Southeast Asia Wonders

Ancient city of Angkor

Angkor, archaeological site in what is now northwestern Cambodia, lying 6 kilometers km north of the modern town of Siem Reap. It was the capital of the Khmer (Cambodian) empire from the 9th to the 15th century, a period that is considered the classical era of Cambodian history. Its most-imposing monuments are Angkor Wat, a temple complex built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II (reigned 1113–c. 1150), and Angkor Thom, a temple complex built about 1200 by King Jayavarman VII.

Temples straight out of adventure novels are in various states of ruin, which often adds to the aesthetic; tree roots envelop entire temple walls, proving that nature always wins out over time.

Angkor Wat temple complex, Cambodia’s icon.

We visited Angkor Wat in 2008 as part of our 2-week Southeast Asia trip.

Island of Bali

Bali is a province of Indonesia and an island on the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Labeled as the “Island of the Gods”, it stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth. Its diverse landscape of mountainous terrain, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides provide a picturesque backdrop to its colourful, spiritual and unique culture. The cultural landscape of the Bali province has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

With world-class diving and surfing, a range of natural, cultural and historical attractions, and plentiful accommodation options, it is one of the most popular island destinations in the world. Bali offers something to almost every visitor from the backpacking youth to the ultra-wealthy.

The village of Mengwi in the south of Bali near Ubud

We visited Bali in 2012 as part of our 4 week China and Southeast Asia trip.

Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple in Central Java is the largest Buddhist monument in the whole world. The Sailendra dynasty built this Buddhist monument between AD 780 and 840. The Sailendra are the ruling dynasty in Central Java at the time. It was built as a place for glorifying Buddha and a pilgrimage spot to guide mankind from worldly desires into enlightenment and wisdom according to Buddha. This monument was discovered by the British in 1814 under Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles. It was not until 1835 that the entire area of the temple has been cleared.

Borobudur, world’s largest Buddhist temple

We visited Borobudur in 2012.

Mount Bromo

Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park is in East Java, Indonesia. This national park is named after its two mountains, Mount Semeru (the highest in Java at 3,676 m), Mount Bromo (the most popular) and the Tengger people who inhabit the area.

Mount Bromo (2,329 m) is easily recognized as the entire top has been blown off and the crater inside constantly belches white sulphurous smoke. It sits inside the massive Tengger caldera (diameter approximately 10 km), surrounded by the Laut Pasir (Sea of Sand) of fine volcanic sand. The overall effect is unsettlingly unearthly, especially when compared to the lush green valleys all around the caldera. With more than 500,000 tourists a year, Bromo is full with tourists in school holidays and long holidays (at least 4 days), because about 95 percent of the tourists are domestic tourists, so avoid these times.

In a country full of natural beauty, the Tengger Caldera sunrise is one of the most spectacular sights in all of Indonesia

We visited Mount Bromo in 2012.

The twin towers of Petronas

Petronas Twin Towers were once the tallest buildings in the world. Now the world’s tallest twin structures, the 88-storey buildings were designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates with both towers joined at the 41st and 42nd floors by a double-decker Sky Bridge. The buildings are a landmark of Kuala Lumpur, along with nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower.

Petronas Twin Towers

We visited Petronas Twin Towers in 2012.

Bagan, the thousand pagodas plain

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

Bagan, with its impressive 2,200 temples and pagodas still remain

We visited Bagan in 2012.

Shwedagon Pagoda

The elegant Shwedagon Pagoda is Yangon’s most famous landmark. The massive 99 meter high gold plated pagoda with the diamond studded spire set on top of a small hill in downtown Yangon dominates the area and is visible from much of the city. After dark there is a mystical atmosphere with the pagoda lit up by spotlights.

The very impressive pagoda, also known as the Golden Pagoda, is Burma’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage site. The main stupa enshrines sacred relics of the Gautama Buddha as well as the three previous Buddhas.

Shwedagon Pagoda

We visited Shwedagon Pagoda in 2012.

The Royal Palace & the Wat Phra Kaeo, the emerald Buddha temple

Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the emerald Buddha temple, is the vast, fairy-tale compound that also includes the former residence of the Thai monarch, the Grand Palace.

This ground was consecrated in 1782, the first year of Bangkok rule, and is today Bangkok’s biggest tourist attraction and a pilgrimage destination for devout Buddhists and nationalists. The 94.5-hectare grounds encompass more than 100 buildings that represent 200 years of royal history and architectural experimentation.

The Emerald Buddha temple

We visited Wat Phra Kaew in 2008 as part of our 2-week Southeast Asia trip,

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is in northern Vietnam, 170 km east of Hanoi. The bay is famous for its scenic ocean karst topography and is often included on lists of natural wonders of the world, including the UNESCO World Heritage list.

“Ha Long” means “Bay of Descending Dragons” The Ha Long Bay archipelago is made up of 1,969 islands, both settled and uninhabited. The biggest cave in the Bay area is a wooden cave, formerly known as the Grotte des Island. The largest islands in the Bay area Gad bah Island and Tuan Chau Island. There are people living permanently in these islands. On these islands, there are many beaches and hotels serving the tourists.

Finally, all the day cruise boats sailing back to the dock just before sunset

We visited Ha Long Bay in 2016 as part of a 4-week Southeast Asia trip.

Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue rice terraces, system of irrigated rice terraces in the mountains of north-central Luzon, Philippines, that were created more than 2,000 years ago by the Ifugao people. Although located in several villages, they are collectively known as the Banaue rice terraces.  It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1,500 metres above sea level. These are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps were put end to end, it would encircle half of the globe.

Lush Banaue Rice Terraces

We visited Banaue Rice Terraces in 2011 as part of our 3-week Borneo and Philippines trip.

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa is the capital of the island province of Palawan. The city has been acclaimed several times as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. With a wide range of attractions ranging from beaches to wildlife reserves, Puerto Princesa is a nature lover’s paradise.  The Puerto Princes’s Subterranean River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, is one of the most popular tourist attraction in the Philippines.

Beach at the start of underground river tour

We visited Puerto Princesa in 2011.

Chocolate Hills

The Chocolate Hills are a group of unusually shaped hills located in the middle of the island of Bohol in Philippines. This extraordinary landscape is unique to this small island. The hills are not huge; the highest one barely reaches 120 meters in height. Even so, most hills are between 30 and 50 meters.

Geologists have differing views about how these hills were formed. One plausible theory is that they are weathered formations of a marine limestone lying on top of an impenetrable clay base.

There are more than 1,300 of these hills scattered within a 50 square km  area

We visited Chocolate Hills in 2011.

See next: East Asia Wonders

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