Unique and Unusual Tours in Southeast Asia
It’s easy to see why it’s so alluring. With a wide variety of places to visit in Southeast Asia, the region encapsulates some of the world’s most tantalizing cuisines, spectacular landscapes, and mesmerizing cultures.
There are plenty of tours to showcase this corner of the globe but they tend to become a little samey. However, Some tour providers aim to offer something different and more unique to the normal Asian travel experiences. Whether you’re researching your first trip to Asia or a seasoned traveler, this article will provide insight into some of the more unusual tours and adventurous things to do in Southeast Asia.
Saigon Foodie Tour, Xo Tours, Vietnam
Saigon, commonly known as Ho Chi Minh City, is a heaving metropolis and should be on any list of Southeast Asia’s unusual and unique places.
XO Tours has been running food and city tours there for almost ten years and pride themselves on being Vietnam’s first all-female led motorbike tour in Vietnam.
Their Saigon Foodie Tour takes a small group of guests, all with their own personal guide and scooter, on an evening of gastronomic adventure worthy of a Vietnamese king. Leaving the overly touristy and central area of the city center behind and immerses guests in local life and the eclectic street food culture. Yummy food and scrumptious desserts and snacks from all across Vietnam can be tasted on this tour and as long as you keep eating the drinks are free flow!
Borobudur Sunrise Tour from Yogyakarta, Viator, Indonesia
The UNESCO listed Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist monument and has become Indonesia’s most popular tourist attraction. Located in central Java, the spectacular relic remains and a reminder of the vivid changes and influences that have shaped the archipelago. It’s one of those places to see in Asia before you die.
Viator offers a half-day private tour that allows participants to escape the crowds and experience the stillness and serenity this place deserves. Your guide will collect you at your hotel nice and early to be able to climb the central temple for an amazing sunset and one of the most unique experiences southeast Asia. A light breakfast is included as well as ample time to explore and learn about other nearby temples and shrines.
Boat & Cycling Tour in The Heart of Chinatown, eOasia, Thailand
Bangkok is a big and bustling modern city and is an extremely popular stop. It’s far from being one of the most obscure places to visit in Asia.
Built on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, one of Asia’s largest and most vital rivers, thousands of residents still utilize the canals which still support the livelihoods in what used to be known as the “Venice of the east”.
EOasia has been operating tours for over 30 years that get tourists off the beaten path and into the real lives of locals. Bicycles and narrowboats are the best way to explore the narrow paths and canals around the old wooden stilted homes and the lush green pockets left behind by the surrounding developments. Their boat and cycling tour of Bangkok provides one of the most unique experiences in Southeast Asia and helps travelers explore the district and provide cultural insight and stories into the lives of locals.
Kalaw One Day Trekking, Inle Day Tours, Myanmar
After opening up to mass tourism, Myanmar has quickly become one of the most popular countries to visit in Asia for those wanting to get off the tourist trail. The town of Kalaw in Shan state is in a mountainous region and remains cool and calm for most of the year. It’s an excellent destination for those who love hiking and trekking.
Inle Day Tours offer an excellent day tour and hike from Kalaw, one of the top hidden gems in Asia. Tours begin with a visit to the local market where the guide will introduce you to some of the local products and customs of the people. Once out of town the hike will pass through peaceful forest and surrounding farmland where trekkers met local residents and can try some fresh local produce. This tour will also take you to some ancient Buddhist carvings in a hidden limestone cave before lunch a returning back to Kalaw town, one of the best quiet places in Asia.
Angkor in Style, Grasshopper Adventures, Cambodia
The Angkor temples near Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia showcases the remnants of an ancient civilization that encapsulates both Hindu and Buddhist histories. It’s one of the most unique and one of those places not to miss in southeast Asia. It’s much larger than it usually seems to the 2.5 million or so tourists who flock here each year.
If you’re wondering where to go in Asia for 4 days then consider this multi-day cycling tour. The trip ensures guests get far off the tourist trail and explore some of the less-visited corners of the Angkor complex which can only be accessed by bicycle. Tours encompass all kinds of life around modern Angkor and offer the chance to visit rural villages, kayak through fishing villages on the Tonle Sap and attend a cooking class.
Calauit Safari Tour, El Nido Paradise, Philippines
Palawan province is home to the spectacular Calauit National Park. The reserve, established in 1976, encompasses almost 3800 hectares of the landscape and provides a vital sanctuary for thousands of native and foreign species. The grassy plains are dotted with giraffe, zebra and endemic wild deer who are free to roam. Its resemblance to the plains of Africa is uncanny, making it one of the more unique destinations in Asia.
El Nido Paradise offers tours that begin with an early hotel pick up in Coron city for a full-day tour of the safari park and surrounds. The region offers visitors spectacular islands and caves nearby and guests are invited to swim and explore some of the nearby reefs. In terms of tourism, it remains quiet and one of those undiscovered places in Asia you wish you knew about.
Tastes and Traditions in Penang, Intrepid Urban Adventures, Malaysia
When in Penang, it’s impossible to ignore the amazing food. As a busy trading port in the 1800s, it was at a geographical crossroads in the region and the culture and cuisine received heavy influence from colonies in India and China.
This tour aims to showcase Penang as the uniquely Asian travel experience that it is. Tours offer guests food and insight into authentic Penang dishes, sweet and savory snacks and a smorgasbord of fresh local fruit. However, these tours differ from others due to the intertwining of food, history, and culture.
Singapore DUCKtours, Singapore
Singapore may seem a little predictable and boring – it’s easily the most popular travel destination for the elderly in Asia. However, it’s also one of the most underrated places in Southeast Asia and fun and adventure can still be found despite the cleanliness and order.
Singapore’s original and award-winning DUCKtours offer an experience like no other. As an island nation/city with waterways intertwined with spectacular urban architecture, driving around in a large steel duck is actually quite fitting.
Starting off in the city’s Civic district, the amphibious craft will make its way to the water’s edge and dive into Marina bay, offering a rare view of the city’s iconic landmarks that few get to experience. Once out of the water the WW2-era craft will cruise by some of the city’s most important and historic buildings and a guide inform guests on board as to what they are seeing.
I hope this shortlist has given insight into some amazing experiences in Asia and provided inspiration to finally start writing that Southeast Asia bucket list.