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Dili

Dili lie charming neighborhoods where frangipani trees shed colorful flowers onto the streets, chickens and goats run free and dignified colonial buildings serve as a reminder of the past. The people are kind, the waterfront is serene, and a brief walk from any point in the city will take you to golden beaches. Familiarize yourself with the history of East Timor, or Timor-Leste as it is called by the locals, at the Resistance Museum. Housed in an impressive new building, the museum chronicles the country's 24-year long struggle for independence from Indonesia. A good timeline details the most important events in English, and the collection of gear used by the Falintil as they sought refuge in the hills is fascinating.

Outdoor enthusiasts have longed flocked to the country to experience its pristine and untouched nature, and few world capitals offer as many opportunities for adventure as Dili. Diving is an enormously popular activity, and the waters off the coast of the city are rich in exotic marine life. Snorkelers and scuba divers can swim with schools of barracuda, huge pelagics, and many species of turtles and sharks in the city's harbor and explore the unspoilt beauty of coral reefs not far from the shore.

As the sun starts to set, join the faithful locals in their nightly pilgrimage to the massive statue of Jesus that tops the headlands to the east of the capital. You will find yourself surrounded by both sporty expats and local fisherman as you make the trek past several representations of the stations of the cross on the way up the hill. When you reach the statue, look out across the bay to enjoy one of the most spectacular views of Dili against the setting sun. Finish the evening with a giant margarita on the beach, and don't forget to look up; the stars are incredible above the city.

Dili, East Timor

Bandar Seri Begawan

Many visitors come to Bandar Seri Begawan expecting an extravagant mini-Dubai, but the capital city of Brunei is actually quite unassuming. The country's oil riches are certainly evident in many buildings, like the shopping malls and mosques, but outright ostentation is hard to find. The flashiness of the nouveau-riche plays out more in the suburbs, leaving the city quiet, peaceful and quite serene.

The most opulent building in the city and perhaps the whole country is the Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. It is the largest mosque in Brunei and considered one of the region's most grand monuments to Islam. The edifice is certainly stunning, but the interior is downright jaw-dropping. Built in 1992 for the 25th anniversary of the current sultan's reign, the sheer size of the interior is awe-inspiring. Seemingly every inch is covered with artistic details that show the creator's devotion to the faith. The surrounding gardens are equally beautiful, and the whole complex is truly dazzling.

In a close second place for most extravagant building comes the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. Considerably smaller than the Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque but only slightly less decadent, this mosque was built in 1958 in its own artificial lagoon. It is the tallest building in the central stretch of the capital, and the call to prayer echoes from there throughout the city at dawn and dusk.These and most of the other extravagant buildings in Brunei were built with oil riches. The Oil and Gas Gallery is dedicated to the state's major industry, and interactive exhibits teach visitors about the origins of the country's oil and the process of getting it from the ground to the gas pump.The Brunei Museum expands on the country's oil history and also contains a wonderful Islamic art gallery. Illuminated copies of the Koran are the most interesting part of the museum, but there is also an incredible small-scale model of the Dome of the Rock made from abalone shell and mother of pearl.

Bandar Seri Begawan is a relatively calm city that lacks the hustle and bustle of other capitals, and the Taman Perangina Tasek is the most serene place in town. The sprawling green zone is dotted with picnic tables, fountains and waterfalls, and the peaceful walking trails take visitors past freshwater swimming holes and lush trees that provide a home to proboscis monkeys.

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Manila

Manila, capital and chief city of the Philippines. The city is the centre of the country’s economic, political, social, and cultural activity. It is located on the island of Luzon and spreads along the eastern shore of Manila Bay at the mouth of the Pasig River. The City of Manila has something to offer to everybody. It offers a great deal as one of the tourist destination in Asia. Manila features numerous world-class hotels, high rise buildings, and an array of gourmet restaurants, night entertainments and sports clubs. One of the famous tourist attractions in Manila is the Fort Santiago. It is located in the north western part of Intramuros. This fortress builds during the Spanish Colonial Period was use as Spain’s major defence position against pirate and invaders. It attracts thousands of local and foreign tourists each year for its century-old Spanish architectural design and structure.

Another reason why many people around the world visit Manila is the shopping. Manila is the home of over 10 Super Mega malls the largest in the entire Asia region. Among the most famous popular malls are Mall of Asia, Shangrilla Mall, Trinoma, Robinsons Mall and many more. Manila Bay is a well known tourist spots in the country because of the spectacular beauty of sunset. This is the best place to relax, unwind and enjoy the view. 

