I called Southeast Asia home for years. The various cultures and history drew me in and the culinary delights were an added bonus! From Sino-Tibetan hill tribe villages to French colonial architecture, these countries offer an enchanting past along with a promising future. It is just as exotic now as it was then.
Thailand offers pristine beaches, ornate temples, and sprawling forested highlands to be discovered and rediscovered. Sure, cities grow, urban architecture changes, industries are brought in, but the tapestry of Thailand remains intact. In fact, I would say that the improvement of infrastructure has only made the journey more enjoyable. And 20% of Thailand is designated as national parks and reserves. That's quite an impressive statistic. For instance, Khao Yai is a park near Bangkok and it's home to diverse wildlife such as bears, gibbons, elephants and hornbills. One thing that has not changed is what Thailand has always been known as: The Land of Smiles. It's infectious. It can help the traveler slow down, relax and reflect (and we can all use a large dose of that these days). View Trips to Thailand
To the north is Laos. It's like Thailand's country cousin, with a strong similarity in language, food and culture but it has yet to see the big city lights. Apart from a few small urban areas, the infrastructure is limited. The pace is slow, and the GNP is small. You'll feel a bit of a time warp and that is one of its charms. That said, there are some fabulous accommodations here with top-notch staff. The choice of activities is on the rise and there are wonderful UNESCO world heritage sites to be seen, especially Luang Prabang, the former royal capital. This coming season Wildland will be offering a journey through Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. It's worth going now instead of later! View Trips to Laos
Vietnam has a lot going on. There are all kinds of places to go, things to see and new friends to be made in this long coastal country. When I lived here in the mid-90s Westerners were rare and many called me "Russian". It's now one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, and for good reason! Hanoi still retains a charm all its own with French colonial buildings and the maze-like Old Quarter. In Hue you can bicycle to most places, including the Citadel and Royal Tombs, or stroll along the Perfume River. On a map, Hoi An is just a dot below Danang but it has a big heart. It was once a world class trading town with influences from the Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese and French. No wonder it has UNESCO World Heritage status. Probably the biggest delight is the cuisine! All those seafaring empires put an influence on Hoi An's various dishes. The town offers a great selection of restaurants, and cooking classes to hone your culinary skills. Other places of interest in Vietnam include Halong Bay, Sapa, Saigon and the Mekong Delta. View Trips to Vietnam
Since my first visit to Cambodia 25 years ago, I have seen it go from ruins to a bustling and relatively prosperous economy. The dramatic upgrade in infrastructure has included some of the best hotels and service in Southeast Asia, making it a wonderful destination, even for the most discerning traveler. Since it is a relatively small country, one can visit temples, jungle and cities all in a short period of time. It's also a place where you can utilize different modes of transportation, like an unforgettable morning bike riding on the hidden trails among the ruins of the Khmer Kingdom. Angkor Wat may be the jewel in the crown of Cambodia, but it doesn't have to be the only reason to visit this country. View Trips to Cambodia or read out blog Why Travel to Cambodia?
Myanmar (Burma), the land of a million pagodas, is an opportunity to step back in time and experience a world one can hardly believe still exists outside of the works of Kipling and Conrad. Witness the gentle ambiance of an earlier age – the tinkling of temple bells, the heady smells of incense, the deep green color of rice paddies, and the blinding golds and whites of pagodas. The country offers archaeological treasures, great natural beauty, colorful bazaars, and a people who are among the kindest to be found. We offer some magical experiences in this country. One of my favorite activities is near Inle Lake where you can take a train over the mountains and through the valleys offering stunning views and a glimpse into the local life of the Shan hills. Indeed, an experience of days gone by. View Trips to Myanmar