long boat and poda island, Thailand

Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and for some very good reasons – a tropical climate, warm all year around, sublime beaches, rich culture, delicious food and last but not least, luxury that doesn’t cost the earth.

Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and the island-city state of Singapore are the lands that make up this wonderful area. Thailand and Vietnam are arguably the most popular countries in Southeast Asia for tourists.

Thailand

Spend exhilarating days exploring Thailand’s natural wonders – the ancient rainforest of Khao Sok which is home to a variety of flora and fauna including the bizarre and rare flower, Rafflesia kerrii, Phra Thaeo National Park with its Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre, and the Similan Archipelago Reefs, a National Marine Park with marvellous diving and snorkelling.

Spend time sampling the fabulous food and glitzy shopping malls of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital. Take a trip on a traditional longtail boat. See the locations where movies were shot (Around the World in 80 Days, The Man with the Golden Gun and The Beach, amongst several others). Relax on the stunning Railay and Phra Nang beaches. This country, known as The Land of Smiles (it is estimated there are 13 different smiles each with their own meaning), is worth spending some serious time in.

Vietnam

For an awesome combination of sky, water and stone, visit Halong Bay, one of Southeast Asia’s most perfect natural wonders. Halong Bay contains around 2,000 islands bearing names such as Elephant, Wallowing Buffalo and Fighting Cock – so named because of the fascinating shapes the elements have eroded them into. This bay with its sea arches, caves and floating villages is accessible by boat or kayak. You’ll be glad you made the effort for the view from the top of Thuy Son alone.

From Ho Chi Minh City, make the journey to the Mekong Delta. You won’t be disappointed by this massive river delta, rich in wildlife and history. Don’t miss the spectacular bird colonies.

Ho Chi Minh City, still known locally as Saigon, is worth a visit too, if only to sample the Ben Thanh Market offering a vast choice of goods and local produce as well as an authentic taste of city life in Vietnam. In Hanoi, make time to see the wonderful Citadel and take time out on the West Lake for some relaxation.