As South East Asia gets more and more popular along travelers, it gets harder and harder to find true destinations that are both off the beaten track and worth exploring. I have spent 1,5 years cruising around SEA by busses, trains, boats and motorbikes and have found some truly offbeat places for you. I’m not talking Pai or Sapa here, I’m talking about those little gems where you will barely see another sunburned touristy face.’
1. The Muang Ngoi area in Laos
Hidden behind the slightly touristy town of Muang Ngoi (5 hours north of Luang Prabang), I found some tiny little towns where phone signal is just a myth, electricity is extreme luxury, chickens live under your room and life outside is just good. The farmers there will take good care of you, will show you around and let you sleep in their houses for half a dollar a day. Welcome to Ban Huaybor and its amazing neighboring towns that you probably never heard of before.
2. Chang Khong, Thailand
This is a cute little town where most people just spend a night there before jumping on a boat to Laos or Myanmar. You could take the opportunity to spend there a little longer and explore the surroundings on a motorbike. This underestimated city in the Mekong region offers some of Thailand’s best motorbike riding along with a variety of waterfalls, hot springs, temples, hill tribes and beaches.
3. The secret islands in Laos’ Ang Nam Ngum lake
You might have seen it on the map, and that’s probably all the information you will find about it. The largest lake of Laos, Ang Nam Ngum, has truly uninhabited islands which are still to be claimed by touristy enterprises. In the meantime, go there yourself, camp for free and enjoy the sunsets and sunrises. And the best news? While they are as off the beaten track as can be, they are still easy to get to.
Read the whole story here: Camping on the secret islands in Ang Nam Ngum Lake
4. The Van Thanh peninsula in Vietnam
This peninsula features a small fishing town, crazy off road driving and probably the best coffee in Vietnam. Me and my travel buddy came here with the plan to stay for a day and ended up spending five nights there, one of which we camped in the wild. You will need a motorbike to get here, which you could rent in Nha Trang or Da Lat if you don’t have one already. There is one affordable but decent hotel on this peninsula and plenty of places to eat local food. Once you have your motorbike, the only preparation you need is a print out of this map: http://goo.gl/maps/yPGQV.
5. Pangkor Island in Malaysia
This is one of those places that receives way less attention from the international backpacker crowd than it should. You’ll find plenty of Malaysian tourists though, who are there for a good reason. You will find hornbills freely flying everywhere and great inexpensive food along the beach. You can cruise your rental scooter around the island through the rainforests and climb over rocks to deserted beaches where no one ever comes. So while this island is only on the border of being off the beaten track, it is definitely worth a visit.