And when it comes to allure, Southeast Asia’s capitals rank among the top with their heady mix of old world charm and startling newness – the perfect blend of tradition and modernity.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, the capital of Southeast Asia’s most populous nation, is a modern megacity with glitzy buildings, ubiquitous street food, well-established coffee culture and a burgeoning streetwear scene.

Some of the city’s landmarks include Istiqlal Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia, the 19th century neo-Gothic Jakarta Cathedral and the National Monument, a 132-metre tall obelisk that commemorates Indonesia’s independence struggle.

To understand Jakarta’s beginnings under Dutch colonial rule, visit Kota Tua. At its heart is Fatahillah Square, where you can enjoy European fare with a local twist at Cafe Batavia. Visit the Wayang Museum to learn about the ancient art of Javanese puppetry or simply explore the historic quarter on foot or bicycle.

If your trip calls for some thrills and spills, head over to Dunia Fantasi, a massive multi-zone theme park complex that features the blistering Halilintar, one of Asia’s most insane roller coasters.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Situated in the fertile Red River Delta, Hanoi – home to more than a third of Vietnam’s population – is undoubtedly where the action is.

The city dates back more than 1,000 years and is a treasure trove of cultural heritage, offering travellers a myriad things to see and do. Some must-visit attractions include the Old Quarter, Hoa Lo Prison, Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and Train Street.

To truly explore Hanoi, nothing beats a two-wheeler, the preferred mode of travel in a city that boasts some 5.8 million motorcycles.

For rest and recreation, the West Lake offers breathtaking scenery that’s best enjoyed by paddle boat. If you’re looking for more of a rush, the nearby Ho Tay Water Park offers another way to make a splash.

Cap your trip with a visit to the top of the 65-storey Lotte Centre for spectacular views of the city from the skyscraper’s Observation Deck.

Manila, Philippines

Located on the Philippines’ largest island Luzon, Manila is a megacity chock-full of heritage landmarks, hidden gems and cool hangouts. In fact, the well-connected Metro Manila area encompasses 16 cities.

For a glimpse into Manila’s past, visit the walled city of Intramuros, built in 1571 by Spanish conquistadors. Here, you can admire the colonial architecture of Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church and Casa Manila, which is filled with period furniture and artwork.

Across the Pasig River from Intramuros is Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown, established in 1594. Join a walking tour for an in-depth experience of this historic quarter or embark on a food adventure and sample Filipino-Chinese fare like lumpia (spring rolls) and siopao (steamed buns).

For some chillout time, make your way to Ayala Triangle Gardens. Nestled in Makati’s central business district, the public garden is a welcome respite from the flurry of city life.

If you’re looking for a fun-filled afternoon, Bonifacio Global City – a commercial hub dubbed the “Filipino Singapore” – will do the trick, with its modern boulevards, shopping avenues and world class museums.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

As capitals go, Kuala Lumpur is perhaps best described as modern yet picturesque. In addition to the iconic 88-storey Petronas Towers, there are plenty of heritage spots in the city to explore.

Take in the Jamek Mosque – built on the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers that gave the city its name – the lush greenery of the Perdana Botanical Gardens and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, once the beating heart of the British colonial administration.

Hit the streets of Chow Kit – the city’s former red light district – to get a feel for the city’s roots, or explore the upscale neighbourhoods of Bangsar and Desa Sri Hartamas outside the city centre for top-notch dining.

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to food, with Kuala Lumpur showcasing the cultural diversity that makes Malaysia a food haven.

Indulge in delectable Malay cuisine in Kampung Baru, tantalising Indian fare in Brickfields and an array of Chinese dishes in Pudu. Or just pop down to your neighbourhood mamak for a truly local al fresco experience.

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