Southeast Asia may be famed for its beautiful beaches, ancient temples and fascinating culture and cuisine, but the region also boasts a wealth of national parks, some of which are amongst the oldest in the world.
Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park hosts wild elephants and hornbills while Khao Sok National Park is home to the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, giving visitors to Thailand fantastic flora and fauna to explore.
Away from Indonesia’s stunning beaches there is a wealth of jungle and wildlife to discover. You can see the native orang-utans here by combining trekking in Bukit Lawang, Sumatra, with time at an orang-utan rehabilitation centre. On Kalimantan you can explore Tanjung Puting National Park either by boat or foot, discovering its unspoilt rainforest terrain, spotting primates, reptiles and birdlife aplenty.
Malaysia’s Taman Negara National Park proudly boasts its credentials as the oldest primary rainforest in the world, pre-dating even the Amazon. For a slightly different experience take a light aircraft flight into Borneo's Mulu National Park, where the jungle here hides the world’s largest limestone cave system. If you are the more active type of traveller you might want to consider visiting Kinabalu National Park and climbing its highest peak, Mount Kinabalu.
Elsewhere in the region, Cat Tien National Park, which is in the south of Vietnam, offers bird-lovers a relaxing oasis away from busy city's such as Saigon.
In summary, Southeast Asia’s national parks can offer travellers stunning scenery, rare wildlife and unique experiences while at the same time offering the opportunity to be combined brilliantly with local cultures as well as time relaxing on beautiful beaches.