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Southeast Asia Travel News

The Southeast Asia Travel Specialists Since 1999

Well, it’s not all loathing – just sounded like a catchy title for the post – since, as far as we could see, the inhabitants of the medium-sized, provincial Thai town of Lopburi appear to have a love-hate relationship with their simian co-residents. The town’s population of urban, long-tailed macaques, currently stands at somewhere between 6 and 7,000. They don’t…

Visitors frequently get confused between Cambodian and Khmer, aren’t always sure whether they should be saying Burma or Myanmar and we’ve also even heard people referring to the inhabitants of Thailand as Thailandese. However, the small, land-locked and mountainous country of Lao or Laos probably comes out on top of the name confusion charts. The country’s official name is the…

Although the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex – to give the National Park its full name – has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list for nearly 20 years now, we’ve regrettably only just managed to incorporate the fantastic site onto one of our regular Thailand tour itineraries. Until recently, our range of offerings has included north and south Thailand…

While the majority of the best-known and, of course, most frequently visited, Angkorean temples are situated in Siem Reap province and northwestern Cambodia, the well-preserved, hill-top sanctuary of Phnom Chisor, located in the opposite – southeastern – region of the country, is a reminder of the geographical extent of these fabulous ancient temples. Spectacular and often still intact, ancient Khmer…

Haven’t posted a recipe for a while but here’s an absolute cracker – laap tord or spicy Thai-style meatballs. Great as a snack/appetiser or as a part of a Thai meal and surprisingly easy to make. (We realise not all ingredients will be available so suitable alternatives have been suggested below.) Ingredients: 300g minced pork 2 tbsp lemon juice 2…

The Phimai National Museum in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, (commonly known to locals as Khorat), was actually, officially closed for renovation during our recent visit although, fortunately, sympathetic staff allowed us to wander the museum grounds nonetheless. Many of the larger artefacts are on permanent display in outside areas anyway and a lot of exhibits had been temporarily moved out of…

Poy Sang Long is a traditional Shan festival where boys are ordained before entering a monastery as novice monks. The ceremony is a time-honoured, ‘rite of passage’ with some boys perhaps only spending a token week or two as novices and others going on to spend years – or even a lifetime – as Buddhist monks. While the majority of…

The Hindu god Indra ought to be very familiar to anyone who’s undertaken even the briefest of visits to any of the famous Angkorian temples, whether it’s Angkor itself, Wat Phu in Laos or Khmer temples such as Phanom Rung or Phimai in northeastern Thailand. His likeness is carved into myriad lintels over eastern doorways, ensconced on his ubiquitous 3-headed…

Photos and brief descriptions of some of the Khmer artefacts in the National Museum Bangkok originating from Angkorian and pre-Angkorian period temples in present-day Thailand. Bear in mind, of course, that the museum only displays a fraction of its myriad exhibits at any one time and there are certainly far, far more such artefacts in storage. Lintels Fragment of an…

If Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre was located, for example, between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, it would undoubtedly see far more overseas visitors than it currently does and its location in southern Cambodia’s Takeo Province is undeniably well off the main tourist trail. The site itself is fine and consists of some 6,000 acres of protected woodland, provided by…

Although inscribed on UNESCO’s Thailand world heritage list as far back as 1991 the ancient city of Si Satchanalai remains firmly in the shadow of its better-known and more frequently visited neighbour Sukhothai. Indeed, the extensive ruins don’t even get a namecheck, merely falling into UNESCO’s category of ‘associated historic towns‘. (1) Si Satchanalai Historical Park today – combined with…

Escaping from Chiang Mai’s seasonal smokey air (a combination of dry-season forest fires and irresponsible farmers burning stubble), we thought we’d head down to the coast at Chanthaburi Province for a change. We do usually favour Koh Chang or Koh Mak for a getaway destination but this coastal province in southeastern Thailand is easy to access and offers plenty of…

The mouth of western Cambodia’s Sangkar (or Sangkae) River lies concealed amid a maze of water-hyacinth clogged waterways, endless reed marshes and clouds of egrets in the far northwestern corner of the vast but shallow Tonle Sap Lake. Anyone with a window seat between Bangkok and Siem Reap may have peered down on these extensive wetlands and unique eco-system where…

