19 Under-The-Radar Places In Southeast Asia That Will Actually Change Your Life

Posted: 03/22/2014 7:00 am EDT Updated: 03/22/2014 7:00 am EDT

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If the flocks of postgrad travelers in elephant print pants haven’t told you already, Southeast Asia is having what we like to call “a moment.”

It’s not an area of the world that tops everyone’s bucket list, but Southeast Asia does have its share of over-touristed sites, and tourist traps certainly exist.

Want to know which authentic places backpackers really get amped about?

1. Pai, Thailand 

If you uprooted the hippie neighborhoods of San Francisco and plopped them into the jungles of northern Thailand, you’d (roughly) end up with Pai. Ride your motorbike a few hours into this mountain town for a chillaxing weekend of zenning out at Rasta bars, napping in woven hammocks, and — if you can manage to leave your field hut — exploring the waterfalls and hot springs. pai thailand

2. Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam 

Almost everybody agrees that Phu Quoc is about to become Vietnam’s next hot destination, but thankfully the perfect beaches are still mostly empty. You can rent a motorbike (no license needed, no questions asked) and zip up, down, and around the red dirt roads of this island paradise. Then, take a snorkeling or scuba dip. Hurry up, before other people discover the secret. phu quoc

3. Bagan, Myanmar 

Temples seem to pop out of nowhere in Bagan, which has the highest concentration of Buddhist ruins the world. A hot air balloon ride over the temples during the quiet dawn or sunset hours is an absolute must.bagan

4. Mui Ne Sand Dunes, Vietnam 

They’re not far from Saigon, but these sand dunes seem like they belong on another continent entirely. You can sled, bike, or just freely frolic down both white and red mountains of bliss. Be sure to find the Fairy Stream, a magical river with a soft, sandy bottom that flows between dry rocks. mui ne sand dunes

5. Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar 

This is a pristine chain of hundreds of tropical rainforest islands in the Andaman Sea. Check in at one of the two hotels and kayak or sail the uncharted blue waters, where you might run into sea gypsies who, for part of the year, live on boats while they dive for pearls.mergui archipelago

6. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia 

This is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular hill stations, holiday towns at the base of lush, low mountains. Travelers agree the Cameron Highlands are a perfect escape when you’re too hot to withstand another day of astronomically-sizzling Malaysian temperatures. You can tour one of several authentic tea factories before cozying up to a mug overlooking the rolling green hills. cameron highlands

7. Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar 

Weary travelers looking to literally escape it all should head to Ngwe Saung, an astonishing NINE MILES of beach that just recently opened to the public. It’s unspoiled, uncrowded, and some of the best scenery you’ll see in Myanmar. ngwe saung beach

8. The Mekong Delta, Vietnam 

The Mekong River creates a rich marshland responsible for the bulk of Vietnam’s rice crops. There are oodles of tiny villages and floating markets to visit, with kindly locals who will gladly let you sample their fruit or teach you to birdwatch. Avoid feeling like a yuppie in a tour boat by biking the Delta— that way, you can see the impressive rice paddies and stop off at destinations on your own. mekong delta

9. Sapa, Vietnam 

There’s nowhere on Earth like Sapa: tiers on tiers of bright-green rice fields are dotted with the colorful clothes of hill-tribe dwellers and roofs of French colonial villas. Sometimes the view gets clouded by a warm, jungle-y mist, but it only makes your day of hiking even prettier. sapa

10. The Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 

This $5.7 billion hotel — which also boasts shopping, a dinosaur museum, and a concert hall — has a yacht-shaped infinity pool teetering on the 57th floor. When you take a swim, it feels like you’re about to spill over the edge and onto glittering Singapore beneath you. 125891354

11. The White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand 

It may look ancient, but the White Temple (technically named Wat Rong Khun) was actually designed by a Thai artist in the 1990s, and it’s still a work in progress. A tangle of gnarled statues and outstretched hands — symbolizing the cycle of rebirth — lead you into the temple, where you’ll find intricate (although haunting) murals of Keanu Reeves and planes hitting the Twin Towers.white temple thailand

12. Luang Prabang, Laos 

UNESCO named Luang Prabang a World Heritage Site, partly for its architecture that fuses Asian and European styles together. As in much of Asia, elephant tourism is huge here. But not many places have four-day mahout courses where you can learn to expertly (and humanely) ride elephants as their keepers do.luang prabang

13. Kep, Cambodia 

This seaside village was a hip getaway for wealthy Frenchies in the early 1900s, and it’s about to tip over into another big tourist boom. For now, though, you can feel like a total local in Kep’s tranquil beaches, where cute seafood spots on stilts serve some of the yummiest crab in the world.kep cambodia

14. Mae Sot, Thailand 

“Perfectly remote” might be a good way to describe Mae Sot, which teeters right at the border of Thailand and Myanmar. The crowd here is a zesty mix of Burmese, Thai, hill-tribe natives and Westerners making visa runs. Locals hang out at the town’sherbal sauna and open-air markets, and visitors get a kick out of adorably furry rescued apes at the Highland Farm Gibbon Sanctuary. mae sot

15. Angkor Wat, Cambodia 

This larger-than-life temple complex really is as epic as it looks. The biggest religious monument in the world is surrounded by a wide-open moat– you’ll march down a massive stone causeway to enter a village of temples, life-size stone-carved faces, and giant tree roots that have grown to twist over and around dark, windowed hallways. angkor wat

