5 Incredibly Relaxing Destinations in Southeast Asia

by Mark Wiens on February 7, 2012 · 11 comments

Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

For all the wild, action-packed mega cities Southeast Asia is so famous for, there’s an equally opposite number of places that are quiet, nature-oriented, and extremely relaxing.

Here are 5 destinations I recently visited where relaxation is the local way of life.

1. Sangkhlaburi, Thailand

Waking up at 5 am is something you’ll love doing when you’re in Sangkhlaburi.

Why?

Because there’s nothing more enjoyable, or more relaxing, than beginning the day with a stroll over Thailand’s largest handmade wooden bridge.

After crossing the bridge, make sure to visit the Burmese market on the other side. The low key market includes lots of betel nut chewing vendors, and a number of delicious snacks.

Sangkhlaburi, in my opinion, is one of the most relaxing places to visit in Thailand. The lifestyle is laid back, no one seems to be in a hurry, and the scenery is extremely beautiful.

Yangshuo, China

Yangshuo, China

2. Yangshuo, China

Although China would not normally be considered part of Southeast Asia, since Yangshuo is just north of Vietnam, I’m including it.

If the gorgeous scenery of Yangshuo isn’t enough to thrust your body into a state of immediate relaxation, sipping on a cold lotus nut beverage while reclining on a small Chinese chair in the middle of a lotus patch will surely do the trick.

Sometimes it’s not only sitting or laying down that’s relaxing, but also doing physical activity in a location that includes fresh air, unspoiled natural landscapes and is filled with sounds of nature instead of honks and smog.

Go on just a short bicycle ride from the center of Yangshuo, and you’ll be cycling down rice farm trails, taking dips in the clear Yulong River and enjoying tremendous views of the mountains.

4000 Islands

4000 Islands

3. 4000 Islands, Laos

While at times the amount of backpacking tourists can be overwhelming, there are plenty of opportunities to sneak away from the crowds to discover the beautiful and relaxing side of the 4000 Islands in the south of Laos.

If lounging in a hammock strung on the balcony of your wooden bungalow overlooking the lazy Mekong River while reading a book with a cold Beer Laos in hand is your idea of a relaxing paradise, you’ll end up spending a lot of time at 4000 Islands!

If you happen to get an overdose of relaxation and want some adventure, be sure to take a hike, bike to the waterfall, or take a boat to see the Irrawaddy dolphins.

Lake Toba, Indonesia

Lake Toba, Indonesia

4. Lake Toba, Indonesia

Encircled by sharp jagged mountains, Lake Toba is a deep volcanic lake on the lush green tropical mega-island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

To get there by local Indonesian transportation will hardly be relaxing, but as soon as the road dips into the cauldron and the glassy lake appears, your body will calm itself into a zen-like state of relaxation.

Stay in a local style Batak bungalow overlooking the lake, or pay a dollar more and you can get a hut where you can jump right out the window into the warm water of Lake Toba!

Batad, Philippines

Batad, Philippines

5. Batad, Philippines

Of the many incredible and relaxing places to visit in the Philippines, it’s hard to beat chilling in the sleepy rice terrace village of Batad.

With over 116 man made terraces of rice that steeply creep up the side of the mountain, the beauty of the Batad rice terraces will blow your mind.

Staying in a local style hut at the base of the terraces is a sure recipe for relaxation and a way to escape the hassles of city life.

Jus a short 20 minute trek through the terraces, up a steep ridge and through some thick vegetation, is a booming waterfall that offers an opportunity to take a dip or to just sit back and listen to the sound of crashing water echoing off the sides of the mountain.

What other relaxing destinations have you visited in Southeast Asia?

About the Author:

is the author of 154 posts on Go Backpacking.

Mark was raised in central Africa before migrating back to the US for University. After graduating, he decided to continue traveling the world. On Migrationology, he shares the cultural side of travel from a slow paced local perspective that often revolves around his love for eating all forms of food. Join him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @migrationology, and add him on Google Plus.

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Categories: Asia, Features
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11 Comments

Christine February 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

Love the looks of that wooden bridge! Might have to seek that out while I’m in Thailand…and 4000 Islands in Laos sounds like exactly the type of place I’d love!

Reply

Dave February 7, 2012 at 11:52 am

All of Laos is super relaxed. Drinking a beer alongside the meandering Mekong in the south is as tranquil as it gets. I think I was there in low season too, which made it that much quieter.

In fact, I still feel like it’s the most relaxed country I’ve ever visited, even the capital city had rickshaw drivers with hammocks strung up in the back so they could sleep whenever they wanted!

Reply

SoloMate Travel February 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Great list. I think I would enjoy the 4000 islands of Laos the best as well. Lounging in a hammock overlooking the river sounds very relaxing.

Reply

Mark Wiens February 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm

It’s a fantastic place to relax with great scenery! Even though some parts of the islands are becoming louder with lots of backpackers, it’s still possible to slip away to some areas that are still extremely peaceful and quiet.

Reply

Nomadic Samuel February 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Great choices! I’m a huge fan of 4000 islands and Yangshuo. The southern part of Laos is often overlooked for the typical Vientiane-VV-Luang Prabang route, but those who do venture south are certainly rewarded for their efforts.

Reply

Mark Wiens February 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I fully agree Samuel!

Reply

Liew Kui Chin May 31, 2012 at 12:49 am

Hoi An of Vietnam is definitely a relaxing place, especially strolling or cycling around the old & ancient town.

Reply

Alex August 12, 2012 at 2:18 am

Being meaning to go to Sangklaburi for years! I’ve heard wonderful things. Think I’ll finally do it in December!

Reply

Michael Hoyt August 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I love the 4000 islands. They are one of my favorite places in all of Asia. I spent 4 days there this summer, I loved the history and the dolphins. It was one of those rare times when a place is everything you hoped for and more.

Reply

Dariece - Goats On The Road January 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

Great list! Having been to 4 out of the 5 places I couldn’t agree more. I’ll have to check out Sangkhlaburi next time I’m in Thailand!

Cheers for the post.

Reply

Claudine March 23, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I thought that the pictures in this article were beautiful. I only had the opportunity to visit the beaches of Krabi while in Thailand. Your list will help me plan my next trip to Asia, because I like quiet, relaxing journeys.

Reply

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