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Best Outdoor Places to Visit in South East Asia

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People riding a bike on a road in a mountain in Vietnam

It is no surprise that South East Asia is so popular amongst travellers - it really has so much to offer. One of the best things about this region is the beautiful natural landscapes offering amazing outdoors activities.

For those seeking beautiful hikes, you’re spoiled for choice in the region. While Northern Thailand’s mountainous terrain around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is famous for its hiking, there are many other places that are equally spectacular, and less ‘discovered’. Underappreciated Laos, for example, has amazing hiking in the north of the country, around Phongsali. Although it is hard to reach, it is well worth it for the authentic experience – which is even better if you stay overnight in a local homestay.

Hiking track with mountains view in Chiang Mai - Thailand

Laos also delivers another fantastic activity, in mostly unknown Huay Xai. The major attraction here is the ‘Gibbon Experience’, an amazing experience to zipline through the beautiful forest region, but also stay overnight in a stunning tree house, high above the forest floor. Truly amazing!

For those who enjoy cycling, South East Asia has so many beautiful choices. A particularly great spot for mountain biking (or, power up with a motorbike) is Northwestern Vietnam, including Sapa which has many great trails and also the highest mountain peak in South East Asia. Just watch the traffic!

If you’ve had your fix of outdoor activities on the land, keep in mind that this region also offers some of the most beautiful water destinations in the world. You can simply chill on pristine beaches enjoy a number of aquatic activities.

One traveller favourite is white water rafting. There are many great locations to do this, including Chiang Mai (Thailand) and Telaga Waja River (Bali, Indonesia). Each one is likely to offer a hair raising, yet safe, experience!

People standing on the beach, close to small boats on the water, watching the sunset on Ko Tao, Thailand

Of course, there’s also many great places to try your hand at diving as well. Most of the Thai island, and particularly Ko Tao, offer brilliant diving opportunities at just a fraction of the cost of Western diving hotspots. The beautiful beaches are also great for walks, snorkeling, swimming and sailing.

The great thing about South East Asia is how well most countries cater to tourists. The proud local people are happy to speak with you about what you want to see, and if in doubt, ask at your guesthouse or hotel. Some of the greatest outdoor adventures in all of Asia are to be found by accident – there’s nothing like discovering a remote waterfall after a beautiful hike, and jumping right in!


Currently living in Australia, Georgie has travelled to 45 different countries in every continent expect Antarctica. Her latest trips include South East Asia, Middle East & South America. Georgie is a final year journalism and law student and writes for different publications including online and print.