any child of the 1960’s, would have ever thought Vietnam would one day become a popular tourist destination? It’s almost unfathomable.
Times change. New generations with worn out stories from elders being their only knowledge of darker times they never personally experienced, accept what their forefathers could not. They grew up in a different world and they want different things. Peace and prosperity being two of those.
Americans are just getting over their past record with Southeast Asia and realizing there are lots of cool destinations which are perfectly safe and beyond heavenly. Australians were probably the first to catch on, but known for their adventurous spirits, this should have been expected.
Europeans and the British are finding the little extra spent on airfare can be easily recouped by the low cost of being there. A very nice hotel with all of the amenities will run you 50-bucks a night in a desirable location. Of course, if you want to spend less you can still get a nice comfortable room. And unless you have a gourmet pallet, you’re going to stay well fed and happy even on a slim budget. You won’t miss a meal.
Of course, as tourism grows, so does the cost of things. The concept of supply and demand is universal. It’s difficult to say if costs will ever implode beyond the reach of anyone less than wealthy, but so far, three-days on the French Riviera will get you two-weeks at plenty of Southeast Asian locations.
Money aside, where are all these people going to? What should we know that they know? Southeast Asia is a long way from the U.S. and it would be a disaster to choose the wrong destination.
Mui Ne, Vietnam
If you want to stay like royalty at a hotel where the pool overlooks the ocean and a free full all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet suitable for most nationalities will kick start your day in fashion, spend $40 dollars a night at the Tien Dat Resort. You can find cheaper. But, why?
A popular attraction at Mui Ne are the sand dunes. The yellow dunes are where visitors rent plastic sleds and slide down the giant sand hills at breakneck speed. The white dunes are where one of the best views of the magnificent sunset can be watched.
There are many very good restaurants from which to choose such as a place simply called “The Most Popular Restaurant,” where inexpensive American, Vietnamese, and Thai food, are offered up. Try the banana pancakes. Fried chicken, fruit shakes, and traditional noodles are all on the menu.
If an exotic nightlife is on your agenda, look no further. Along the strip of resorts, there are numerous tucked away nightclubs such as Jibe, which rivals any club found in a major city like Chicago or NYC. The majority of them are beachside so it’s easy to enjoy a relaxing view while dancing and drinking the night away.
You simply will not find a better destination for windsurfing or kiteboarding, and you can rent them almost everywhere.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Widely known as one of the most laid-back places in all of Southeast Asia, Luang Prabang is a mixture of impressive Laos and French Colonial architecture where a photo buff could spend an entire day just snapping pictures. Early mornings are spellbinding as locals turn out to pay alms to the monks. It’s a daily ritual not to be missed, but then again, it would be difficult to not witness it.
While much of Laos remains rough and unchartered, Luang Prabang offers modern restaurants and nightclubs, but at a much better price. Any cuisine imaginable can be found.
One visitor suggested losing your city map and just wandering the back streets and alleyways, as residents are very warm and inviting. Or, since the pace is slow, renting a bicycle to get around town.
A day trip to the Kuang Si Waterfalls should be a priority for all travelers to this area. The natural beauty will stay forever etched in your heart.
The Royal Palace is fascinating. It’s a hub for deeply spiritual Laotions, which most of them are. and the highest amount of respect should be given when visiting it. For a real treat, visit the nighttime handicraft market and pick up some very cool souvenirs that you will treasure forever.
Green Jungle Park is just south of town and consists of zip lines, rope courses, and monkey bridges all set against a jungle backdrop. There is also a quaint cafe and gorgeous flower gardens.
Kata Beach, Thailand
Unlike its neighboring city of Phuket which is known for its resort hotels and partying til the wee hours, Kata Beach is much quieter and relaxing. The best part is that $30 dollars a night will get you a very nice room with an ocean view, air conditioning, and a swimming pool.
The salt water is warm and turquoise colored, the sand is white, and surfing is a favorite pastime. The entire scene is nothing short of blissful. Many visitors go elephant trekking or take advantage of a Thai cooking class. Others choose to simply become comatose while lounging in the sun with a very tasty Thai beer.
Thailand has long been a favorite for Australians on holiday. It’s time that the rest of the world picked up on this Southeast Asian paradise.
There is still a nightlife in Kata Beach but you have to look harder to find it and it isn’t as elaborate as in Phuket. The more laid-back atmosphere is what attracts visitors in search of the ultimate in rest and relaxation.
For your next vacation, have a gander at Southeast Asia. You may be surprised to find you’ve been missing out on some of the best travel destinations in the world.