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Mat with the local rice farmers in their traditional dress, Banaue, Philippines

Mat, Southeast Asia Specialist

Finishing his studies in 2004, Mat ventured out on several worldwide journeys before beginning a career in travel in 2008. Over various worldwide trips he has also worked and travelled in Australia, explored South America and spent a summer coaching football in the USA.

Mat has enjoyed some unforgettable experiences including such highlights as swimming in a school of 50 or so manta rays off Komodo island, and trekking to find various species of wild orangutan in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Malaysian Borneo. His Thailand visits are now into double figures with Indonesia hastily catching up. He's also travelled extensively to the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore, which gives great perspective as each country offers something so different.

A huge foodie, he loves the fiery flavours of Southeast Asia. He is also a keen photographer and filmmaker. For a true experience, Mat always recommends taking extra time to just aimlessly wander.

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Audley Travel specialist Mat

Start planning your trip to Southeast Asia with Mat

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Bali

I recommend visiting - Bali

With just so much on offer in such a relatively small area, Bali really does have pretty much everything anyone can possibly want from a destination.

You could be on a sandy beach in the morning, trekking up a volcano in the afternoon and spending the evening having a cliff top sunset dinner as you watch waves the size of houses crash down on the beach below. Or, maybe you'd like to witness — in my opinion — the most atmospheric and magical traditional dances on the planet: the Kecak dance. It has fire dance performances to blow the mind of even the most travelled among us — or, perhaps, the most hard to please.

Throw in the fact that you have some of the most beautiful temples and ruins, wreck diving, beautiful islands and an endless list of adventurous activities, means Bali really has something for everyone.

The Surin, Phuket

I recommend staying at - The Surin

Deluxe

The Surin in West Phuket gets top marks from me for everything a luxury beach resort should be. I love the white, sandy beach — arguable the best beach in Phuket, and the fact that it only shares this location with the Amanpuri property — makes it even more special.

It's within walking distance of the most fashionable beach in Phuket, Surin Beach, which has an array of classy restaurants and smart, funky modern beach bars as well as the usual smaller, cheap local beach restaurants and bars. It's very 'honeymooner cool' but offers the perfect, safe environment for families too, albeit families who don't want to be overrun with other families.

I'll never forget when…

On a day trip from the beautiful island of Bohol, we travelled across the calm turquoise waters to explore and snorkel the protected reef around nearby tiny Pamilacan Island. Travelling by local fishing boat we hoped to see some dolphins en route, but we were joined by a family of sperm whales, basking with their young all around our tiny little raft boat with dolphins also playing all around us. Just an unforgettable experience. As mentioned elsewhere, snorkeling inside a school of 50 or so majestic manta ray in the Komodo National Park, Indonesia is also another water based experience which really touched me and made me realise just how lucky I was and am to be able to experience such incredible nature first hand.

Photos of Mat

  • Mat at the Ayuthaya temple ruins in Thailand Mat at the Ayuthaya temple ruins in Thailand
  • Mat with some Balinese children Mat with some Balinese children
  • Mat with his guide trekking in search of tarsiers, Bohol, Philippines Mat with his guide trekking in search of tarsiers, Bohol, Philippines
  • Mat catching some rays on a rurual train in Thailand Mat catching some rays on a rurual train in Thailand
  • Mat amongst some pungent durian fruit in a market near Koh Samet, Thailand Mat amongst some pungent durian fruit in a market near Koh Samet, Thailand
  • Mat at the floating market at Amphawa, Thailand Mat at the floating market at Amphawa, Thailand
  • Mat at the hanging coffins of Sagada, Philippines Mat at the hanging coffins of Sagada, Philippines
  • Mat helping a local make pancakes in Ayuthaya, Thailand Mat helping a local make pancakes in Ayuthaya, Thailand
  • Mat cooking during his 'Thai for a Day' day in Chiang Mai, Thailand Mat cooking during his 'Thai for a Day' day in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Mat during performance in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo Mat during performance in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo
  • Mat on a cycle tour near Yogjakarta, Java, Indonesia Mat on a cycle tour near Yogjakarta, Java, Indonesia
  • Mat at a waterfall near Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley, Borneo Mat at a waterfall near Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley, Borneo