1) Donsol, Philippines
In this little town in southern Luzon just off the coast in a spot where Whale Sharks – the largest fish in the sea come to feed. From here you can go out for a day with a boat and swim with the sharks. As they only feed on plankton they swim close to the surface and swim fairly slowly so you are able to keep up with them. You are only allowed to snorkel with the sharks but it is just an amazing experience to be so close to a shark of this size.
2) Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, Indonesia
In this town in northern Sumatra there is miles of forest which is inhabited with many orangutans, the treks here are great with some of the best guides I have ever used. After only 4 hours into the trek I had seen 8 orangutans and that included a 6 month old baby one.
3) Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The site of Angkor in Cambodia is a must on anyone’s trip to South East Asia. Angkor Way is the largest temple in the world and seeing the sunrise over it is just a view you cannot view anywhere else in this world. You can spend so much time here looking and the vast amount of temples here and never get bored.
4) Full moon party, Koh Pan gan, Thailand
The legendary full moon party has been going on for years starting with only a few people now with a minimum of 10,000 people a month. This party is just a rite of passage for anyone who comes to Thailand to travel. You meet up with so many people and dance the till morning.
5) Motorbike tour round Vietnam
Riding your own motorbike (or if you can’t you can hire a driver) round Vietnam going to villages and towns where no tourists go is one of the highlights of this trip. Do the tour to Dalat on the scenic roads for a truly spectacular view which you can only find in Vietnam.
6) Palawan, Philippines
This Island which is the South West of the Philippines is a hidden gem of all of South East Asia. At any point you will not find more than 50 backpackers on the island and it’s a large island. The locals are the friendliest I have ever met and the beaches are I think the best in the world. Image a cross between the islands around Krabi, Thailand and mix it with Ha Long bay, Vietnam and this makes the coast line of the town of El Nido. There is some of the best diving and snorkeling to be done at the many coral reefs off the many white sand beaches or swim in lagoons with tiny sharks or just relax and soak up the sun. Also the island has the one of the longest underground rivers in the world.
7) Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
This is a must for anyone in the area as it is UNESCO heritage site and is for a good reason.
The bay has close to 2000 limestone islands with of caves to explore and a few lagoons to go kayaking in. When you go out to the bay you go out on a traditional junk ship where you will get your own room and dinner and breakfast served.
8) Vang Vieng, Laos
This place is just one big drunken haze but is a right of passage for anyone coming to SE Asia. You get a tractor inner tube and float down a river and stop off at bars on route and get free shots of lao lao whiskey and then drink buckets of more lao lao whiskey and coke until 6pm then when you think you have enough you go over to an island which is just bars (smile is the best) until middnight when the curfew kicks in. Try the rope swings at each of the bars. The first bar has the biggest whatever other bars may claim.
9) Gili Islands, Indonesia
The Gilis is made up of three islands, with Gili Trawangan the biggest of all. When I say big it will take you ten minutes to walk the entire length of the main beach. There are no cars on this these islands with only horse and cart to get you around. You come here to relax on the beaches and go diving with sharks and manta ray at some on the best site on Earth.
10) Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An is located on the coast and has a pretty decent beach. It is the also the place to come for tailor-made clothes. There are too many tailors to mention here with the main road pretty much consisting of them. You can get literally anything made here all you need to do is take a photo of the item you want and they will make it for you. A good quality suit will cost around $50-$100.