Ask travelers for the most beautiful landscapes in Southeast Asia. We bet Bali’s rice terraces will come out high on the list.
Yes, these are nice – but here come the real highlights, Southeast Asia’s most stunning landscapes and sceneries.
We have mountains, islands, rice paddies and volcanoes to offer.
Have you seen them all?
Top 5: Vang Vieng (Laos)
The area around Vang Vieng offers breathtaking vistas in every corner: Tall mountains covered in mist surround the valleys, limestone cliffs rise up majestically, and rivers bend their way down between them.
This all could be an out-of-this-world experience, if not for the hordes of drunk backpackers dancing to techno beats, tubing down stoned on Nam Song river and watching “Friends” in the countless TV bars in town. Sure, we all like some fun. But have it in your backyard.
Top 4: Halong Bay (Vietnam)
Around 3000 islands emerge from the sea in the Gulf of Tonkin in northern Vietnam. Some are covered with vegetation, offering spectacular grottos and hidden lagoons; others offer photogenic lime stone cliffs. You can cruise though Halong Bay on a short day trip from Hanoi, or allow yourself more time to admire the views on an overnight trip.
If your better half wants to visit Thailand instead of Vietnam, take comfort in the fact that Koh Phi Phi (near Phuket) in Thailand looks somewhat similar to Halong Bay.
Top 3: Banaue (Philippines)
You will find rice paddies all over Southeast Asia – but none as nice as the ones built by the Ifugaos on northern Luzon in the Philippines.
There are numerous viewpoints all over the area. Without a doubt the highlight are the terraces around the tiny village of Batad, a short ride from Banaue. The valley around Batad is shaped like a half-bowl amphitheater; you will see rice terraces all around you. Make sure you download a panorama photo app before you get here!
Top 2: Wayag Islands (Indonesia)
Now this is a tough one to reach. Even from Jakarta or Bali, you will need a couple of flights and a full day by boat to get to the Wayag Islands in Raja Ampat, off Papua’s west coast in Indonesia. Yes, that’s at the end of the world, and then about 200 km back. The view is so amazing, you will not regret it.
Dozens of green clothed rock islands emerge from the emerald blue sea and offer a magnificent, fairy tale landscape. People come on a day trip, cruise around the cliffs, stop on a few beaches, climb to the top for the best views, and then head back to their dive base.
Your best chance of visiting the Wayag Islands is during a dive trip to Raja Ampat. However, most divers focus purely on diving when they reach this “end of the world”. What a mistake!
Our Winner: Gunung Bromo (Indonesia)
A volcano tops our list. Not just one volcano, rather a volcano-inside-a-volcano. Get ready for a magnificent, lunaresque landscape.
Gunung Bromo is located at the eastern end of Java Island and can be visited by budget airline from Jakarta and Singapore, or during a multi-day trip from Yogyakarta. With some planning, it is also possible to visit from nearby Bali.
You should arrive early in the morning to climb the outer volcano rim at Cemoro Lawang. Watch how the mist slowly crawls over the top slopes, and catch the sunrise behind the inner volcano in the distance. Then drive or walk 45 minutes through the red and brown colored, lunaresque plain of the outer crater to the base of the inner rim, which is Gunung Bromo proper.
From here, Gunung Bromo isn’t that high anymore. There is even a staircase cut into the stone. Climb the stairs for a peek inside the crater - be careful not to breathe in too much of the poisonous steam.
Want more highlights?
When you have enough of landscapes and sceneries, check Southeast Asia’s other top highlights:
Agree or disagree with our top breathtaking views? Want to suggest another? Let’s discuss!