If you fancy checking out some ruined Khmer temples in the jungle, island hopping in Thailand’s Andaman Sea or exploring Sri Lanka’s remarkable collection of World Heritage sites then, at present, you have 2 basic choices; joining a group tour or independent travel  We’re hoping our upcoming range of self-guided tours will offer a compromise option and go some way…

China’s impressive UNESCO line-up includes no less than 37 cultural sites, 14 natural and a further 4 mixed entries. While we’re more than happy to consider any destination in this vast nation for potential tour add-ons or extensions, we’re going to stick to Yunnan World Heritage sites in this post as that’s the province our itineraries currently cover.  With a…

The vast Indonesian Archipelago is a continent-sized nation in its own right so we’re going to limit this post to areas at present covered in our scheduled tours, namely the islands of Sumatra. Java and Bali. Despite the country’s huge area, UNESCO’s Indonesia World Heritage sites list currently stands at a meagre 5 cultural and 4 natural sites. Furthermore, even…

Current Sites UNESCO’s Sri Lanka World Heritage list currently stands at 6 cultural and 2 natural sites. The 6 cultural entries are predictable and logical and include the ancient city sites of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, the cave temples at Dambulla and the rock fortress of Sigiriya with the historic towns of Galle and Kandy completing the compliment. Anuradhapurain the north-central…

Current Sites With just 2 cultural and 2 natural sites inscribed on UNESCO’s Malaysia World Heritage list this section is going to be brief. Now, at first glance on a map, the little blob tagged onto the bottom of the Thai-Malay Peninsula does appear quite small, however, once you’ve added Borneo’s states of Sabah and Sarawak to the little ‘blob’…

Current Sites The Vietnam World Heritage List forms a limited, albeit solid, portfolio consisting of five cultural sites, two natural and, with the Trang An Landscape Complex, one mixed cultural and natural listing. Although not exactly an abundance the extensive war damage during the 60s and 70s, a high population density (almost 100 million citizens) accompanied by the widespread and…

Current Sites Thailand World Heritage Sites on UNESCO’s list are at present limited to 3 cultural and 2 natural sites. A rather meagre result we feel, considering the country’s rich history and magnificent and highly varied flora, fauna and landscapes. Of the 3 cultural sites, we’d also point out that early Bronze Age Ban Chiang, while of undoubted great archaeological…

Current Sites Laos’s latest addition to UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage List – inscribed in 2019 and to our minds, long overdue – is the Megalithic Jar Sites of Xiengkhuang, commonly known as the Plain of Jars. Usually associated with adjectives such as mysterious or enigmatic the site consists of over 2,000 giant jars, carved out of solid rock and scattered…

We’d call these life-size dummies scarecrows – once a familiar sight on farms and allotments – yet, while the idea may be similar, the intended target is very different. The purpose of these Ting Mong, as they are known in Cambodia, is also to scare away unwanted visitors but you’ll find them in front of a garden gate or entrance…

We have covered this topic in earlier posts but, with several Southeast Asian sites having been added to UNESCO’s list in recent times, here’s a brief update of Cambodia World Heritage Sites, as well as some of the candidates on its Tentative List. Current Sites Considering the wealth of unique archaeological and historical sites across the kingdom we can’t help…

Now a sunrise visit to Java’s Mount Bromo volcano inevitably entails an early start. Very early. The reward for this short night’s sleep though is a truly unforgettable and we reckon unique experience and some truly awe-inspiring vistas (plus there’s plenty of available siesta time later in the day for the sleep-deprived). We’ve heard a few grumbles beforehand but never…

Some time ago we swapped our safari and camping activities on our Sri Lanka tour from Yala National Park to lesser-known Udawalawe. Both are fantastic Sri Lankan National Parks with Yala being the country’s best-known protected area but with the slightly smaller Udawalawe lying a short distance to the west still offering great wildlife spotting possibilities and excellent overnight camping…

As you’ll discover on our Beyond Angkor tour there are myriad, spectacular, lesser-known Angkor temples (as well as pre-Angkor) lying the length and breadth of Cambodia just waiting to be explored. Of course, iconic Angkor Wat, Bayon’s mysterious carved faces and the roots and creepers of atmospheric, jungle-clad Ta Prom are justifiably world-famous but some of these remoter and far…

