Five Best Historical Highlights of Southeast Asia

Grand Palace, Bangkok Thailand

If you consider yourself a bit of a history buff, or are intrigued by the way things used to be, Southeast Asia is a great tourist destination for you. Steeped in history and culture, you don’t have to move far from the modern Vietnam hotels and fancy Balinese resorts to find the Southeast Asia of yesteryear. Here's a list of the top five historical highlights with a collective age that makes any nursing home look like a day care, you’ll be sure to get a history hit at any one of these famous tourist attractions.

Grand Palace, Thailand
Sculptures in the Grand Palace, Bangkok Thailand
Grand is an understatement when describing this incredibly opulent palace. Built in the 18th century as the residence for King Rama I of Thailand, the palace is actually a complex of buildings including a long line of expansions (those Thai kings do love to renovate!). Featuring a mix of traditional Thai and European architecture, the Palace can be seen for miles and forms one of the major tourist attractions for visitors to Bangkok.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Built in the 12th Century for King Suryavaman as his home and capital city, this temple complex is Cambodia’s most famous landmark, and draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. The temple itself is one of the primary examples of Khmer architecture in the world, and also holds the title of the largest religious building on earth. Impressive, no?

Jalan Tokong, Malaysia
Jalan Tokong, Malaysia
Rather than one landmark in particular, this street in the heart of Melaka in Malaysia, is a tourist attraction as a whole. Side by side the street features a Chinese temple, a Malay Mosque and a Hindu temple, which not only give us a glimpse of how the world’s religions should live in harmony, but also offers insights into the way the culture and religion of Malaysia was established.

Mother Temple of Besakih
Mother Temple of Besakih, Bali
Rising from the hills of Mount Agung in Bali, the Mother Temple of Besakih is the largest Hindu temple in Bali. Its history dates back to the fourteenth century, and there are at least SEVENTY festivals and holy celebrations held at this massive temple complex each year. The temple is incredibly important to Bali’s Hindu population, and attracts a lot of tourism both for its historical significance and its picturesque setting.

Cao Dai Holy See Temple, Vietnam
Interior of Cao Dai Holy See Temple, Vietnam
Located in southern Vietnam not far from the Cu Chi tunnel, the name Cao Dai literally translates into ‘high place’, or the highest place that God reigns. Cao Dai is a Vietnamese religion that takes bits and pieces from all other religions, including science, and encompasses a spirit of inclusion of all faiths. The temple itself was built in 1933, and has an intriguingly colorful and joyful exterior.

You might get high-end luxury at hotels in Malaysia or resorts in Thailand, but to fully appreciate the historical significance of the region and the culture of its people, immersing yourself in a bit of local history with these landmarks and tourist attractions is essential.

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