We all know and love Thailand for its unbeatable food, mesmerizing culture, wallet-friendly experiences, and those postcard-perfect views. But ever thought about diving into destinations with a similar vibe yet a little less crowded?
Curious? Here's a roundup of some brilliant destinations reminiscent of Thailand vibes, just waiting to be the backdrop for your next vacation story.
Venture beyond the usual and immerse yourself in the Philippines' diverse archipelago of over 7,000 islands. From tranquil beaches and vibrant cities to world-class diving destinations, this Southeast Asian gem offers a unique blend of experiences that rival those of Thailand. The Philippines, known for their unmatched hospitality, add a touch of warmth to every visit. Moreover, with tourism still blooming at a steadier pace, many of the country's paradisiacal spots remain refreshingly uncrowded. So, pack your bags and embark on an unforgettable journey.
Best Time to visit: November – April
Must-visit: Boracay, Palawan (El Nido and Coron), Cebu (including the Kawasan Falls), Bohol, Siargao, Vigan, Mayon Volcano in Albay, the Banaue Rice Terraces, Manila's Intramuros, and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.
Often overshadowed by its northern neighbor, Malaysia offers a compelling blend of natural and cultural wonders that can easily rival those of Thailand. For travelers in search of pristine beauty, Malaysia doesn’t disappoint. From the stunning islands of the Andaman Sea that boast untouched beaches and dense tropical jungles to the mesmerizing Pulau Tiga National Park, the country promises a kaleidoscope of experiences for nature lovers.
But if it’s a genuine adventure you're craving, the island of Borneo is your ticket to an unforgettable journey. As the third-largest island on the planet, Borneo is a treasure trove of ecological wonders. Imagine walking on powdery white sands that contrast vividly with the turquoise waters, or trekking deep into rainforests that are millennia old. The biodiversity of Borneo is unparalleled; it serves as a refuge for some of the world’s most endangered species such as Orang-Utans.
From delectable cuisines, ancient temples, and vibrant festivals to modern skyscrapers and world-class amenities, Malaysia is indeed a destination that offers both the familiar comforts and the exotic escapades. So, the next time you’re pondering a Southeast Asian adventure, consider choosing Malaysia; it’s a world waiting to be explored.
Best Time to visit: March – October
Must-visit: Kuala Lumpuer (Petronas Twin Towers, Batu Caves), Penang (George Town, Penang Street Art), Langkawi, Malacca, Borneo (Kinabalu Park, Sepilok Organgutan Rehabilitation Center, Bako National Park), Taman Negara (one of the world's olders rainforests), and Perhentian Islands.
While many travelers set their sights on Thailand, neighboring Cambodia beckons with its unique blend of natural splendor and ancient marvels. Yes, it’s a great Thailand alternative for those seeking a less-trodden path in Southeast Asia. Dominating the cultural landscape is the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat, a temple complex that is not just Cambodia's crown jewel, but also a testament to human ingenuity and the rich tapestry of history.
But Cambodia's allure doesn't stop at its temples. The lush and vibrant ecosystem of the Mekong Delta invites travelers to immerse themselves in a world where nature remains largely untouched. The serenity extends to the idyllic island of Koh Throng. In this tranquil heaven, the absence of cars means you can truly connect with the environment. Whether you're strolling, cycling, or taking a leisurely carriage ride, every moment on the island promises a peaceful retreat from the bustle of everyday life.
Best Time to visit: November-March
Must-visit: Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh's Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Koh Rong Island, Battambang, Tonlé Sap Lake, Preah Vihear Temple, Bokor National Park, and the towns of Kampot and Kep.
Sri Lanka, often dubbed the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean," offers gorgeous lush rainforests, arid deserts, scenic highlands, and instagrammable beaches, making it a compelling alternative to Thailand. Not only nature enchanters you but also history and culture, exemplified by the ancient Buddhist ruins of Sigiriya. Dive into its azure waters at shark point and share the depths with majestic whales and sharks. With a diverse wildlife that includes leopards, elephants, and even flamingos, Sri Lanka promises an Asian adventure that stands out in its authenticity and richness.
Best Time to visit: East coast: March – November; Southern coast: November – April
Must-visit: Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Dambulla Cave Temple, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Yala National Park, Kandy's Temple of the Tooth, Galle Fort, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, and the beaches of Mirissa and Arugam Bay.
With a coastline stretching over 3,000 kilometers, Vietnam offers turquoise beaches from Halong Bay in the north to Phu Quoc in the south. The country's rich history, evident in places like the ancient town of Hoi An and the imperial city of Hue, provides a deep dive into centuries-old traditions. Vietnam's cuisine, with its pho soups (personally, the best soup of all) and banh mi sandwiches, is a delightful gastronomic journey, contrasting yet complementing the tastes of Thai food. Its diverse landscapes, from the terraced rice fields of Sapa to the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City, offer experiences as varied as they are memorable. Moreover, Vietnam tends to be more budget-friendly, making it a great choice for travelers seeking both value and adventure.
Best Time to visit: December – April
Must-visit: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa, Hue, Hoi An, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), and the Mekong Delta.
If you're thinking of places like Thailand, don't forget about India. It's not just about the famous Taj Mahal or busy cities like New Delhi and Mumbai. India is huge and offers many beautiful and exciting places to explore. You can see unique temples in Mysore, wander through old markets, and even try delicious street foods. Plus, if you like Thailand's beach parties, you'll love Goa in India. It's known for its fun beach parties and relaxed vibes. After a night of dancing, you can also take a calm yoga class in South Goa or explore the local fishing villages. And remember, traveling by train in India is not only cheap but also a great way to see the country's diverse landscapes, meet local people, stay positive and see beauty in every tiny thing. But, yeah, it’s a good way to experience India's rich culture without spending too much.
Best Time to visit: June - September
Must-visit: the Taj Mahal in Agra, Jaipur's Amber Fort, Delhi's Red Fort and Qutub Minar, Mumbai's Gateway of India, Kerala's backwaters, Goa's beaches, Varanasi's Ghats, the temples of Khajuraho, Mysore Palace, and the Himalayan region of Ladakh.