Between the misty jungles that rise to form the borderlands with Burma in the west, and the wild and untrodden cliffs of Flores Island and shimmering beaches of the Visayas in the east, Southeast Asia runs the gamut of tropical attractions. In Thailand, Andaman coves and crevices sit shrouded by karst cliffs and mountaintop temples tick over to the click and clack of prayer wheels. On the Malay Peninsula, peanut satay bubbles and business cities boom. The Philippines signal super sands and diving spots aplenty, while Bali means hedonistic fun and sun and surf to boot.
If you're finding it tricky to decide precisely where to head for in the region this year, be sure to read on and discover where everyone else is going — whether it's the temple-dotted heart of rollicking Bangkok or the happening districts and mind-blowing wonders of Hanoi on Ha Long Bay.
Attracting just under 170,000 searches from travelers looking to make the jump across to Southeast Asia from the United States each month, Phnom Penh comes in as the tenth most popular destination in the region overall. And why not? The city itself boasts sites like the Royal Palace, where emerald Buddha effigies lurk beneath twisting incense smoke, shimmering, secluded beachfronts adorn the coast at Sihanoukville, the Cardamom Mountains play host to stalking tigers, and Siem Reap is the gateway to the UNESCO wonders of Angkor Wat (yep, we kept the best for last!).
Away from the brutalist monolith of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and much-photographed One Pillar Pagoda, Vietnam's gripping capital boasts some seriously curious treats for the intrepid traveler. In the neighborhood of Le Mat, oodles of restaurants serve shots of snake blood and beating cobra hearts to boot. In Tay Ho, dog meat is on the menu, and barbecued scorpions and critters are touted on every corner. Sounds tempting? Then be sure to join the 212,000 other Americans looking for hops across to Noi Bai International every month!
In Indonesia's enthralling capital, old Dutch mansions house Javanese coffee shops, colonial artifacts abound between the walls of the Fatahillah Museum, the colossal Monas monument towers over tropical parks, and massive mosques meet clusters of Christian churches. Buzzing with energy and action from crowds of backpackers, locals and expats alike, this city is also a booming favorite on the Southeast Asian circuit, with an estimated 225,000 travelers searching for air connections into town from the United States each month.
At number seven is good ole' KL — a city thronged with majestic skyscrapers and super clubs, aromatic food courts and spas, sprawling shopping centers (more than 60, in fact!) and totemic sites like the mighty Petronas Towers. If you're one of the very many American travelers looking to tick this one off your bucket list this year, then be sure to get in early on the search for bargain airfare, because Hopper's stats show that no fewer than 240,000 people go looking for flights between the United States and Kuala Lumpur International Airport each month!
Long one of the most fabled surfing meccas on the planet, Bali bubbles up from the midst of the Nusa Tenggara in a medley of jungle-clad volcanoes, macaque-dotted parks, shimmering golden sands and rolling reef breaks aplenty. It's hardly a wonder that a paradisiacal spot like this has risen to become such a firm favorite on the tourist trail through Southeast Asia as a whole, now bringing in a whopping 338,400 searches every month from travelers looking to cross to its tropical climes on flights from the United States.
Touching down on the runways of the Mactan–Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City places travelers right in the heart of the legendary Visayan Islands. Nearby, powdery beachfronts thread their way along jungle-clad coastlines at spots like Nueva Valencia and Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo province beckons with mysterious UNESCO-attested churches, and diving spots abound in the crystal-clear waters of Boracay and Bohol. So, no prizes for guessing the fifth most popular destination in Southeast Asia for travelers departing out of the United States!
Boasting moneyed streets, big banking buildings and super-chic harbor area, Singapore remains something of an enclave of calm and sophistication amid the other heady metropolises of Southeast Asia. That makes it a great place to get acclimatized to the cosmopolitanism of the continent, weaving between the aromatic eateries of Little India and the bubbling night markets of the Golden Mile before settling down in a five-star hotel complete with rooftop pool and cocktail bar! What's more, with an estimated 546,000 travelers now looking for hops into town from the United States each month, you certainly won't be alone!
Sandwiched neatly between the folksy floating marketplaces of the Mekong Delta and the windswept surfing beaches of Mui Ne, the colonial majesty of Hoi An and the happening resort strips of Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City is the perfect place to begin your travels through southern Vietnam! Apparently, it's also one darn popular place to enter Southeast Asia as a whole, with an average of over 1 million people looking for flights into the city's Tan San Nhat International Airport from the United States each month!
On the island of Rattanakosin, the gilded frontispieces and soaring stupas of the Grand Palace and the Wat Arun spike the skyline. Nearby, Khao San Road thumps with backpackers and electronica and steamy roadside eateries until the early hours. Tuk-tuks weave through the traffic, and the winding banks of the Chao Phraya are dotted with bobbing boats and buzzing marketplaces. Yes sir, second place on this line-up of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia goes to none other than Bangkok, which currently draws the attention of over 1.5 million travelers departing out of the United States each month.
Few cities on the planet pulse with the same levels of energy and attitude as Manila, a 22 million-strong urban mass that encompasses everything from melancholic Spanish churches to steely skyscrapers and rickety farmers markets touting super-fresh pakwan (watermelon) and succulent pinya (pineapple) on the edge of volcano-spotted Luzon Island. No wonder this one's now the most popular destination in all of Southeast Asia for travelers departing out of the United States, attracting upwards of 3 million would-be fliers every month!