Hurray for travel again because we can’t wait to explore all the hidden gems in Southeast Asia! There is no doubt that the best way to travel and explore a foreign country is through the locals. Instead of booking busy and cramped tourist tours, plan your own itinerary instead! That way, you can spend as much time at one spot as you want and not worry about missing the bus! Plus, you might even get some sweet deals on your own as well! Besides, travelling and interacting with the locals is a great way to find several hidden gems you’d never get to see on a tour.
These hidden gems are something only a true local can find, or you just need a little bit of help with research! So, Glitz has some non-touristy hidden gems in Asia, specifically Southeast Asia that you should definitely check out this summer. A treasure trove full of secrets, winding off the beaten path to a secluded beach, here are 10 hidden destinations to explore.
10 Hidden Gems To Explore
1. Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia
Visit an ancient temple site at Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia. A hidden gem in Southeast Asia full of mystery and history. Built in the Angkorian period, this temple site has intriguing architecture that has a hundred stories to tell. According to UNESCO, “Banteay Chhmar was one of the most extensive architectural undertakings Jayavarman VII built in a politically sensitive region in the final years of his reign.” What’s most interesting is that the architecture shows that it may have been built in a hurry, thus leaving it unfinished. Noting that “there are clear indications that new architectural forms were still being developed at the site in the course of building”. So if you have a love for architecture and history, this hidden destination in Southeast Asia is a must-visit!
2. Nusa Islands, Indonesia
Nusa Islands in Indonesia is comprised of three islands, Ceningan, Penida and Lembongan. Fun fact, Penida is actually one of the 4 islands in Indonesia that house Manta Rays. Experience swimming with these gentle creatures by getting in touch with local operators. This hidden paradise in Southeast Asia has natural pools and hidden lagoons waiting for you to discover. Nusa Islands is the best place for a laid-back getaway with some luxury resorts. A must-visit spot is the Blue Lagoon and Mahana Point for cliff jumping.
3. Taman Negara National Park Pahang, Malaysia
Although home to Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands, both extremely popular spots to locals and tourists, Pahang is a lesser-visited hidden destination in Malaysia. With views of lush green forests, majestic mountains and even immaculate beaches! It is a wonder why no one has ever thought of visiting Pahang although it is the 3rd-largest state in Malaysia! It is even home to many ecotourism destinations. Taman Negara National Park is one hidden gem in Southeast Asia you must visit as it is the world’s oldest rainforest. Besides that, it is also home to much exquisite fauna and flora including parasite plants such as orchids and monster flowers.
4. Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Backpackers will love this hidden gem in Southeast Asia, Mae Hong Son, Thailand. A trekkers paradise, Mae Hong Son is surrounded by mountains with mist, hidden caves, nature trails, waterfalls and even hot springs! Immerse yourself in nature and explore the beauty of Mae Hong Son. Be sure to visit the Su Tong Pae bamboo bridge which is used for traditional ceremonies.
5. Mai Chau, Vietnam
Want to experience traditional village life? Visit Mai Chau in Vietnam to get away from the noise of the city. Mai Chau is a rural village 4-hours away from Hanoi, and surrounded by rice fields that are lush and green. Homestays are quite the popular accommodation among the locals and since many have Thai heritage, you can see it in the housing styles and food. To enjoy the gorgeous scenery of one of the best hidden gems in Southeast Asia, you’ll have to ride a bike through the rice fields. Mai Chau is the perfect place to unwind and experience traditional village life.
6. Kakku, Myanmar
Dive into an atmospheric temple located in Kakku, Myanmar and be stunned by this hidden gem in Southeast Asia. Its remote location in Kakku complex makes it a lesser-known temple in Myanmar yet it has a collection of almost 2,500 stupas situated in the foothills of the Shan State. The Kakku pagodas are a 3-hour drive away from Nyaung Shwe but you have to stop at the tourist office in Taunggyi to pay a $3 entrance fee. You’ll also need to hire a local English-speaking Pa-O tour guide as it is a requirement by the local law. But, it’ll only cost $5.
7. Temburong, Brunei
Explore one of Borneo’s last few unspoilt primary rainforests in Ulu Temburong National Park, Brunei. This is a hidden gem in Southeast Asia less visited by tourists and takes you off the beaten track. From Brueni’s airport, you’ll need 2 hours by speedboats to reach Ulu Temburong National Park’s dense primary rainforests. Your only option of accommodation is Ulu Ulu Resort. Experience the rainforest through canopy walks or just enjoy the sunset with a magnificent view of the rainforest.
8. Ocam-Ocam Beach, The Philippines
Discover a hidden beach in the Philippines and we guarantee you’ll want to book a return ticket ASAP! Explore Ocam-Ocam Beach, a secluded and private beach free from any tourists lurking around. Located on Busuanga Island, Ocam-Ocam Beach is 75km away from Coron Town. Enjoy the beach all to yourself and you can finally live out your dreams of owning a private island for a while! The best way to get to Ocam-Ocam beach is by renting a motorcycle. The perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
9. Coney Island Park, Singapore
Coney Island Park, Singapore is the few hidden gems in Southeast Asia you’ll want to visit. Off Singapore’s northeast coast lies an ecologically sustainable park also known as Serangoon Island. An island surrounded by nature, Coney Island Park teaches visitors all about recycling and conservation. Many of its structures and boardwalks are also made of recycled wood from felled casuarina trees. Rich in history, Coney Island Park is also a great bird-watching spot.
10. Kuang Si Falls, Laos
Be mesmerised by gorgeous waterfalls when you visit Kuang Si Falls, Laos. This secret spot is one of the most extraordinary hidden destinations you’ll find in Southeast Asia! You can take a swim in the lower falls, or even hike to the top of the waterfall through lush jungles. One of the best hidden gems in Southeast Asia to snap cool photos and have your friends asking where! Enjoy nature’s masterpiece as you relax by the streams. Kuang Si Falls is just an hour away from Luang Prabang, and a destination you cannot miss.