Southeast Asia: steamy rainforests, sleepy rice paddies, endless beaches – and crowds of backpackers, hawkers and tourists?
Southeast Asia may have some of the most blissful destinations in the world but it also has some of the planet’s most frenetic cities, its most popular backpacker haunts and some seriously crowded sands. We've been far off the beaten track to find the most remote places in Southeast Asia. Here are a few of our favourites.
Mindat is known worldwide as the home of the tattoo-faced ladies of the Chin tribes, but few tourists make it out to this remote village in the shadow of Mount Victoria. Those who do are rewarded with fresh mountain air, fascinating Christian culture and some of the friendliest people in Southeast Asia – not to mention superb trekking. If you want to visit, be sure to read up on how this kind of community-based tourism can be done ethically here.
How to get there: Mindat is a 6–8 hour car journey from Bagan along a very narrow winding road.
How to get there: fly from Zamboang City to Bongao on Tawi-Tawi, hire a tricycle to Chinese Pier and take the ferry to Barangay Tandubanak on Sibutu. From here take a motorcycle taxi 30 minutes south to Barangay Tandu-owak where the boat leaves for Saluag, 40 minutes away.
How to get there: take the bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, getting out at Ou Chamnar. Hire a moto-taxi to Koh Kchhang Fishing Village, where the boat departs for the resort. The crossing is one hour.
How to get there: it takes a full day to travel here, either on the rough road from Udomxai by bus or from Muang Khua by boat. The only trekking provider is the local tourist office.
How to get there: you’ll need to book through Docastaways, who provide transfers from the local airport by car and then canoe to the island, which is in a secret location.
How to get there: There are daily Twin Otter flights from Miri to Bario with MASwings, taking one hour. This is far preferable to going by road, which is fastest from Lawas on the coast to Ba Kelelan, taking around four to five hours along extremely bumpy old logging roads. Suntravel Borneo can arrange treks here.
Top image: Mu Koh Surin National Park, Thailand © Jamoo/Shutterstock