Southeast Asia is an exotic region with extraordinary natural attractions and diverse cultures. Each of the region’s cities has its own unique history and charm, and interesting culinary traditions. New Year is an ideal time to visit these places, both for the happy atmosphere and smiles that spring from seasonal festivities, and for the more comfortable temperatures and drier weather.
Let THAI take you to the destinations of diverse cultures in Southeast Asia, to celebrate the New Year in your own style.
Bangkok is a vibrant city, whereyou can lose track of time enjoying limitless activities. Whether visiting a fascinating temple, taking a boat trip along the Chao Phraya River, shopping for some handmade products created by local designers at Chatuchak Market, or opting for designer brands at luxury shopping malls, Bangkok really has something for everyone. Whatever your preferences, one of the unmissable experiences when in Bangkok is enjoying the culinary variety - local and international - that is served both at street-side stalls and in the city’s top restaurants. A real highlight for gourmets is Thailand’s first-ever Michelin Star Awards for 2018, to be announced in December, 2017. Keep your ears open and enhance your dining experience and New Year celebration as Thai cuisine takes dining to a new level.
Angkor Wat is definitely the first name that comes to everyone’s mind when speaking of Siem Reap. The heart and centre of Khmer civilisation, the world’s largest religious monument is an artistic, engineering and architectural feat that will fire up your inner energy and inspire you to take on new challenges in the coming year. Apart from Angkor Wat and other ancient sites, Siem Reap has much more to offer New Year revellers. Enjoy the lively parties at the hotels, taste the French-influenced local dishes in Pub Street, ride a tuk-tuk to the local entertainment district of Korean Road or take a pleasant boat trip on Tonle Sap, the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia. Moreover, the cool, dry air at this time of year will make for a more comfortable stay and the misty mornings will offer some great opportunities for stunning atmospheric photos.
Vientiane, the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is a laid-back city with plenty of green spaces, long-standing cultural traditions and friendly people. The most remarkable sites in Vientiane include Patuxai, a war momument based on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and combining French architecture and Buddhist art, Pha That Luang, a 2,000-year old religious monument said to be constructed at the same time as Vientiane, and Haw Prakaew, a four hundred-year old temple – former home to the Emerald Buddha statue which now resides at Wat Phra Kaew Temple in Bangkok. After a full day of cultural experiences, lounge in the golden sunset and enjoy some local food at one of the restaurants that line the Khong River, then stroll through Vientiane Night Market to round off your perfect day.
Although Mandalay is Myanmar’s third largest city after Yangon and Nya Pyi Daw, as well as the former capital, it is actually less than 200 years old! However, the city features some historic attractions that are well worth visiting. Mandalay Palace, for example, is said to be Asia’s most beautiful teakwood palace. It was created by King Min Don after the capital was moved from Amarapura to escape the ravages of war. Shwenandaw Kyaung, the golden teak monastery, boasts magnificent and intricate wood carvings by Mandalay craftmen, which fortunately survived the bombing during the second world war. Mahamuni Temple, one of the most sacred in Myanmar and home to the Mahamuni Buddha Statue, holds a daily ritual to wash the statue’s face at 3.45 am. Visitors can also explore Mandalay Market and try some local dishes for real immersion in the local lifestyle.
Dubbed “the Pearl of the Orient”, George Town is the capital of Penang, situated on a small island in Penang, one of Malaysia’s 13 states. It is home to typical examples of colonial architecture, with nuances of the three local cultures that live side by side here: Malay, Chinese and Indian.This makes the town unique and has earned the city its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Penang is a dream destination for afficionados of street art, for it features the street installations of Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian public artist whose curved steel pieces in different styles recite the history of the city, and works of Jimmy Choo, the locally born shoe designer who relocated to London. But it is the century old Penang Peranakan Mansion, on Lebuh Gereja Street, that is the most stunning Chinese-Malay residence, housing historical arworks. Penang is also a food paradise, because of its citizens’ ethnic and religious diversity. Food choices range from noodles and Chinese dishes, to Samosas and other Indian treats, to Laksa and local Malay dishes, all served at street-side stalls and in restaurants.