Top 10 oldest Cities in Southeast Asia

Hanoi Old Quarter

Each ancient city in the world has a story to unfold. Although many of these early cities are no longer around, there are a few that still exist and have developed into modern cities, retaining their historical and unique beauties. Let’s take a look at the top 10 oldest cities in Southeast Asia that leave tourists with remarkable and amazing impressions when going on Vietnam tours and Indochina tours.

1-HANOI, VIETNAM – 1,564 years (since 454 AD)

Hanoi has been Vietnam’s capital city for more than 1,564 years since 454 AD. It has experienced a long history of up and down and carries a historical vibes. Used to be colonized and invaded by many other countries, Ha Noi eventually gained independence on 2nd September 1945. Year by year, HaNoi has dramatically improved in its economic development, appearance and infrastructure, which made it become one of the fastest-growing cities in South East Asia. Nowadays, when coming to HaNoi, people can still witness the ancient relics of Vietnamese ancient dynasties and French architecture which create a traditional beauty for the city.

West Lake in Hanoi
West Lake in Hanoi

2-PALEMBANG, INDONESIA – 1,335 years (since 683 AD)

Palembang, the capital of the Srivijaya Empire, is the oldest city in Indonesia that is rich in cultural heritage and serves as a political power center. Palembang has itself a fascinating tale of the rise and fall with enormous wealth, powerful sultans and fierce warriors. Up to now, this city is a regional center of the rubber trade and diverse which is situated along the Musi River.


3-LUANG PRABANG, LAOS – 1,320 years (since 698 AD)

Luang Prabang is located in the northern part of Laos. It is an outstanding example of fusion and traditional architecture of Laos urban with well – preserved townscapes. The city was created with many legends, including the  Buddha’s prophecy of a rich and powerful city. The town is a mix of traditional architecture and one or two storey French colonial houses. Its charming character and picturesque setting have made the town one of the most attractive tourist sites of Laos.

Royal Palace Museum in Luang Prabang, Laos

4-SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – 1,217 years (since 801 AD)

Siem Reap is the second-largest city of Cambodia, as well as the capital and largest city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia. This region was the site of successive capitals of the Khmer Empire from the ninth to the 15th centuries. Siem Reap has been considered to be the biggest tourist attraction in Cambodia in recent years. This ancient yet dynamic destination has impressed travelers and made them stay longer to explore its glorious past and vivid present.

Ta Prohm Siem Reap, Cambodia

5-BAGAN, MYANMAR – 1,169 years (since 849 AD)

Bagan is an ancient city of unique structure which is located in the Mandalay region of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. It was the capital city of the Pagan Kingdom, the first Burmese kingdom, from 1044 until 1297. Under the Pagan empire for over 250 years, Bagan became rich in various archeological and cultural sites consisting of 10,000 religious monuments . Today, this area is now overwhelmed and loved by many people both at home and abroad as the hometown of Myanmar culture with more than 2,500 Buddhist stupas, temples and monasteries.

Bagan, Myanmar

6-MANILA, PHILIPPINES – 1,118 years (since 900 AD)

Manila is the capital of the Philippines, and its second-most populous city. It has been through the ringer, with destruction and rapid development creating chaos where a grand colonial city one stood. This city experienced rapid growth in the late 20th century, which helped establish it as a major economic center in the Pacific region. Today, the city is well – known for its museums, shops, parks and churches, plus enough nightlife to last until dawn.


7-MAGELANG, INDONESIA – 1,111 years (since 907 AD)

Magelang, the capital of Central Java Province, is one of the most ancient cities in Indonesia and best known as the launching pad for visiting the magnificent attractions in this country. It was established as a village under the Old Mataram Kingdom and made into a military post by the Dutch East Indies colonial government. This city is blessed with picturesque natural surroundings, perfect for those who wish to breathe in Central Java’s greener side. Filled with a whole range of fascinating splendor, Magelang promises to be the perfect destination for tourists to experience.


8-BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, BRUNEI – 1,041 years (since 977 AD)

Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital city of  Brunei and nominally the country’s only city. After suffering extensive damage during World War II, it was largely rebuilt and became the country’s administrative and financial center. Bandar Seri Begawan has outstanding features, attracting visitors by its quietness and private space with extremely luxurious facilities. This is the city of  lavish palaces, splendid mosques, floating villages, parks and the city’s best beach.

Bandar Seri Begawan

9-BUTUAN, PHILIPPINES – 1,017 years (since 1001 AD)

Butuan is reportedly to be the oldest civilized settlement in the Philippines. The city used to be known as the best in gold and boat manufacturing in the entire Philippine archipelago. And until now, Butuan City is still the commercial, industrial, and administrative center of the Caraga region. Tourists can expect some of the best infrastructures and buildings situated in this beautiful city.


10-YANGON, MYANMAR – 975 years (since 1043 AD)

Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city and commercial hub. It’s also the spiritual heart of Myanmar, being home to the Shwedagon Pagoda, regarded as the most sacred Buddhist pagoda among Burmese. Yangon was under colonization by many countries during the history lines and incurred heavy damage during World War II. Yangon became the capital of the Union of Burma on 4 January 1948 when the country gained independence from British rule. Up to now, Yangon has been a wonderful and famous attraction for having a mix of gorgeous colonial architecture, traditional pagodas and many delicious street foods.

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar

Let’s come and visit these wonderful destinations to have many unique experiences.

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