A new online, Lao E-Visa system is now in place and valid for entry at the following immigration points: Wattay International Airport Vientiane, Luang Prabang International Airport, Pakse International Airport and land crossings at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge Vientiane and the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II Savannakhet. (Note it is not available at the Friendship Bridge IV which connects Thailand’s Chiang…

Located in north-central Vietnam’s Quang Binh Province, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park consists of over 1,200 square kilometres of primary and secondary forest set amid a particularly rugged and spectacular stretch of the Annamite Mountains. Happily, the area is now protected by both the Vietnamese government and UNESCO who granted it World Heritage status in 2003 as  “one of the…

We confess this is just an excuse to compile a few pretty pics of south Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park which, with it’s turquoise, jungle-fringed lake and jagged limestone scenery, certainly features some of the country’s most awe-inspiring and iconic landscapes. The park lies in Surat Thani Province in the south, central section of the peninsula approximately halfway between the…

Yangon’s Alley Gardens is another example of an excellent urban renewal project we came across recently, following on from our recent post on Malang’s fantastic Rainbow Village. scheme.  This one’s even simpler – doesn’t involve painting the entirety of downtown Yangon – but equally effective, albeit on a smaller scale, yet manages to hit the spot on several levels. Anyone…

Although certain purists may turn their noses up, some of the Flower Hmong gear to be seen on show these days at local markets such as Vietnam’s Bac Ha Sunday Market is quite remarkable. (The colourful Flower Hmong of Bac Ha are a subgroup of the Hmong ethnic group – in Vietnam often spelt H’Mong – who inhabit the area…

Spend a day on a tropical island in the South China Sea and do some good for the environment at the same time with a visit to Borneo’s Pulau Dinawan and the Ara Dinawan Research Conservation Centre. Lying a short distance off the coast of Malaysia’s Sabah State – just south of the capital Kota Kinabalu – this tiny island…

A flight from north Sabah’s Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu Town on Borneo’s west coast was an often scenic but otherwise unremarkable flight although it was reassuring to fly over some still extensive forest cover. Alas, from ground level – especially aside highways – it can seem that the dreaded oil palm plantations stretch all the way to the horizon. Of…

There must be days when the sun shines and skies are blue. (we’ve seen the photos in the tourist brochures), but it’s somehow hard to imagine Java’s remote Dieng Plateau without its characteristic swirling mists, dark pine forests and brooding, terrace-covered hills. The lush valleys, cascading rice terraces and villages clinging Provence-style to rugged hillsides would certainly look spectacular whatever…

Just a few years ago Malang’s Rainbow Village or Jodipan district was an embarrassing eyesore for city authorities and an unsanitary, squalid slum for residents. This old favella-style quarter of crumbling houses built almost one on top of another along the banks of the Brantas River in the heart of the city was considered a lost cause and slated for…

A FAQ to our All Points East office goes somewhat along the lines of; “so…if you call yourselves the Southeast Asia specialists why can’t I see any Indonesia tours?” Well, fair question and our only excuse, being a small, family-run business, is lack of time and resources but finally, not before time…we intend to put that right! Our first decision…

A Borobudur sunrise visit is definitely going to be one of the undeniable highlights of any Java, or for that matter, Indonesia tour. Certainly, a world-renowned site but just to remind you; UNESCO World Heritage Borobudur is a 9th-10th century Mahayana Buddhist Temple situated around 40 kilometres northwest of Yogyakarta City. A sunrise entrance pass costs extra so keep visitor…

A selection of Sri Lanka wildlife photos from a recent tour. The Island’s varied landscapes and climatic zones and plentiful national parks mean the country’s always excellent for wildlife sightings and although our recent Sri Lanka tour was in no way a specific nature or birdwatching trip we were lucky enough to have a keen-eyed wildlife specialist as our guide…

A random selection of Sri Lanka tour photos from our recent, ‘Island of Serendipity’ tour. These are kind of ‘people doing things’ photos rather than postcard-style, pretty pics (which we’ll save for a later post) so apologies for the fuzzy quality of some of the hurriedly taken smartphone shots. Somewhere between visiting the admittedly touristy, but certainly photogenic, stilt fishermen…

