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Indochina Checklist: 18 Destinations You Should Not Miss

Especially for Filipino travelers, Indochina is an ideal destination mainly because of its distance. That also means that it is a highly recommended place for those who want to travel without shelling out too much dough.

Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam are the six countries that make up Indochina. Whether you’re looking for pristine seascapes or breathtaking landscapes, the region won’t disappoint. Check out the following Indochina destinations that you have to see when you pay a visit.

 

Cambodia

Cheap eats, temple runs, sunny vibes, and more—Cambodia treats every kind of traveler to a majestic travel experience.

1. Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Your Indochina trip won’t be complete without checking out the old and fascinating temples of Angkor Wat. Beaming with history, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world’s largest religious monuments at about 162 hectares.

This must-see destination is too huge (expect a lot of walking!) that some visitors opt to plan a two-day visit to see the temples alone.

Cambodia is also home to other ancient temples such as Banteay Srei, Bayon, and Angkor Thom.

  • Location: Krong Siem Reap
  • Travel Tips: Apply sunscreen lotion before going to the site. Bringing an umbrella is a plus, too, as the place is usually hot and dry. If you’re looking for wooden tabletop decor, Angkor Wat has humble stalls that sell those. Also, it’s best to drop by Angkor Wat at sunrise!

Read 9 Best Destinations in Asia for Solo Travel

2. Royal Palace

Royal Palace Phnom Penh’s

Have your cameras ready as you visit one of Phnom Penh’s architectural wonders, the Royal Palace. Inside the area are splendid and spectacular buildings and temples that are gleaming in gold.

Some of the most famous masterpieces here are the Throne Hall (a noticeable building boasting a 59-meter tower) and the Silver Pagoda (an incredible gem that houses golden and jeweled Buddha statues).

3. Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville Beaches in Cambodia

Dreaming of white sand beaches while in Cambodia? Sihanoukville is the answer. This peaceful seaside resort town is perfect for travelers who want to crash the waves and enjoy the soft sand without encountering a legion of other tourists.

Near the place are the picturesque islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, which you can both include on your side trip.

  • Location: Southern coast of Cambodia
  • Travel Tip: From Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville can be reached by bus or car. It is ideal to travel at night or during dusk, as the land trip could take as long as six hours.

Check the latest Cambodia Hotel rates here

 

Laos

Laos is a landlocked hidden jewel that’s waiting for you to discover.

1. Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang Laos

The former capital of Laos, Luan Prabang is popular for its Buddhist temples and monasteries as well as green, lush corners. You can expect several saffron-clad monks strolling around the city every morning to collect alms.

Get wet and happy as you splash your way to the city’s gorgeous waterfalls, such as Kuang Si and Tad Sae.

If you’re into nature trips, make sure to visit Mount Phousi, a 450-foot high hill filled with shrines. Visit the place early to witness the beautiful sunrise. Pak Ou is an ideal destination, too, where you can see more than 6,000 retired Buddhas.

  • Location: At the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong River
  • Travel Tips: Checking out the Luang Prabang Night Market? We highly encourage you to unleash your best haggling skills. Sellers usually quote higher prices at night. While there, don’t miss the chance to try a famous fried delicacy called the Mekong River moss.

2. Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng Phnom Penh

A four-hour drive away from the capital city of Vientiane, Vang Vieng is a must-see wonder for its limestone karst hills. This is where you can sight towering limestone cliffs and white splashed rocks.

Best for nature lovers, Vang Vieng is close to the Nam Song River—where you can try tourist activities such as kayaking and tubing.

3. Bokeo Nature Reserve

Bokeo Nature Reserve
Image Credit @livingnomads.com

Go on an enjoyable ecological tour at Bokeo Nature Reserve. Established in 2004, this green gem serves as a home to a number of plant and animal species. Tiger, bears, monkeys, birds, and even elephants can be seen here.

At this biodiversity site, you can step into interesting treehouses as if you’re Tarzan or Jane and fly over the trees by riding the zip line.

Check the latest Laos Hotel rates here

 

Malaysia

Aside from its natural wonders, what makes Malaysia truly beautiful is its cultural diversity. Everyone is welcome to enjoy this marvelous living atlas.

1. George Town

George Town Penang

You’ll learn more about a place by roaming around its streets. The streets of George Town in Penang are definitely a must-visit especially if you’re into street food, street festivals, and cultural shows. Food courts are everywhere and so are colorful fests. It will be weird if you don’t come across one.

Points of interest in George Town include Kek Lok Si (an ornate Buddhist temple), Penang Hill (a park with views and hikes), and Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi (a Chinese clan temple and museum in one).

2. Bukit Bintang

Bukit Bintang

Buzzing with activities, Bukit Bintang is popular for wanderers and backpackers looking for handicrafts and local delicacies as pasalubong.

There’s more to this place than its shops, though. What makes this area more interesting is the section where you can see a row of colonial-style establishments that turn into bars and cafeterias during the evening—talk about a fun after-hours entertainment.

3. Melaka

Melaka (Malacca)

Melaka (or Malacca) used to be a Portuguese-colonial trading port, as evident in its stylish architecture. If you’re the type of traveler who digs deep into the place’s history, Melaka has a lot to offer you. It is also a perfect stopover for foodies.

While in Melaka, you can expect colorful street art, an abundance of antique bookshops, as well as themed museums.

  • Location: Melaka, Malaysia
  • Travel Tip: If you have more time to spare, visit Singapore from Melaka. The trip only takes about 3.5 hours via bus.

