The sparkling blue sea and the gentle lap of waves against golden beaches is perhaps what springs to mind when thinking of the waters of Asean. We’re blessed with some of the most stunning beaches in the world, from Nai Harn on the bustling island of Phuket to the idyllic beauty of the less well known Ngapali beach in Myanmar.
As stunning as these locations are, where the golden land reaches out to the warm blue of the ocean, the waters themselves offer an equal adventure. Let the ocean deliver its own delights in a trip through Asean.
Island-hopping is increasingly popular with tourists in Sabah, Malaysia, from luxury five-star resorts in Gaya Island to the untouched beauty and tranquillity of Sulug Island for those who prefer a quieter atmosphere. The two are part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, which comprises some of Kota Kinabalu’s most stunning islands, such as Sapi Island, Mamutik Island, and Manukan Island. These trips offer tourists and visitors total rest and relaxation by the beach to soak up the sun, experience the many diverse diving spots, and take in the clear waters. Just be sure to bring some sunblock lotion lest you get sunburned.
Kampong Ayer (the Water Village) offers equally intriguing recreational activities to tourists. This fascinating area of Brunei’s capital is home to 39,000 people who live in houses on stilts. Tours to the village offer a view of locals living intimately amidst the waters. Take a water taxi and enjoy some fine local tea. These are the touches that make for a unique experience.
This appreciation of the coasts and seas of Asean is enjoying something of a revival. The great cruise ships, once almost exclusively synonymous with North America and Europe, are beginning to grace the waters of Asean with greater frequency.
The region is developing infrastructure to encourage this trend; it started with Singapore opening its Marina Bay Cruise Centre in 2012. Other countries are doing likewise.
Sail the great wide seas of the region or enjoy an ocean adventure. Water tours aren’t limited to the open ocean; river tours are becoming increasingly popular. The 4,350km of the Mekong River offer a fantastic opportunity for this type of travel, with cruises stretching from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
These cruises allow one to take in the splendour of Angkor Wat and experience Chnok Trou floating village. Take time to travel on to the furthest navigable reach of the Mekong in Laos to visit Si Phan Don, or Four Thousand Islands, and enjoy a relaxing pace of life amidst the peaceful waters or hear the roar of the largest waterfall in South-East Asia – Khon Phapheng in Laos.
This article is courtesy of GOASEAN, the first multi-platform channel on all things Asean. For more information, go to www.goasean.com and Astro channel 737. Watch GoAsean videos at www.thestartv.com/programme/asean-now-go-asean/