For decades, Bali has been the ultimate paradise location for travelling young Aussies. It’s cheap, it’s close, and you’ll probably run into a mate on your Friday night out at Potato Head. But as a melting point of diverse cultures, where historic mashes up with the modern, Southeast Asia has a lot to offer beyond this popular location.
There are plenty of affordable and extremely desirable alternative destinations to visit across the bottom corner of the continent, as reported by data from Cheapflights Compass. Return airfares to Kuala Lumpur, the Phillipines and Vietnam are all within range of those to Denpasar.
So forget your Bintang singlet and leave the beaches of Kuta behind, here are the top five Southeast Asian alternatives to Bali.
Some have started to name it ‘the new Bali’, but let me tell you it’s perfect for those wanting to escape the tourist circuit. It shares many similarities to its island neighbour, but the surf spots are better and some may argue the night-life too. With pulsating clubs and a wide range of accommodation, from beach camps to eco lodges, Lombok is both breathtaking and affordable.
Past influences are very visible in the capital city of Vietnam. Once occupied by both the French and Chinese, these influences have become an integral part of the city’s culture. Prepare yourself for days filled with site-seeings with a typical Vietnamese coffee. You’ll find traditional souvenirs in the Dong Xuan Market and ancient history at the Temple of Literature, which was dedicated to Confucius. And of course, don’t forget to visit the mesmerising Halong Bay.
There’s something for everyone in this city tucked away in The Philippines. From deep sea diving to vast forest, Cebu is a tourist’s haven. Don’t forget to immerse yourself in the local eats and make sure to visit Sa Paolitio’s Seafood House. Trust me, you’ll be crossing bridges over magnificent waterways which you will definitely want to capture to show off to your mates back home.
#4 Siem Reap
If you’re willing to leave the beaches behind and immerse yourself in one of the greatest historical locations in Asia, well this is the place. Home to the Angkor kingdom, Siem Reap is a gateway to an ancient world. After a day of temple hopping, head to the main city for cheap eats, amazing markets and a pumping nightlife. The Temple Bar is filled with like minded travellers and mind blowing cocktails.
#5 Chiang Mai
The northern city is a complete change from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. It’s laid-back and chilled, welcoming market strollers and waterfall chasers. This town is in the heart of the rainforest so get amongst nature and definitely invest into hikes in the mountains, where you can get in touch with the local wildlife.