10 Travel Ideas for Off The Beaten Path Places in Southeast Asia

10 Travel Ideas for Off The Beaten Path Places in Southeast Asia

You've always wanted to go on the road less traveled, yet somehow end up going to places almost every tourist goes to anyway. Everyone's going to the same places, seeing and doing the same things. So how is your trip different from everyone else's?

Here's a list of travel ideas for 10 off the beaten path places you could go to in Southeast Asia. These places have fewer crowds and are good alternatives to add more variety to your planned trips.


10. Amed, Indonesia

What defines the perfect beach getaway? Blessed with stunning landscapes, pristine beaches and excellent snorkeling, Amed ticks all the boxes but without the occasional tourist hordes you see almost everywhere in Bali. Thank god it's really far off the tourist trail for most to even consider coming here. For those who do, congratulations, this maybe that slice of heaven you were looking for.


Amed viewpoint
Amed viewpoint, overlooking Jemeluk Bay with Mount Agung in the distance

9. Mae Hong Son, Thailand

Unless you were going on the Mae Hong Son loop, most don't even consider coming to this part of northern Thailand, located just a doorstep away from Myanmar. This quaint and well-kept town holds plenty of surprises for those who are willing to spend more than a night here. Be it getting a bird's eye view from Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, strolling around Jong Kham lake or visiting the long neck Karen tribe villages in the vicinity, there is a long list of to-dos in Mae Hong Son.


Mae Hong Son's Wat Jong Klang temple
Mae Hong Son's Wat Jong Klang temple

8. Battambang, Cambodia

Battambang may just be a small blip on Cambodia's tourism scene however appearances can be little deceiving. There's actually plenty to see and do in this charming little town for those considering a stopover here. There's the bamboo train, only one of two in the world. There's also the killing caves of Phnom Sampeau, located just outside town, a site where some of the most horrific atrocities were committed during the Khmer rouge era. It's also the perfect place to start your (warning: excruciatingly slow) boat ride along the scenic Sangker river to Siem Reap. Battambang offers so much yet receives so little limelight that I'm actually wondering if that's actually a good thing.

Battambang's bamboo train
Battambang's bamboo train

7. Sidemen, Indonesia

While most tourists would opt for the touristy Tegalalang, I wanted something a bit off the track. On my way from Ubud to Amed, I made a last minute decision and took a detour to Sidemen, probably the best decision I've made during my entire stay in Bali. There isn't much to do here, but the timeless beauty of the place is worth the time you spend in admiration.


Rice terraces in Sidemen
Rice terraces in Sidemen

6. Khun Yuam, Thailand

Okay, so why mention Khun Yuam when Mae Hong Son, a town located only 80 km away, was already mentioned? The answer, it has just enough to see and do to earn a place in your travel wishlist. First off, just a short drive away is Namtok Mae Surin national park, home to the Mae Surin falls, the tallest single tier waterfall in Thailand. There's also the Dok Buatong, an annual sunflower bloom festival which takes place at Doi Mae U Kho at the end of each year, which in my opinion, an event which could give the one in Lopburi a run for its money.


  Doi Mae U Kho near Khun Yuam, venue for the annual Dok Buatong
Doi Mae U Kho near Khun Yuam, venue for the annual Dok Buatong

5. Nong Khiaw, Laos

Towering limestone cliffs surround this riverine village just a few hours north of Luang Prabang. Came here on a whim, a decision I never regretted one bit. If you're feeling adventurous, you could try trekking to the viewpoint, which has uninterrupted and breathtaking views of Nong Khiaw and the surrounding valleys. Don't worry if you aren't the adventurous type, as just being here presents a very good opportunity to experience the local way of life in its truest form.


Thick morning mist enveloping the many limestone cliffs in Nong Khiaw
Thick morning mist enveloping the many limestone cliffs in Nong Khiaw

4. Sembalun, Indonesia

A remote village with vast expanses of farmland nestled among the foothills of Gunung Rinjani (Lombok's highest mountain), Sembalun was a surprise find as I made my way around Lombok. For those considering an overnight stay here, there are a few accommodation options here. While you're at it, I recommend a short trek to Bukit Selong to watch the sunset. Want to up the ante a little? Try an overnight hike to Bukit Pergasingan for some of the best views Sembalun has to offer.


The farmlands of Sembalun, with Bukit Pergasingan in the distance
The farmlands of Sembalun, with Bukit Pergasingan in the distance

3. Mae Salong, Thailand

Located just under two hours north of Chiang Rai and away from the usual tourist trail, Mae Salong isn't your typical Thai town, as most of its inhabitants are of Yunnanese (hint: China) descent, giving the town a very distinct feel from most. So what's there to do in a place like this? Besides sampling delectable Yunnanese dishes and tea tasting, you could try scaling the few hundred steps to the pagoda on the hilltop to get a bird's eye view of the town and the surrounding countryside. Or head over to the tea plantations nearby to experience first-hand how oolong tea is produced.


Mae Salong, Thailand's oolong tea county
Mae Salong, Thailand's oolong tea county

2. Ngadas, Indonesia

Getting here from Malang felt almost like an adventure. It didn't come without its challenges of course, but it was well worth it. Stumbled upon this hidden gem while looking for alternative ways to get to Bromo, besides the usual route through Probolinggo. Have always read about how beautiful and tranquil Ngadas was, but I was absolutely mesmerized when I first saw the place with my own eyes. If there was ever a Hobbiton (from the Lord of the Rings) in real life, this is it.


The almost dreamlike landscape in Ngadas
The almost dreamlike landscape in Ngadas

1. Muang Ngoi Neua, Laos

If Nong Khiaw didn't feel offbeat enough, head on over to Muang Ngoi Neua, about an hour's boat ride away, which runs only a few times a day and is the only way to get there. There are no roads, and up until recently, there was no electricity either. Welcome to rural Laos. Despite this, there's no shortage of things to see and do here in Muang Ngoi Neua, which makes it popular with the occasional traveler seeking adventure. Try a short trek to Phanoy cave and be rewarded with stunning views. Or take a leisurely walk around the beautiful countryside, mingling with the locals as you go.


Muang Ngoi Neua, rural Laos
Muang Ngoi Neua, rural Laos

Do you like this list? Feel free to comment below if you would like to contribute some of your own travel ideas for off the beaten path places in southeast Asia.


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