Manila is also famous for its ancient historic churches. During Spanish Colonial period, Spaniards build many churches and now offer a good starting point for exploring Manila. Many of this Spanish built churches that still exist in Tagalog Region, some of which are the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, San Sebastian Church and Sanctuary de San Antonio.There are two seasons in the country. Dry Season in Manila is from the month of November to the end of May while you should expect tropical storms during wet season from June to October. The best time to visit Manila is from November to January where the temperature is cool. February to May hits a temperature to as much as 35-37 Celsius. 

Manila, Philippines

Hanoi

Hanoi effortlessly blends new Asia's dynamic face with the exotic vibe of old Asia. The modern and the medieval co-exist beautifully on the streets of the Vietnamese capital. In the Old Quarter, sellers set up shop on the tangled web of streets like they have for nearly a century, locals in conical hats whiz by on bicycles, grey-bearded men challenge each other to games of chess on the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake and the city's bold and beautiful feast at posh restaurants before dancing to the latest hits at packed nightclubs. Hanoi is where the paradox of modern Vietnam comes alive, and the capital has it all: ancient history, the legacy of a colonial past and a modern outlook that remains optimistic about the future.

The brightest gem of Hanoi is its most historic and culturally important pagoda, Tran Quoc. The resplendent pagoda was built in the mid-6th century under King Ly Nam De and is considered the most important Buddhist temple in the country. Its intricate design includes ten shrines, an impressive belfry and many valuable gold-trimmed statues representing the Buddha. The West Lake provides a tranquil backdrop to the pagoda and is especially beautiful at sunset.

For a glimpse into Vietnamese culture, visit the National Museum of Fine Arts. Housed in a classical building with touches of Asian details, the collection spans two wings and includes everything from ancient antiquities to contemporary art. One of the best exhibits details the evolution of lacquer, told through sculptures of the Buddha, Hindu goddesses and the kings and queens of Vietnam.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Naypyidaw

Naypyidaw (Nay Pyi Taw) is the capital city of Myanmar, also known as Burma. The primary focus of Nay Pyi Taw is overwhelmingly the business of government, there are a few things to for tourists to see, including the huge Uppatasanti Pagoda, built in 2009 and just 30cm shorter than the Shwedagon Pagoda (in order to not upstage its historically revered counterpart). It is located 15 kilometres from the main hotel zone and 10 kilometres from the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, the huge (but less easy to access) 31-building Myanmar parliament complex.

The towering statues of three old kings, presumably designed to reflect the power of the generals, feature on postcards around the country (often accompanied by military parades) – but are in fact off-limits to visitors. 

Naypyidaw, Myanmar

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, also known as KL is the capital of Malaysia. The words Kuala Lumpur literally mean 'Muddy Confluence'. The metropolis got this nickname because it was founded near the place where the rivers Klang and Gombak intersect (which you can still see just behind Merdeka Square). Over the years Kuala Lumpur grew into an important Asian city. Within Malaysia Kuala Lumpur is seen as the center of the country; 'it happens all' in KL. People from all areas within Malaysia come to KL to find jobs or do business. Tourist love the city as it has numerous great sights and attractions. Besides that there are simply too many choices when it comes to dining options. You can go shopping in one of the many modern shopping malls within the city center. Kuala Lumpur is the perfect destination for a short visit or stopover, but many tourists are drawn back to the great city during their travels through Malaysia.At night, the city lights up with excitement as throngs of revelers crowd the capital's many bars, clubs and pubs. The party starts at about ten but does not stop until the sun rises once again. For a glamorous night out, head to the Bukit Bintang district, where hip nightclubs burst with vibrant energy. 

The 88-story Petronas Twin Towers are a symbol of the city. Once the world's tallest buildings, the towers are joined 175 meters above street level by a double-decker Sky Bridge. From the bridge, brave visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and beyond, stretching past the highrises to the mountains in the distance. The towers can still be appreciated at ground level for the faint of heart. One of the tower's houses Southeast Asia's premier classical music concert hall, home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and a park with walking paths, fountains and wading pools spans the area to the side of the towers.

The Petronas Twin Towers represent the present and future of the capital, but the Batu caves represent its past. Formed in a limestone hill, the three major caves and many smaller ones are one of the biggest tourist draws in the city, and for good reason. The Batu temple features 100-year old statues and idols in the midst of 400-million year old limestone formations. The most popular cavern is the Cathedral Cave with its awe-inspiring 100-meter tall arched ceiling. The strenuous hike up to the caves is worth every one of the 272 steps, but visitors should look out for bold and cheeky long-tailed macaque monkeys along the way.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Vientiane

Vientiane, a capital of Laos delivers a relaxing riverside break where one of the best things you can do is grab a drink and enjoy the sun’s spectacular show as it sets over the Mekong. Despite being the largest city in Laos and the hub of commerce and administration, Vientiane is still refreshingly laid back.

