Gems In SouthEast Asia

14 Jun Gems In SouthEast Asia

1. Sunrise at Angkor Wat

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Get up and get out at 5.30am to watch sun rise over the Angkor Temple to reveal the natural beauty of the entire area. Feast on the amazing scenery and unrivaled architecture as you stroll through the location and learn about Cambodia’s fascinating history. As the sun rises over the landscape, the light beams through and creates mysterious and magical shadows that will intrigue your imagination.

You can purchase Angkor Wat tickets at USD 20 for a one-day pass. It is recommended to hire a tuk tuk for USD 18 to get around the park, otherwise you will not be able to finish exploring the place in a day or two.

=How to Get There=

Tuk-Tuk_Sri_Lanka copy

Located around 20 minutes to the north from central Siem Reap, it is advisable to get a reliable tuk tuk driver by asking the hotel for your tour in Angkor Wat. Alternatively, you can also hire a driver for USD 40 in a car if you think a tuk tuk is too dangerous. Tourists are not allowed to drive in Angkor Wat and thus, negotiate the prices before you decide to hire the driver for the entire day.

=What to Eat=

It is important to eat what the locals eat. Some of the popular local staple meals are Bai sach chrouk (pork and rice), Fish amok, Khmer curry, Nom banh chok (Khmer noodles) and Lap Khmer (lime marinated Khmer beef salad).

  • Angkor Wat Café

Address: opposite main entrance of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Cafe

  • Mie Café

Address: 0085, Phum Treng, Khum Slorgram, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Mie Café

  • The Touich Restaurant Bar

Address: No. 0152, Trang Village, Sangkat Slor Kram

the-touich-restaurant

=Where to Stay=

  • Angkor Village Resort & Spa

$$$

Address: Phum Treang Village, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Village Resort & Spa

  • De Sarann Villa

$$$$

Address: Phum Trang Village, Near Angkor Conservation Center, Siem Reap, Cambodia

De Sarann Villa

  • Nita by Vo

$$$

Address: Angkor Wat Road, Sivutha Boulevard, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Nita by Vo 1

2. Sand Dunes at Mui Ne

Sand Dunes at Mui Ne copy

A four hours drive from Vietnam’s economy hub, Ho Chi Minh City will bring you to Mui Ne where you can find two sand dunes, namely the Red Sand Dunes and the White Sand Dunes. The White Sand Dunes looks very much like what you may see in a desert, vast barren landscape and soft powdery white sand at your feet. Other than the fact that you can rent a ATV which kind of disrupts the serenity of the place periodically as it zooms past you, the White Sand Dunes is truly a tranquil destination for all visitors.

The best time to get to the White Sand Dunes is at 5am so that you can catch the sunrise while stand at one of the peaks of the dunes. It is extremely spectacular and having your breath taken away is the least one can describe this amazing experience.

Sand Dunes at Mui Ne 1 copy

=How to Get There=

Phuong Trang Bus

The recommended way to get to Mui Ne is by bus. Do not try to get onto some shady buses by cheaper companies just to save a few more dollars as you never know where exactly these dubious buses will drop you off. Book a seat from reputable companies such as Phuong Trang and The Sinh Tourist instead. Each ticket costs VND 130 000. There are sleeping seats and you can take a nap or simply lie back to rest your body during the journey. You can inform the driver where your accommodation at Mui Ne is and the driver will then drop you off at your hotel accordingly.

The Sinh Tourist

=What to Eat=

Other than the usual Vietnamese cuisines such as Pho or Ban Mi, the best thing to order at Mui Ne at very affordable prices is seafood. Lobsters are priced at VND 60 000/kg at some restaurants. Feast your heart out!

