South East Asia: what do you think?
Readers give the lowdown on their favourite places in South East Asia.
Thailand is my favourite place ever; it’s so lovely, with exceptional views and plenty to do. My favourite part was going on an elephant who chucked me into the sea. I would suggest doing that because you’ll remember this as one of the best experiences of your life. The tuk tuks (transport) and souks (markets) are well worth the money. You could have the best time here as there is so much to do and the weather is perfect.
I had a wonderful two days volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Chaing Mai which aims to help save endangered elephants in Thailand which are used for street begging in the cities or mistreated in elephant ride parks for tourists.
Standing in acres of open Thai forest with over 30 rescued elephants, it was fantastic to be able to bathe them in the river, feed them and learn about their way of life. Despite the trauma the elephants had been through, they were very tame and welcomed our ear tickles and banana treats.
Sleeping in a wooden hut in the jungle huddled under two mosquito nets was an experience and peeping over the bricks as I stood in my al fresco ‘en-suite’ shower, I could see the elephants munching and chatting away with each other – simply fantastic.
Cambodia is an amazing country – it has so much history that I knew so little about. It was really sad but so interesting learning about the country’s tragic past. There are beach resorts and also the amazing Angkor Wat too – there’s so much going on.
There’s something for everyone depending on what they want to do while away.
Thailand is the country that kick-started my desire to explore South East Asia. It’s one of my most recently travelled-to countries but for me it had it all. From the rich culture, temples and amazing array of beautiful street food right through to nights fuelled by buckets of Sang Som and Red Bull at the infamous Full Moon Party!
I divide the country into three simple areas; the north with its laid back pace of life situated in the jungle, the chaos of Bangkok and finally the picturesque islands in the south. Cover all three of these and you’ll have an epic time!
Laos is very pretty. It has a strange but warming atmosphere. It used to be owned by the French (hence the silent s on the end) and there are still many French speakers in the older generations. The country has a distinct Parisian vibe, particularly in Luang Prabang with small shutters and fresh baguettes everywhere.
There is one main bar where all the youngsters hang out and where you are likely to meet fellow travellers. However, there is a midnight curfew, which means you shouldn’t be out on the streets after this time because they switch all the power off. A bowling alley stays open 24 hours though and travellers flock here after the bars shut, have a beer and brush up on their bowling skills. Really relaxing and fun.
Whenever anyone asks me where the best food in the world is, I immediately answer Vietnam – such a variety, so tasty and very, very cheap. Not everyone loves Vietnam but I fell in love with the resilient people, the golden landscapes and the insanity that is Vietnamese road traffic. It’s hectic but heaven.
Washington DC, www.twenty-somethingtravel.com
I headed to Vietnam via Cambodia. If you’re planning on coming out this far, then these two countries are musts. Set away from the well trodden path of the typical Western traveller the pair are steeped in war ridden history. Both The Killing Fields of Cambodia and the Cu Chi Tunnels of Vietnam highlight the recent devastation that has torn apart both nations. Add to that the majestic Angkor Wat Temples and you can’t help but become mesmerised by the place.