Thailand loi kratong lantern festival
Vietnam-hanoi-street
Hoi An vietnam

Is there anywhere on earth more misunderstood and exoticized than Southeast Asia? Decades of backpacker lore and lazy travel writing have cemented all the obvious clichés in the public mind: the beaches, the fiery 'street' food in steamy cities, Buddhist traditions and mountaintop temples. But is this image fair? Or even real?

For every staged photo of a deserted tropical beach there are countless others struggling with the burdens of overtourism. In Southeast Asia 'street' food is just called food. Yes, mainstream culture here is grounded in its Buddhist roots, but not to the exclusion of countless ethnic minorities, lively—sometimes violent—political movements, or rocking music and vibrant creative arts scenes. Most of this is whitewashed (or just outright ignored) by mainstream tourism marketing, much to the detriment of both the people who live here and those who come to visit. Instead, Southeast Asia has become a destination that tourists "do" rather than multi-dimensional places with real people living real lives.

Nearly 10% of the world's population lives in this corner of Asia and there's so much more to see and learn than the clichés would have you believe. Slow down, break out of the luxury resorts, pull up a plastic stool and see what contemporary Southeast Asia is all about. You won't regret it!

Orangutans in Borneo & Sumatra

An essential guide to seeing wild orangutans responsibly

The best places to see orangutans are also the only places you can see them in their natural habitat: on their native islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Seeing wild orangutans means embarking on a (professionally guided) trek into the jungle, but there are several sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres which offer a more accessible way to see orangutans feeding and swinging through the trees. While many of these centres do invaluable work protecting and conserving orangutans, it’s well worth making the extra effort to try to see them in their natural habitat if you can...read more

5 days

Orangutans and Tanjung Puting

Wildlife of Central Kalimantan
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7 days

Sarawak’s national parks

Wildlife spotting and colourful Kuching
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14 days

The best of Sarawak

Orangutans, rainforests and beaches
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7 days

Bangkok and beyond

Street-food and history
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10 days

Wats and mountaintops up North

The best of Northern Thailand
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13 days

Action and relaxing down South

National parks and golden beaches
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10 days

Vietnam north to south

Cities, Mekong Delta and Halong Bay
View itinerary
12 days

Classic Vietnam

Historical cities and rural waterways
View itinerary
  • Borneo

    Borneo

    Untamed nature
    Borneo is 'one great wild, untidy, luxuriant hothouse, made by nature for herself', wrote Charles Darwin in the 1800s...
  • Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

    Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

    25km west of the waterside town of Sandakan is Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, a rehabilitation centre which runs popular pay-to-volunteer programmes...
  • Kota Kinabalu

    Kota Kinabalu

    Whether you’re wanting to scuba dive in pristine coral reef, trek Malaysia’s highest mountain or simply relax on the beach of a stylish resort, Kota Kinabalu seems to have something for everyone...
  • Kuching

    Kuching

    Nestled between the jungle and the sea, Sarawak’s capital began life as a trading post, built up by the family of Sir James Brooke, the first of the line of “white rajahs” who ruled Sarawak for a century...
  • Tanjung Puting National Park

    Tanjung Puting National Park

    Set among a large swathe of coastal tropical heath and peat swamp forest, Tanjung Puting is one of the major hopes for the orangutan's survival...
  • Kumai

    Kumai

    Head to Kumai in Central Kalimantan, a port town and gateway to Tanjung Puting National Park...
  • Bako National Park

    Bako National Park

    Sarawak’s oldest national park is just over 20km from capital city Kuching, and is a popular day trip for tourists wanting a taste of the region's wildlife...
  • Kinabatangan Wildlife Reserve

    Kinabatangan Wildlife Reserve

    Sabah’s largest waterway is one of only two regions in the world which are inhabited by ten species of primate, and is Borneo’s most popular destination for tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of a wild orangutan...
  • Semenggoh Nature Reserve

    Semenggoh Nature Reserve

    A couple of hours south of Sarawak’s capital Kuching, Semenggoh Nature Reserve is a research and rehabilitation centre for orphaned, displaced and injured orangutans, hornbills and honey bears...
  • Danum Valley

    Danum Valley

    Danum Valley protected forest reserve is one of the largest swathes of primary lowland dipterocarp rainforest in Borneo, set aside for wildlife conservation, research and education...
  • Mulu National Park

    ...
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

    ...
  • Batang Ai National Park

    Batang Ai National Park

    Batang Ai National Park is the only place in Sarawak where you can see wild orangutans and, due to being so remote, is one of the least known places to visit...
  • Singapore