Check the latest Malaysia Hotel rates here

 

Myanmar

Often underestimated, Myanmar has undeveloped yet captivating wonders; going here feels like visiting an untouched country.

1. Bagan

Bagan Myanmar

Whenever you’re looking for Indochina destinations to visit, for sure you’ll come across various temples. Yes, there are so many choices, but one item in particular that you should not miss are the temples in Bagan.

Watch the sun light up and embrace long moments of awe. This is where your eyes can feast on the varicolored hot air balloons over the horizon with a rainbow sky as the backdrop.

  • Location: Old Bagan, Myanmar
  • Travel Tip: Freeze the iconic moment and capture the flying balloons. Take your camera and (IMPORTANT!) charge your batteries beforehand.

2. Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda is already eye-catching during the day, but something about this attraction makes it more enchanting at night. Considered as the most sacred Buddhist Pagoda in the country, it is said that it has the relics of the last four Buddhas.

Aside from Buddha statues, the complex around the pagoda is where you can find historical artifacts and relics that are believed to exits more than 2,500 years ago.

3. Shwe Inn Dein Pagoda

Indein Myanmar

Inn Dein is home to quite a number of red, brown, and white stupas (or structures erected as Buddhist shrines).

What makes Indein even more special is the journey you have to go through to visit the place. You’ll pass by various creeks, farms, and rice paddies where you can vividly see the humble lifestyle of the locals.

Here, you can learn more about the life on the water by traveling across the Inle Lake by a watercraft.

  • Location: 2 Myanmar
  • Travel Tip: Myanmar’s Wine Country is just nearby. You can rent and ride a bike to go here, then enjoy a wine-tasting session—something a traveler rarely does.

Check the latest Myanmar Hotel rates here

 

Thailand

You may have heard or read a lot about Thailand, but there’s more to it than what you can hear from your friends or read online.

1. The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace Bangkok

Many locals consider this palace as the birthplace of Bangkok. It’s no wonder since it houses the country’s most important Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha.

The Grand Palace is truly a must-see, as evident in the number of travelers that swarm around the place without minding the heat of the day.

If you’re feeling a bit iffy about visiting because of how dense the number of visitors could be, the trick is to go there as early as possible.

Read 10 Cool Things to Do in Bangkok

2. Ayutthaya Historical Park

Ayutthaya Historical Park Bangkok

Another Indochina jewel filled with ancient temples and Buddha statues, Ayutthaya is sure to please the wanderlust in you.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an ideal destination for those who are not much into long walks; you can actually check out all of its corners in about an hour (photo-taking sessions included). From Bangkok, Ayutthaya can be reached via car in no more than two hours.

3. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Thailand is well known for its odd yet must-try food items as well as handmade products. To get the most out of your pasalubong budget, check out Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

The tourist-friendly spot is not just ideal for cheap shopping adventures, but for photo opportunities as well. The vendors are friendly, too!

  • Location: Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi
  • Travel Tips: Visit the market early in the morning so you can squeeze in more activities later that day. You may also visit the interesting Maeklong Railway Market located nearby. It is tagged as the world’s most dangerous market, because the stalls are only a few feet away from the trains.

Check the latest Thailand Hotel rates here

 

Vietnam

There are a lot of reasons why you should visit Vietnam, but probably the most convincing ones include its boasting affordability, vibrant culture, and phenomenal nature.

1. Chu Chi Tunnels

Chu Chi Tunnels Ho Chi Minh

Have a better understanding of the history of Vietnam during the time of World War II. Chu Chi Tunnels serves as a war memorial and is a huge network of connecting tunnels (some are open to the public, while some are not).

There’s a 100-meter tunnel that requires crawling, so it may not be suitable for travelers with breathing difficulties.

Tourists may also put their shooting skills to test at the shooting range (VND 35,000 per bullet, minimum of 10 bullets). In addition, there’s an on-site restaurant serving meals soldiers had to eat to survive during the war. From Ho Chi Minh, the Chu Chi Tunnels is only an hour’s drive away.

  • Location: Phú Hiệp, Ho Chi Minh
  • Travel Tip: It’s best to visit the site wearing dark-colored clothes as you’ll be entering tunnels with tight spaces. Expect to get dirty, too.

2. Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta Vietnam

Quaint and serene, Mekong Delta boasts of its assembly of floating markets, sugar cane groves, bird sanctuaries, and peaceful villages.

Your visit to Mekong Delta won’t be complete if you don’t ride a sampan (a narrow boat) and take a cruise in the river surrounded by palm trees. There are a couple of stopovers along the way, where you can buy goods such as dried fruits and hand-weaved purses.

Read Top 10 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Ho Chi Minh City

3. Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

Surrounded by greens and blues, Ha Long Bay features over 2,000 lush islands pitted with caves, lakes, sinkholes, and limestone pinnacles. It’s interesting to know that most of these islands were formed by natural processes.

Here, you can take a cruise, go spelunking at Hang Sung Sot Cave, go diving, and take a cycling tour. The place is too wide that an entire day is not enough.

Check the latest Vietnam Hotel rates here

The beautiful region of Indochina cannot be summarized into 18 locations alone (although these handpicked ones are undoubtedly charming).

There are also a lot of factors to consider when picking itinerary items, such as your route and the duration of your trip. But whatever you choose, it would certainly be a great experience.

See the complete Indochina Map tour guide below.

 

Find the best accommodation for your Indochina trip with Traveloka to get great deals.