The 'Venice of the East' nickname in fact predate Besso's scribblings by hundreds of years. However, though it is unclear when exactly the phrase was born, it is clear that no tourist guide since (book, person or website) has been able to resist this captivating cliche. Like Burma's 'Mandalay', it evokes the romance of the Orient, only Bangkok-style: of languid sampans drifting down tree-lined canals, of stoic locals living next to them in floating wooden shophouses, of city life before the advent of tuk-tuks and traffic jams.
But does the Venice of the East still exist? Yes and no. Many canals were drained or filled because of the risk of cholera they posed, or to make way for badly needed roads. Unlike the city's Chao Phraya River, little or no trade passes along those that remain. However it's not a tale of total stagnation. In places remaining khlongs are, though pungent, still picturesque. Old bridges survive, crooked houses still crowd the waters edge. For a few measly baht you can whiz past them, engulfed in noise and heat and fumes, rancid water flying toward you as the boat surges forwards (for speed and sheer exhilaration they put Venice's gondolas to shame!). Or take a gentle stroll along canal paths, peeking with every few steps into a new home, stepping as you go over shoes or passed elderly ladies watering potted plants.
It is a testimony to the love of symmetry and balance which evolved its style....in pure simplicity of rectangles its beauty is achieved. It is a pyramid mounting in terraces, five of them ...Below Bak-Keng lays all the world of mystery, the world of the Khmer, more mysterious ever under its cover of impenetrable verdure.
Phnom Bakheng is located 1,30 meters (4,265 feet) north of Angkor Wat and 400 meters (1,312 feet) south of Angkor Thom.
Enter and leave Phnom Bakheng by climbing a long steep path with some steps on the east side of the monument (height 67 meters, 220 feet) In the 1960 this summit was approached by elephant and, according to a French visitor, the ascent was "a promenade classic and very agreeable.
Arrive at the summit just before sunset for a panoramic view of Angkor and its environs. The golden hues of the setting sun on this vista are a memorable sight.
Koh Panyi (Koh Panyee) is a surprising village almost entirely built on stilts in Phang Nga Bay near the famous James Bond Island. Koh Panyi is a very unusual and exciting site to discover, but it can be hectic, especially at lunchtime because of the many seafood restaurants welcoming all the visitors. The trick is to get there early and be the only visitor in the village!
If you want to have Koh Panyi almost for yourself, rent a car and drive early to the Surakul pier in Phang Nga, then rent a longtail boat which will take you there within 20 minutes. It’s not cheap, maybe 1,500 baht, but it is worth it if you want to have a lot of time in front of you to take photos of Koh Panyi with no tourists on them, and most importantly, have a different vision of this very unusual place.
Even the boat ride itself is fascinating, gliding through the mangrove and between colossal limestone rocks. Circling the village gives you an excellent idea of its size and shape. You will then disembark at the main piers, where a dozen seafood restaurants get ready for their busy lunchtime.
The Similan Islands form a fabulous archipelago in the Andaman Sea, just 120 km north-west of Phuket island. These small islands are so strikingly beautiful; you don’t even need to be an excellent photographer to come back with amazing photos.
Most people go there on a day trip tour, but the best way to enjoy the Similan islands is to stay for two days. It’s a little far from Phuket and can be tiring to get there on a speedboat. This way, you’ll have some fabulous beaches almost for yourself in the morning and the evening, and having the beaches for yourself is absolutely priceless.
The archipelago consists of 9 islands, but you will only have time to visit 2 or 3. The first is very well known for its iconic landmark made of giant boulders perched at the top of a hill overlooking the incredibly clear water of the bay below. You’ll arrive in the morning and will have just a bit of time to explore it and even climb on top of it, maybe one hour, but do it if you can, the view from up there is worth it!
Climbing to the boulders isn’t too hard since steps and ladders have been installed all the way to the top. This will give you a beautiful bird view of the entire bay. The shadow of the boats floating above white sand will give you an idea of how clear the water is.