    Singapore

    ...
  • Thailand

    Thailand

    More than tropical beaches and temples
    Thailand, a nearly 1,000-year-old kingdom with a population and landmass to match the UK, is a land of plenty...
  • Bangkok

    Bangkok

    Known by the locals as Krung Thep, Thailand’s capital city is a sprawling, sweaty fusion of old and new, where towering skyscrapers emerge from crumbling pavements, and historic temples are circled by colourful tuk tuk cabs and monks clad in vibrant orange robes...
  • Ko Lanta

    Ko Lanta

    In Krabi Province on Thailand’s Andaman coast lies the island of Ko Lanta, where coral-fringed golden beaches and mangroves give way to sleepy streets and a rocky, jungly interior...
  • Ayutthaya

    Ayutthaya

    Founded in 1350 and destroyed by invading Burmese in 1767, the once-glorious city of Ayutthaya was a former Siamese kingdom, preceding Bangkok as the capital of Siam...
  • Kanchanaburi

    Kanchanaburi

    Although best known for its sobering role in WW2 history — with sites including the Death Railway, Bridge over the River Kwae (Kwai) and Allied War Cemetery — Western Thailand's Kanchanaburi has plenty to offer tourists wanting to stay a little longer...
  • Chiang Rai

    Chiang Rai

    Near the borders of Laos and Myanmar lies the smaller and lesser visited former seat of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Rai...
  • Chiang Mai

    Chiang Mai

    Nestled in the mountainous north of Thailand and surrounded by lush countryside, the former seat of the Lanna Kingdom is perhaps best known for its 14th to 17th-century temples, including the former royal temple Wat Chedi Luang and mountaintop Wat Doi Suthep...
  • Chiang Dao

    Chiang Dao

    Lying in the shadow of the craggy peaks of Doi Luang Chiang Dao mountain and surrounded by rainforest, lies the small rural village of Chiang Dao...
  • Doi Inthanon

    ...
  • Doi Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Station

    Doi Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Station

    Of the scores of doi — "mountain(s)" in the Northern dialect — worth visiting in Northern Thailand, few have the effect of this 1,928m hill station blanketed in praya suekrong (Thai cherry blossom) and other temperate flowers and birdlife...
  • Krabi

    Krabi

    At the centre of the southwest coast on the Andaman Sea, Krabi is often cited as Thailand's most visually impressive province...
  • Trang

    Trang

    A step below Phuket and Krabi in terms of tourist numbers but with comparable natural beauty, Trang province's small and quiet islands are ideal for families keen to do some island-hopping...
  • Khao Sok

    Khao Sok

    The South’s most popular nature reserve, Khao Sok National Park is home to 738-sq-km of virgin lowland jungle, towering limestone karsts, waterfalls, caves and the dazzling man-made Cheow Lan Lake...
  • Trat

    ...
  • Ko Chang

    ...
  • Ko Wai

    ...
  • Ko Mak

    Ko Mak

    Unlike its two larger neighbours, Ko Chang and Ko Kut, Ko Mak consists mainly of rolling farmland rather than jungle-draped mountains...
  • Ko Rang

    ...
  • Ko Kut

    Ko Kut

    Many of the beaches that rim 111 square-km Ko Kut are not only some of the best that you'll come across in the Ko Chang archipelago; they also rank among the finest beaches found anywhere in Thailand...
  • Sukhothai

    Sukhothai

    Founded in the 12th century, Sukhothai (Dawning Lotus) was the first Thai kingdom to conquer most of the land within modern Thailand's borders...
  • Khao Lak

    Khao Lak

    On Thailand's southwest coast north of Phuket, Khao Lak has just the right balance of quietude and action for families...
  • Chiang Khan

    Chiang Khan

    Chiang Khan's historic temples, heritage houses, trendy cafes and Thai massage shops make it fun for a day of strolling or cycling...
  • Prachuap Khiri Khan

    Prachuap Khiri Khan

    This hourglass-shaped province, Prachuap for short, bridges the southern and central regions of Thailand...
  • Ubon Ratchathani

    Ubon Ratchathani

    Ubon Ratchathani, in Thailand's north-eastern region, also known as Isaan, draws only a fraction of the tourists that pour into other parts of the country, but it has some great attractions, a famously intense cuisine, and Lao-speaking people who haven't been hardened by mainstream tourism...
  • Nakhon Si Thammarat

    Nakhon Si Thammarat

    One of the largest cities in southern Thailand, Nakhon Si Thammarat is only 100km south of the ferry pier for Ko Samui...
  • Chanthaburi

