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Top 10 Destinations in South East Asia

I am lucky enough to have visited every country in South East Asia.

OK, so I haven’t been to every inch of the place but I’ve a better angle than most so I’d thought I give you guys my top 10 picks!

First let me give you the criteria.

These places/countries are judged on:

  • NBNatural beauty / Historical wonders
  • UE – Unique Experiences offered
  • CH – The Chill-out Factor (Off the beaten track, smoke etc.)
  • CR – The Craic! (Irish term meaning fun or entertainment)
  • X – The Girls  (the real X factor)

So here they are…

Naughty Nomad’s

TOP 10 Spots in South East Asia!



10. Flores, Indonesia

Komodo Dragon

In a word: Wild.

NB – Diverse & Dramatic.

UE – Volcanoes &  Dragons.

CH – Few Tourists here.

CR – Restricted to Weekends.

X – Cute accents; pity there’s not more of them.

Bottom Line: Launch Pad for Komodo and home to some of the most dramatic volcano scenery in the world.


9. Vang Vieng, Laos

Riverside bar; drugs on the menu.

In a word: Lazy.

NB – Winding Rivers through beautiful karst scenery.

UE – Tubing down the river, drugs on the menu.

CHVery chilled but too many tourists. Low season is better.

CR – Riverside bars with ‘happy’ pizzas and friends on TV. Night-life limited.

X – A big no no. $500 fine if you are caught with a local girl.

Bottom Line: Great place to flake out for a few days, but no Boom Boom.


8. Myanmar

Me in Bagan, Myanmar

In a word: Bizarre.

NB – Bagan puts Angkor Wat to shame.

UE – This is why this place is on the list. No American brands, strange clothing, painted faces, fashion shows in every bar and no mobile phones.

CH – Horse carts and only hardcore tourists.

CR – The odd full moon festival and driving the horse cart pissed.

X – Sigh, no phones and the girls don’t drink…

Bottom Line: This country is the most unique in the S.E. Asia and leaves more memories than any other, but night-life is a little frustrating.


7. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Drop anchor and light up.

In a word: Popular.

NB – Sunsets over the South China sea accompanied by 1,960 islets.

UE – Spending an exciting night on a Vietnamese boat.

CH – Rack and pack em in the day but lovely when the sun goes down.

CR – Some weed, liquor and midnight swim anyone?

X -Unless you got some horny Americans on your boats…

Bottom Line: It may be a tourist trap but it’s 100% worth it.


6. Palawan, The Philippines

I took this in El Nino, Northern Palawan

In a word: Adventurous.

NB – Jungles, empty beaches and the world’s largest underground river.

UE – Epic Motorbiking trips . Canoeing to a deserted island.

CH – Your own private beach anyone? Purple Sunsets? Heaven.

CR – Diving ship wrecks and the dangerous dirt bike trails.

X -There’s always a few cuties to date in Philly…

Bottom Line: If you want  adventure, love and escapism; this is the place.


5. Bali, Indonesia

There's a lot more than Kuta beach.

In a word: Unique.

NB – Great Beaches, beautiful landscapes and endearing rice paddies.

UE – Balinese culture; surfing; diving; motorbiking around the island.

CH – Beers on the beach are good; but a lot of tourists in Kuta.

CR – Plenty of great restaurants, live music and pumping nightspots.

X – Balinese girls are premium with good values. Other options include cheeky Javanese Muslims and crass Australian women.

Bottom Line: It may be a tourist trap but it’s 100% worth it.


4. Cambodia (in general)

Life is cheap. My friend Dan took this one in the killing fields.

In a word: Lawless

NB – Angkor Wat.

UE – No rules. People go off the rails here.

CH – You can smoke weed out  in the open; on a beach. Nuf said.

CR – Every night is an adventure ; endless debauchery.

X – Khmer girls are cute and love foreigners.

Bottom Line: You may never leave.


3. Phuket, Thailand

Bangla Road

In a word: Sex.

NB – It’s got a decent beach.

UE – Going to pool hall at 6am and being surrounded by gorgeous women.

CH – Flake out on the sand, oversexed and hungover.

CR – Live music and perfect for pub crawls.

X – Girls, girls and more girls…

Bottom Line: Sex, and lots of it. Spend more than a week here and you will probably catch something.


2. Borneo, Malaysia

Me and Dan on the skywalk in Mulu, Borneo

In a word: Idyllic.

NB – Unique wildlife, pristine beaches and the world’s biggest cave.

UE – Jungle excursions and staying in long houses.

CH – Back to Nature.

CR – Fantastic pub culture. Get to Rainforest Festival in July.

X – Chinese girls here incredible attractive, probably the best in S.E Asia… They are quite friendly as well! Excellent place for dating hotties and MLTR.

Bottom Line: Something for everyone. So much to do here, not enough time. Everyday here is an absolute pleasure. You’re just ‘happy’ here.


1. Boracay, The Philippines

What more could you want?

In a word: Paradise.

NB – White beaches, palm trees , turquoise waters and violet sunsets. Ahh!

UE – Mongolian Buffets, Mojitos and free love.

CH – In low season this place seems to good to be true. Think Disney land with no ques; hammocks and female acoustic sets.

CR – Ram-shackle discos by the beach with live music and cheap drinks.

X – Romantic, sexy and artistic; these Filipinas are addictive. Plenty of creamy Japanese and Korean tourists around too.

Bottom Line: For this nomad, this place is paradise.  Go in Low season.


