If you’re interested in Asia’s more modern history, you’ll find Southeast Asia’s hill stations well worth exploring. These vestiges of European colonial settlement remain throughout much of the region, often contrasted against more traditional hill tribe villages and set in rolling mountain ranges.
Positioned in the cooler highlands, these former frontier towns were once the summer homes of wealthy colonials looking to escape the heat of the lowlands. Vietnam is dotted with these high-altitude enclaves, including Sapa, nestled in the hills of North Vietnam.
With its terraced rice fields and Bordeaux-style villas and rose gardens, Sapa is a great town to explore on foot. Nestled in the shadows of Indochina’s highest peak, Mount Fansipan, you can see the town’s beauty first-hand, and learn it’s fascinating history, on our Trekking in Sapa tour.
Borkor in Cambodia is a different type of hill station. Abandoned in the 1990s, Borkor fell into ruin, giving it a distinct ghost town feel. The Road Less Traveled tour takes you to Bokor Hill from Phnom Penh, with plenty of time to enjoy the cooler climate and explore the ruins. Re-development has started in Bokor Hill, so if you want to experience its spookier derelict side, you should plan to visit soon.
If Myanmar‘s on your radar, Kalaw opens a window on the country’s modern history and its ethnic roots. Hidden in the chilly pine forests of the Shan Plateau, the best way to see it is by trekking between hill tribes or taking an open-top jeep tour to enjoy the fresh mountain air.
Kalaw has many old examples of British architecture, including Tudor-style houses and rose gardens, plus traditional villages, pagodas and a surprising number of curry houses, thanks to the area’s Nepali population.
To learn more about colonial hills stations and frontier towns, or plan a trip through Asia to see them, contact one of our Travel Specialists today.
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