16. Inle Lake, Myanmar 

This massive, shallow lake is over 13 miles long and a big draw for visitors, as it’s inhabited by many local tribes who set up waterside “workshops” for intriguing traditional crafts. Despite the touristy-ness of it all, most agree Inle is unmissable because of its peaceful floating gardens and entire towns hoisted onto stilts. inle lake

17. Ko Lanta, Thailand 

When backpackers want to visit one of the hundreds of islands off Thailand’s coast, they normally head for the “big names” like Ko Tao (known for its scuba diving) or Ko Phangan (home of the famous full moon parties). These islands are pretty and so are the foreigners that visit them, but for a true Thai experience, try the blissfully emptyKo Lanta, where the National Marine Park protects unpolluted oceans that explode with angelfish. ko lanta

18. Cu Chi Tunnels in Saigon, Vietnam 

Viet Cong soldiers used these narrow, claustrophobia-inducing tunnels as hiding places during the Vietnam War. Trap doors in the jungle led down into the underground network, where soldiers suffered from malaria and parasites while guarding food sources. The eeriness is all too real during a modern-day tour. c chi tunnels

19. Chiang Dao, Thailand 

This forested region is a Disneyland for nature junkies complete with waterfalls, hot springs, and incredible limestone cliffs. The biggest attractions of all are the Chiang Dao Caves, which consist of about 100 caverns that extend as far as 40,000 feet into the mountains. You can enter five of the caves alone or with a guide to explore narrow rocky hallways, hanging stalactites and hidden Buddha statues.

chiang dao cave

Ssssssemper Fi! US Marines toughen up by drinking SNAKE BLOOD and beheading chickens with their teeth in gruesome survival training in Thai jungle

By SIMON TOMLINSON

PUBLISHED: 15:24 GMT, 13 February 2014 | UPDATED: 17:05 GMT, 13 February 2014

 

Gone are the days when a few press-ups and tackling an assault course proved your worth as a soldier.

These U.S. Marines now drink cobra blood and rip the heads off chickens with their bare teeth as part of their training.

They were among around 13,000 soldiers from seven countries participating in a combined jungle survival exercise at a military base in Thailand.

Snake it or leave it: A U.S. Marine drinks the blood of a cobra during a jungle survival exercise with the Thai Navy in Chanthaburi province, Thailand

 

Snake it or leave it: A U.S. Marine drinks the blood of a cobra during a jungle survival exercise with the Thai Navy in Chanthaburi province, Thailand

Lapping it up: The Marines were among 13,000 soldiers from seven countries participating in a combined exercise at a military base in Thailand

 

Lapping it up: The Marines were among 13,000 soldiers from seven countries participating in a combined exercise at a military base in Thailand

Fangs very much: The Marines were encouraged to experience the local custom of drinking the animal's blood, which is sold as an aphrodisiac in parts of Eastern Asia

 

Fangs very much: The Marines were encouraged to experience the local custom of drinking the animal’s blood, which is sold as an aphrodisiac in parts of Eastern Asia

No poultry affair: A U.S. marine bites the head off a chicken in another of the survival tasks they given during the 11-day exercise

 

No poultry affair: A U.S. marine bites the head off a chicken in another of the survival tasks they given during the 11-day exercise

After being taught how to kill venomous cobras by Thai naval instructors, the Marines were encouraged to experience the local customs of drinking the animal’s blood.

Many of the soldiers quite happily obliged, tipping their heads back while the blood was squeezed out of the snake’s body and into their mouths.

Snake blood is sold as an aphrodisiac in parts of Eastern Asia.

Not for the faint-hearted: A U.S. Marine plays with a tail of a dead cobra in his mouth during a jungle survival exercise with the Thai Navy as part of the Cobra Gold 2014

 
Scaly snack: The exercise also covers amphibious assault, humanitarian relief and evacuation of friendly forces as well as the jungle survival techniques

 

Not for the faint-hearted: A U.S. Marine plays with a tail of a dead cobra in his mouth during a jungle survival exercise with the Thai Navy as part of the Cobra Gold 2014

Life-saving skills: A Thai Navy instructor demonstrates to the U.S. Marines how to catch a cobra during the jungle survival exercise

 

Life-saving skills: A Thai Navy instructor demonstrates to the U.S. Marines how to catch a cobra during the jungle survival exercise

Caught: Around 13,000 soldiers from seven countries, Thailand, U.S., Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia are participating in the 11-day exercise

 

Caught: Around 13,000 soldiers from seven countries, Thailand, U.S., Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia are participating in the 11-day exercise

Nimble hands: A Thai Navy instructor holds up a cobra as he passes on his knowledge about how to catch and kill the venomous snakes

 

Nimble hands: A Thai Navy instructor holds up a cobra as he passes on his knowledge about how to catch and kill the venomous snakes

Other rituals included killing a chicken by biting off its neck and eating the tail of the cobras.

The 11-day exercise, called Cobra Gold 2014, involved soldiers from Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

It takes place in Thailand’s Chon Buri province and also covers amphibious assault, humanitarian relief and evacuation of friendly forces as well as the jungle survival techniques.

I'm a Marine, get me out of here! The soldiers pick out bugs to eat from a bamboo stem

 

I’m a Marine, get me out of here! The soldiers pick out bugs to eat from a bamboo stem

A challenge with a sting in its tail: A U.S. Marine prepares to eat a scorpion during the jungle survival exercise in Thailand

 

A challenge with a sting in its tail: A U.S. Marine prepares to eat a scorpion during the jungle survival exercise in Thailand

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2558569/Drinking-COBRA-BLOOD-beheading-chickens-teeth-U-S-Marines-gruesome-survival-training-Thai-jungle.html#ixzz2tF6yD7iw