By now, it's likely you've seen the dramatic images of severe flooding in Thailand's capital, Bangkok.
The widespread floods have many travelers scrambling to adjust their plans. Though Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport remains open (and fully functional), and the main tourist areas and shopping districts are relatively unaffected, warnings from a host of nations caused many would-be travelers to question their plans.
If you're traveling to Southeast Asia but don't want to deal with the floods in Bangkok, there are plenty of equally tantalizing alternatives.
Don't want to miss out on the great shopping? Head to Kuala Lumpur. Still want to soak in some Thai culture? Head to the dry highlands of Chiang Mai. Here's a look at the myriad of alternatives in Southeast Asia to put any wary, flood-scared traveler's mind at ease:
Luang Prabang, Laos
Best Alternative for Culture:
Nestled at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang's dreamy backstreets overflow with art, architecture, and a rich history. Dignified monks, cloaked in tangerine, far outnumber tourists fighting for space under shared yellow umbrellas. The bald-topped next generation train at the city's dazzling temples and spill out onto the streets at daybreak to gather their alms from the kneeling public. This is Luang Prabang, a once inaccessible former capital that harkens back to a different era of time-old traditions.
Siem Reap (Angkor), Cambodia
Best Alternative for Architectural Marvels:
No trip to the region would be complete without a trip to the abundant ruins of Angkor. You hear about the grandeur of Angkor Wat, but nothing can quite prepare you for that special morning when you watch the saffron sun peak over the world's largest and most audacious religious structure. You'll need at least two memory chips and three days to navigate the 1,000 square kilometers of the former Khmer Empire. Prepare to be amazed!
Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Best Alternative for Spirituality:
Although Yangon (Rangoon) was stripped of its status as capital in 2005, it remains the hub of economic activity, the gateway for most foreigners, and the focal point of an underground intellectual society. Like a trip back in time, the historic streets conceal some of the best British colonial-era architecture in the region. They also glisten with golden temples and dazzling pagodas. If you are willing to get off the beaten path, Yangon will not disappoint.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Best Alternative for an Authentic Thailand Experience:
Chiang Mai typically attracts a different kind of tourist than Bangkok. Travelers venture here to learn Thai massage, Thai cooking, and muay Thai. The city's peaceful Buddhist charm offers wanderers a chance to be still, to breath, and to understand the country and its culture in ways not possible in the tropical south. It also offers a surrounding landscape of tree-studded mountains that house numerous tribes whose life has hardly been touched by modern times.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Best Alternative for Shopping:
Barely 150 years old, Kuala Lumpur sprang from the Malay Peninsula like a magic bean sprout. The streets of the vibrant city overflow with some of Asia's best street vendors. Chinese shops sit below towering mosques and Hindu temples which all hide in the shadows of modern marvels. Petronas Towers (the world's tallest building until 2004) burst skyward as KL races towards the future. With a modern monorail connecting Kuala Lumpur's countless shopping centers, this city has even better deals than Bangkok and, like its northern neighborhood, is only a short ride away from world-class beaches.
Best Alternative for Eating:
Like a dash of France sprinkled along the Mekong River, the smell of freshly baked baguettes wafts over Vientiane every morning. The café-lined streets of old town and perfectly manicured lawns of the commercial district are a stroller's dream. More of a big village than an international city, Vientiane is Asia's friendliest, most welcoming capital. If that's not enough to win you over, CLICK HERE