John Gray’s crew cares about you and nature; they speak a decent to exciting English and will tell you a lot about what you are about to see and discover. Boats never get crowded, and food on board is excellent. You’ll be asked to respect Nature around you as much as they do, which means no touching, no loud talking and of course no smoking while you are exploring the famous ‘Hongs’ (enclosed lagoons, usually only accessible through a narrow tunnel when tides permit). They also try to avoid crowded places: a Hong with a hundred canoes in it is not exactly a grand vision of nature at its best.
On the way, you will be amazed to see the size and the amount of these fantastic limestone formations rising straight up from the sea and covered with dense vegetation. While moving from one island to another, the crew will throw some chicken bits in the air, and dozens ‘Bramany Kites’ (some Sea Eagles) will flock and dive behind the boat.
Samet Nangshe is a superb panoramic viewpoint in Phang Nga Bay. It’s a little far outside Phuket island, but if you have a car or a big bike, it is worth the drive. From up there, you can admire the fantastic limestone formations of Phang Nga Bay, but it requires a good deal of effort. You need to drive 25 kilometres past the Sarasin bridge that connects Phuket to the mainland, but the drive in the backcountry on Thailand is fantastic. The road is surrounded by trees and palm trees all the way, and when you approach your destination, you are rewarded by the jaw-dropping Nangshe bay which is beautiful, even from the road.
There use to be a serious 20 minutes climbing (and in a way there still is), but a pickup truck will be waiting for you to drive you up there regularly. We recommend you to use it. 90 baht is definitely worth the energy saving! Note that if you choose not to use the pickup truck, there is still an entry fee to go up.
Once you reach the top, don’t expect a peaceful, solitary hilltop as there is always a little crowd of avid photographers, amateurs and professional. Families and teens are all over the place taking all kinds of creative poses for their selfies. It’s a real Instagram playground.
The Phi Phi islands are some of the loveliest in Southeast Asia. Just a 45-minute speedboat trip or a 90-minute ferryboat ride from either Phuket or Krabi, these picture postcard islands offer the ultimate tropical getaway. Featuring classic tropical beaches, stunning rock formations and vivid turquoise waters teeming with colourful marine life, it is paradise perfected.
Phi Phi is a group of six islands. The two main islands are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. The larger and inhabited Phi Phi Don attracts hundreds of visitors to stay on its lovely shores while the smaller uninhabited Phi Phi Leh hosts stunningly beautiful bays and beaches, including the world-famous Maya Bay, which was the set where The Beach (with Leonardo Dicaprio) was filmed.
Karon Viewpoint Thai name is Kho Sam Haad, which means ‘The Hill of the Three Beaches’, and once you reach the place, you will see exacly that: three beaches. If this is your first trip to Phuket, you probably will stop a few minutes at this popular and beautiful panoramic landmark to admire the view from the top of the hill. You really can see three magnificent bays from up there.
The closest and smallest one is Kata Noi Beach. A bit further is the beautiful Kata Beach with its island ‘Koh Poo’ which means Crab Island, and in the far, the very long Karon Beach.
With such a strategic location on the side of the road leading to the famous Promthep Cape, everyone stops for a selfie on their way to Nai Harn. Some visitors rest a bit longer in the shade of the Gazebo to enjoy some drinks or snacks bought at the tiny shops located a few steps down below. Some have a chat with the now well-known reggae guy always hanging there selling some necklaces and accessories.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park - is a national park in Quang Binh province in central Vietnam with an area of 885 km². The National Park has the oldest karst mountains in Asia, which has formed about 400 million years ago. There are hundreds of caves, underground rivers and long underground passages with stalactites and stalagmites. In 2005 the park has been discovered a new species of gecko. The park has about 300 caves and caverns with a total length of 70 km. British and Vietnamese scientists have examined 20 km. There are many underground rivers, streams and waterfalls in the park. Phong Nha - Ke Bang included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Serious exploration of the caves began only in the 1990s when it first Cavers forced deep into Phong Nha Cave, one of the longest cave systems in the world. Paradise Cave was discovered in 2005, and in 2009 a team found the world's largest cave - the Son Doong. In 2015, the public was given access to two cave systems.
