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Top off Beatean Track Destinations in Southeast Asia

1. Krakatau, Indonesia
Famous for its devastating 1883 eruption, said to have been the loudest heard by modern man, this volcano demonstrates the power of nature. You can visit the islands around the original volcano and see the new Krakatau forming, called Anak Krakatau, or 'Child of Krakatau'.
Half of Anak Krakatau is covered in black sand beach, backed by dense forest. The other side of the island is completely devoid of life due to the thick lava flows that regularly travel down the slopes into the ocean. Swimming in the shadows of the surrounding volcanic islands, you’ll find that the warm volcanic waters make for a unique bath-like experience.
Legon Cabe, or 'big' Krakatau, is around 20 minutes away by boat and has a beautiful coral reef around one side that offers excellent snorkelling.

off beaten track

2, Highlands, Papua New Guinea
First explored by missionaries and gold prospectors in the 1930s, this is the most densely populated and agriculturally productive region of Papua New Guinea. Many tribes still maintain their cultural traditions and it is believed that the area shelters additional undiscovered tribes.
Clan loyalties remain strong, reinforced by the fact that each tribe still speaks a unique language. Most of the settlements are at over 2,000 metres, perched within a range of rugged mountains and fertile valleys. The Tari Basin is dominated by the numerous clan groups of the Huli tribe.
The Tari Gap area is a frequent filming location for natural history documentaries due to the many species of birds endemic to the area.

3. El Nido, the Philippines
A one-hour flight from Manila takes you to the stunning limestone cliffs and islands of El Nido. Rising out of crystal-clear, coral-strewn waters, this is one of the most picturesque areas in Southeast Asia.
The limestone islands are said to have formed millions of years ago. Only a few of them are inhabited, and El Nido town - a small settlement near the Marble Cliffs - is the largest community in the area. Stroll around town, talk to the locals and visit the handful of boutiques and art shops.
El Nido became famous for its swiftlet bird’s nests, which are prized as a delicacy in Asian cuisine and used to make an expensive soup. As a result, the number of birds sadly dwindled. The El Nido area is now a marine reserve, and the government has made inroads towards stopping this practice by allowing nest collections only when the birds have reached maturity. Yet this rule is still hard to enforce in more remote areas.
Bacuit Bay shelters pristine forests and wildlife, lagoons and secret beaches. The area is also home to many rare animals, such as the dugong (seacow), turtles and swiftlet birds.
El Nido also has spectacular underwater life with reef and limestone corals that house thousands of fish, turtles, black tip sharks and more. Diving can be organized in many places.

4. Vieng Xai Caves, Laos
Nestled in a picturesque valley in the remote northeast of Laos, the Vieng Xai caves make for a fascinating detour on the overland route to Vietnam. Approximately 30km from Sam Neua town, Vieng Xai sheltered the leaders of the Communist-led revolution during their struggle against the French Colonial regime and later the American government. Deemed an almost impregnable hideout because of their inaccessibility, they were used from around 1964 until the mid-1980s. Kept a closely guarded military secret by the Laos Government until the late 90s, they are now being promoted as a glimpse into the secret history of the Laos Communist regime's rise to power.
Set in a strikingly narrow limestone valley, they housed conference rooms, a library, planning rooms, bedrooms, weaving mills and hospitals. The setting, the history and the sheer impressiveness of the caves themselves all combine to make this a day trip well worth making.

ha giang photo

5. Ha Giang, Vietnam
In Vietnam’s far northeast, perched on the border with China, lie the timeless villages of Ha Giang Province. Expect terraced rice paddies, primary forests and winding mountain paths that climb through vertiginous passes to reach colourfully dressed minority tribes.
Until recently, the area has been cut off from visitors by the Vietnamese government, and has therefore escaped the tide of commerce, industry and tourism that has swept over so many other places. Visit lively local markets and trek or bike through the magnificent hills, all of which offer unsurpassed photographic opportunities.

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