Often synonymous with backpackers on their 'gap yahs', Southeast Asia is so much more than full moon parties and white sand beaches. This region is brimming with history, culture and delicious foodie delicacies, and we have put together a list of our number one experiences in each of our favourite Southeast Asian countries…
1. Cambodia: Angkor Away From the Crowds
Experience the world-famous Angkor complex at its very best and, crucially, away from the masses, by arriving at sunrise and beginning at the royal bathing pool of Srah Srang. From here, enjoy a peaceful picnic breakfast at Ta Nei temple and before exploring the lofty temple mound of Ta Keo. Next up, the ancient city of Angkor Thom and its famous temple of Bayon, with its countless iconic monuments, such as the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. Then, for the perfect end to the day, head out on a private sunset cruise of the Angkor Thom moat, complete with cocktails and canapes.
2. Vietnam: Street Food Tour in Hanoi
Sampling local delicacies has to be one of the best parts about visiting a new place, and Vietnam in particular has some delicious national dishes that you can't miss. We can arrange a street food tour around the bustling streets of Hanoi with the finalist of MasterChef 2014, Chef Ai, as your guide. Wander down the narrow lanes of the Old Quarter, lined with stalls selling food that you can sample along your way, including pho cuon (summer rolls), banh cuon (rice noodles stuffed with pork and mushroom) and the wonderfully named 'nom' (beef and papaya salad). End the evening at a traditional bia hoi, a small shop selling draft beer, where you can sit and enjoy a drink with the locals while watching the world go by.
3. Laos: Private Baci Ceremony
On the outskirts of Laos' old city of Luang Prabang, we can arrange a private Baci ceremony at the charming hilltop temple of Wat Phou Kouey. This Laotian tradition begins at sunset, and you can join the locals as they chant Buddhist mantras for good luck and good health, and lay floral offerings out to the gods. You can then receive an individual blessing as a delicate cotton bracelet is tied on your wrist, which, according to tradition, must remain there until it falls off naturally in order to preserve your good luck.
4. Myanmar: Explore Mandalay by Motorbike
Just after sunset in Mandalay, don your helmet and ride pillion as your professional driver guides you through the bustling streets of Myanmar's former royal capital. Ride alongside the palace moat and explore Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda before heading to the colourful night market right in the heart of the city, were you can sample some local foodie treats and a drink at a local 'beer station'. We'd then recommend a comedy show by the famous and somewhat controversial Moustache Brothers, whose shows are a mix of vaudeville, Burmese theatre and political satire, and are highly entertaining.
5. Malaysia: Exploring the Danum Valley
The Danum Valley, one of the largest areas of protected rainforest in Malaysian Borneo, is home to all manner of weird and wonderful wildlife, including over 120 species of mammals, including orangutans and gibbons, 340 bird species and much more. Your guide can take you to the canopy walkway and give you a brilliant introduction to the flora and fauna of the Danum Valley, as you explore the forest from around 90ft above the ground. Listen out for the chatter of birds and calls of gibbons that echo through the treetops and take in the beauty of this unspoilt section of rainforest.
6. Indonesia: Serene Sunrise at Borobudur
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur, an ancient Buddhist temple on the Indonesian island of Java, to watch the sunrise over the stupas and the surrounding hills. Once the sun has risen, discover the intricate carvings that adorn each level, which tell the story of Buddhist cosmology. Then retreat to a quiet hilltop and enjoy a light breakfast while admiring the view of the whole of Borobudur, before continuing on to the temple of Candi Mandut, where you can take part in a guided meditation with a student monk.
7. Thailand: Hilltribe Hike
From Chiang Mai, head out of the city to explore the stunning hills of Chiang Dao National Park for the day. On your way, stop off at a local market to pick up some goodies for a picnic lunch, before beginning your trek in the town of Chiang Dao. Walk through lush forests, mountainous passes and plantations, and call in at local villages along the way, including a lunch stop in Lahu Village. In these remote villages you can begin to get an understanding of local lifestyles and traditions, away from the bustle of the city.