Serious exploration of the caves began only in the 1990s when it first Cavers forced deep into Phong Nha Cave, one of the longest cave systems in the world. Paradise Cave was discovered in 2005, and in 2009 a team found the world's largest cave - the Son Doong. In 2015, the public was given access to two cave systems.
Hai Van Pass or Sea Clouds Pass offers an impressive landscape of verdant mountains and clear blue skies, overlooking Da Nang City, Tien Sa Port, Son Tra Peninsula, and South China Sea. Crossing over a spur of Truong Son mountain range between Thua Thien-Hue Province and Da Nang City, it stands at 500m above sea level, making it the highest pass in Vietnam.
The 25 kilometre-long mountain pass is popular amongst thrill-seeking motorcyclists due to its winding roads, sudden curves and blind corners, while its lookout point offers gorgeous views of Da Nang Bay.
The pass also hosts the ancient Tran Dynasty’s Hai Van Gate, Hai Van Tunnel (the longest in ASEAN), wartime gun towers, and a decrepit French-built fort that was later used as a bunker by South Vietnamese and US armies during the Vietnam War. Prior to the construction of the Hai Van Tunnel, the mountain pass was notorious for its fair share of fatal accidents – look out for small altars set along the roadside that are dedicated to perished victims.
The Marble Mountains are a cluster of five hills made from limestone and marble in Da Nang. It's also a well-known pilgrimage site with peaks, caves, tunnels and temples all just waiting to be discovered. Named after the elements metal, wood, water, fire and earth, Marble Mountains exist in a coastal area that is renowned for stone-cutting and sculpture about 9km south of Da Nang.
The caves within the mountains hold many secrets including bullet holes from when troops used to spy on the US soldiers relaxing on My Khe Beach below and buildings standing within the caves and grottoes. There are also Buddhist sanctuaries and places of worship dotted across the mountains which are a much-visited spiritual site. You can even see a special circular cave here. It leads to the summit, where you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views.
Son Tra (Monkey) Mountain is a breath-taking national park in Da Nang that stands 693 metres above sea level. It’s a 35-minute drive from Da Nang, making it a popular retreat amongst locals and travellers looking to escape the heat and busy traffic of the city. Locally known as the Son Tra Peninsula, the verdant mountain is also surrounded by pristine beaches such as Bai Bac, Bai Nam, Bai But, and Tien Sa Beach.
Monkey Mountain was a prominent observation base during the American-Vietnam War, housing two radar domes that are now taken over by the Vietnamese military as well as a helicopter pad, which makes for a cool lookout point.
A prominent attraction in Da Nang is Linh Ung Pagoda, which is also set on Son Tra (Monkey) Mountain. The stunning pagoda was built during the 18th century and houses a 67 metre-tall white statue of the Goddess of Mercy, which is set atop a lotus-shaped platform. Hailed is the tallest statue of the deity in Southeast Asia, there are 17 levels within the structure and a total of 21 miniature Buddha sculptures. Entrance to Linh Ung Pagoda is free of charge, though it’s known to get crowded with pilgrimages during special occasions.
Ba Vi National Park is one of Vietnam’s most famous areas of outstanding natural beauty and is centred around a three-peaked mountain jutting steeply out of the landscape. The national park offers a great escape from the city with cool fresh mountain air in a mystical atmospheric backdrop of clouds, jungle and tropical rainforest. There is also a spa resort nestled at the foot of the mountain offering a host of natural therapies in an absolutely stunning setting.
The three mountain summits are Dinh Vua which is the highest at 1,296m, Tan Vien which is 1,226m and Ngoc Hoa the smallest at 1,131m. Together they form a three humped crest which is often obscured by clouds at the highest point due to the varied climate at the park. Pilgrims and tourists alike usually make the walk to the summit of the Tan Vien peak where an 11th sacred century shrine stands in memory of the Mountain God.
There are also superb tropical forest views and vistas all the way to Hanoi to be enjoyed from this peak. The fast-flowing Da River is located on one side of the national park; there are also several streams running through the park.
