Category Archives: Travel in Southeast Asia

Top Hotels for Touring Southeast Asian Countries


Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor*****
1 Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Khum Svay Dang Kum
Siem Reap
Tel.: +855 63 963 888; Fax: +855 63 963 168
Email: [email protected]

Located in the heart of Siem Reap, in the Old French Quarter only 8 kilometres from the extraordinary Angkor Wat temple complex, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor is the ideal place to explore the spiritual and archaeological masterwork. Relax and revitalise beside a magnificent pool inspired by Angkorian architecture or take a short stroll along the riverside to discover the vibrant local markets.

Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor. Photo via Wikimedia by Kounosu

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi*****
15 Ngo Quyen Street
Hoan Kiem District
10000 Hanoi
Tel.: +84 4 382 66919; Fax: +84 4 382 66920
Email: [email protected]

Located steps from the Opera House in Hanoi’s French Quarter this legendary property brings guests into intimate contact with the opulence of another era. Surround yourself in heritage as you stroll stately corridors and explore a dramatic past. Behind its classical white façade green shutters original wrought iron details and stately wood panelling reside over a century of stories. Stand on the walkways that grace its lush courtyard lawn and immerse yourself in the hotels rich traditions.

Temple sites nearby:
Tran Quoc Pagaoda – 4km
Chua Dau Pagoda – 30km outside of Hanoi, Thuan Thanh district
Temple of Literature – 2.5km

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. Photo via Wikimedia by Gryffindor

Settha Palace Hotel*****
6 Rue Pang Kham
Tel.: +856 21 217 581; Fax: +856 21 217 583
Email: [email protected]

In the heart of bustling Vientiane stands a remarkable hotel. Built in the early part of the last century, circa 1932, and painstakingly restored to its former imperial glory, the Settha Palace Hotel serves as testament to the long lost era of classical elegance, gracious service and French colonial charm.

Temple sites nearby:
Pha That Luang – 3.5km
Wat Sisaket – 800m
Wat Mixai – 1km

Settha Palace Hotel. Photo via Flickr by Peter Riccio –
Myanmar (Burma)

The Strand Hotel Yangon*****
92 Strand Road
Tel.: +95 1 243 377; Fax: +95 1 243 393
Email: [email protected]

Declared “the finest hostelry East of Suez” by John Murray in his Handbook for Travellers written in the early 20th century, the 1901-built three storey 5 star hotel in Yangon remains one of Southeast Asia’s few grand hotels and one of its most awe inspiring.

Temple sites nearby:
Shwedagon Pagoda – 4.5km
Karaweik Hall – 3.4km
Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda (Reclining Buddha) – 6.6km

The Strand Hotel Yangon. Photo via Wikimedia by Russavia

The Siam Hotel*****
3/2 Thanon Khao, Vachirapayabal, Dusit
Bangkok 10300
Tel.: +66 2206 6999; Fax: +66 2206 6998
Email: [email protected]

The Siam is the newest addition to, and crown jewel of, the growing portfolio of independently owned and operated properties that make up Sukosol Hotels. The Siam spirit is to create a luxury experience embracing every moment and every individual with sincerity and integrity and a passion for service.

Temple sites nearby:
Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing – 11km
Wat Arun – 8km
Wat Pho – 6km

Wat Arun Bangkok. Photo via Wikimedia by Muisamart

The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta*****
Jalan Jenderal Sudiman 9
55233 Yogyakarta
Tel.: +62 274 566617; Fax: +62 274 566856
Email: [email protected]

Located in the heart of Yogyakarta, near the popular Malioboro district, the historic Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta, a member of theMgallery Collection, is a colonial landmark dating back to 1918. With 144 elegant rooms and suites, each boasting a balcony and a fusion of Asian and European décor, The Phoenix Hotel features a restaurant, wine bar and terrace bar overlooking an open courtyard. An inviting swimming pool, indulgent day spa and modern conferencing facilities complete the exclusive experience.

Temple sites nearby:
Bodobudur – 42km
Prambanan – 16km

Borobudur in Indonesia. Photo via Wikimedia by Bernard Gagnon

Visiting Borobudur

When to go:

Yogyakarta is blessed with plenty of sunshine throughout the year. Generally speaking, the days are hot and humid, with only two seasons per year: the rainy season and the dry season. November to March is dominated by strong rainfall, therefore it is recommended to visit Yogyakarta during the dry season from April to October.

Borobudur. Photo via Wikimedia by Klodo6975
Borobudur Opening Times:

Monday to Sunday: 06:00 am to 05:00 pm

Entry fees:

Indonesian or KITAs card holder: IDR 30.000
Indonesian children*: IDR 12.500
Foreigner – Adult: US$ 20
Foreigner – Student* (registered): US$ 10

Optional: tour guide inside the temple: IDR 40.000

For further packages please visit:

*no specific age information given.