Cambodia – Street Photography by Jeff Perigois. Getting those picturesque photographs of Cambodia’s sublime landscapes or spectacular, atmospheric shots of jungle-clad temple ruins is a relatively straightforward task. You’ll need someone to ensure you get to the right place at the right time then hope for a fortuitous monk to stroll past the stone carvings or an old ox-cart to…

The now rather remote and rarely visited site of Koh Ker was for a brief period in the early 10th-century the capital of the vast Khmer empire. Lying in the Cambodian province of Preah Vihear, around 3 hours’ drive from Siem Reap Town, this extensive complex of forest ruins is what remains today of the imperial city of Lingapura constructed by…

A selection of photos from Wi’s long overdue recce of the charming and as yet unspoilt district of Amphawa, Thailand. Amphawa, actually a distant suburb of Bangkok  – is situated in Samut Songkhram Province to the southwest of the capital – and for now – though popular with local weekenders – remains largely bypassed by overseas visitors. Leafy suburb it…

The vast, ruined temple complex of Banteay Chhmar is well off the regular beaten Angkor path and although only 3 to 4 hours’ drive from Siem Reap sees very few visitors. The somewhat remote location – close to the Thai border in the far northwest of the kingdom – does mean that the elaborate 12th-century site had been, until very…

This seriously off the beaten track Thai tour, Hidden Thailand, takes you from Bangkok, via UNESCO World Heritage Sukhothai, through the picturesque mountains of Thailand’s far north before finishing in the historic northern capital of Chiang Mai. We’ve still got available places on our guaranteed 12th August departure so here are a few pictures to whet your appetite… Our Bangkok…

Every part of Lake Inle; whether watching the golden sunrise creep over the mountain tops, visiting the stilt villages or exploring the astonishing floating gardens are obvious highlights of any Myanmar (Burma) tour so we’ll narrow our 2-day Lake programme down to what’s probably our favourite part – the morning visit to In Dein. The spectacular forest of ancient stupas, colourful…

Surprisingly, some of the most spectacular and best-preserved of all Angkor period temples aren’t even in Cambodia. The magnificent 11th and 12th-century sites of Phnom Rung and Muang Tam – the former spectacularly perched atop an ancient volcano, the latter surrounded by delightful lily ponds – are actually situated in northeastern Thailand’s Buriram Province. Furthermore, one of the most attractive…

One of our favourite Vietnam destinations, the so-called ‘Halong Bay in the paddy-fields’ – Trang An in Ninh Binh Province – lies just a couple of hour’s drive south of the capital Hanoi. It features similar landscapes to World Heritage Halong Bay, albeit on a smaller scale, with dramatic limestone outcrops scattered across a wide area. The difference here, of…

A short series of some our all-time, personal favourite tour destinations. Certain will be well-known and already popular and others much more off the beaten track and rarely visited, First up; Cambodia’s delightful coastal town of Kep. The above photo of Kep’s delightful Crab Market was admittedly taken a few years ago and some upgrading of the waterfront cafes has…

Although far less well-known than the justifiably reputed cuisines of neighbouring Thailand or Vietnam, we reckon the rich and varied Cambodian, or Khmer, cooking more than holds its own amid Southeast Asian fare and local food is generally a serendipitous and tasty discovery on any of our Cambodian tours. Here then is just a short a selection of some of…

Happy to say that Vietnam is falling more into line with neighbouring Southeast Asian nations and visa and entry regulations are becoming both easier and cheaper. For an increasing list of nationalities, visa exemption is now in practice and while this is valid for 15 days only their e-visa and visa on arrival systems also seems to work efficiently. As…

Despite being one of Southeast Asia’s most remote destinations and still – at least nominally – under a communist regime, entry procedures and Lao visa regulations are actually some of the simplest in the region. There is no need for advanced application and to our knowledge, no e-visa system is currently in place, but 30-day tourist visas are issued at…

This is a round-up of Thai visas and passport regulations for anyone embarking on a tour of, or short break in Thailand and does not pertain to long-stay visitors or ex-pats. Although in so far as most nationalities simply receive a 30-day stamp on arrival and you can dispense with visa on arrivals, e-visas etc, etc in terms of the…

The following Burma (Myanmar) visa information was valid for late 2017, early 18 but bear in mind that regulations can change at short notice and that furthermore, our information is primarily applicable to UK, Australian, NZ, Canadian, US, and Western European nation passport holders. Visas are required for all nationalities other than those of ASEAN member states and they are…

