Ultimate Bucket List Experiences in South East Asia

South East Asia is without a doubt on every travellers Bucket List, simply because it has a lot to offer. Be it experimenting different street food options or immersing yourself in nature or visiting some of the most picturesque beaches in the World or admiring the diversity in marine life underwater. And trust me, no matter how many times you visit, you still wont be able to experience everything. Which is why, we have compiled this list of the Ultimate Bucket List Experiences in South East Asia, as recommended by travellers and travel blogger themselves.

 

Experiencing the White Sand Beaches in Boracay

Recommended by Marquis of Kiki La Gringa

Boracay Philipines

Photo by Laurentiu Morariu on Unsplash

Boracay has one of the finest white sand beaches in the world! The island is surrounded by blue waters and white sand but the best stretch of beach is at Station 1. It is worth a visit, especially at sunset for vivid orange and purple skies.

An afternoon is well-spent on a catamaran going around the island and to neighbouring islets. If you’re into water sports there are plenty of companies that offer banana boat rides, kiteboarding, and even scuba diving.

The beach is so beautiful, that lounging on the sand and just chilling will be a great vacation too!

 

Seeing Komodo Dragons in Komodo National Park

Recommended by De Wet of Museum of Wander

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Visiting Komodo National Park in Indonesia is an epic adventure. Where else on earth can you see real dragons? The Komodo dragons are enormous, prehistoric-looking reptiles that you can only see on five small islands near the town of Labuan Bajo on Flores island.

The best places to see these gigantic lizards are on Komodo or Rinca islands. Park rangers meet boats docking at these islands and will take you on a guided walk through the natural habitat of the Komodo dragons.
Your guide will track down the dragons, point out dragon nests, and take nice photos of you from an angle that makes the dragons appear enormous in front of you. Park fees at Rinca island are RP 150 000 (USD10) for foreigners, including the guide’s service.

 

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Donsol | Sorsogon

Recommended by Bernadette of Book Retreats

Whale Shark Philipines scaled

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

For a chance to swim with whale sharks head to Donsol, Sorsogon. It is one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks. And it can be exciting since you have to get on a boat and lookouts will tell you when to dive into the water to swim next to the whale sharks. It is also an amazing place to go scuba diving to see humongous manta rays and other sea creatures.

Donsol is one hour away from Manila by plane and the best time to see the whale sharks are in April and May.

 

River Safari in Borneo

Recommended by Kerry Hanson from VeggTravel

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Kinabatangan river safari is one of the most popular tour destinations in Borneo. The region is home to abundant wildlife, ranging from orangutans and elephants to macaques and Proboscis monkeys. The Kinabatangan River safari offers an awe-inspiring glimpse into the natural splendour of this Southeast Asian rainforest.

Choose from morning or afternoon river safaris that will take you on a journey through some of Borneo’s most pristine landscapes, including the Kinabatangan River National Park. Stay in an eco-lodge in the middle of the rainforest and watch out for wild elephants passing by. If you appreciate nature and wildlife, Kinabatangan river safari needs to be added to your bucket list.

 

Kiteboarding in Kalpitiya 

Recommended by Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs
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Kiteboarding in Sri Lanka is the perfect way to enjoy the island’s extensive coastline and small islands. The small fishing village of Kalpitiya, about four hours north of Colombo, offers incredible kiteboarding opportunities for all levels.
Learn in the calm lagoon, try jumps and tricks in the waves of the nearby Indian Ocean, go on a downwind ride from sandbar to sandbar spots, or spend the night on the remote and rustic Ippantivu Island for an overnight experience. The ocean and lagoon options, the warm weather and water temperatures, and the two seasons a year (May to October and December to February) make Kalpitiya the ideal kiteboarding paradise.

 

Scuba Diving in Coron | Palawan 

Recommended by Bernadette of Live a Relaxed Life

Coron

Photo by John Hernandez on Unsplash

The limestone cliffs around Coron, Palawan are one of the reasons to visit this small city in the Philippines. In the clear blue waters are World War II shipwrecks – some you can see by snorkeling and others you’ll have to scuba dive to get up close. Kayaking and boating are great ways to get around and into the limestone mountains for a swim in a lagoon.

Kayangan Lake is one of the cleanest lakes in Asia and it is worth the trek up and into the cove. While at the top make sure to take a picture of the surrounding islands and mountains, it will be the most scenic picture of your trip!

