Phetchabun, Central Thailand
See & Do

#MyKindOfWinter: 7 Hidden Gems in Malaysia, Thailand & Vietnam to Cool Yourself Down

Want to cool down without having to deal with snow? Thanks to Mother Nature, there’s an abundance of wonderful getaways for you to enjoy on earth, where you can happily unwind and cool yourself down. Whether you’re a beachgoer, jungle explorer, or a regular person who needs to escape from the hustle and bustle of big cities, a place like Southeast Asia has more than enough cool water, air, and wind for you to indulge.

In this article, we’ve unveiled a list of 7 hidden gems in Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam for you to explore. Let’s go off the beaten path!

1. Rawa Island, Johor

Rawa Island, Johor

Rawa Island may be the lesser-known paradise in Malaysia, but that doesn’t make it inferior to its fellow counterparts. The idyllic island, which is accessible by boat from Mersing, is ideal for beachgoers looking to relax under the sun after a good dip in the South China Sea waters.

If the sun gets too unbearable during mid-afternoon, the island’s coconut trees make the perfect ‘umbrellas’ to rest under, perhaps until the picturesque sunset appears. Home to a collection of beautiful coral reefs, Rawa Island is considered an underrated holiday destination in Malaysia.

Recommended activities: Sun tanning, snorkeling, island-hopping, scuba-diving, kayaking, and hiking to the top of the island for a panoramic sea view.

2. Kanching Recreational Forest, Rawang, Selangor

Kanching Recreational Forest

Every weekend, many locals go to the Kanching Recreational Forest in Rawang to rejuvenate with their loved ones. The local site, which isn’t mainstream among foreign visitors, is a local’s favorite. People mainly go there for picnics, hiking, and the park’s 30-meter cascading waterfalls. This travel destination is just 30km away from Kuala Lumpur.

There are seven tiers of beautiful waterfalls at the Kanching Recreational Forest. Most visitors are focused on the fifth tier, which is where the pool of spring water is located. The fifth tier is typically flooded by visitors as it’s a more family-friendly spot. Those who prefer to be away from the crowd can simply hike further until they reach the rather secluded upper waterfalls.

Recommended activities: Picnic, photography, camping, barbecue, swimming, and jungle trekking.

3. Chanthaburi, East Thailand

Chanthaburi, East Thailand
Source: pratan ounpitipong /

The weather in Thailand can get extremely hot, and the scorching heat wave in 2016 has been reported to be the longest heatwave in at least 65 years. That gives people more reasons to cool themselves down, in place like Chanthaburi in East Thailand.

Chanthaburi may not be as impressive as its neighbors, Koh Samet and Koh Chang, but it’s the humble fishing village charm, hidden inlets and peninsulas that attract travelers to the small province.  

This underrated destination is perfect for those looking to stay away from the crowd for a little while, perhaps at the Chao Lao Beach. For nature lovers, the Khun Krabaen Mangrove Trail is definitely something to look forward to. From walking along an extensive trail system to watching small crabs and endangered dugongs in action, a visit to the area is certainly worth it. At the Khao Khitchakut National Park, which is 30km north of Chanthaburi, travelers can explore the 59 square kilometers park to catch a glimpse of its 54 bird species.

Recommended activities: Kayaking, picnic, boat trip, hiking, swimming with the fishes at the Pliew Waterfall, and jungle exploration.

4. Phetchabun, Central Thailand

Phetchabun, Central Thailand

Located in Northern Thailand, Phetchabun is considered by the Thais as a prosperous and productive land. Due to its reputation, it’s also known as “the land of crops and food”. Blessed with verdant forests and mountains, Phetchabun positions itself as one of the country’s exceptional travel destinations.

Phetchabun is famous for its national parks. The Tat Mok National Park, which was established in 1998, offers a huge waterfall where water flows gracefully down the area’s mountain crevices. Another national park worth visiting is the Nam Nao National Park. Established in 1972, it’s an evergreen forest that’s home to over 100 birds and a diverse group of animals. Another great location to cool off in Phetchabun is the Nam Nao Tart Mog Waterfall and Cliff. For the adventurous, the breezy Phu Thap Boek is perfect for paragliding. Otherwise, sightseeing at the local farms, markets, and local villages sound fun, too!

Recommended activities: Camping, jungle trekking, hiking, swimming, picnics.

5. Hà Giang, Vietnam

Hà Giang, Vietnam

With its reputation for being the most beautiful place in northern Vietnam, Hà Giang has gained more exposure especially among foreign visitors. Although it’s still the less explored destination in the country, more people are starting to discover the beautiful remote place.

The underrated destination remains untouched by mass tourism and continues to display its authenticity with pride. There, you’ll find several hotels and homestays that are built to cater to the needs of local and foreign visitors.

With so much to see in Hà Giang, such as its incredible mountain views (that will take your breath away) and perhaps the greenest rice terraces you’ve ever seen in your life, your visit to Hà Giang will surely leave you with some good memories of Vietnam.

Also, don’t forget to visit the Dong Van Karst Global Geopark, which is recognized by UNESCO as an important geological and cultural heritage site.

Recommended activities: Biking, trekking, sightseeing, village hopping.

6. Jungle Beach, Vietnam

Jungle Beach, Vietnam

Jungle Beach is the talk of the town, especially among backpackers. It’s a place in South Central Vietnam where you can embrace simplicity and feel like you’re living in the jungle! Relaxing vibes and awesome beach time await you, which are the right remedies to heal a fatigued body and soul.

The prices range from the lowest to the insanely overpriced, and  accommodation can come in all shapes, styles, and sizes. With a laid-back beach concept, guests are expected to unwind (preferably on a hammock) and wend around leisurely—something that a typical city life hardly offers. Sports like volleyball, snorkeling, beach soccer, table tennis, and hiking also keep guests active during the day. Occasionally, the beach organizes exciting bonfire nights for everyone to enjoy together.

Recommended activities: Snorkeling, badminton, volleyball, swimming, barbecue, beach soccer, table tennis, and jogging.

7. Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam

Its unique beauty has turned it into a booming travel destination. Phong Nha Ke Bang is truly a national treasure that the country can be proud about. Being one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam, it has gained in popularity, making it more accessible today. There, you can discover some of Vietnam’s best natural wonders.

As you enter Phong Nha Ke Bang, you’ll be welcomed by its huge Hollywood-like signage. The recognized UNESCO World Heritage site is well-known for its towering limestones that are so fascinatingly gorgeous you wouldn’t want to leave the national park without a photo of them.

Did you know that the park’s name was derived from the Phong Nha Cave (that houses a collection of amazing rock formations) and the Kẻ Bàng forest? What’s even amazing is that the biggest cave in the world was re-discovered there by a group of British cavers (thanks to the help of a local farmer named Ho Khanh) in April 2009. The cave was named Hang Sơn Đoòng.

Do you like our list? If you find it helpful, be sure to click “share” so we can help others discover hidden gems like these, too!