While not as popular for camping as some regions in Europe or the Americas, Southeast Asian camping spots are hidden gems worth the time of any adventurous camper. Visitors to the region may be greeted with lush, verdant rainforests, populated by a host of beautiful, exotic flora and fauna, alongside locals who are often all-too-eager to assist travelers on their way. Here are 5 spots to set up camp across Southeast Asia, as well as some tips on what to bring along to maximize your camping pleasure.
Khao Yai National Park
Two hours away from the big city of Bangkok, Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park has two main camping grounds: Pha Kluai Mai and Lam Tha Kong. While Lam Tha Kong is closer to the visitor’s center, the location of Pha Kluai Mai allows campers to enjoy the calming beauty of the national park’s waterfalls and lake. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the park’s elephants early in the morning or late at night, congregating at the watering hole.
For this camping spot, bring a sweater: it might come in handy when night falls, as the park is purported to get very chilly when it gets dark – typical for a mountainous region like Khao Yai. You can also bring any number of electronics, like a portable coffee machine, to start your day right, as power sources in the park are readily available.
Taman Negara National Park
Located between the states of Pahang, Kelantan, and Terengganu, the Malaysian Taman Negara National Park is one of the oldest rainforests in the world, with estimations placing it close to some 130 million years old. There are two popular campsites, Mutiara and Danz Eco, although they need to be booked beforehand. Explorers of Taman Negara are free to take its many natural features, such as white-water rapids, a cave system, and hiking trails scattered across the park.
Visitors of Taman Negara National Park might want to bring along a pair of binoculars: the park boasts impressively diverse fauna, with researchers counting a total of 675 bird species, alongside 200 mammal species and 270 types of reptiles. Enthusiastic bird watchers might even catch a glimpse of the Malayan peacock-pheasant, a rare yet arrestingly beautiful species endemic to the region.
Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park
Located in East Java, Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in Indonesia boasts a wide array of interesting natural sights, among them a sand sea, Indonesia’s tallest mountain, a beautiful lake, and an active volcano. The park is large enough to warrant a 3-day, 2-night trek, so prospective campers should be prepared for some strenuous journeying.
The aforementioned lake, Ranu Kumbolo, provides a camping area for visitors to rest and relax. Campers should bring along a camera of any kind, like the one on your Xiaomi phone, as Ranu Kumbolo has no shortage of breath-taking views. One might just be hypnotized by the tranquil turquoise of the lake’s waters or the verdant hills that surround the lake. One should not be tempted to take a dip in the lake, as swimming, bathing, and washing dishes in the lake’s water are all prohibited.
Bach Ma National Park
Standing between the cities of Da Nang and Hue is Vietnam’s Bach Ma National Park. This park is famous for its natural water features, with towering waterfalls and luscious lakes all across the area. The most popular of these aforementioned waterfalls is the Do Quyen waterfall, which stretches almost 300 meters high. Particularly energetic campers may want to take up the challenge of climbing to its highest point, which comprises a journey of over 600 steps. But it rewards climbers with a lovely viewpoint from the waterfall’s base, overlooking the rest of the park.
As for Lake Ngu Ho, descending hikers may want to take some time enjoying the cool waters. Campers should bring over swimming attire, as, unlike the bodies of water mentioned in other entries on this list, they are permitted to swim in these lakes. It’s a known fact by park-goers that of the five lakes, the third lake is the most beautiful, with some comparing its perfectly round shape to that of a full moon.
A ferry trip away from the country’s main island, Singapore’s Pulau Ubin is the only island on this list, which boasts a long list of activities for any and all visitors. Those interested in biodiversity may want to take a look at the Chek Jawa Wetlands, which contains 7 ecosystems, all in close proximity to one another. Naturally, these 7 ecosystems each provide a range of flora and fauna to spot, among them fiddler crabs, monitor lizards, and sea squirts.
Meanwhile, visitors who are interested in more physically strenuous activity might want to bring along a mountain bike to enjoy an attraction unique to the island: the Ketam Mountain Bike Park, which stretches 8 kilometers long. The trail varies in elevation and difficulty level, with signs appointed to indicate how challenging a given level is. Those who are interested, yet don’t own a mountain bike on their own, may also rent one from vendors on the island.
Southeast Asia is full of hidden gems and unique charms for the adventurous camper. From wondrous lakes to fascinating volcanoes, from gorgeous birds to adorable sea squirts, there’s something for everyone.