The South China Sea: Sun, Sand, And Military Operations?
The South China Sea is, as you might expect, a vast expanse of open water which lies just to the south of the Chinese mainland. But although the region is often in the news because of war games and military excursions, that takes attention away from the real pull of the area – it’s immense natural beauty.
Can you imagine the outrage if the only discussion of the Mediterranean concerned the British Navy’s war games? It would produce a bizarre impression of what the region offered. The islands of Mykonos? Crete? Sardinia? The Amalfi Coast? It would all be ignored.
But it turns out that the South China Sea is home to many equally stunning gems in the surrounding lands. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of them so that you can get a more accurate impression of this under-discussed region of the world and what it has to offer.
The Idyllic Islands Of Palawan
The island chain of Indonesia borders on the South China Sea. Stretching from Malaysia in the West almost to the Queensland coast in Australia, Indonesia runs for thousands of miles across a range of islands, each with their unique history.
One of the most interesting of all of them is Palawan. The island is most famous for its relatively unspoiled beaches and nightlife and is a popular alternative to the famous and much more expensive Bali. Here you can enjoy snorkeling, surfing, and incredible, life-affirming sunsets.
Borneo is the name of one of the largest islands in the Pacific. Borneo has long been a critical magnet in the Pacific region for people who want to catch a glimpse of the rare wildlife on offer. The island is almost entirely covered in virgin rainforest harboring dozens of species in their natural habitats. You’ll find all kinds of rare primates here that have evolved unusual features designed to help them survive this unique habitat.
When Western explorers first found Borneo, they must have believed that they had stumbled upon a magical tropical kingdom. You can see where filmmakers derived much of their inspiration for films like King Kong. The island has a timeless tropical mystery and is genuinely one of the wildest and remotest places on the planet. Much of the region remains a wilderness with little evidence of any human activity at all. Native tribespeople still calls the forest home and rely on it for all their survival needs.
If it’s a city break you’re after along the periphery of the South China Sea, then Penang is one of the best places to go. You can find an apartment for rent in Penang Georgetown for a bargain price, making this one of the most affordable places to stay in the Eastern hemisphere.
What’s so exciting about Penang is the fact that you can experience many of the delights that you’d find in more expensive locations in Indonesia, but without the premium price tag. Over-priced tourist businesses haven’t found their way here yet, meaning that you’ll pay low-low local prices for practically everything you want. Drinks, meals out and accommodation are all incredibly affordable.
The Beaches Of Vietnam
Despite the country’s troubled history, Vietnam is on something of a development drive. Just a decade ago, the country was crushingly poor, but thanks to a bunch of economic incentives and new roads, it’s proving to be popular among regular tourists. Now the road between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is full of traffic, with plenty of places to stop off on the way to enjoy the country’s relatively unspoiled natural scenery.
Two of the most impressive attractions are the beaches at Phu Quoc and Halong Bay. The latter is an island beach, providing stunning views out over the sea to the far horizon.
Of course, being Vietnam, the prices are exceptionally low. You can pick up a three-course meal here for as little as $6 US, or about £4, depending on what part of the world you’re from. The locals preferentially select foreign currency, believing that it will hold its value better than the native tender. With just a few dollars in your pocket, you can get just about any service you want, including ferries to and from the mainland.
If you tire of Vietnam, then nothing is stopping you from hopping over into neighboring Cambodia. The country’s checkered history makes it a must-stop place on any whistlestop tour of the region. Stop off and see how the local people are transforming their country into something more peaceful and outward-focused.