10 Must Have Experiences in Southeast Asia

Wednesday April 12, 2017 | by Gladys Ang | In Asia

Believe it or not, we all need a little break from all that shopping that we can get in other parts of Asia.

Craving for something out of the concrete jungle? Like an idyllic escape to some secret island, lying on a hammock and sipping on a Pina colada. All while having the tropical sunshine bathing your skin, mmmhmmm, that’s the life.

Or are you a culture vulture that prefers to discover the laidback charm of the rustic countryside? Pace yourselves as you walk through the quaint neighbourhoods and explore the grandeur of the ruins and temples which are the beacon of their past.

Now that is what Southeast Asia have in store for you. In this week’s ZUJI Passport, get inspired for your next trip to an exotic destination to reconnect your mind and senses to the wonders of Mother Nature.


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Hanoi, Vietnam

1. Visiting the Old Quarter and French Quarter

Once a French colonial state, Vietnam retains its French charm in the Old Quarter and French Quarter. Meandering through the streets of the Old Quarter and French Quarter is a visual feast, where the streets are a beguiling mix of French and Vietnamese architecture.

Source: Asia Off the Grid

Being Hanoi’s main commercial district, the Old Quarter streets are lined with shops selling jewellery, silk, cotton and other souvenirs. Pop by a street side café and watch as the locals carry on with their daily commute in a chaotic fashion at the Old Quarter.

Source: Round the World Girl

Don’t rush your visit – walk further down to the serene boulevards of the French Quarter. Explore the back alleys to catch a glimpse of the everyday lives of the locals beyond the hustle and bustle in the main streets. When night falls, treat yourself to a pint of beer at the many bars in the district.


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2. Immerse yourself in the Vietnamese Street Food Culture – On Plastic Stools

Source: Travelicious

The quintessential Vietnamese experience includes its vibrant street food culture and one-of-a-kind dining experience – on plastic stools.  Besides the Dong Xuan Market, you can expect to see the standard hawker fare of Banh Mi and Pho on the streets with hawkers cooking up the storm and serving piping hot bowls of noodle soup. Majority of these food stalls provide the same plastic stool seating, sometimes without a table so you have simply no choice but to hold it in your hands and slurp up.

Source: Hanoikids.org

Besides the architecture, the French has left a significant footprint in their culinary scene with the Banh Mi being one of the staples of a Vietnamese breakfast. Featuring a freshly baked baguette that is filled with Vietnamese ingredients and condiments, this is the ultimate fusion food that tourists cannot miss.

3. Bonus: Coffee Break at Café Giang with their Signature Egg Coffee

Source: Giang Café Hanoi

Did you know that Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world? Flavourful and rich, Vietnamese brewed coffee is packed with enough punch to give any other coffee joints in Singapore a run for their money. In Hanoi, be sure to try their Egg Coffee! Created a few decades ago when milk was a scarcity, Café Giang continues to serve this unique concoction which is a hit among the locals and tourists alike.

Lombok, Indonesia

4. Chill at the Hammock or Have a Go at the Swing in the Middle of the Ocean

Source: United Explorers

Lombok is one of Indonesia’s many islands which used to be overshadowed by Bali, which is often the first choice for travellers for a quick respite. But with the increasing crowds in Bali, tourists soon found comfort in Lombok for their peaceful getaway.

Source: Tales of Ardour

The picturesque island of Gili Trawangan that is off the shores of Lombok offers travellers an alternative chill experience – resting in a hammock right in the middle of the Ocean. Have a go at the swing too! We know you want that Instagram-worthy shot ;)


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5. Conquer Indonesia’s Second Highest Mountain – Mount Rinjani

Source: Rinjani Mountain

Up for an adventure? Challenge yourself to Indonesia’ second highest peak at Mount Rinjani. Besides achieving a sense of accomplishment upon conquering the peak, you will be rewarded to a splendid view of the mountains, skies and seas that is simply captivating.

Boracay, Philippines

6. Beach-Hopping

Source: Seek the World

Asking anyone about the best thing to do in Boracay will return you the same answer – beach-hopping. This tropical island paradise spans over 7 kilometres with 17 different beaches. Though White Beach is the most coveted beach destination in Boracay, you often find yourself in a not-so-tranquil getaway, having to squeeze for space with the throngs of tourists.

Source: Photo Rebel

The other beaches have the same sultry charms with their turquoise waters and palm dotted beaches, and possess the idyllic allure that you are looking for.

Some notable beaches to hang out at: Puka Beach, Diniwid Beach, Balinghai Beach.

Do remember to slather on all the sunscreen you need and get your shades on for protection against the merciless island sun!


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7. Water Sports Galore at Boracay!

Source: BPHT Booking Services

Thrill seekers will be pleased to know that Boracay has a series of exhilarating water sport activities to get your adrenaline rushing. For starters, parasail across the azure blue sea and watch the island goers hang out by the palm-studded coastline.

Source: Snap Snap Eat

Take your activities to take the next level by making your way to Magic Island for their cliff jumping and take a leap of faith into the cooling waters. If you have a penchant for extreme sports, there are a plenty of jet skiing and water skiing facilities in the island!

8. Bonus: Get your Juice Fix at Jonas’

Source: TripAdvisor

An island getaway will never be complete without a refreshing beverage, especially when you’re within walking distance of one of the world’s best milkshake stalls, Jonah’s Fruit Shake and Snack Bar.  Take a break from your beach-hopping and water sports to energise yourself with their signature velvety peanut chocolate milkshake or the zesty and frothy Mango Milkshake. #stayhydrated2k17

Source: Dencio

Feeling peckish after all that heat from the scorching sun? Pair that refreshing cup of fruit juice with Jonah’s Army Navy Sandwich. The locals have spiced up the typical ham and egg sandwich combination by drizzling their homemade cheese sauce generously over the freshly grilled toast. Mmmhmm.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

9. Visit the World’s Largest Religious Site – Angkor Wat

Source: World Nomads

When we talk about Siem Reap, the first attraction that comes to mind is Angkor Wat. Sprawling across a whopping 300km, it is the world’s largest religious site and the national symbol of Cambodia. Angkor Wat’s religious structures have withstood the test of time, with a long history dating back into the 9th century. The grandeur of the monuments has continued to attract tourists worldwide, after being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Source: South China Morning Post

Adding onto its booming popularity, the Ta Prohm temple has been a hit among international visitors after being featured in the hit movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider.


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10. Take Flight on a Hot Air Balloon

Source: Ecstatic Adventure Travel

Source: Asia Tours

If you have dreamed of taking flight with a hot air balloon, you will be delighted to know that you can do so at Siem Reap. There is no need to break the bank by going to Turkey for this experience of a lifetime when a destination nearer to home gives you the opportunity to do so at a lower price.

Source: Asia Tours

Marvel at the grandeur of Angkor Wat and the gorgeous scenery of Siem Reap while you’re up in the air. Though the ride lasts for a mere 10 minutes, it gives you enough time to grab a bird’s eye view of the temples in all its glory.

Southeast Asia is the ideal destination for travellers who are looking for cheaper alternatives to unwind at. Of cultural experiences, exotic cuisines and rousing adventures, it is the true (possibly hidden) gem of the world. Hop on to your next SilkAir flight to these destinations for the ultimate bucket list travel of a lifetime.


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