Selective Asia's travel adviser team makes sure they revisit all our destinations on a regular basis, to make sure they stay in touch with what's what and where's best to send you when you visit. It's a tough gig, but someone's got to do it! Dive specialist Stephen just returned from a long trip around mainland South-East Asia...
'Heading away at the end of November last year, with a trip to take in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, I was excited to see these countries again and take all that's on offer. My trip started off in Ho Chi Minh City and I worked my way north, stopping in Hoi An and Hue. It had been a few years since my last visit and memories were fading. Everything came flooding back when I got there - the noises and smells all taking me back to the last time. Hoi An and Hue were a nice little break after the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. Hoi An is always a lot of fun, with its old buildings and immense charm, and small winding streets to stroll around.
Final stop in Vietnam was Hanoi - my first visit and my new favourite Asian city. The old quarter makes you feel like a local, a melting pot of tourists and locals going about their days. It's worth being there between Friday – Sunday as you have 'beer corner', which brings the old quarter alive. One aspect I loved was the transition from day to night; watching as night falls, temperature falls, music starts, street sellers come out and the streets get busier with people.
'Next stop was Laos, the country I was most excited to see again. Starting out in Vientiane, I discovered that this city has grown massively since my previous visit, and is good to explore for a night or two.
Taking the short flight north to Luang Prabang was like a scenic flight, low enough to see the vastness of the Laos jungle and just how little of this country is developed.
It was my first visit to Luang Prabang, and instantly I regretted not making it here on my previous visits. Culture, history and adventure are waiting for you in this sleepy but enticing little town. A 'must do' is to head out of the town and either up the river or into the jungle to explore.
Visit remote villages and see just how little development this country has seen. One of the most picturesque countries that I have visited.'
'Onwards to Cambodia and into Siem Reap, the first thing that struck me was just how flat this region of the country is. The draw of the temples and history this country offers makes it very difficult to leave off the list. A beer and watching the sunset over Angkor Wat, the distinctive ruins reflected in the moat, is an ideal way to start your time here. Siem Reap has certainly embraced its history and is very keen to show the world. It's a busy city now, with some great night markets and restaurants to explore. The city not only offers temples and history; it's worth taking a tour out onto the lake Tonle Sap to see the floating villages, which really gives you a feel for how the locals live outside the city.
On leaving Siem Reap, heading out of the city towards Phnom Penh, you drive through numerous tiny villages and seeing people going about their daily lives. Phnom Penh, like Siem Reap has a massive amount of history to it, not all pleasant, but nonetheless a history that the world needs to acknowledge.
The palace and central Phnom Penh is fun and exciting, with some of the best markets in all of the countries I visited. The markets are well worth visiting, sampling some of the delicacies on offer may be for those with a stronger stomach, as crickets, snakes and tarantulas are the daily specials! Before heading home it is well worth heading to the FCC bar, which played a big part during the period of rue by the Khmer. Head to the roof top and relax with a drink watching over the city and river.' Head to our homepage to start planning your own holiday in Asia.