Southeast Asia is a prime destination for any urban explorer. The largest cities in the region are Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, and the chaos of these giant metropolises provides a great opportunity to walk around, immerse yourself in local life, and get utterly lost among the madness. Also massive, Hanoi offers a similar level of mesmerizing activity, but with a distinct Vietnamese feel, and a wonderfully authentic core in the old quarter.
Smaller in size, but by no means lacking in atmosphere or things to do are Vientiane and Phnom Penh, the capitals of Laos and Cambodia respectively. Both cities exhibit a fascinating mix between the past and the future, reflecting peoples eager to embrace their destiny, while also paying homage to their heritage.
As the cities get smaller, the vibe gets more relaxed, and nowhere is more emblematic of this than Battambang. Despite being the second biggest metropolitan area in Cambodia, time seems to run slow here, far from the hectic pace of its larger cousins in the region. Over in Laos, Luang Prabang has a similar carefree atmosphere, but with a distinct sophistication and regality, carried over from its days as a seat of kings.
Finally, Chiang Mai, the largest city in Northern Thailand and primarily known for its role as the trekking hub of Thailand, also has plenty to offer in terms of urban life. The ancient city wall surrounds the old part of the city, which is practically overflowing with temples and monasteries to visit.
Whether you’re looking for somewhere to get lost in the chaos, or ancient streets lined with structures from bygone eras, there is a city to suit your needs in South East Asia.