    Chanthaburi

    Most tourists catch a glimpse of Chanthaburi, the City of the Moon, from a bus while heading to Ko Chang or another island in the eastern Gulf...
  • Phuket

    Phuket

    Thailand's largest island is tourism juggernaut Phuket in the southwest, measuring in at 543 square km...
  • Ko Samui

    Ko Samui

    In the southern Gulf, Thailand's second largest island has a cute airport to go with most of the same types of made-for-tourism attractions and lodgings that are found on Phuket...
  • Ko Phangan

    Ko Phangan

    This funky island to the north of Ko Samui has a reputation for a hippie-stoner scene and drunken debauchery at the monthly Full Moon Party on Haad Rin...
  • Ko Chang (Elephant Island)

    Ko Chang (Elephant Island)

    This 'Elephant Island' of the eastern Gulf ranks as Thailand's third largest island at 213 square km...
  • Ko Samet

    Ko Samet

    This stingray-shaped island in the eastern Gulf is only 170 km southeast of Bangkok, making it convenient for a few days of beach time at the end of a trip...
  • Ko Tao

    Ko Tao

    Located in the southern Gulf and linked to both Ko Phangan and Ko Samui via year-round island-hopping ferries, this 'Turtle Island' is Thailand's most popular place to learn to dive...
  • Ko Phi Phi

    Ko Phi Phi

    ...
  • Koh Yao Noi

    ...
  • Khao Yai

    Khao Yai

    A three-hour drive northeast from Bangkok, Thailand’s oldest national park is 2,168 square-km of mountainous jungle which has UNESCO Natural World Heritage status...
  • Kui Buri

    Kui Buri

    Straddling the Tenassarim Mountains near Myanmar, Kui Buri National Park is the only place in the country where you're virtually guaranteed a glimpse of wild elephants and wild gaur, the world’s largest bovine species...
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot

    Khao Sam Roi Yot

    Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park's name means Mountains of 300 Peaks...
  • Kaeng Krachan

    Kaeng Krachan

    Kaeng Krachan is the country’s largest national park and covers nearly 3,000 square km of mountainous terrain...
  • Ko Lipe

    Ko Lipe

    Way down in the Thai southwest, Ko Lipe is one of Thailand's most alluring islands thanks to its soft white sand and azure blue water...
  • Mu Ko Tarutao National Marine Park

    Mu Ko Tarutao National Marine Park

    The mountainous islands of Ko Adang and Ko Rawi have dozens of undeveloped white-sand beaches...
  • Mu Ko Ang Thong

    Mu Ko Ang Thong

    The name means Archipelago of the Golden Bowl, and the many karst islands of this marine park are within day-tripping distance of both Ko Samui and Ko Phangan in the southern Gulf...
  • Mu Ko Surin Marine Park

    Mu Ko Surin Marine Park

    Set in the far northern reaches of Thailand's Andaman Sea, Mu Ko Surin Marine Park covers a pair of islands with healthy reefs in between...
  • Ko Jum

    Ko Jum

    For a low-key island with local character, consider Ko Jum, where Long Beach (or Hat Yao) has plenty of space, and lovely sunsets over Ko Phi Phi...
  • Ko Bulon Leh

    Ko Bulon Leh

    Charming, tranquil and unlike any other beach in Thailand, the soft white sand on Ko Bulon Leh's east coast nudges up to a wee pink schoolhouse...
  • Vietnam

    Vietnam

    Head-spinning contradictions and character
    Any preconceived notion of Vietnam will quickly disintegrate upon arrival...
  • Ho Chi Minh City

    Ho Chi Minh City

    Previously known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City changed its name after Vietnam unified following the Vietnam War...
  • Hanoi

    Hanoi

    Vietnam’s capital is a riot of blaring horns, stunning architecture and delicious street food...
  • Sapa

    ...
  • Hoi An

    Hoi An

    Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s most attractive cities, due in part to the preservation of historic buildings in its Old Town (Hoi An avoided being bombed in the Vietnam War)...
  • Halong Bay

    Halong Bay

    Halong Bay is a World Heritage Site and Vietnam’s most popular tourist destination...
  • Mekong Delta

    Mekong Delta

    The Mekong Delta is Vietnam’s breadbasket, with 70% of the country’s fruit and 50% of its rice grown here...
  • Phu Quoc

    Phu Quoc

    Phu Quoc is an idyllic island that offers beaches, diving and kayaking to those looking to escape the bustle of Vietnam’s cities...
  • Hue