The following Cambodian visas information was valid for late 2017, early 18 but bear in mind firstly, that regulations can change at short notice and secondly, that our information is primarily applicable to UK, Australian, NZ, Canadian, US, and Western European nation passport holders. With regards Cambodia, your choice is applying for an e-visa in advance or obtaining a visa…

In the light of a few recent incidents we’ve encountered, we’d like to reiterate some essential passport requirements to check prior to any travel in Southeast Asia. They may seem minor and are easily overlooked but aren’t necessarily so in the eyes of immigration officials or airline staff. We do already mention such requirements on our site but it is…

6 more countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand have now been added to the list of nationalities eligible for the Vietnam visa online scheme.  Rates are $25 for a single entry, 30-day visa with processing time set at 3 working days. Passport holders of 40 countries including the UK and Ireland are all already eligible for such e-visas and…

The following are a few of our thoughts on the current situation with regards Burma (Myanmar) tourism. We wouldn’t claim in any way to understand the entire situation – and it is certainly more complicated than initial appearances – nor would we presume our opinions are necessarily the correct ones. Firstly, we categorically and unreservedly condemn the recent actions of…

The picturesque, lakeside town of Phayao possesses a central position in northern Thailand with better-known neighbours Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai lying to the northwest and southwest respectively and historical Lampang situated due south yet, despite being, to our minds one of the region’s most attractive provincial capitals, it’s also certainly one of the least visited. The laid-back town is…

An opportunity to post a few pretty photos from our recent visit to the fascinating, highly colourful and still very traditional hill-tribe market at Bac Ha. Every Sunday this otherwise quiet and somewhat remote little town in the mountains of northern Vietnam bursts into life as vendors from outlying villages flock into town to sell their wares; farm produce, household…

Perched atop a nearly 5,000 ft mountain the old French hill-station of Sapa in Vietnam’s far northern reaches can get a bit stuck in the clouds from time to time so a big cheer all round as we awoke on the morning of our projected one-day Sapa trek to this magnificent view. This was the breakfast vista from the restaurant…

The fascinating, yet rarely-visited town of Monywa lies just to the west of Mandalay in Burma’s (Myanmar’s) Sagaing Division. As usual, on our Southeast Asia tours, the issue isn’t which destinations to include but rather which ones time restraints force us to omit.  There are myriad wonderful sites to be seen but if you included everything the tour would last…

Sri Lanka – recommended reading. Published in 2015 Elephant Complex by English author John Gimlette is not only the best book we’ve read on Sri Lanka but simply one of the best travel books we’ve come across on any destination, anywhere!  This compact yet insightful account covers over 2,000 years of the Island’s complex history, culture and society as well…

We’re delighted to see Cambodia gain a 3rd UNESCO World Heritage Site, after Angkor and Preah Vihear, with the granting of such status to the ruined 6th and 7th century Khmer capital at Sambor Prei Kuk.   These picturesque ruined temples, scattered through forest north of Kompong Thom in central Cambodia, represent the remains of the royal capital, Ishnapura, of…

A few photos from a recent Cambodia street photography tour of Phnom Penh lead by Jeff, (Jean Francois) Perigois. Jeff is a long term resident of Cambodia’s capital so can lead you down a few back alleys you’d certainly never find – or dare to go down – yourselves and his great rapport with locals provides obvious advantages for street,…

Coming up, and based on nearly 20 years of leading tours to Cambodia’s UNESCO World Heritage site; a few small Angkor tips and suggestions on how to optimise your temple visit. Firstly though one very big tip! Try and time your visit for the low season. The awesome, often jungle-clad, temples in Western Cambodia are obviously today a huge draw…

Si Thep ancient city, located in central Thailand’s Phetchabun Province, was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in September of this year – 2023. While it wasn’t, in our humble opinion, the most obvious candidate for listing, to some extent any addition to UNESCO’s prestigious list is a good one in terms of the recognition, funding and protection it provides….

The Rangri Dambulla Cave Temple – to give it the full name – is located in the area of north-central Sri Lanka known as the ‘Cultural Triangle’ due to its proliferation of spectacular ancient sites such as the nearby, UNESCO-listed rock fortress of Sigiriya, and also World Heritage-listed ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. The series of 5 shallow, principal…