Best Locations for Kayaking and Rafting in Southeast Asia

There’s a special kind of inner peace achieved when you float down mighty rivers or along beautiful sandy coastlines in nothing but a kayak. On the flip-side of the coin, the pure adrenaline of white-water rafting as you rush over rapids is hard to match with any other activity. Fortunately for the water-enthusiast, both types are abundantly available in South East Asia.

With its long coastline, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of places to go kayaking in Vietnam. Rather than list dozens of town along the coast, there are three standout locations for kayaking in the country. First is Ba Be Lake, located in a national park in the Northern Reaches of the country. The lake is the largest freshwater lake in Vietnam, and features stunning mountain views all around. Next is the famous Ha Long Bay and nearby Cat Ba island. Kayaking here is a great way to take in the views of the spectacular UNESCO world heritage site. Finally, in the far south, a kayak ride among the floating markets and villages of the Mekong delta is both a great water activity and cultural experience.

Kayaking and Rafting in South East Asia
Kayaking in Ha Long Bay.

Over in Laos, where much of the country revolves around the mighty Mekong river, kayaking options are also plentiful. Kayak tours to various attractions like the Pak Ou caves can be had from Luang Prabang. As the river continues south, it grows more violent and the currents stronger. As such, in Vang Vieng and down in the Four Thousand Islands, more exciting kayaking trips can be had, compared to the sedate waters around Luang Prabang.

Kayaking and Rafting in South East Asia
The mighty Mekong is the perfect place to kayak, full of exciting rapids and gorgeous scenery.

For a mix of kayaking and authentic cultural experiences, Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia is a great option. Plan a day or more here on the calm waters of the lake as your group visits various floating villages and markets, where the local population continue to live their life in traditional ways.

In Southern Thailand, kayaking around the calm waters of Phang Nga Bay, discovering small islands covered in jungle, is an extremely peaceful experience. For more action, head up north, where Chiang Mai has become the prime location for white-water rafting in all of South East Asia, as the roaring Maetang River contains many rapids and powerful currents.

Kayaking and Rafting in South East Asia
The islands off the Thai coast make for ideal places to engage in water-activities.

With its long coastlines and mighty rivers, there are plenty of kayaking and rafting to be had in South East Asia, and while this list is far form exhaustive, it features what we consider to be the top kayaking locations in the region.


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