    Hue

    Charming Hue was once the capital of the Nguyen dynasty and is a great place to explore the history of Imperial Vietnam...
  • Dalat

    Dalat

    Dive into a bit of adventure with a guided canyoning experience at the Elephant and Pongour Waterfalls near to the city of Dalat in Vietnam’s central highlands...
  • Con Dao Islands

    Con Dao Islands

    This remote archipelago off the southern coast is Vietnam’s premier spot for viewing sea life...
  • Phong Nha Caves

    Phong Nha Caves

    Home to the largest and third largest cave in the world, Phong Nha is a wonder of ancient karst and underground worlds...
  • Fansipan Mountain

    Fansipan Mountain

    At 3,143m, Fansipan is the highest mountain in the Indochinese Peninsula...
  • Hue

    ...
  • Malaysia

    Malaysia

    Asia's cultural melting pot
    ...
  • Kuala Lumpur

    Kuala Lumpur

    ...
  • Johor Bahru

    ...
  • Penang

    ...
  • Malacca

    ...
  • Cambodia

    ...
  • Krong Siem Reap

    ...
  • Angkor Wat

    ...
  • Tonle Sap Lake

    ...
  • Phnom Penh

    ...
  • Laos

    ...
  • Luang Prabang

    ...
  • Vang Vieng

    ...
  • Vientiane

    ...
  • Gunung Leuser National Park

    Gunung Leuser National Park

    ...

Places to go in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia Tours

Barefoot Luxury in Thailand

Bangkok, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan

14 daysFrom £3,200
Bangkok, Ko Samui, Ko Phangan
Tour Type Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Activity Cruise & Sailing, Luxury, Beach, Active, Snorkelling, Culture, Cities, Museums & Galleries, History, Culinary, Food

Thailand Boutique Bangkok and Beach

10 days in Bangkok and Koh Samui

10 daysFrom £1,600
Ko Samui
Tour Type Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Activity Cruise & Sailing, Luxury, Beach, Active, Snorkelling, Culture, Cities, Museums & Galleries, History, Culinary, Food

Luxury Thailand Honeymoon

Romantic honeymoon exploring Thailand's cities and beaches

14 daysFrom £3,500
Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket
Tour Type Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Activity Cruise & Sailing, Luxury, Honeymoon, Beach, Active, Snorkelling, Culture, Spiritual, Cities, Museums & Galleries, History

Thailand: Rivers Rainforests and Reefs

18 day luxury holiday exploring Thailand

18 daysFrom £4,200
Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Khao Sok, Ko Samui, Ko Phangan
Tour Type Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Activity Cruise & Sailing, Luxury, Beach, Adventure, Water Sports, Active, Walking, Snorkelling, Nature & Wildlife, National Parks, Culture, Spiritual, Cities, Museums & Galleries, History

Thailand's Castaway Islands

18 days exploring Thailand's tropical islands

18 daysFrom £3,900
Bangkok, Ko Phangan, Koh Yao Noi
Tour Type Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Activity Cruise & Sailing, Luxury, Beach, Active, Walking, Snorkelling

Thailand Family Island Hopping

Hassle-free family beach holiday in Thailand

14 daysFrom £2,200
Bangkok, Ko Samui, Ko Phangan
Tour Type Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Activity Cruise & Sailing, Beach, Family, Adventure, Water Sports, Active, Walking, Snorkelling, Culture, Cities, Museums & Galleries, History, Culinary, Food

Southeast Asia Travel Companies

Yonder

Tailor-made luxury holidays to Asia
South Asia, Southeast Asia
Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Safari, Luxury, Beach, Family, Nature & Wildlife, National Parks, Culture, Spiritual

Footsteps Indochina

Sustainable trips to Vietnam and Indochina
Vietnam
Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Beach, Family, Nature & Wildlife, Culture, Culinary, Responsible Travel

Experience Travel Group

Boutique holidays for curious travellers
South Asia, Southeast Asia
Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Safari, Luxury, Beach, Family, Nature & Wildlife, Culture

Red Lantern Journeys

Culture, culinary, and adventure tours in Asia
South Asia, Southeast Asia
Small group tour, Private guided tour
Luxury, Beach, Family, Adventure, Caving, Water Sports, Kayaking, Canoeing, Ziplining, Active, Walking, Biking, Swimming, Nature & Wildlife, Photography, National Parks, Culture, Cities, Museums & Galleries, Indigenous Tourism, Culinary, Food, Solo Travel

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Expert itineraries

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