How to get to Borobudur from Yogyakarta:

By public bus:

From the airport:

  1. Take the ‘Trans Jogja Bus’ No. 3A or No. 3B to Terminal Giwangan. Price: IDR 3000 one way (operational times: 05:30am to 09:30pm)
  2. From Terminal Giwangan change onto one of several buses with Borobudur as final stop.                                                                                       Price: IDR 10.000 (operational times: 06:00am to 05:00pm)

From Yogyakarta City:

  1. Take the ‘Trans Jogja Bus’ No. 3A from ‘Malioboro’ bus station to Terminal Giwangan.                                                                                       Price: IDR 3000 one way (operational times: 05:30am to 09:30pm)
  2. From Terminal Giwangan change onto one of several buses with Borobudur as final stop.                                                                                         Price: IDR 10.000 (operational times: 06:00am to 05:00pm)

Return from Borobudur: Same buses, rates and timings.

Trans Jogja bus at ‘Malioboro’ station. Photo via Wikimedia by Ivan Lanin

Tip: If you wish to experience Borobudur for sunrise, book a private car (with driver) or take a taxi, as it is not possible to reach Borobudur before sunset via public transportation.

By Taxi:

via airport taxi:

If you plan to transfer immediately towards Borobudur from Adisucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta, you first have to purchase a fixed price ticket for your ride from the taxi desk at the arrival hall (note: the same goes at the airport in Bali, there is a monopoly of the taxi company at the airport). However, there is no requirement of any additional payment to the driver later. Simply take the receipt, walk over to the official taxi stand and hand-over it to the driver.

Rajawali Taxi:
Tel.: +62 274 512 976
Jalan AM Sangaji 16, Yogyakarta

The taxi fare is around IDR 250.000 and takes about 50 minutes from Adisucipto International Airport.

All taxi companies are allowed to carry guests to the airport, but only Rajawali will carry guests from the airport.

via regular taxi:

The taxi fare is around IDR 200.000 and takes about 45 minutes from Yogyakarta.

JAS Taxi
Tel.: +62 274 37 37 37
PT. Jari Alam Supatra (JAS)
Jalan Kapten P. Tendean 39, Yogyakarta

Indra Kelana Taxi
Tel.: +62 274 56 55 65
Jalan Mangkubumi Pangeran 56, Yogyakarta

By car:

Taking a car is a comfortable alternative if travelling in a group or with your family.


Prabu Transport
Tel.: +62 274 447 7563; +62 274 742 9669
Puri Permata II No. 8 Condongcatur, Depok, Sleman
Rates start at IDR 275.000 for 24 hours for a Honda Jazz or similar, excluding fuel, driver, etc.
Fuel: IDR 6500/l

1Wan Transport ( free car delivery to airport)
Tel.: +62 812 2207; +62 274 821 4533
Jalan Imogiri Barat Trimulyo, Jetis, Bantul
Rates start at IDR 200.000 for 12 hours for a Toyota Avanza or similar, excluding fuel, driver,etc.

Vehicle with driver:

Adam Transport (standby at the airport)
Tel.: +62 823 2389 7555, +62 858 7834 6106, +62 877 3936 5095
Glondong RT 06 RW 01 Tirtomartani, Kalasan, Sleman
Rates start at IDR 325.000 for 12 hours for a Toyota Avanza or similar, excluding fuel, entry fees, etc.

Seven Transport Jogja
Tel.: +62 812 2768 5685; +62 815 7813 4423
Gedongan, Gilangharjo, Pandak, Bantul
Rates start at IDR 250.000 for a Suzuki APV or similar, excluding fuel, entry fees, etc.

By motor scooter:

From Yogyakarta: Rates will be at around IDR 50.000 for 24 hours , for a Honda Vario or similar. There are various shops offering rentals, you may ask your concierge/reception staff for the nearest one. A recommendable rental company:

Bening Transport
Samirono Lama CT VI/22 Selman,
Tel.: +62 274 547440, +62 274 826 3214

Transportation around the temple:

By motor scooter:

Around the temple: Renting a motor scooter around the temple is more expensive than from Yogyakarta, with rates starting at IDR 50.000-70.000 for 12 hours.

By bike:

Taking a bike to explore the picturesque surroundings of Borobudur is not only a great choice, but also a sustainable one. Bike rentals from around the temple cost between IDR 10-25.000 for 10-12 hours.

By horse cart (Andong):

Taking a horse cart is a great way to also explore the surrounding villages of Borobudur in a traditional way. Horse carts can be easily found around the temple market or in the complex itself.

–          One lap around the temple for max. 4 people: IDR 30.000

–          Village tour: Klipoh Hamlet-Tanjungsari-Jowahan Hamlet-Wanurejo: IDR 75.000.

Andong (horse cart). Photo via Flickr by Orangescale Studio –

By trackless train:

In addition to walking or cycling around the park, you can take a trackless train, an all-time favourite for children. The fee is at IDR 5000 per person per lap.

