Singapore, with its bright city lights, also means that there is close to no chance of stargazing because of light pollution. This is also the same for many cities in Southeast Asia. However, step beyond that and there are actually many places where you can stargaze easily.
YP has curated a list of 9 best spots for you to catch the milky way amongst other stars.
1. Halong Bay, Vietnam
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay offers an amazing night sky which you can enjoy from the comfort of a boat. There are overnight cruises that allows you to escape from the dust and city lights of Hanoi, and gaze at the stars instead.
Those visiting Halong Bay in the day can also explore numerous caves in a kayak and admire their limestone islands.
2. Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia
Our neighbouring country Malaysia is a great place for stargazing due to its geographical location. As it is located on the Equator, you can spot stars from both the Northern and Southern skies.
While there are a few places in Terengganu to admire the stars and the night sky, the best spot is Pulau Perhentian. If you are lucky, you may even be able to spot the Milky Way!
3. Doi Chiang Dao, Thailand
Doi Chiang Dao translates to ‘City of Stars’, a place befitting of its name. It is located in the Chiang Mai province, and is also Thailand’s third highest mountain.
This limestone massif is also one of Southeast Asia’s best birdwatching spots – think falling asleep under the stars and waking up to the humming of the birds.
However, you will need to apply for a permit before you are allowed to camp here.
4. Mount Bromo, Indonesia
Mount Bromo is an active volcano, and also a favourite spot of many photographers. Accessible via a four hour drive from Surabaya in East Java, stargazers will also be in for a treat on this volcano.
If you want to get the best of both worlds, catch the mystical stars at night and wake up in time to view the magnificent sunrise in the morning.
5. Bagan, Myanmar
With one of the lowest levels of light pollution in Myanmar, the night sky holds much promise in the ancient city of Bagan. There are also enamouring temples, pagodas and shrines, which means that you can have your stargazing experience in tranquility.
6. Mount Pulag, Philippines
Be prepared for a tough climb when you ascend Mount Pulag – but the view will be worth every ounce of perspiration.
While the view of the glistening mountains in a sea of fluffy clouds alone is breathtaking, an even better view of the Milky Way will present itself at dawn. Mount Pulag redefines the meaning of ‘nothing worth having ever comes easy’.
7. Ranu Kumbolo Lake, Indonesia
Located far away from civilisation, this crater lake is unknown to foreigners but a hot favourite amongst the locals. Its large camping grounds also make it ideal for large groups travelling together.
Although the hike to Ranu Kumbolo lake can take you three to six hours, it is not difficult since there are only hilly terrains to conquer. The view of the Milky Way from Ranu Kumbolo Lake is also amongst the best in Southeast Asia.
8. High Island Reservoir, Hong Kong
Possibly the only city to make the list, there are actually a few spots in Hong Kong where you can admire the stars. High Island Reservoir, a UNESCO Global Geopark located in the south-eastern region of Sai Kung Peninsula, makes one of them.
In the day, you can explore the sea caves, cutaway islands and hexagonal rock columns from previous volcanic activities. Come night time, the reservoir transform into an ideal place for stargazing.
9. Phnom Kulen, Cambodia
Phnom Kulen, which translates to ‘Mountain of Lychees’, is located in the Siem Reap province. It is also thought to be the most sacred mountain in Cambodia, being home to a giant reclining Buddha amongst other impressive sights. One of the waterfalls in Phnom Kulen was featured in the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider as well!
While the park has a lot to offer in the day, it becomes a serene spot to view the stars at night – with the sounds of the forest and waterfall for company.
Other tips for stargazing
Check the moon
The moonlight prevents you from seeing any stars for two weeks per month. For the ideal conditions to stargaze in, plan your trip to be between ten days before a new moon to four days after.
Take note of the monsoon period
Not only is the moon important, but your weather too. Take note of any monsoon periods and avoid them! The best viewing period for the Milky Way is between July to October.
Invest in some gadgets
Telescopes can be expensive and difficult to carry around, but binoculars are affordable and portable. In cases where the naked eye is not powerful enough, a pair of binoculars helps in making your stargazing experience even better.
Use a stargazing app
The advance in technology means that there are now applications which enable you to see the positions of stars and planets, as well as their names and how far they are from Earth. Applications such as Star Chart and Google Sky Map are two recommended apps to help you identify the stars and planets with ease.