  • Surfing Bird’s WOK

Address: 246/2B Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Vietnam

Surfing Bird’s WOK copy

  • Sibiryachka

Address: 45C Huynh Thuc Khang, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Vietnam

  • Long Son Mui Ne

Address: Street 706, Hon Rom, Long Son – Suoi Nuoc, Mui Ne, Vietnam

Long Son Mui Ne

=Where to Stay=

  • Anantara Mui Ne Resort

$$$

Address: 12A Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne, Vietnam

Anantara Mui Ne Resort

  • Sea Links Beach Resort & Golf

$$

Address: Km9, Phu Hai, Mui Ne, Vietnam

Sea Links Beach Resort & Golf

  • Villa Paradise

$$$$

Address: PE.59, Sea Links City Km 9, Nguyen Thong, Mui Ne, Vietnam

Villa Paradise Mui Ne

3. Hot Air Balloon Ride over Bagan

Hot Air Balloon Ride over Bagan

At dawn each morning, colourful balloons float above the temple plain in Bagan as the sun rises. Passengers are collected from hotels in vintage coaches before dawn and taken to the site to watch the balloons being inflated. This ancient city of Bagan is one of the most out-of-the-world places on earth. Visitors will be left in a trance as they view the outstanding archaeological sites, temples, pagodas and the sunrise all from a hot air balloon. The splendour of Bagan is breath taking and incredible.

There are 2 companies you can take a hot air balloon ride through, namely Balloons Over Bagan at US$320 per person or Bagan Ballooning at US$350 per person, but less people in the basket. You can book your hot air balloon ride from the hotels you stay in. There will be coaches to pick you up from the hotels.

=How to Get There=

Nyaung U Airport

The Nyaung U Airport can be reached from Yangon on Asian Wings, Golden Myanmar Airlines or Myanmar National Airlines with tickets at around US$100. Do not that there is a tax of US$20 for all foreigners visiting Bagan.

=What to Eat=

Rice is the core of any Burmese meal and the dishes come in a variety of different culture’s influences such as Burmese, Mon, Indian and Chinese. Some must try authentic Burmese cuisines are the curry, lentil soup, athouq (light, spicy salad), mohinga (considered widely as the national dish) and Mondhi (noodles served with chunks of chicken or fish).

  • Star Beam

Address: Bagan 84414, Myanmar

Star Beam

  • Be Kind to Animals The Moon

Address: North of Ananda Temple, Old Bagan

Be Kind to Animals The Moon

  • San Thi Dar Restaurant

Address: Myin Kbar Village

San Thi Dar Restaurant

=Where to Stay=

  • Kaytumadi Dynasty

$$

Address: Myat Lay Road, Bagan, Bagan

Kaytumadi Dynasty

  • Bagan Lodge

$$$

Address: Myat Lay Road, New Bagan, Nyaung Oo Township, Bagan

Bagan Lodge

  • Bagan Thande Hotel

$$

Address: Archeological Zone, Old Bagan, Old Bagan, 11221 Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan Thande Hotel

4. Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces

The Banaue rice terrace is an iconic and ancient landscape of the Philippines that is said to be the greatest engineering masterpiece of the indigenous people in lfugao. Here are some reasons why this is definitely one of the gems of Southeast Asia:

  1. It is an eighth wonder of the world given how spectacular it is;
  2. It covers an area that is over a whooping 10 300 square kilometres;
  3. It is a national cultural treasure;
  4. It is over 2 000 year old;
  5. It is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

=How to Get There=

Ohayami Trans

The easiest way to get to Banaue is from Manila as it has the most direct route and it also takes the least effort to get there. The journey takes about 3-4 hours depending on traffic and weather conditions. You can book a seat from Ohayami Trans, near University of Sto. Tomas or GV Florida Transport, located near Kamuning MRT Station. Florida Transport has a toilet in the bus and might be what you are looking for in case of unforeseen nature calls. Both tickets are priced at P450 and P550 respectively.

=What to Eat=

There are many delicacies in Philippines that you have to try to know what the locals eat. You can find them at any street side stalls. Some of the more popular and exotic ones are listed below.:

+ Sisig, crispy and sour – Chopped ear to jowl pork braised, fried and served on a sizzling plate.

Sisig, crispy and sour

+ Sinigang, fishy – Using the bony milkfish aka bangus, the broth based dish. is flavoured with strained tamarind and stocked with okra, taro, eggplant, water spinach and string beans.