Where to stay:

Around Borobudur:

Hotel Manohara  Borobudur*** (distance to Borobudur: 400m)
Jalan Badrawati – Komplek Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur
Magelang 56553
Tel.: +62 293 788131 788680
Fax: +62 293 788679
Email: [email protected]

Hotel Plataran Borobudur**** (distance to Borobudur: 1.07 km)
Dusun Tanjungan
Magelang 56553
Tel.: +62 293 788 888
Fax: +62 293 788 699
Email: [email protected]

Villa Borobudur***** (distance to Borobudur: 590m)
Dusun Pete – Majaksingi
Magelang 56553
Tel.: +62 293 552 5520
Email: [email protected]

Around Yogyakarta:

The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta***** – Mgallery Collection
Jalan Jenderal Sudiman 9
55233 Yogyakarta
Tel.: +62 274 566617; Fax: +62 274 566856
Email: [email protected]

Jambuluwuk Malioboro Boutique Hotel****
Jalan AM Sangaji  No. 72 a
55233 Yogyakarta
Tel.: +62 274 641 5555, Fax: +62 274 641 5588
Email: [email protected]

Good to know:
  1. Borobudur has a dress code which says to dress politely and modestly, cover shoulders and knees, however sandals are fine.
  2. Visiting Borobudur for sunrise is a must-do; the Manohara Hotel is the only hotel on the grounds of Borobudur with a sunrise tour commencing at 04:30 am, before the majority of tourists arrive.
    Foreigner: IDR 380.000
    Indonesian: IDR 250.000
    In-house guests: IDR 230.000. For more details, please contact: [email protected]
  3. Plan a full day to visit Borobudur. One purchased ticket allows you to visit all sites of the complex.
  4. The definition of Borobudur is a combination of two words: BARA and BUDUR. Bara is derived from the Sanskrit word VIHARA, meaning a complex of temples, monastery or dormitory. BUDUR is derived from the Balinese BIDUHUR, meaning ‘high’.
  5. If you stay around Borobudur, try the Elephant Safari and explore the villages and the surrounding in a truly unique way.
    Prices: IDR 250.000 (30 minutes) to IDR 1.500.000 (150 minutes). Email: [email protected]

Visiting sacred sites and temples in Southeast Asia: how to avoid getting overwhelmed!

Crowds at Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok: it's easy to get overwhelmed! (image source )
Crowds at Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok: it’s easy to get overwhelmed! (image source )

South East Asia has many prominent pagodas, temples and monuments which are the major attraction to the region, for history buffs, pilgrims, and general travellers alike. One of the common issues for new travellers is fatigue from seeing too many places at one time and trying to absorb huge amounts of information. Here are a few tips on how to avoid temple overload when travelling…

Less is more

Places like Bagan have thousands of temples to visit and cramming everything into a day does not do justice to the area. Instead, focus on a few temples and spend more time looking around. Each has its own characteristics and features such as ornate teak carving, gold leaf being pressed onto Buddha, artwork, and shrines dedicated to birth days.

Sunset balloon ride over Bagan by Allan Grey (
Sunset balloon ride over Bagan by Allan Grey (

See things differently

There are many ways of exploring huge temple complexes other than a tour bus. Outside the monsoon season a hot air balloon ride at dawn is a spectacular way of seeing the landscape and taking in the sunrise over the pagodas.

Cycling around temple complexes is another way to see the landscape and encounter a few locals.

Cycling at Wat Mahathat (via Flickr hewy )
Cycling at Wat Mahathat (via Flickr hewy )

When the sun sets the changing light on the temples is unforgettable, and a beautiful time to see the architecture.

Life in the Temple

When visiting a pagoda do look around at other aspects of daily life in the area as many are run like small communities. Walking around these structures often reveals locals going about their business.

Builders working on bamboo scaffolding in bare feet, young monks in class, and lotus sellers are just a few of the local scenes observed in Buddhist temples.

Buddhist novices at Phimai - from Flickr thaths
Buddhist novices at Phimai – from Flickr thaths

Be sensitive to taking photographs and respect the privacy of others, but do take time to watch what else is happening in the complex.

"pro photographer" by Flickr  Michael Coghlan
“pro photographer” by Flickr Michael Coghlan

Escape the heat

Pagodas can get really hot during the day so visit when the day is cooler. Early morning is ideal for avoiding the crowds and the heat of the day, and a slow walk round a pagoda is the perfect way to start the day. By visiting some of the larger pagodas early in the day it is easy to take your time and learn about the architecture and history.

Borobudur before dawn: worth setting off very early! photo via Flickr  Bernard Tey
Borobudur before dawn: worth setting off very early! photo via Flickr Bernard Tey

Take notes

Carrying a small notebook is a great idea when visiting temples. By taking the name of the pagoda or stupa you will find it easier to recall when looking at photos later or writing postcards to friends.

You can also note down a few facts that you learned or something observed. This will help with remembering the various sights seen on the tour and avoid the feeling that one temple looks like all the others.

Even if you don't carry books with you when travelling, read up as much as you can when planning your trip, and make your own notes.
Even if you don’t carry books with you when travelling, read up as much as you can when planning your trip, and make your own notes.

Reading about the places beforehand also helps with understanding the area being visited and will also point out highlights to observe.

Whether on holiday in Burma, Laos or Cambodia, the opportunities to experience some of the most famous Buddhist architectural gems are must see places on any visit. Taking time to enjoy them is really important and slowing down to appreciate more is essential.