 

Visiting the Instagrammable Nine Arch Bridge in Ella

Recommended by Helen Wildgoose of Curious Goose Travel

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The Nine Arch bridge is one of the most visited landmarks in the popular backpacker town of Ella in Sri Lanka. The iconic bridge is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by thick forest and tea plantations, making it one of Sri Lanka’s most instagrammable spots!

If you are lucky, you might also catch the train as it passes over the bridge.

The best way to get to the Nine Arch Bridge is by tuk tuk from Ella. Many of the tuk tuk drivers will wait for you whilst you take your photos and walk over the bridge. Or, if you’re feeling energetic, you can walk to the Nine Arch bridge from Ella. For a longer walk, combine it with a hike to Little Adams Peak, which is another great attraction to visit when you are in Ella.

You can’t travel to Ella in Sri Lanka without visiting the famous Nine Arch bridge, it is an impressive sight!

 

Experimenting Thai Street Food in pop up restaurants in Bangkok

Recommended by Rachel from Everything French Alps
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Photo by Vernon Raineil Cenzon on Unsplash

 

Pull up a plastic stool and enjoy this bucket list experience on your next South East Asian Vacation. As the sun goes down, thousands of small, usually family-owned, carts get into position next to busy streets intersections and outside 7-11s. Plastic stools haphazardly surround tiny collapsible tables, and a well worn plastic menu will signify that you are in the right place.

 

Each street food makeshift restaurant will have its specialities. Some focus on noodle soups, seafood or stirfries. Many cities across S.E Asia are trying to phase these types of restaurants out and move them into air-conditioned malls. But for now, there are still plenty around if you know where to look.

 

Visiting George Town’s UNESCO Heritage Site

Recommended by Marco Ferrarese of Penang Insider

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George Town | By Kit Yeng Chan

Visiting George Town on the northwestern Malaysian island of Penang is a must when in Southeast Asia. Founded by Francis Light in 1786, Penang island best expresses its multi-ethnic flavour in its capital, George Town. It’s a unique mix of former colonial architecture blending European and Middle-eastern elements, nestled in the northeastern corner of the island that once was a crucial port on the Straits Sea.

Today, after the UNESCO inscription in 2008 brought in more and more tourists, that decadent old-world atmosphere still oozes from George Town’s busy streets. And even if they have gentrified with street art, hip cafes and charming Penang Heritage hotels, walking in the streets of George Town and up to its sea-facing Esplanade where the British-built Fort Cornwallis today welcomes cruises instead of warships, are a traveller’s delight.

 

Visiting Dieng Plateau 

Recommended by Marya Sutimi from The BeauTraveler

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Photo by Masyitha Mutiara Ramadhan on Unsplash

Dieng Plateau, known as just Dieng for the locals, is situated 2093 meters above sea level between Banjarnegara and Wonosobo district in Central Java, Indonesia. 

The name ‘Dieng’ originally comes from the Sanskrit word “Dihyang” which means the place of the gods. The plateau is the home of the oldest Hindu Temples that have been discovered in Java. Built approximately around the 8th to 9th century, they are now clustered together at the Arjuna temple complex. 
Dieng offers various activities to spend in the region, from enjoying the view of Telaga Warna to watching the sunset or sunrise at the top of Sikunir Mountain. 

 

Seeing an Orangutan in the Wild in North Sumatra

Recommended by Abi from IGOA-Adventure 

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Photo by Jorge Franganillo on Unsplash

One of the ultimate bucket list experiences in South East Asia has got to be seeing an orangutan in the wild! It’s something which was on my bucket list forever and when the opportunity arose we jumped at the chance. 

We were heading to North Sumatra in Indonesia, one of the last remaining habitats for this endangered species, for a week long adventure of jungle treks. There’s only two places to see wild orangutans – North Sumatra and Borneo – which is what makes this experience so incredible! One area where you are almost guaranteed to see them is in a little village called Bukit Lawang. 

From Bukit Lawang it’s possible to go on excursions into the National Park to find these adorable animals. We were lucky enough to spot a mother nesting with her baby and had a close encounter with another. It was the best experience and I would seriously recommend visiting North Sumatra for this ultimate bucket list experience! 

 

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