To West Lake (Ha Noi), visitors can admire the charming scenery and have the opportunity to join Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boarding – a water sport originated from Hawaii and imported into Viet Nam for about 3 years.
Travelling to the cool fresh air area of the highlands are much needed to soothe the eyes with breathtaking views. Positioned geographically on 3°10’ North Latitude and 98°23,5’ East Longitude, Mount Sinabung is located within the Karo Regency of North Sumatra province. The majestic Mountain with soaring heights of 2,460 meter has a total of four volcanic craters.
There are three routes up the mighty volcano. One is well marked and the other two are less obvious. Due to unpredictable weather, it is best to always hike with an experienced guide. The thick jungle on the flanks of the mountains leads to the massive area of Mount Leuser National Park, thus having an experienced guide is essential to avoid getting lost.
Sightseeing tours are designed for visitors to view Mount Sinabung’s glorious panorama from a safe zone. There are three safe zones to view the glorious panorama or Sinabung which are Tiga Pancur Village in Simpang Empat, Perteguhan Village and Tiga Kicat Village of Naman Teran. These villages are perched around 7-8 km away from the eruption centre, which made them the ideal viewing points.
When visiting Medan, capital city of North Sumatra, and you are looking for some real excitement, why not try Rafting down the rushing Asahan River. Located at the center of Bandar Pulau subdistrict in the Asahan Regency, the Asahan River track is praised as one of the Best White Water Rafting spot in the World after the Zambesi River in Africa, and Colorado River in the US. Asahan, one the major rivers in North Sumatra province, has its source in the great Lake Toba and offers endless excitement for rafting enthusiasts especially professionals
Endau Rompin, straddling the Johor/Pahang border, is the second National Park after Taman Negara. It covers an area of approximately 80,000 hectares of rich and exotic flora and fauna, encompassing the watershed of the rivers Endau and Rompin, from which it derives its name. In other words, this place is huge.
As dusk falls, the shutters open at the Night Safari, welcoming you into a world of nocturnal creatures and their dimly-lit habitats.
Opened in 1994 and located next to the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari is the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals. This wildlife park is spread across seven distinct habitats, each home to its own array of fascinating creatures.
Your eyes will take a while to adjust to the darkness here, but once they do, you’ll be greeted by over 2,500 resident animals from over 130 species – including many indigenous to the region, such as the endangered Asian elephant, Malayan tapir and Malayan tiger.
The animals live in 35 hectares of dense rainforest. Friendlier creatures such as deer roam freely in the park while fiercer ones like leopards are kept behind barriers.
For those who prefer exploring the park on wheels, a 35-minute tram ride with live commentary takes you across seven geographical zones of the world, from the rugged Himalayan Foothills to the swampy banks of Equatorial Africa.
Southeast Asia's first Hollywood movie theme park, Universal Studios Singapore™, features an enticing selection of attractions, rides and entertainment for families and thrill seekers. Indeed, 18 out of the 24 movie-themed rides here were designed just for the Singapore park.
There are seven uniquely-designed zones, each themed after icons of the movie world. You will find the renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame at the Hollywood zone. As you venture into New York, the landscape evolves into impressive city skylines, including a mockup of a subway entrance. Here, you can step onto a movie set and experience the destructive force of a hurricane, with special effects produced by Steven Spielberg.
Sentosa Island is a man-made island that was built for fun and recreation. The best attractions in Sentosa Island all share one thing in common: fun, and lots of it! This man made island, accessible via a small bridge from the main Singapore island, is jam-packed full of entertaining things to do, many of which are geared towards families with young kids.
The many attractions on offer at Sentosa include the expansive Resorts World, Universal Studios Singapore, Tiger Sky Tower, Singapore Butterfly & Insect Kingdom, and one of the largest collections of aquatic animals in the world, SEA Aquarium, all of which continue to draw repeat visitors from all over Asia.