Sinigang, fishy copy

+ Lechon Kawali, salty and fatty – The deep-fried pork belly crackles as you bite into the salty skin and then the tender layers of fatty meat.

Lechon Kawali, salty and fatty

+ Longganisa, sweet – Sweet sausage with an addicting garlic taste.

Longganisa

  • Sanafe

Address: Banaue Trade Center

Sanafe copy

  • Imbayah Restaurant

Address: GF Banaue Hotel & Youth Hostel

  • Batad Pension & Restaurant

Address: Batad, Banaue, Lfugao

5. Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay, which means Bay of Descending Dragons, is a very famous destination for visitors to Hanoi. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its emerald water and thousands of towering limestone islands. The easiest way to get to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi is to book a tour from your hotel. There are many cruise companies that you book to have a 2 days 1 night stay on a junk. Visiting Ha Long Bay during summer may be hot but your view will not be blocked by fog. The prices range from US$50 to US$130 per person depending on the quality of the cruise you want to be in. Activities are generally similar in every company where you get to kayak, snorkel, fish, learn how to prepare Vietnamese spring rolls and visit massive caves. Food is provided on board for all meals but drinks are not included.

=How to Get There=

An English-speaking guide will pick you up on a minibus from your hotel in the morning, so you do not have to worry about the transport to the cruise. This is applicable for every cruise companies for Ha Long Bay.

=What to Eat=

When one thinks of Vietnam, the first foods that come to mind will be Pho and fresh spring rolls. Undoubtedly the most famous, Pho Ga, chicken noodle soup or Pho Bo, beef noodle soup is a simple dish that is cooked with chicken broth and fish sauce to taste. It is a simple, light and refreshing dish that you can have any time of the day. Each bowl will not cost you more than 50 000 dong. Some roadside stalls even sell them at 15 000 or less per bowl.

The most popular place to have clean and delicious bowls of pho is at chain restaurant Pho 24. They can be found all over Hanoi, so you can just ask your hotel concierge where  the nearest branch is located from the place you lodge.

Besides the famous Pho, below are some of the most popular places to have a meal if you are seeking to eat where the locals eat:

  • Xuan Xuan BBQ

Address: 47 Ma May, Hang Buom

Xuan Xuan BBQ

In the streets of Ma May, there is this little gem that serves stir fry/bbq beef, pork and chicken. You must order their French baguette to go with the food and never forget a little container of margarine. The difference is massive.

  • Banh Mi 25

Address: 25 Hang Ca Street, Hoan Kiem District

Bahn Mi 25

The French may have left Vietnam but one thing the Vietnamese picked up is definitely the skills to make very good baguette. Banh Mi is as good a national dish as Pho Bo. It is a sandwich with minced meat, ham, lots of vegetables, mayonnaise and eggs. Once again, the simplicity of this sandwich brings forth the taste of Vietnam to the fullest.

  • Dac Kim Bun Cha Restaurant

Address: 2nd Alley, Hang Khoai Street, Hoan Kiem District

Dac Kim Bun Cha Restaurant

Perfectly grilled on charcoal, these tender looking pork, which is marinated right to every fibre of the meat, is perhaps the one dish you are going to regret not having when in Hanoi. Coupled with rice noodles to be dipped in a sauce that is made of chilli, garlic, black pepper, basil, green papaya fruit and fish sauce, get ready to get the party started in your mouth.

=Which Cruise to Book=

As you will most likely be staying at Ha Long Bay for at least one night, you will not be on land but instead, be docked at the Bay with many other cruises all around. Most cruises provide basic hotel/cruise services such as room service and toiletries. Do take care of your valuables as most of these rooms do not provide a locker. Below are some reliable cruise companies:

  • Halong Bay Cruises

  • Halong Sapa Packages

    Halong Sapa Packages

  • Eco Cruise Halong Bay

    Eco Cruise Halong Bay

  • Amazing Halong Bay Cruises

    Amazing Halong Bay Cruises

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