8 OF THE MOST SCENIC DESTINATIONS IN S. E. ASIA.
There is rarely a dull moment for visitors to the region especially when you bus around with the locals . Whether it be the totally unlawful way vehicles are driven to witnessing the poverty of tiny villages as you pass through or the giant smiles that the locals in these same villages have as they wave to you it is these journeys that you will remember forever. Forget the air con buses on modern freeways and join the locals for lifetime memories. In some parts you will also get the added bonus of sensational natural scenery. Below are my top 10 in S. E. Asia.
1: The top pick is the easiest one. TIGER LEAPING GORGE is simply spectacular. Dramatic is probably the one best ajective to use. Yunnan itself has great scenery all over the province but the Gorge as it is known locally is inspirational to say the least. Beer and pizza is one of the most popular pastimes once you arrive in Walnut Garden which has very little else other than two guest houses and the awesome views. Tiny Walnut Garden is 2,000 metres above the Yangtze river on one side of the gorge. Across the way a wall of rock starts at the river below and passes by to eventually reach 4,000 metres. Look beyond that and even higher snow capped mountains complete the picture. AND! The best part about it all is there is still almost no real development as yet as it seems the world at large still doesn’t know about it, so no mass tourism as yet. SSSSHHH.
2: If number one was an easy choice then for me then number two is also. SAPA in the mountainous north of Vietnam is surrounded by some of the closest mountain scenery on earth. Sit on a hotel balcony for a five oclock coldie and the mountains are so close you can almost touch them. If you don’t get a tingle down your back then you should of stayed home probably And all this from the middle of town. Get out on the hilltribe paths and this scenery goes up another gear or two again. Travellers often discuss which one is better and number three is often chosen as the best in Vietnam but I’ll go for Sapa.
3: Yes, of course it must be HALONG BAY. Far better known than Sapa and mass tourism has certainly arrived because of it. But no matter how many tourist boats arrive they can never remove the natural beauty. In this case majestic is possibly a good ajective. Halong Bay has no equal to cruising on the water in a relaxed mode amid the spectacular limestone kaarst islands.
4: THE MEKONG RIVER AND DELTA. This both dramatic and tranquil scenery rounds out the top three vista’s in what is probably the most scenic country in the region overall. Vietnam has spectacular coast lines, mountain scenery, seaside bliss and the again more famous watery and jungle shrowded world of the Mekong Delta. Firstly though, if you take a slow boat from Chiang Khong in Thailand to either Pakbeng or all the way to Luang prabang in Laos you will see the power of the mighty Mekong. Watching the rock formations carved out over the ages on both sides of the swirling whirlpools and eddies means there will be no time to feel uncomfortable on the basic ammenities boats. Locals who rely on the river going about their daily chores only adds to the fascination of it all. In Vietnam the Delta is totally different again. While mighty upstream tranqillity prevails in the delta as you sail down some of the many smaller streams through lush green jungle and local villages. http://baktrax.com/vietnam/vietnam-head-to-toe
5: MOUNTAINS OF LAOS AND VANG VIENG. Not usually mentioned by many as a highlight of laos, the mountain scenery between Luang prabang and Vang Vieng is about as good as it gets through a bus window. Quite a hidden highlight of the region really. Beautiful is probably the best way to describe it with twinges of dramatic. All this amid a sea of green with little infrastructure to obscure the views. The ever present smiling villagers wave as you pass by as usual. On arrival in Vang Vieng you will be greeted by a small town engulfed in spectacular limestone kaarst scenery. Beerlao again visible in all directions to complete the foregound
6: PAI: If Sapa has the best mountain scenery then Pai is the only other place that gets close to it in that regardes. Situated in a small valley in Mae Hong Song province in Thailand Pai has a gentler form of similar scenery as Sapa. Beautiful blue mountains in all directions change on a daily basis depending on the weather. When the sun is out they simply glow. When it is overcast they take on another spectacular albeit dark look again. Misty or cloud covered in the morning in winter time often means totally different scenes all in the one day as the suns eventually breaks through. Half clouds and half sun is sometimes as good as it gets with mountain scenery. Add to that the amazing aura and friendliness of the locals and you get the drift why travellers sometimes linger on, even for years. Alas the downside has meant far to many domestic tourists have caused gridlock both with cars and now even walking is a struggle in high season. Come low season is the advice as it still retains its beauty and charm.
7: CAMERON HIGHLANDS – TANAH RATA: The main town in the highlands of Tanah Rata in particular is encompassed by some of the best scenery in Malaysia. The highlands has long been a place for locals and Singaporeans to go to on the weekends to get some relief from the heat below. At around 1,500 metres above sea level it’s blankets year round for the most part. This is a large area with the three towns of Brinchang, Ringlet and the main one of Tanah Rata. While multi story buildings have blocked some of the town views it’s still only a short stroll to get out amongst it all. Tea plantations are the major agriculural crop and these make for postcard type photo’s as you stroll in the cooler weather. As usual food in Tanah Rata is a major pastime like elsewhere in malaysia but sitting at one of the street side tables on the one main street of town with a Roti Chanai and Kopi Susu and the magnificent view to the end of town is about as good a place as any for a meal regardless of the food and in that regard also it just doesn’t get any better. after the afore mentioned breakfast it’s time to build up the appetite again and this is an enjoyable pastime also as you meander around the numerous marked trails while getting close up with mother nature. If Thailand has Pai then Tanah Rata is Malaysia’s equivalent.
8: THAILAND AND MALAYSIA ISLAND SCENERY; Koh Samui and Koh Sukorn in Thailand And Pangkor and Langkawi islands in Malaysia in particular but numerous others also. these four all have beautiful interiors on arrival but Samui and Sukorn are surrounded by numerous other smaller ones which makes for a spectacular boat trip to get there whether on a ferry to Samui or a long tail boat to Sukorn. If ocean and island scenery is your thing then this is about as good as it gets in the region. Obviously island life of doing nothing follows your arrival which ever one you decide on. Maybe more than one if you have the time. Scenic relaxation sums it up wherever you choose. A Taste of Thailand & Malaysia: Soft Adventure Holiday Tour