Where to go in Southeast Asia this summer

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With palm-lined beaches, bustling nightlife and culture galore, Southeast Asia is a great place to explore in summer. Best of all, this fascinating part of the world is just a short – and affordable – flight away. Read on for our pick of Southeast Asia’s top spots to go this summer.

Bali, Indonesia

It’s all happening in Bali over the summer months, but don’t let the crowds put you off. A festive atmosphere is in the sultry air day and night, whether you’re hitting the bars, sunbaking on the beach or shopping up a storm at markets and street stalls. Venture out to Ubud for its beautiful rice terraces and monkey forest, watch the sun set at Uluwatu Temple, and get spiritual at Tirta Empul or Taman Ayun, two of Bali’s best water temples.

Hanoi, Vietnam

The delicious street food is reason enough to head for Vietnam. Cooking aromas will greet you at every turn in Hanoi, where you can devour everything from noodle soup and savoury pancakes to spring rolls and bánh mì – stroll through the narrow lanes of the Old Quarter to get the full experience. Other essentials for your holiday itinerary are a visit to Ngoc Son Temple by scenic Hoan Kiem Lake and to cruise through the limestone karsts of Halong Bay – the scenery is mind blowing.

Phuket, Thailand

It’s party central on Thailand’s biggest island if that’s your style, but there are plenty of other things to do while you’re there – when you’re not kicking back on the island’s beautiful beaches, that is. Water sports and day tours are easy to come by in popular Phuket. An absolute must is a boat trip to the stunning Phi Phi Islands to snorkel and swim. Visitor numbers are capped, so be sure to book ahead. Also, visit the iconic Big Buddha statue (it’s 45 metres high!) to take some pics – the views of the island are panoramic.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

With its friendly people, rich culture and history, Cambodia offers fun and fascination in equal measure. More than two million visitors descend on Siem Reap every year to marvel at the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm. When you’re all templed out, book in for a massage at one of the many day spas before heading to the Angkor Night Market for souvenir shopping and street food. As for day trips, don’t miss a cruise past the floating villages of Kompong Phluk and Chong Khneas.

Palawan, Philippines

The pristine beaches, dramatic landscapes and colourful marine life of the Palawan islands make it a drawcard for holidaymakers. Island hopping around El Nido, famous for its limestone karst formations and picture-perfect lagoons, is sure to be a highlight (book a kayaking tour to take you there), and the crystal-clear lakes, hot springs and underwater shipwrecks around Coron Island make it a hotspot for diving and snorkelling.

Luang Prabang, Laos

This UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Luang Prabang delivers the perfect combo of culture, natural beauty and history – plus plenty of opportunities to generally laze about (what’s a holiday without some serious relaxation?). Step back in time with an unhurried wander through the streets of Luang Prabang’s Old Town; swim in the cascade of turquoise natural pools beneath Kuang Si Falls (and hike through the jungle to the top for amazing views); visit temples; and watch Buddhist monks performing their morning rituals. And do take a boat trip along the Mekong River to the Pak Ou Caves, where pilgrims have left thousands of Buddha statues as offerings.

Travel Insurance

We all know that the good times can take a slight detour when travelling. When the going gets tough, Travel Insurance Direct policies aim to do the heavy lifting and may assist with travel insurance cover, such as water sports, to help keep your trip moving in the right direction, so you can refocus on the fun.


I grew up in the US, Germany and Australia, so it feels more foreign for me to stay in one place than to move around. Since then, I’ve called Boston, London, Seattle, Brisbane, Madison and Sydney home for study and work as a journalist, travel writer and photographer. I specialize in adventure travel, social issues and interiors/architecture. Home is now an 1890s cottage in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. I traveled to my seventh continent last year – an action-packed expedition to Antarctica – and have memories galore of my travels. Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies, galloping with gauchos in Chilean Patagonia, trekking through Japan, and camel riding in Jordan are among the most memorable. My least favourite travel hiccup was being stranded in Cameroon when I should have been winging my way to Paris for a little me-time. You win some, you lose some.


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