Honourable Mentions

I decided to only include places I’ve actually been in the top 10. I contacted some fellow globe-trotters to give their top 10 as well. I’d like take this opportunity to thank everyone involved! The only problem was everyone had different picks!  But it’s nice to see there was some consistencies.  Here are some other picks from fellow travellers…

  • The Malukus/ Sulawesi, Indonesia
  • Pie, Thailand
  • Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia
  • Northern Laos
  • Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Luzon, Philippines
  • Northern Vietnam
  • Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
  • Dili, East Timor (I’ve been here, it just missed the list)

Check out my S.E Asia City Guides!

Please share your favourite places! Leave a comment below!

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34 Responses to Top 10 Destinations in South East Asia

  1. Gringoed May 8, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    Great post. SE Asia seems like heaven.

  2. fgf May 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    going this summer! This made me more exited about the prospecct

  3. decidida74 June 14, 2010 at 5:44 am #

    9,8,4 were all great… and I agree Koh Phi Phi was def beautiful.

  4. Fat boy October 23, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    Do you plan to make a All-Time Top 10 for all the cities you’ve been to?

    • naughtynomad October 23, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

      Yep, but there is 100’s of cities to go! haha
      I’m two countries away from completing Eastern Europe.. Although I will offer a full Balkan breakdown soon.

  5. dinda February 19, 2011 at 4:35 am #

    You should try Raja Ampat, Papua… though I think it’s lack of the X factor.

    • Naughty Nomad February 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      Will do 😉

  6. raliv March 10, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    Cant wait till I visit! Great data, Nomad.

  7. Marco Lee July 1, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    Wow! thanks for making Boracay Philippines as the number 1! Woohooo

  8. Henrik November 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    That place in Palawan, PI, is called El Nido, not El Nino. Just saying.

  9. ChrisGuitar April 18, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Totally awesome listing! I definitely agree SE Asia is a dream land! I’ve trekked all over Thailand inc. Koh PhiPhi and Phuket. Next stop (s) KL Malaysia then the P.I. oh yeah living the dream (written from a hotel in Bangkok, lol) Id almost forgotten about visiting Borocai thanks for reminding me to check it out!!!! CJ

  10. Fab_Andie July 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    Yeah Boracay it is! So NN how can I get your flag on my treasure?

  11. fogal November 25, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    in malaysia the chinese are the easy ones typically…malay an indian forget about em
    an bali gotta be careful of those semi pros an ladyboys

  12. Diamond January 14, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Boracay had so much fucking mosqitoes… I felt like I was back in the Bayou.
    Had a 3-some with 2 biological sisters those bitches stole my jewellry though when I passed out in my hotel room.
    Surprised Pattaya wasn’t mentioned and Bangkok had good, local puss as well…
    Cebu has a natural beauty w/both women and scenery…
    Seoul is fun…you need to some skill to get laid…
    Hanoi pussy sucks…Saigon has potential…
    About to hit China in a few weeks; holla!

  13. Shin Thaa May 14, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I thought Borneo was belong to Indonesia? because 75% of the Borneo (Kalimantan) island is belong to Indonesia. Malaysian’s state only Sabah and sarawak, while Borneo is Indonesian.

  14. SingExPat June 20, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    Have you tried Singapore? The locals are surprisingly promiscuous…its possible to score on night of first encounter w/ great regularity. Otherwise the first follow-up meeting is a virtual sure thing. The natives can be quite cute, and make up for their lack of character w/ their enthusiastic expectation to bang your brains out fairly quickly. Drinks are ridiculously expensive though!

  15. Captive July 27, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    I Singapore city guide is definitely missing!… I’m moving to Singapore as an expat in a few months and would be great to know more.

    SingExPat- do you have any tips on good forums / resources?

  16. Skins May 14, 2014 at 5:28 am #

    Awesome list! I got so pumped reading it!

    I’m off to Cambodia this weekend. Probably go on a month long bender then chill out in Laos.

    Everyone says the Philippines is legendary. I’m scared to go… I’d probably never leave!

    I haven’t been many places but I always go back to Koh Samui, Thailand. It’s got everything Single Man needs.

  17. Pencilgirl July 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Bs.. I’m from singapore and I don’t agree that our girls r prmoiscuios. Maybe you met those claimed they r Singaporeans but are converted ones whose orignally from other countries given citizenships!

  18. Chris August 13, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    I agree…Philippines should be listed as on an another Dimension. No comparison with other places on planet earth. Sure there is corruption, traffic, pollution, scams etc…however, what it offers takes you on an another level itself.

    It feels like crossing dimensions..The women…The Beach…Nightlife…Its Beyond…

  19. michael September 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    I’ve been to Thailand 4 times and spent a combined 7 months there. Phuket is easily the shittest Touristy place to go to. If you like lower season: head to the east side where the weather is better. Koh Phangan (gorgeous outside of full moon), Koh Samui, Koh Tao are the 3 main tourist ones. There are plenty of quieter islands too.

    • mick October 1, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      this guy`s a fuckwit.not a single mention of Pattaya !!!!!

  20. joseph hipkin December 17, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

    personally i thought the Philippines was a total shithole – but i agree that Cambodia is awesome

  21. guy March 15, 2017 at 4:07 am #

    very interesting list, not the same mainstream places most sites shill for

    • Rahul May 18, 2017 at 7:53 am #

      Need some help for Cambodia.p planning in this July .us it safe for boom boom


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