Forget what you think you know about South-East Asia – it’s a region often banded together as one, yet each country is worlds apart in their cultural, historical and geographic diversity. What these countries do have in common, however, is their warmth of character, resilient people, unmatched landscapes and ability to welcome visitors with open arms.
- Orangutans We’ve got to start with these cheeky monkeys (well, apes), which are one of the world’s most loved creatures. Hanging out in a Borneo orangutan sanctuary is the definition of joy.
- Sea turtles A sanctuary for these wonderful creatures lies off the coast of Borneo – the aptly named Turtle Islands. At different times of the year their laborious nesting process and the resulting eggs being hatched can be witnessed.
- Sumatran rhinoceros Smaller than their African cousins, these rhinos have longish brown-red hair, wrinkles around their eyes and two horns (one large and one only around 10 cm long). Sadly, they are critically endangered.
- Pigmy elephant Although you couldn’t really class them as small, these beautiful creatures differ from Asian elephants by being smaller, with relatively larger ears and straighter tusks.
- Borneo hornbills There are eight species of these delightful birds who are easily recognisable by their weird and colourful beaks. They hold great cultural significance to the indigenous Dayak people and their image features prominently in their art.
- Clouded leopards These beauties of the jungle are not always easy to spot, since they mostly hang out in trees and have intricate patterns to camouflage themselves.
- Shwedagon Golden Temple Glittering gold and sitting high above Yangon, this sacred pagoda is an important pilgrimage site that contains relics of past Buddhas.
- Shwesandaw Pagoda Dating back to 1057, Shwesandaw is an imposing pagoda with five terraces and a white, bell-shaped stupa.
- Ananda Temple Known as the ‘Westminister Abbey of Burma’, this temple dates back to 1105 and contains a number of frescoes and four golden Buddhas.
- Shwezigon Golden Temple With every single inch covered in gold, the 11th-century Shwezigon Temple is a jewel in Bagan’s hefty temple crown.
- Mantara Gyi Pagoda Also known as Mingun Pahtodawgi, this dramatic-looking temple was built, but never finished, in the late 1700s. It was damaged in the 1839 earthquake and, as a result, has giant cracks carving through it.
- Hsinbyume Pagoda Like the icing on the world’s most elaborate wedding cake, this striking pagoda (also known as Mya Thein Tan) was built in 1816 to represent the seven mountain ranges of mythical Mount Meru.
Only have a short amount of time? Experience the Pagodas on a day trip with Intrepid Travel 'Tradition & Culture in Yangon'8