From Singapore to Bangkok, 7 new Southeast Asian tourist attractions, Lifestyle News
Local governments and businesses across Southeast Asia have been busy during the pandemic, opening up all kinds of tourist attractions, from green to glamorous.
Benjakitti Forest Park, Bangkok, Thailand
It’s hard to believe I’m in downtown Bangkok. The mad traffic is absent, the din of the city is muffled, its nest of skyscrapers is distant, and a flock of birds has just passed overhead and landed in the wetland beneath my feet. Benjakitti Forest Park is borderline surreal and so welcome.
Over the past few years, Bangkok has seen the construction of many unnecessary new malls, but what was desperately needed was more parks. Finally, this issue is being resolved. In December 2019, the Thai government launched the ambitious Green Bangkok project, under which a host of new green spaces were opened during the pandemic.
The most valuable and impressive is the Benjakitti Forest Park. Located near the tourist districts of Asoke and Nana, it is, at 72 hectares (178 acres), the largest park in the city. Its finest feature is the sprawling wetland, which once attracted a large bird population.
Visitors can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the area by walking over the 1.6 km (one mile) elevated pedestrian bridge that winds through the park and over the wetland habitat.
Saloma Link Bridge, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia’s capital is full of photogenic attractions, including the 452-meter twin towers that dominate the skyline, the giant rainbow-colored staircase that leads to the Batu Caves and the Islamic architecture of the mosque national park of Malaysia and the Jamek mosque.
With its hypermodern design and vibrant light displays, the Saloma Link Bridge became Instagram fodder shortly after opening in 2020. Designed to look like a Malay floral gift, the steel bridge has nine linked outer shells that together create a coverage for this 69 yards. -long pedestrian walkway.
Spanning a river and a highway, it provides a connection between KL’s modern city center and one of its oldest and most traditional neighborhoods, Kampung Baru.
Built in the late 1800s, this Islamic neighborhood is lined with palm trees, street stalls and wooden stilt houses.
APEC Sculpture Park, Da Nang, Vietnam
Although it is by far the largest city on the central coast of Vietnam, Da Nang has been eclipsed, from a tourist point of view, by Hue and Hoi An. These two cities have major tourist maps: Hoi An has its photogenic ancient city and Hue its giant, fortified imperial city.
Da Nang had few notable attractions beyond its beautiful beaches. In recent years, however, city authorities have sought to fill this gap by creating modern landmarks that also serve as dazzling backdrops for social media.
This includes the world’s (reputed) fourth largest Ferris wheel, the Instagram-famous Golden Bridge held by two giant hands, and now the APEC Sculpture Park.
In 2017, the park was a small sculpture garden along the Han River, 200 meters south of the city’s iconic Dragon Bridge. In January, following a 760 billion VND (S$45 million) expansion, it reopened as a major waterfront venue and attraction.
At its heart is a visitor center with great views of the river. This attractive building is covered in plants, surrounded by water features, complete with a stage for public events and topped with a huge and striking rooftop sculpture designed to look like a kite.
SkyHelix Sentosa, Singapore
Sentosa Island’s pretty beaches and lush countryside offer respite from Singapore’s urban sprawl.
Now tourists can have a breathtaking view of the natural beauty of the city-state.
SkyHelix Sentosa opened in December as Singapore’s tallest open-air viewing tower. Guests are seated in a gondola which is slowly raised to a height of 79 meters.
During each 12-minute ride, which costs $18 for adults, the gondola gently turns uphill, offering views of Singapore’s skyline and giant harbor, as well as the beaches and theme parks of Sentosa.
The SkyHelix is located at the northern end of this 4 km long island, near the famous Singapore Cable Car, which connects Sentosa to Mount Faber Park, a hilly park on the mainland 500 meters to the north.
Genting SkyWorlds Theme Park, Genting Highlands, Malaysia
Although only an hour’s drive north of the Kuala Lumpur metropolitan area, the Genting Highlands seem much more remote. Rising 1,800 meters above sea level, this former hill station is noticeably cooler, quieter and greener than KL. It is hidden in dense rainforest that dates back over 100 million years.
Contrasting the old with the new is Genting SkyWorlds, an US$800 million (S$1.1 billion) theme park that opened in February. This 10.5-hectare (26-acre) hilltop complex, which features 26 rides and attractions, represents a massive overhaul of the former 20th Century Fox World Malaysia park.
It is set to become the second most visited theme park in Southeast Asia, after Universal Studios in Singapore, according to projections released by Malaysian investment firm Maybank.
At 189 ringgit (59 USD) for a full-day adult ticket, Genting SkyWorlds is affordable compared to tickets (89 USD) at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Tickets include unlimited rides and access to the theme park’s nine distinct “worlds,” such as a prehistoric enclosure inspired by the Ice Age movie franchise and Eagle Mountain, a recreation of the Californian wilderness.
Thai Cave Rescue Exhibition, Chiang Rai, Thailand
In 2018, global media invaded a remote Thai forest to report a story that gripped the world and spawned a feature film, an upcoming Hollywood film and a Netflix series, and a defamation lawsuit against Elon Musk.
For 17 days, a dozen young footballers and their coach were trapped four kilometers inside the partially flooded cave of Tham Luang, one of the largest in Thailand, in the northern province of Chiang Rai.
After all being taken to safety by rescuers, two of whom died, the 13 survivors became celebrities and Tham Luang a tourist attraction.
Currently, visitors can venture 200 meters inside the 10 km deep Tham Luang cave system, following a recently extended trail that ends at one of the chambers used as a base by rescue divers.
From August, less adventurous tourists can inspect a 30-meter-long model of the cave. Part of a free rescue exhibit located near the mouth of Tham Luang, the model will be complemented by information panels explaining the story.
Baywalk Dolomite Beach, Manila, Philippines
Archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines are naturally famous for their beaches. Now tourists don’t even have to leave Manila to enjoy a day on the sand.
The capital has attractive historical sites, magnificent churches, great shopping and a diverse nightlife, but despite being next to the ocean, it has never had a beach. That is until tons and tons of man-made dolomite sand were placed on the Manila Bay foreshore in 2020, creating a clean man-made beach near Rizal Park, a key tourist attraction in the city.
Although it was closed during the pandemic, the beach has proven extremely popular. Although it is only about 140 meters long and less than 100 meters deep, it has sometimes attracted over 100,000 visitors in a single day.
Crowds have since been held back by a system that requires visitors to register online for a timeslot. While tourists can lounge on the sand, they are not yet allowed to wade in the ocean. Manila authorities have announced plans to purify the region’s water to make it safe for swimming this year.
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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.