City tours are great but you might not get the best view of the night sky when you are in the city. If you want to go stargazing and are looking for a great spot in the Southeast Asian region, you will need to head to somewhere calm and quiet, far away from light pollution areas. Here are the best stargazing spots in Southeast Asia.
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8 Best Stargazing Spots
#1 Palawan, the Philippines
Palawan is known as one of the best islands in the world and is where you can go to find clear waters, great beaches, and incredible diving spots. It is also a brilliant location to stargaze because the island has very low light pollution. You can also get a glimpse of the Milky Way because of how clear the skies get during the night. There are plenty of smaller islands that surround Palawan, and the best island out of all to go stargazing is El Nido.
#2 Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia
Malaysia is another country in the region that houses some beautiful islands and beaches, perfect for stargazing. The country’s geographical location is what makes it a prime stargazing location in Southeast Asia. Since Malaysia is located on the Equator, you can catch a glimpse of both the stars from the Northern and Southern skies. The best place Malaysian island to go to if you want to stargaze is Pulau Perhentian. It is known as one of the best islands in Malaysia, you can clearly see the stars when the night falls, and you might even be able to spot the Milky Way.
#3 Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand
With a name like Coi Chiang Dao, which translates to ‘City of Stars’, you would expect that this place would be a great stargazing spot, and you are right. Located in the Chiang Mai province in northern Thailand, Doi Chiang Doa is the country’s third-largest mountain. It is also where you can go if you want to do some stargazing in Thailand. The limestone massif is also one of the best birdwatching spots in all Southeast Asia. If you want to camp out and spend the night in the area, you will need to apply for a permit before you can set up your tent or your air mattress.
#4 Mount Bromo, Indonesia
Another great mountain in Southeast Asia that you can climb to stargaze is Mount Bromo in Indonesia. The active volcano in East Java is a favorite spot of many photographers because of its spectacular scenery. If you want to get to Mount Bromo, you will have to sit through a 4-hour drive that starts from Surabaya. The view from the top of Mount Bromo is just breathtaking and since there is almost zero light pollution, the stars are especially clear and bright at night. Those who camp in the area might want to set an early alarm if you also want to be able to catch the beautiful sunrise.
#5 Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia
Another place that you can visit in Malaysia if you want to go stargazing is Sabah. The state in the northern part of Borneo has tons of great stargazing spots, considering how low the light pollution levels are there. The Kudat district is where you want to go if you want to stargaze, specifically Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, or the “Tip of Borneo”. It is one of Malaysia’s most well-known spots for stargazing, and you do not even need any equipment. You can even see the Milky Way with the naked eye. If you want to plan your trip to Kudat to try to catch the Milky Way, the best time to visit would be from mid-February to early October. This is when the skies are clearest so you can get a better view of the night sky.
#6 Bagan, Myanmar
The ancient city of Bagan in the Mandalay region of Myanmar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also the city with one of the lowest levels of light pollution in all of Myanmar. The area boasts tons of historic landmarks, including temples, pagodas, and shrines. The night sky in Bagan is really clear and you can easily stargaze without the help of any equipment. The ancient buildings in the area really help to add a sense of mysticality and tranquillity to the stargazing experience.
#7 Ranu Kumbolo Lake, Indonesia
The Ranu Kumbolo Lake in Indonesia can only be accessed through a three to six-hour hike, but the view of the night sky makes it worth all the work. Located in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in East Java, Indonesia, this lake is far away from civilization. Most foreigners are still unaware of this beauty, but local nature lovers have been visiting it for years. It is also ideal for large groups who are looking to travel and camp together. Not only will you get a great view of the stars, but this is also where you can get the best view of the Milky Way in all of Southeast Asia.
#8 Koh Hai, Thailand
The Koh Hai Island is known to be a stunning and romantic getaway that is perfect for honeymooners. With luscious white sands that graze the sea and a stretch of palm trees that line the beach, it is truly a paradise for many people. It is also the perfect place to go stargazing. You can spend the day relaxing on the beach or snorkelling in the cool water, and then end it on an intimate note by looking up at the brilliant night sky.
3 Tips For a Successful Stargazing Trip
A successful stargazing experience may not be the easiest thing to achieve. Even if you head to any of these stargazing spots, you might not be so lucky. However, there are a few things that you can do to increase your chance of seeing clear skies and bright stars. There are also a few things that you can do to perfectly capture the moment to commemorate it.
#1 Check The Moon Phases
A full moon may prevent you from seeing any stars because of how bright the moonlight can get. For the ideal stargazing condition, the moon should be in the crescent phase. So, plan your trip to be around 10 days before a new moon to about 4 days after.
#2 Take Note Of The Monsoon Period in the Area
You should also consider the weather in the area if you want clear skies. The monsoon period for each state and each country will differ so take notes of when the monsoon periods start and finish, and avoid visiting during that time.
#3 Invest In Gadgets to View And Capture The Stars
If you want to get a better view of the stars of the Milky Way, you should invest in a good pair of binoculars. You can also get a telescope and that would give you a much precise look at the stars in the sky. However, it may be a little difficult to carry around in your backpack while you are hiking to the best stargazing spot. Plus, a good telescope can be quite expensive.
If you want to capture the stars and milky way at their best, you should also consider getting a camera with a telephoto zoom lens. Some latest smartphones models have great camera features that can take great night shots, like the Samsung Galaxy (S21 Ultra) or the Apple iPhone (iPhone 12 Pro Max) or the OnePlus (OnePlus 9 Pro). When you use your smartphone to take pictures of the night sky, a good tip to remember is to manually adjust the camera’s ISO, white balance, and shutter speed. You should also get a tripod for a nice, steady shot.