The city offers a great choice of accommodation, restaurants and pavement cafes some adding a French air with their style of architecture which contrasts pleasingly with the old Buddhist temples dotted around. There are plenty of things to do after dark and bars cater to all tastes from backpacker beer haunts to elegant cocktail lounges. Navigating Vientiane is relatively simple due to its size and sightseeing can be done either on foot, by bike or by hiring a song-teow. The countryside is never far away, with rice paddies providing a backdrop to most streets. Culture buffs should make the Laos National Museum their first stop.

When in Laos, do as the Laos do and the slow the pace right down. A common joke is that acronym PDF (Peoples Democratic Republic) actually stands for ‘Please Slow Down’. A word of warning to the anally punctual, the country is decidedly laid back and some visitors may mistake this for a lack of ambition or impolitesse but regardless, it's best not to expect things to run like clockwork.  

Vientiane, Laos

Jakarta

Jakarta, Indonesia's huge capital, sits on the northwest coast of the island of Java. A historic mix of cultures – Javanese, Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian and European – has influenced its architecture, language and cuisine. One of the world’s greatest megalopolises, Jakarta is a dynamic city of daunting extremes that's developing at a pace that throws up challenges and surreal juxtapositions on every street corner. An organism unto itself, this is a town in the midst of a very public metamorphosis, and despite the maddening traffic, life here is lived at an all-out pace, driven by an industriousness and optimism that's palpable. Dysfunction be damned.

From the steamy, richly scented streets of Chinatown to North Jakarta's riotous, decadent nightlife, the city is filled with unexpected corners. Here it’s possible to rub shoulders with Indonesia’s future leaders, artists, thinkers, movers and shakers in a bohemian cafe or a sleek lounge bar and then go clubbing till dawn and beyond, the sober desires of current lawmakers notwithstanding.

One excellent surprise you'll find in Jakarta is that once you past the taxi drivers who offer their services at the airport and really meet the locals, you will find that the people are among the most friendly, hospitable, and helpful people you'll find on earth, if you keep away from the mini-bus drivers who are notorious for being the harshest on earth. However, understand that Jakarta being a melting pot, you are guaranteed to meet people of all sorts here.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, is a sprawling metropolis known for its ornate shrines and vibrant street life. Bangkok welcomes more visitors than any other city in the world and it doesn’t take long to realise why. This is a city of contrasts with action at every turn; marvel at the gleaming temples, catch a tuk tuk along the bustling Chinatown or take a longtail boat through floating markets. Food is another Bangkok highlight, from local dishes served at humble street stalls to haute cuisine at romantic rooftop restaurants.

Luxury malls compete with a sea of boutiques and markets, where you can treat yourself without overspending. Extravagant five-star hotels and surprisingly cheap but good hotels welcome you with the same famed Thai hospitality. And no visit to Bangkok would be complete without a glimpse of its famous nightlife – from cabarets to exotic red-light districts, Bangkok never ceases to amaze. 

In a city bursting to the seams with awe-inspiring temples, bustling local markets, vibrant nightlife and vast shopping complexes, deciding on which attractions should make the cut was no easy task, stirring up passionate debate amongst our team of Bangkok experts.

Bangkok, Thailand

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is the vibrant bustling capital of Cambodia. Situated at the confluence of three rivers, the mighty Mekong, the Bassac and the great Tonle Sap, what was once considered the 'Gem' of Indochina. The capital city still maintains considerable charm with plenty to see. It exudes a sort of provincial charm and tranquillity with French colonial mansions and tree-lined boulevards amidst monumental Angkorian architecture. Phnom Penh is a veritable oasis compared to the modernity of other Asian capitals. A mixture of Asian exotica, the famous Cambodian hospitality awaits the visitors to the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia. 

Here in the capital, are many interesting touristy sites. Beside the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, the National Museum, the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, the Choeng Ek Killing Fields and Wat Phnom, there are several market places selling carvings, paintings, silk, silver, gems and even antiques. Indeed, an ideal destination for a leisurely day tour. The whole area including the outskirts of Phnom Penh is about 376 square kilometres big. 

Phnom Penh is also the gateway to an exotic land - the world heritage site, the largest religious complex in the world, the temples of Angkor in the west, the beaches of the southern coast and the ethnic minorities of the North-eastern provinces. There are also a wide variety of services including five star hotels and budget guest houses, fine international dining, sidewalk noodle shops, neighbourhood pubs international discos and more. 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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