The Li River boasts the largest and most beautiful scenic area in China and attracts thousands of visitors each year.The 83-kilometer-long waterway which goes from Guilin City to Yangshuo County is like an artist’s masterpiece. The landscape is decorated with startling hills, steep cliffs, fantastic caves and farming villages, and is lined with bamboo. I
Located in Assam at a distance of 194 km from Guwahati, the Kaziranga National Park is a world heritage site and arguably India’s finest wildlife sanctuary. The wildlife park is famous for its one-horned rhinoceroses.
The Longji Rice Terraces are located in Longsheng County, about 100 km (2 hours drive) from Guilin city. The most popular are Ping An Rice Terrace and Jinkeng Rice Terrace. The terraced fields are built along the slope winding from the riverside up to the mountain top, the highest part being 880 m in elevation while the lowest part is 380 m.
The ongoing 90 million yuan ($14.48 million) Haibin Beach renovation encompasses Lovers Post Office, Happy Hour Pagoda, Watch Tower, support-service facility, Happy Square at the main entrance, Music Fountain and more. The beach is a more-than-ever romantic venue for wedding photographs.
Guangzhou Chimelong (长隆) Holiday Resort is Guangzhou's top tourist attraction. The scale and variety and quality of its many attractions makes it unique in China.
It is China's 3rd most popular theme park, and it might be worth a special trip even from Hong Kong or Macau if you really enjoy animals, circuses or fun rides.
It is quite unusual to have two or three world-class entertainment and amusements, the big safari park, a world-class circus, and a large waterpark together with other interesting sections of the park all in one big place.
Most tourists consider the safari park/zoo and the circus among the best in Asia!
The Canton Tower (also know as Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower), the landmark of Guangzhou City, is one of the world's most spectacular new buildings. It is a facility for radio and television transmission, but it is also one of Guangzhou's most popular tourist highlights with restaurants and observation decks on top of it.
The tourists can enjoy an unobstructed view of Guangzhou City. Standing upon the tower, tourists can have a bird's-eye view of the beautiful scenery of the Guangzhou New City and the Pearl River. At the base of the tower, you can get information about Guangzhou's history, culture, economy and tourist attractions. There is a tourist information room. Many tourist service facilities such as restaurants are at the bottom. At the top, there are fine restaurants, entertainment facilities and a viewing platform.
Enter a magical kingdom inspired by fairy-tale dreams and explore 7 lands—Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street, U.S.A.—filled with beauty, excitement and Disney Characters.
In this Disneyland you can sail around the world and rocket into outer space, blast through mines, explore brave exotic jungles and take a tour to mysterious museum.
Or you can catch beloved Disney Characters on parade and terrific life shows packed with music and laughter.
You can also celebrate the Chinese New Year, Halloween and Christmas season in this setting bursting with holiday magic!
Matang Wildlife Centre, part of Kubah National Park, houses endangered wildlife in large enclosed areas of rainforest or spacious cages. The main attraction is the orang utan adoption programme, where young orang utans, who were either orphaned or rescued from captivity, are taught how to survive in the wild.
It is one of the very few places in Hong Kong that still hangs on to its old fishery ancestry customs and traditions and a real treat to visit any time of the year.
It is hard to imagine that only 20 short minutes away from the sparkling skyscrapers and maelstrom of Central, you can find yourself in a different kind of sparkle: Gleaming white sand beaches with crystal clear blue waters; Contrasting brilliant green hills; Sleepy fishing villages; Fantastic fresh seafood in the waterfront...
Whether for a day or only a few hours, Lamma Island is a great option for an escape from the tumult of the city.
There are no vehicles or public transport here, except for service vehicles. It's either walking or bikes... a nice change of pace!
If there is only one thing you can do in Hong Kong, go to The Peak. If you have many things to do here, still go to The Peak. The highest point on Hong Kong Island, this has been the city’s most exclusive neighbourhood since colonial times — back then it was the cooler air that attracted the rich and famous; in the post air-conditioning era, the views of one of the world’s most spectacular cityscapes keep them coming.
Shenzhen Safari Park is China's first zoo that lets animals live in natural habitats. There are nearly 10,000 wild animals of more than 300 species, most of which are rare and protected species, including eight tigons and ligers.